Today, the waiting period for the Red Bull Airborne France will kick off and the world's top CT athletes and freesurfers will come together to compete in the inaugural event.
Josh Kerr, former Championship Tour (CT) surfer and the most progressive aerialist in the sport, is one of the developers and will serve as Event Director.
"I'm so excited this is finally happening," said Kerr. "This has been my baby for a while and to see it all coming together is pretty surreal. This isn't going to be your typical event. We're going to invade the athlete's privacy a bit and be right with them when they're walking up the beach. The surfers are going to be mic'd up during their heats, so we can hear what's going on. All these guys are such characters. It's going to be entertaining."
One of the most successful surfers on the nascent Airshow series in the late-90's and early-00's, Kerr wants the Airborne event to offer a different perspective on the sport that viewers don't always get to see.
"A lot of these guys don't fit on the Championship Tour for whatever reason. But they're amazing surfers and they bring a different dynamic to professional surfing that I think it needs," Kerr continued.
Eric Geiselman is a prime example. The now freesurfer from Florida, known for his progressive surfing in all conditions, did the Qualifying Series grind for a while before realizing it wasn't for him.
"There's a lot of us that just crumble when the pressure is on, for whatever reason," said Geiselman. "This is a way to perform and show people what we can do without that type of pressure. I mean we all want to do well but there's no real consequences on the line if we don't. Each guy in this event is their own cartoon character and it's going to be so fun to watch all these personalities come out."
CT standout Griffin Colapinto will also be competing in the Redbull Airborne France. Although currently focused on the Quiksilver Pro, which is running in conjunction, the rookie sees this as an opportunity to go up against the best freesurfers in the sport.
"This is the first event like this, so I wanted to be apart of it," said Colapinto. All the best air show guys in the world are here. For me, I'm going to try to do some full rotations and get some grabs in there as well. I'm going to try to find some big sections. It really depends on the conditions."
When: October 5-10 at the Quiksilver/Roxy Pro France. Event Commissioner Josh Kerr is looking for the best air conditions and will make the call when he sees them.
Where: Hossegor, Seignosse and Capbreton France.
How to Watch: Catch the entire contest live on Worldsurfleague.com, App, or WSL's Facebook Live page.
Format: 18 participants will compete in three six-man heats. That's a 'round'. There are two rounds, so everyone surfs twice. The top six surfers after the two rounds will surf in the Final, where we'll crown a winner.
- All 18 athletes are split into 6 Groups (6 athletes per Group, each athlete surfs in two Groups)
- Athletes surf once in Groups 1, 2, and 3 and then again in new Groups 4, 5, and 6
- Leaderboard format will determine the Top 6 Finalists
Who: The best aerialists from both the CT and the freesurf world.
Group 1: Noa Deane (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Matt Meola (HAW), Kalani David (HAW), Seb Williams (ZAF)
Group 2: Chippa Wilson (AUS), Mikey Wright (AUS), Mason Ho (HAW), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Eric Geiselman (USA), Leif Engstrom (USA)
Group 3: Albee Layer (HAW), Yago Dora (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS), Hector Santa Maria (PRI), Kael Walsh (AUS)
Group 4: Jack Freestone (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Yago Dora (BRA), Kalani David (HAW), Mason Ho (HAW), Eric Geiselman (USA)
Group 5: Mikey Wright (AUS), Albee Layer (HAW), Matt Meola (HAW), Hector Santa Maria (PRI), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Leif Engstrom (USA)
Group 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Chippa Wilson (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Noa Deane (AUS), Kael Walsh (AUS), Seb Williams (ZAF)
Watch the Red Bull Airborne France live on the Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook Oct. 5-10.