The youngest Thompson brother, Tristan, defeated six professional North Florida surfers at the Red Bull Night Riders tow-in contest at the Jacksonville Beach pier. With tough conditions that consisted of 2-3 foot choppy surf, this contest was so much more than your “classic” surf contest; it proved to be a time for the community to join together and support #WinItForTrey.
Although three Thompsons were fighting under the lights to throw the biggest air, it was all in support for their older brother, Trey Thompson, who is battling brain cancer.
“It was awesome that I pulled through and won in front of a great crowd,” said 18-year-old winner, Tristan Thompson. “I’ve never seen that many people at this beach for a surf event. I got in a good rhythm out there where I was able to land my tricks, and it felt amazing.”
Jacksonville Beach hosted this action-packed event for the first time. The chance to be crowned the “best surfer in the 904” was on the line. Thousands of fans came out to cheer on the surfers, proving the Jacksonville surf community is very strong.
Tristan stole the competition when he landed an inverted front-side 360-air in the second round. The surf conditions were choppy with waist-high sets rolling through. Tension was high for Tristan, as he had the legacy of his older brothers to uphold. The boys didn’t have much to work with, but still managed to put on a show for the fans who packed the beach and pier.
Red Bull Night Riders provides surfers with competition under unique conditions, as the premier night contest. Surfers get 12 minutes per round to pull off an epic maneuver, with a total of two rounds in the competition. A tow-at competition means two things: huge airs and a rowdy crowd. Surfers show up to blow out the surf and capture the judges’ and audience’s attention by pushing the limits of the sport.
“The level of competition has always been strong at this contest,” said judge Daniel Terry. “It’s great to see the youngest of the six surfers take the win. The show of love for surfing from the community who came out really shined tonight.”
Completing the roster for the evening were Tristan’s brothers and past winners, Cody and Evan Thompson, as well as legendary surfers Asher Nolan, Ryan Briggs and Gabe Kling. This event will go down in history as a monumental moment in the progression of Jacksonville surfers and the community’s support for them and surfing in general.
1. Tristan Thompson
2. Cody Thompson
3. Ryan Briggs