Freewave Challenge

After three full months of incredible surfing where every wave by every surfer at every surf spot on the Mainland USA was up for consideration, the hottest video clips of the summer season have been narrowed down to the finalists in the latest round of the Billabong Freewave Challenge.

The amazing performances of the finalists highlight the diversity of surfing in America, with powerful representation from the East, West and Gulf Coasts. All three produced classic waves this summer and provided the canvas for brilliant surfing from both world champs and local heroes alike.

The surfers were equally diverse in their backgrounds, with finalists hailing from locales ranging from North Carolina to Florida to California to Hawaii to Australia.  Top surfing videographers around the nation captured the action as it happened all summer and uploaded the visual proof to the Freewave website for public analysis.

$40,000 is up for grabs -- surfers will share $31,700 while the shooters will pocket $8,300 for their role in documenting the state of the art in surfing this summer.

Over 150 video clips were entered in the Billabong Freewave virtual free surfing competition.  The finalists were selected based on public popularity combined with the input of a selection committee.

The ultimate placings will now be decided over the next two weeks by the votes of a large panel consisting of the surfers and videographers themselves and the writers and editors of surfing media worldwide. The final rankings will be announced starting October 15, 2008.

MONSTER MANEUVER finalists: ($15,700 total prize money)    
     Ryan Carlson, 540 Rodeo at Huntington Beach, California. Video by DSG
     Aaron Cormican, Air Reverse at Gulf Coast, Florida. Video by Jerry Ricotti
     Mason Ho, Backside 360 Air at Huntington Beach, California. Video by DSG
     Zach Rhinehart, McTwist     at Oceanside, California. Video by Boost Video
     Cody Thompson, Alley Oop Plus at Lower Trestles, California. Video by Evan Thompson

SMALL FRIES/16 AND UNDER finalists ($8,150 total prize money)         
     Kolohe Andino at Lower Trestles, California. Video by Chris Gabriel
     Luke Davis at Lower Trestles, California. Video by Chris Gabriel
     Andrew Doheny at Lower Trestles, California. Video by Noah Alani

BEST BARREL finalists ($8,150 total prize money)
     Jesse Hines at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Video by Joe Cheshire
     Zander Morton on the Gulf Coast, Florida. Video by Jerry Ricotti
     Geoff Moysa at Newport Beach, California. Video by Shorescrew/Lugo Lugo

HEARTBREAKER/FEMALE PERFORMANCE finalists ($6,300 total prize money)
     Claire Bevilacqua, Backside air at Encinitas, California. Video by Chris Grant
     Carissa Moore, Multiple moves at Lower Trestles, California. Video by Chris Moore
     Carissa Moore, Air at Lower Trestles, California. Video by Chris Moore

LONGEST RIDE finalists ($1,700 winner take all)
     Ashley Lloyd at Santa Cruz, California. Video by Chris Grant
     Marc Moore at Malibu, California. Video by Kelly Cox
     Kelly Nicely at Cardiff Reef, California. Video by Chris Grant

Silvana Lima

On a beautiful Thursday of sunshine and good waves in the three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) range, the Billabong Pro Ladies Costao do Santinho determined the Semifinalists that will decide the title on the 12th stop of the ASP WQS Women’s Tour on Saturday in Florianopolis (SC).

The first heat will be a true classic of brazilian surfers between the experienced Brazilians Jacqueline Silva and Tita Tavares. Already the other Semifinal will be a dispute between the young surfers Paige Hareb from New Zealand and Silvana Lima also from Brazil.

With the classification into the Semifinals, Silvana Lima has already secured the title of ASP South American Champion at Costao do Santinho, even before the final stop of the 2008 ASP South America Tour in Arpoador Beach next week at Rio de Janeiro.

"Only yesterday (Wednesday) I saw on the internet that I was in the fight for the title and all South American title is important and nice to win, then I am very happy," Lima said. "It is like a prize for being the best surfer in the three stops of Billabong events in Brazil, so I’m representing very well my sponsor."

Silvana also commented about the tough heat against a former ASP World Tour surfer, the Australian Claire Bevilacqua, who remained tied with the Hawaiian Bethany Hamilton in tenth place on the ASP WQS ranking that is sorting through the ninth to the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.

"If you give soft, she leads," Lima said. "She already won at me sometimes. The waves was not so good, and she couldn’t get the score that she needed to win. So that’s it, I move through, but it was not easy."

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Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater (USA) needs to finish ninth or better in the ninth of event of the year to win his ninth ASP World Title. He’s one heat away from doing so after scoring a 9.00 and a 7.33 to win his Round 1 heat at the Billabong Pro Mundaka back-up venue of Sopelana today.

Slater’s 16.33 heat total was the second highest of the day; easily trumping the single digit totals of his opponents Taylor Knox (USA) and replacement surfer Reubyn Ash (GBR). He advances straight to Round 3 with the result.

“Where I surfed, the waves were better,” Slater said. “I had more options. I couldn’t really hear the scores, but once I did I could tell that Taylor was kind of struggling. Then I found a right with a nice open face and a big air section and that was my 9.00.”

Slater came extremely close to clinching the 2008 ASP World Title in France last week. In doing so, he would have secured his 40th ASP World Tour win at the same place he won his first—in Hossegor. It would have also been the earliest he, or anyone else, had ever won a world title.

Just one good-scoring wave away from overtaking Adrian Buchan (AUS) in their French final bout, Slater came up short and had to settle for second place and a trip to Spain. Being so close to the inevitable is taking its toll on the eight-time ASP World Champion.

“I hadn’t really thought about it that much until I was out there in the water but I don’t want to deal with the emotions of worrying about it anymore,” Slater said. “I just want to try to win one more heat and get it done.”

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Professional surfing is a highly competitive occupation. World title races are increasingly tight. And sometimes it all comes down to the wire.

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