So it’s that time of year again for me to load up the car with all my camera gear and drive to Cronulla in Sydney for the annual Yamaha Rip n’ Ride. This year marks its 9th year that the event has taken place. It’s come a long way from being a BBQ on the beach with a few mates.
The first stop on my way was Yamaha Motor Australia in Brisbane to pick up a couple of safety skis (both being a pair of VX Deluxes) and a foxhole (Yamaha Mt 125 motorcycle) would do the job nicely. I’m like a kid in a candy store with so many cool machines sitting here in the factory. It’s pretty hard to walk out without adding something to your Christmas list.
Back in the car and all loaded up, it was time to crank up the radio and hunker in for the long 10-hour drive to Butch’s house. Butch and his wife, Julie are the two fantastic people that make the RNR happen every year. Everything from organizing the permits, sponsors and riders, to finding room for wayward riders (and photographers) to sleep at their house. The time and effort that goes into organizing this event is huge. It’s not just those two that I would like to thank but everyone from the marshals to the people putting up the scaffolding, the lifeguards to the Yamaha boys that work tirelessly to make it happen.
For those people that haven’t heard of the RNR before, it’s a freeride event that’s open to anyone. Once entering, you go into the draw to win a brand new Yamaha SuperJet and hundreds of other prizes. Numbers are usually capped at about 100 to give everyone plenty of ride time and a good chance to take home a new WaveRunner.
The RNR is a chance for rookie riders to ride with – and not against – some of the best riders in the world. So at one point, you can be checking out a 12-year-old grommet ripping up the waves, and the next thing, you’ll look across to see the world champion Mark Gomez busting out something awesome. That’s one of the major attributes of the RNR. Young up-and-comers can ride, talk and get tips from their heroes. There is some judging that goes on during the day too; things like “Sickest trick,” “Biggest air” and “First to sink.” Awards also go to those people that go above and beyond to help out fellow riders.
For the last few years, JetPilot has put on a small competition within the RNR: the Battle of the Best. Riders are selected by an official and go head-to-head in a battle that’s judged on “Wow Factor.” So not so much the most difficulty of the tricks but more the reaction from the beach. This year, Ryan Savagee took the title just over Mick Anthony and Zane Taylor. Brock Taylor, last year’s winner, was there to present the trophies. Unfortunately, Brock is out of action with back issues and only came down as a spectator and cooler supervisor.
Every year a challenge goes out to the novice riders that have never flipped a ski: “The Cherry Popper award.” It’s a fun event to watch with a bunch of guys and girls gathering up the courage to try to flip their ski. Some coaching from Mick Anthony and some other pros helped them get around. One of the major tips is “Never let go,” and “It doesn’t hurt to land on you head.” Unfortunately, the conditions were far from ideal for the riders it get it done.
A big effort was made by James Ricardo on the ‘Blaster; he hit three waves in a row but couldn’t quite get it done. Maybe next year, bud. It was good to see a few girls out there as well. Bridget Burt, a first timer to RNR has only been riding a ski for three months and was popping super clean barrel rolls and nice 180s; she had ago at the “Cherry Popper” but couldn’t get any good waves. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Also 12-year-old Dean Krouskos is a natural on a ski. He would have ridden in every heat if he could have. Not even the cold weather or the messy surf could keep him from getting out in it.
It wasn’t the best conditions on Saturday, but Friday was a treat. Sunny, warm and clean waves. A great day on the water, flipping and hanging out. That’s the main reason people enter the RNR. A chance to hang out with your mates. People you probably haven’t seen since last year.
So if you would like a chance in 100 to win a new SuperJet, you better get ready for next year’s Yamaha Rip N’ Ride as its rumored to be the last. Yeah, that’s RNRX. The 10th will be the final event at Cronulla. So it’s going to be a massive farewell. Butch and Julie have done such a awesome job over the last 9 years that they deserve a rest. Hopefully, someone else will step up and make another great event for the freeride community to go to. Something just half the success of the RNR would be great.