HALEIWA, HAWAII -- Hawaiian surfer Jamie O'Brien was announced today as the big winner at the first-ever Billabong Freewave Challenge, capturing both First and Second Place in the Best Performance Ride category and collecting a whopping $14,444.43 for two waves' work. O'Brien, a key proponent of "free-surfing" as performed outside of regular competitive formats and judging criteria, was voted number one by his peers for his "Rodeo Flip," a backside aerial maneuver combining an inverted flip and a 360 degree turn with both hands grabbing the rails. That single ride earned a check for $9999.99. O'Brien's second place ride was a "Freak Out Turn" featuring a hard carve into a forward flip with a half twist. To view O'Brien's rides and the rest of the Performance Nominees, click HERE.O'Brien accepted his trophy and checks at his home overlooking the Pipeline break and said, "Free-surfing is one of the most important things about the North Shore. The contests don't always have good waves and in the end people remember the tube or the year or the best maneuver of the year. It can happen any day or any second. This year the waves were not the best for a lot of the regular contests, but the winter goes on for months so there will always be epic moments in an event like the Freewave Challenge."
O'Brien is looking forward to defending his Billabong Freewave Challenge crown.
"I think the Freewave Challenge can be the future for free surfing as more and more surfers get into it and post more and more video clips," added O'Brien. "I think it could be a monster, we could raise some animals. It can inspire surfers to go to the next level. I don't want to wiggle to the beach, I want to go off -- and I think there are a lot of guys who feel the same way."
The final rankings were decided through the votes of a panel including the entered surfers and videographers and select members of the surfing media after careful review of over 120 entered rides. The Billabong Freewave Challenge was open to all surfers and to any ride caught on video outside of a regular surfing competition during the prime season on the North Shore of Oahu from October through December.
With the successful completion of the first Freewave Challenge, the details of the next event are now being released. The next event will take place on the Mainland USA from May to September, and all surf breaks on the West, East and Gulf Coasts are eligible, as is any ride NOT taking place during a regular surfing competition. Precise details on the categories to be considered will be revealed in the next month.
- Congrats JOB!