JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL. – Six professional surfers hit the waves at Jacksonville Beach Sunday morning for a popular competition that has been around for nearly a decade.
But this weekend’s northeast forced them to change their plans a bit. There is a literal day and night difference this year.
The Red Bull “Night Riders” surf competition is usually held at night and was set for Saturday. But organizers were forced to reschedule Sunday at 10 a.m. due to dangerous conditions over the northeast weekend.
This year the competition was renamed âLight Ridersâ.
Many runners said Sunday’s waves were some of the best they had ever seen for the competition.
âYou’re going to see guys go a lot higher than normal because you can see and read what’s going on there,â said defending champion and Jax Beach native Cody Thompson. “The guys are going to push a little harder.”
âWe have epic waves,â said Tristan, Cody’s brother who also won the competition in 2014. âThe current has mellowed tremendously, the waves are perfect.â
Those in the event said it was a smart and safe move for Sunday.
âThe wind was really wild,â Cody said of the conditions on Saturday. âWhen you hang big lights and speakers, that’s a big concern. Another thing is that the current was going crazy and heading straight for this pier. “
âWhen you can’t see anything at night, these waves come out of nowhere,â Tristan said. “When there are six to seven or more waves coming out of nowhere, it’s really dangerous with the current going into the pier.”
The surfers were towed by someone riding a personal watercraft (PWC) to epic heights.
They each had 15 minutes to show off their skills and wow fans with tips.
Sunday’s waves were more manageable, but still presented challenges for the pros.
âIt’s extremely tiring,â Tristan said. âA lot of adrenaline goes up and when you get thrown into a wave and come back up and down you actually have to paddle a pretty solid current.â
âYou can actually anticipate what the waves are going to do,â Cody said. “It’s a lot safer for the guys, for the [PWC] drivers and everyone can somehow see what’s going on.
Competition host Daniel Terry said an adaptation was needed.
âMother Nature throws a lot of things at you,â he said. You have to stick, move and roll with the punches.
The grand prize for the winner is $ 5,000.
This story will be updated when the competition results are available.
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