Surfing's Best Nocturnal Event Just Got A Dose Of Vitamin D (And Some Air Wedges To Boot) - Stab Mag
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Robbie McCormick launching a bit too high for comfort. Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Surfing’s Best Nocturnal Event Just Got A Dose Of Vitamin D (And Some Air Wedges To Boot)

Full blown madness from the first ever Red Bull Light Riders event in North Florida.

Words by Jack Mutschler

Comprising over 800 square miles of land, Jacksonville is a peculiar city.

A vibrant pulse ruptures from the art scene downtown and glides east over the sacred humps of the JTB. Eventually, it disperses throughout Jacksonville Beach, a spirited community that has thankfully refused to shake off its signature North Florida grit.

Ben Gravy finding magic on the North side of the Jacksonville Beach Pier. Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Only boasting four years of 904 residency during my college years, I consider myself an honorary blow-in at best. Still, I enjoy drifting through when possible, so a proposal to attend the 2021 Red Bull Night Riders competition was met with an immediate yes.

The concept of the event is pretty simple. Set up industrial-sized lights on the beach, gather some of the top aerialists from the East Coast and beyond, then tow them into loftiest sections during a night at the Pier bowl. Invite the local crowd and keep the party moving until the beach bars close.

What isn’t as routine, however, is negotiating with mother nature. Non-stop monsoons, 30 mph winds, and a relentless king tide prevented the crew from setting up the illumination equipment on Saturday. The weather forecast showed a bit more manageable window (and waves) for Sunday morning, so the contest was pushed back a day, and the 2021 Red Bull Night Riders became the first-ever Red Bull Light Riders.

The Jax Beach locals didn’t seem to mind as they lined the sliver of remaining beach in full force. They didn’t even flinch when water pushed up to the dunes, flooding the socks and shoes of those too engrossed in the action to look down.

Red Bull night riders
“If you build it, they will come.” Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

The level of engagement from surf fans along the East Coast is undeniable, which is something Kolohe Andino and the Reckless Isolation crew recently discovered. The people of Duval County came for a show, and that’s what they received.

Robbie McCormick drove up from Flagler Beach to launch some of the most serious attempts we saw all day, plus he found a tube that many spectators applauded. Fellow Florida man Evan Geiselman spiced things up with some more technical maneuvers, as he found the lack of sharks in the water quite dull.

Evan G practically falling asleep due to the lack of dorsal fins. His wave pool hours seem to be paying off though. Photo by Red Bull Content Pool.

Cam Richards skirted down from South Carolina and wrangled the landing of a nifty air reverse off a critical section. The 17-year-old Indo-Aussie Bronson Meydi flew across the globe to show us the benefits of growing up at Lakey Peak. Hint: He knows what to do with a right air wind.

Then, of course, you have two of the most vital staples in the 904, Cody and Tristan Thompson. The last name Thompson signifies North Florida royalty, and sometimes even realty, according to one young fan’s sign.

Grom’s new house must have came with a mini in the backyard. Photo from IG.

Whether they’re selling you a home, dialing in your bottom turn, or pushing your physical limits, it’s sure to be done with respect and a smile. In classic older brother fashion, Cody stomped a lofty alleyoop with a landing too clean to ignore. He won the event with an 8.8 and was escorted to the podium by a raging crew of local groms.

Cam Richards took second, and Bronson Meydi third.

Day or night, rain or shine, the surf community of Jax Beach has once again proven to be humming with life.

Thanks again to Red Bull, the Jacksonville Boardriders Club, and everyone who contributed to this event. We’ll see you again in a year, or sooner if we’re lucky.

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