Even before the first heats of the traditional contest scene got rolling this week on the North Shore of Oahu, the best moments of early season free surfing were being entered into the Freewave Challenge presented by Billabong. The first event of its kind, the Freewave Challenge is a virtual showcase of the hottest moments of progressive surfing outside of traditional competition as captured on video.
While a growing La Nina weather system has thus far kept massive swells clear of Hawaiian waters, the surf has been ideal for high-performance wave riding, with breaks like Rocky Point and Off-The-Wall producing dozens of brilliant rides, all caught on camera and uploaded to the Freewave website. And even before the touring pros arrived in town, the free-surfing gauntlet had already been laid down by surfers like Jordy Smith, Sunny Garcia, Gavin Beschen, Torrey Meister, TJ Barron, Hank Gaskell and Kahea Hart, to name but a few. And the grom squad has been well-represented too, with some upstart moves from John John Florence, Davey & Benji Brand, Tonino Benson and Kiron Jabour.
The Freewave Challenge is open to all surfers and videographers and runs through the end of December, with the winners announced in late January. The event carries $40,000 in prize money in two categories -- Best Performance Ride and Best Tube Ride. Full details, including format, rules, surfer bios and entry/upload instructions are on the Freewave Challenge website.