When we last saw Jax surf star Cody Thompson, he was hoisting the Red Bull Night Riders trophy above his head after outlasting some of the EC’s best aerialists in windswept conditions at the Mayport Poles.
He didn’t stick around for a champagne shower, though. He didn’t even have time to deposit his oversized check for $5k. In fact, just minutes after mugging for the camera–trophy and obligatory Red Bull can in hand–Thompson was removing his fins from his board and packing it away, before crushing a two-hour power nap and jet-setting to the Caribbean for a planned leisurely seven days in the Dominican Republic. And while surf trips can be hit-or-miss for us Average Joe’s, when Cody Thompson’s abroad, he’s pretty much guaranteed to be stacking clips.
DR and the crew from Carambola Surf House greeted Thompson and his crew with unusually light (sometimes nonexistent) winds and empty lineups. As Thompson tucked under the first of many azure curtains, it became clear that he was in for an exciting holiday.
“I got one barrel early in the trip at the beachbreak behind our house. It was sheet glass, the water color was crazy, everything was so crispy,” Thompson says of one of the more memorable waves from his trip. “That one clip got me thinking, ‘Well, if we get a couple land angles and I get some more clips myself, we could have something cool here. We’re in for a treat.'”
That POV clip, captured by Thompson himself, serves as the opening salvo to “Siete Días”, a highlight reel of clips from Thompson’s seven day score in DR. Clocking in at just under three minutes “Siete Dias” not only paints an alluring picture of an oft-overlooked Caribbean wave magnet, but reaffirms Thompson as one of the most dynamic and versatile surfers on the East Coast (or anywhere for that matter). Big blasts, high flying antics, and a fair share of tunneling through some of the most mesmerizingly aquamarine tubes, Thompson’s a relative Swiss-Army knife of surf content (he even edited the video himself)!
Click play below to watch seven day’s worth of clip stacking and scroll down for a brief check-in with Thompson, where we talk Night Riders, surf edits, and his burgeoning love of kiting.
Last we heard from you, you were winning that super secret Red Bull Night Riders contest. Then you disappeared.
Yeah, basically I did a practice session for Night Riders that day, went back to my house to pack for this trip, left a spot open in my board bag for the board I was riding in Night Riders, then went a surfed the contest, came straight home, threw the board in the bag, slept for two hours and jumped on a flight. I was surfing the next day in the Dominican.
Did you have the trip planned out for a while? Or was it spontaneous?
With everything I have going on right now, it’s been a lot harder to do a strike mission. I had been talking to a guy down there [in DR] for a while. He’d been telling me the waves were going to be good and that I could bring my kite. I packed all my kite gear, too because I thought it’d be blowing onshore every day. We get there and it’s sheet glass and pumping all day.
Did you get to kite at all?
Yeah, we kited one day. It was super fun, but kiting over reef is a different game.
I was going to ask about your new-ish kiting passion. Has riding behind the kite improved your surfing? Did it impact your performance at Night Riders?
I got into kiting because it gave me another reason to be on the water when I wasn’t surfing. I got hooked instantly. Basically, it’s the best way to utilize crappy onshore days. To me, it feels like tow-at surfing–or even tow-ins when it’s bigger. I used to have a ski and do a lot of tow-ats. But it’s a lot of work–a lot of logistics to get a team together. When you’re kiting, you are the driver.
And you’ve felt it’s made an impact on your surfing?
I definitely think it has helped my surfing. It’s given me a fresh look at how to approach different airs. It has really helped my endurance. Surfing is typically just a few-second ride, going all out. A kite session is an hour or two hours of riding a wave–like the longest pointbreak ever.
Pretty cool that the Night Riders keeps coming back to Jax–especially given the circumstances with COVID.
Yeah, I was blown away with how Red Bull pulled that off. It was executed so well. Ideally, we want fans to be there–that’s what makes the event special. But they are putting together a package for more of an online, spectator-friendly product, which I can’t wait for people to see.
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Back to the Dominican. What did you expect? What did you find?
I’d been there before–maybe 10 years ago. I know that we surfed some really crowded spots and didn’t really have a serious desire to go back. But recently, I’d seen some photos and videos of uncrowded spots and really beautiful waves to explore. We had a crew of guys that helped put us on some of those spots. It was kind of trippy pulling up on super rippable, head high waves, without a single surfer around. It was on for hours on-end.
You brought your GoPro, but you weren’t going into this trip thinking you’re going to come out of it with an edit, right?
You never really know. We had plans to link up with Chris Klopf to shoot some photos and Tony Roberts to shoot some video. But the stars kind of aligned with us picking a random week to go. We ended up with enough sessions to tie together a short edit.
And you did the editing, too. Seems like you’re still pretty jazzed on producing surf content. Where are you at at this point in your career with your surfing?
I’m definitely fired up to surf and put out content. My focus is often more on my day-to-day at home and my job and my members [Thompson Performance], so making surf content is not always on the top of my mind. But when I do get to go on a trip, I like to make the most out of it. It’s not really vacation for me [laughs]. I want to get clips and show people I’ve been putting time in the water and progressing.