The tide was high last night as six of the top southeast surfers fought the strong surf in one of the most unique tow-at competitions on the coast. Over 2,000 spectators roughed the rain and winds to cheer on the Red Bull Night Riders as they pushed their limits to pull off their best trick. This is the third time the nighttime tow-at event took place at Flagler Beach, a part of the 13th Annual Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Classic presented by Nautica.
For the first time in the three years of Red Bull Night Riders, a local surf hero made the elite roster of competitors. The crowd was both thrilled and proud as Flagler Beach local surfer Brandon Hoffman took to the waves in the toughest conditions the event has seen to date.
"I'm amazed that so many people fought the weather to cheer on their favorite rider," expressed host Will Tant. "The fans are really dedicated to this inaugural event."
The winds were high and the lights were bright as each rider went full force soaring into the night sky. Each exhausted and elated surfer gave everything they had in the harsh environments of the night. In the end, Red Bull Night Riders rookie Evan Thompson brought home the win to his family, a legacy from his older brother Cody Thompson who won the event last year. Evan solidified respect as an aerialist, winning the event with his back and front side rotation.
"Of all the surfers on the east coast, these guys were the best picks," said veteran judge Gordon Lawson. "Evan was the man to beat, and his clean consistency took the lead."
RIP AND TIDE IN THE NIGHT
The Sunshine States' best aerialists had their work cut out for them in the unique and unusual conditions of the night. More used to blazing sun and crystal blue waves, the surfers were challenged to adapt their technique to deal with the night sky, strong winds, and the rip and foam in the water that posed the biggest challenge.
“I was patient," stated winner Evan Thompson on dealing with the challenging conditions. "I wanted to prove that I could go big." With rough conditions, Evan Thompson posted a winning score of 6.5 out of a possible 10 points.
Completing the roster for the evening were Jesse Heilman, Blake Jones, Oliver Kurtz, Jake McQuire, and local surfer Brandon Hoffman.
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