In France spraying a beverage all over your fellow competitor is considered a waste but Yago Dora, Jack Freestone and Griffin Colapinto are not French, nor do they care. Photo by WSL
The Red Bull Airborne France Looked Like Legitimate Fun, Like Surfing!
Yago Dora wins the first non-pay-per-view air event of 2018.
Change is in the air here in the Southwest of France. Change and cigarette smoke and a little bit of rain. Two short weeks ago, the sun was shining upon naked bodies and the water was warm like a motel jacuzzi. Then came the snap. It went from boardshorts to 3 mils. Dicks out to scarves on. The joy of summer to the gloom of winter. Change.
Speaking of change, the organization whose judging pretty much rendered airs pointless in competition for the past ten years, the World Surf League, had its first big crack at running an air show.
The inaugural Red Bull Airborne was held at Les Culs Nuls today and you bet the format was nifty.
Eighteen surfers were broken up into six-man heats. Each competitor had two half-hour heats and was tasked with collecting two scores (total, not per heat). The nifty bit? Their best score was doubled, meaning they had the potential to get up to thirty points.
From there, the top six surfers were put into an hour-long final where they needed to find another two scores. The best surfer would win 30k.
So far, the forecast hasn’t been too kind to France for the 2018 Quiksilver and Roxy Pro. It’s nearly a week into the waiting period and there have only been eight heats. With head-high waves that were kind of fun but also really fucking annoying, the Airborne was sent out there today. And, buddy, it was something.
It didn’t feel like the WSL that we all know and love and say bad things about on the internet. There was no priority — gentleman’s rules only — and people were fucking around in the heats, cheering each other on, trying dumb shit, etc. It looked like legitimate fun. Like surfing.
Fifty-eight airs were completed, they say, and the highest three scores of the day came on frontside air reverses. There were plenty of entertaining no-makes, though. Stalefish. Big spins. Mistimed rodeo flips. The six-man format made for non-stop thrills. If the waves were better, it would have been a day to remember instead of faintly recall.
When it came time for the final, Yago sat on the inside bank while everyone else sat outside. Within ten minutes, he had control of the heat and the rest of the finalists realized they were stupid. There were a few moments of glory, but luck played a big part of it. A small French crowd stood in the rain and didn’t clap much. It was awkward and humorous.
Griffin made a last-minute move for the lead, but it wasn’t enough. And that was that for the first ever WSL Red Bull Airborne.
The day ended with rumors of an expanded Airborne tour — possibly with a focus on cities. Seems strange, but bringing surfing to the faces of New York is better than trying to force it onto the screens of Milwaukee, I suppose.
Either way, it’ll be fun to watch where this thing goes.
Red Bull Airborne Final Leaderboard:
1 - Yago Dora (BRA) 18.27
2 - Griffin Colapinto (USA) 17.21
3 - Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.3
4 - Kalani David (HAW) 5.66
5 - Matt Meola (HAW) 5.40
6 - Eithan Osborne (USA) 0.00
Qualifying Round Leaderboard:
1 - Kalani David (HAW) 16.83
2 - Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.29
3 - Yago Dora (BRA) 13.83
4 - Matt Meola (HAW) 12.46
5 - Eithan Osborne (USA) 12.34
6 - Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.26
7 - Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 9.84
8 - Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.80
9 - Albee Layer (HAW) 9.76
10 - Eric Geiselman (USA) 9.60
11 - Mason Ho (HAW) 9.17
12 - Leif Engstrom (USA) 8.63
13 - Kael Walsh (AUS) 8.36
14 - Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 6.20
15 - Italo Ferreira (BRA) 4.96
16 - William Aliotti (FRA) 2.60
17 - Chippa Wilson (AUS) 1.46
18 - Sebastian Williams (MEX) 0.00