It’s All Aboot the Experience

This weekend’s fourth annual Red Bull Icebreak was the last. It hasbeen announced that this contest, a logistical odds beater, and the mostsuccessful event to highlight the Northeast surf scene, while bringingtogether the East Coast surf community like no other in recent history,has heard it’s last horn.

Industry shakers and movers take note. The gig is up. RedBull will inevitably go on to raise the bar of Northeast surfing on someother level, but the Icebreak (a series of five qualifiers from NovaScotia to the Outer Banks, and an epic final in the Canadian Maritime,all held “on call,”) is up for grabs.

After watching the Northeast’s top pros and hometown heroessurf two rounds and a 45 minute final, in water just above freezing, ata several hundred yard pointbreak, I suggest maybe Viagra, ’cause thattakes some stamina!

Now you bigwigs at Viagra, be advised – the East Coast sceneis a little strange. I mean, surfers travel 35 hours to surf in35-degree water, where the accommodations are infested with giant,furry, bunnies, and the event is directed by a ski jumper. The topsurfers, are nail-bangers and waiters, and actually appreciate theopportunity they are given. Plus, the locals are so hospitable, it’salmost sinister.

Then you consider surfers like Ryan Carlson, who call moving from So Calto New York, a career choice, and Zev Gartner who travel from NewZealand to Canada for the contest.

But, the weirdest part is that a contest actually brings surferstogether!

“Last year, Jason Borte (2004 finalist) said that the contest issecondary to the experience. I know a lot of people who have made goodfriends with guys, whom they’ll be friends with for life,” said HalifaxPro, Neco Manos.

Yeah, a pro said that.

Allow me to explain. Red Bull Icebreak contest director, Jack Fleming(former Ski Jump World Cupper) had the unenviable task of running thequalifiers through the fall, calling the swell, and then seeing that 60people involved with the event – surfers, judges, media, and personnel,were flown to {{{Nova}}} Scotia, and delivered to a remote headland on thecoast of nowhere. Upon arrival, the crew found the sleepy resort, agorgeous collection of cabins on a rocky beach, to be the home tohundreds of domesticated rabbits.

The idea is to bring the best surfers in the Northeast together in theultimate coldwater arena, and those who have become involved certainlydon’t let cold water or chance of flurries stop them from experiencingthis epic event, ..and the waves are epic, without fail.

For the final year, the drama was higher than ever. Especially, at 5:30a.m., when the spotters reported the ocean was flat.

“At 5:30, I was thinking maybe I should get on a plane and go home,”said Fleming.