The Smith Optics Garden State Grudge Match easily goes down as one of the East Coast's most iconic surfing contests. So when Rob Cloupe and company announced the final edition of the New Jersey staple last October, we all shed a tear wondering whether the fired-up rivalry format would ever make an appearance again. But our crying was clearly in vain, as Smith and Surfline have teamed up to transform the event into a regionally focused online video contest — and we can't begrudge the Grudge folks since they've handed half the event's eight roster spots to East Coasters.
The structure is simple: eight teams of two surfers each submit clips to Surfline, who chose the best eight and created a bracket. The #1 seed is Sam Hammer and Balaram Stack of the Northeast; #2 is Brett Barley and Fisher Heverly of the Mid-Atlantic; #3 is Dylan Graves and Brian Toth of Puerto Rico; and #5 is Evan Geiselman and Noah Schweizer of Florida. Hammer and Stack square off against Raph Bruhwiler of Canada in the initial bracket, while Barley and Heverly face Hawaii's Kekoa Bacalso and Ezekiel Lau, Graves and Toth surf against Nate Yeomans and Nick Rosza of SoCal, and Geiselman and Schweizer surf against Austin Smith-Ford and Noah Wegrich of NorCal.
Users will have one week to vote on clips starting May 15th; quarterfinal winners are announced on May 24th, with semifinal voting starting on May 26th. Those winners are announced on June 4th, with the finals up and running on June 6th and a champion crowned on June 15th. So if you've got East Coast love, let it be known by voting for some of our biggest prides and joys as they rep their home coast and do battle for $4,000.