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Rivalries are sick. As any WWF fan knows, the only way to settle a rivalry is by going mano-a-mano, grudge match style. If you’re a Jersey boy, the Smith Optics Garden State Grudge Match presented by DaKine is your ticket to put to bed any simmering thoughts of giving one of your buddies his comeuppance, just like Hulk Hogan slapping down the Macho Man Randy Savage.
The Garden State Grudge Match puts an innovative format to good use by requiring only one day to run out of a two-week waiting period (longer than some WCT events). This pretty much guarantees good waves for the event, which has been running this format since ‘02. From the second round onwards, the heats are all man-on-man, meaning you have to be able to take out any surfer at any time to claim the winner-take-all purse of $3,500 and the (arguably more awesome) WWF-style championship belt. Like any grudge match, you either come first or you lose — there are no consolation prizes.
This year’s Garden State Grudge Match almost went down in flames but was saved by a last-minute nor’easter, which popped up on the final day of the waiting period to break a daunting post-hurricane season flat spell. Casino Pier was spewing some solid four footers for the prize fighters to throw down on, with previous Grudge Match title holders Sam Hammer and Mike Gleason making their title intentions clear from the get-go and clear into the final.
Both of these guys have buckled up the Smith Optics Garden State Grudge Match championship belt before and each placed second to the other in the previous two contests they’ve entered. So the final was set up as the great leveler — the chance to crown the 2008 heavyweight champion of New Jersey. In keeping with the eleventh hour staging of the event, the final was decided by each competitor’s last wave. Hammer took the first wave of the set and pig-dogged into an eight second barrel. Gleason caught the very next wave and hacked and gouged his way to an 8.5. Unfortunately for Gleason, an 8 second tube-steak betters an 8.5 shwack-steak. Sammy Hammer’s backhand, backdoor barrel in his backyard sealed the deal and gave him a hall pass for trash talking anywhere in Jersey for the next twelve months. And a big-ass leather belt.
SMITH OPTICS GARDEN STATE GRUDGE MATCH PRESENTED BY DAKINE
1.Sam Hammer – $3,500
2.Mike Gleason – $0.00