For the last seven years, there’s one freeride event that surpasses all others: the Cronulla Rip n’ Ride. A goal for most riders to get in to, entries are limited to only 100 riders, with tickets selling out in about 6 minutes. And with prizes ranging from a brand new Yamaha SuperJet, a 701 Blaster and $1,000s worth of other sponsors’ products, it’s hard to resist. The best thing about the Cronulla Rip n’ Ride is that anyone can win these major prizes. The RNR isn’t a full-on competition, but a get-together of some of the best riders and novice riders from all over Australia and the world. Just another chance to get together and ride with your mates, and make new ones.
This year, we were lucky enough to have some awesome international riders come to our lucky country. The amazing Pierre Maixent graced our shores to ride the new Rickter Edge. Also, the best all-rounder on a standup, Mark Gomez (in our humble opinion). Not to be out done, another American, Brandon Lawlor showed up to back up his sensational win at the Blowsion Surf Slam.
Bruno Jacob made it out to Oz for a third time, bringing some great riding. Tahiti Matt and Loic Tahiti made it out to do the filming of the event, risking their necks to get some fantastic shots and different point of view; make sure you keep an eye out for that one. The Land of The Long White Cloud (New Zealand) sent us over Norm McFarlane and a few others to entertain us with there antics and some great riding. And let’s not forget our home grown World Champions, Mick Anthony and Mitchell Young.
The show kicked off early Thursday morning with a demo day for skis and products to test out to great success, with plenty of keen riders ready to hit the water and try out some different hulls. Some of the boys we spoke with were really impressed and put in there orders then and there. The afternoon got a good session of riding in and gave the internationals a chance to get used to there skis. Generally these skis are borrowed. So a big thank you goes out to all the people that lent out their pride and joy.
Friday morning brought great conditions on the water with a good swell for all to show their. Backflips, Madonna’s and Flexflips were all on the trick list. The talent of some of these guys is unbelievable. Pierre pulled massive one-foot, one-handed flips, Brodie Copp showing his usual amazing extension on his flex flips, Gomez riding like a man possessed making the most out of every wave.
Saturday morning came around quick, especially getting to the beach at 5am for sunrise to get some shots of the new Rickter Edge. What a good looking machine it is too, and the word from all the riders that rode it was nothing but impressive. Getting up early meant we could also get a few shots of the pros before the wind picked up. This wasn’t easy, as getting some of those guys out of bed is a tough call. And we’re glad we did as the surf was perfect, with clear blue six-footers rolling in.
We’ve seen Pierre ride on the Gold Coast back in 2009, and remember him being unbelievable then. Nothing has changed. Whether it’s height or extension, he has got it all. Not to be out done, Gomez was on fire doing some of the biggest flips we’ve ever seen. Even Pierre and Brodie were cheering him on.
Brandon finally got to hit the water as he was sharing Pierre and Brodie’s ski. This was the First chance he had the really put the Edge through its paces. He was pulling off some super huge one-handed flips and clean barrel rolls. That was in the first five minutes of riding the ski. Lawlor shows such a natural talent.
It was also good to see Luke Emanuel back out on the water after taking a few months away from the ski. And you couldn’t tell that he had. The height this guy gets every time he rides is amazing; no mater what the size of the surf you can guarantee seeing some serious air that would give anyone else altitude sickness.
It’s so good to see an event that can have a rookie and a World Champion come head-to-head in a backflip battle. Tom Aiken and Pierre Maixent made it to the finals in a lighthearted competition that started a few heats back with four heats of four riders standing on the beach. The rules were the first one to get to their ski and do a backflip and land it makes to to the next round.
So it came to the final. Likened to a David versus Goliath battle, 16-year-old Tom was going to have his work cut out for him, and the pressure to beat one of his idols was overwhelming. On the horn, Tom was away first with on his FP1 with Pierre not far behind. We saw a wave in the distance that Tom had his eye on. “He’s going to win this,” we said to ourselves, but not so. The wave closed out just as he got there making him have to turn around a look again. Not going to let this opportunity slip away, Pierre hit a beauty of a wave and took the win.
The next competition was the Jet Pilot Best of the Best, which was judged on flow, height, landing and execution. Brodie Copp, Mick Anthony, Mark Gomez, Mitch Young, Pierre Maixent, Brandon Lawlor, Nick Barton and Luke Emanuel were chosen to compete from a long list of riders. Hitting the water in a five minutes solo run, it was going to be the longest five minutes of their lives.
Even though the conditions grew messy, the tricks got sicker. After everyone went through their rounds it came down to Mark Gomez, Pierre Maixent and Mick Anthony. Pierre and Mick were riding so well. Between the Rio’s Rolls and flips it was hard to pick who was in front of those two.
But one person was riding his heart out. Making the most of every wave, going from one to another; massive airs and stylish carves, Gomez was unstoppable and took out the title of Jet Pilots’ Best of the Best. The Watercraft Journal had a chat with Mark after his ride and told us, “That was the best I have ever rode in my life.” Second went to Mick Anthony and a close third to Pierre.
The final challenge was the “Sickest Trick” and went to Pierre. Trying something different, Pierre took out Stu from Player One’s Blaster who pulled off some awesome Madonnas, and one-hand, one-foot flips. It was good to see it on that couch, reminding us that Pierre used to ride and compete on those machines. Brodie Copp took the “Biggest Air” showing us how quickly he is progressing towards being one of the best riders in the world.
The presentation and drawing for a brand new Yamaha SuperJet and a 701-built Blaster (not to mention hundreds of other prizes) drew the whole crowd’s attention. Tom Akien was the lucky winner of the 701 Blaster and Hakan from Wetseat who took home the new SuperJet.
What a great weekend. Butch Pfrengle – the man that made this all happen – is a legend. The time and effort that goes into getting it all together and making it run smoothly is unbelievable. So many riders can’t wait for this time of year to roll around just to have the chance to hangout and ride with some mates. Oh, and the off chance take home a new ski.
All images courtesy of Photo by Skip, and are available in full size for purchase.