The greatest surfing performances of the Hawaiian winter were honored today as the finalists were announced in the first Freewave Challenge presented by Billabong. Five nominees per category were revealed in a pair of event divisions — the Best Tube Ride and the Best Performance Ride — culled from over 120 video clips submitted of every good day on the North Shore of Oahu during the months of October, November and December. The finalist clips can be viewed at the event website at FreeWaveChallenge.com
The Nominees for Best Performance Ride are:
(in alphabetical order)
Kalani Chapman (Hawaii), Huge Air to Layback at Rocky Point, video by Joe Alani
Jamie O’Brien (Hawaii), Freak Out Turn at Backdoor, video by Kendall O’Brien
Jamie O’Brien (Hawaii), Rodeo Flip at Off-The-Wall, video by Pete Frieden & Graham Nash
Jordy Smith (South Africa), Two Hand Air at Off-The-Wall, video by Graham Nash
Sterling Spencer (Florida), Backside Air Reverse 360 at Rocky Point, video by Talon Clemow
The Nominees for Best Tube Ride are:
Sunny Garcia (Hawaii), Long Pit at Backdoor Pipeline, video by Yasuo Maeda & Surfline
Garrett McNamara (Hawaii), Stand Up Paddle at Pipeline, video by Yasuo Maeda
Timmy Reyes (California), Big One at Backdoor Pipeline, video by Pete Frieden, Graham Nash & Surfline
Jordy Smith (South Africa), Long Tube and Carve at Gums, video by Tyler Rock & Surfline
Anthony Walsh (Australia), No Hand Backside at Off-The-Wall, video by Pete Frieden
The finalists were selected based on a combination of popularity by the viewing public and input from entered surfers and videographers. The final rankings of the top five nominees in each category will be voted on by a large academy of surfing experts including all the surfers and videographers in the event plus many top surfing journalists from around the world. Ballots will go out to the academy later this week.
Not surprisingly, local Hawaiian surfers emerged with five out of the ten nominations, including Jamie O’Brien, who has two different futuristic maneuvers up for the Performance Award. Other North Shore residents up for consideration include Kalani Chapman for a huge air, Sunny Garcia for a long barrel, and Garrett McNamara for his unique backside tube ride at Pipeline on a huge Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) board caught using an oar.
South African phenom Jordy Smith has been nominated in both event categories for a long, pumping tube ride and for a smooth double-grab aerial maneuver. Other overseas contenders include one of the bigger barrels of the season by Timmy Reyes of Huntington Beach, California and an aerial 360 reverse maneuver by Gulf Coast surfer Sterling Spencer of Pensacola, Florida. Hard-charging Anthony Walsh of New South Wales, Australia was nominated for a smooth backside no-hands tube ride.
The final rankings will be counted down from fifth to first places beginning February 1, 2008.
Surfers and videographers will share $40,000 in prize money including the first place surfer check in the amount of $9,999.99. Full rules, format details and judging criteria are available on the website http://www.freewavechallenge.com/site/rules/index.html. All 120 original entries are also still available for viewing at the Freewave Video Hub at FreeWaveChallenge.net.