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Red Bull to Host Paddle-In Only at Jaws

Big-wave surf gains (even more) momentum


Bigger. Faster. Crazier. Three words that can sum up the direction that Red Bull pushes its athletes. So the only thing that’s surprising about the company’s latest venture is, frankly, that it wasn’t happening already.

This winter, Red Bull will host a paddle-in only, big-wave surf competition at the famed Jaws off of Maui. With a maximum of 21 competitors, the event is invite-only—and the company isn’t announcing its roster until invitations have been accepted. Big-wave legend Mike Parsons is set to direct the competition, which has an enormous waiting period—from December 7 to March 15—in order to ensure that there’s a worthy swell. 

According to a Red Bull spokeswoman, the RedBull.com microsite for the event will morph based on who’s in. So far, we know that John John Florence is on the invite list, thanks to an Instagram post of his invitation package. 

Regarding selection criteria, here’s what the company had to say:

Red Bull’s panel of big-wave experts selected competitors based on recent performances in waves of comparable magnitude to Jaws; a demonstrated willingness to amplify the level of big wave surfing; and career experience in riding big waves both freely and competitively. This progressive troupe of surfers is charged with forging a path for Red Bull big-wave riders of the future.

What’s especially noteworthy, though, is that this event really is forging a new path for big-wave riders of the future. Once thought to be unrideable, then thought to be a tow-in only wave, today surfers are using manpower to ride Pe’ahi’s monster swells. 

The Red Bull event will not run at the same time as the Quicksilver Eddie Aiku big wave competition, and will be streamed live on RedBull.com and aired as a special one-hour report on NBC on June 9. 

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Pro kayaker Steve Fisher does some 3-D filming in the rivers of northern Minnesota. Courtesy Red Bull

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