Red Bull Jaws

Kelly Slater accepts Red Bull Jaws challenge

Kelly Slater at Volcom Fiji Pro ASP/Kirstin

The invitees for Red Bull Jaws: Paddle at Pe'ahi have been announced, and while the spectacle of watching somebody hurl themselves over the ledge of a 30-foot wave is entertainment enough, a closer look at the personalities involved adds additional plot lines and subtext. Nobody likes to be typecast, but categorically breaking down the invitees is telling:

The All-Stars

What's a surf contest without a few bonafide surf stars? Enter 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. Topping the list of notables, the best competitive surfer in the the history of the sport tests his mettle against the most ferocious wave in the world.

To date Slater hasn't spent much time surfing Jaws, but given the fact that he can show up basically anywhere in the world and blow away everyone in the world, maybe he doesn't need the experience.

Just below Slater on the marquee you'll find XXL champion for the ages Shane Dorian and former Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational winner Bruce Irons. When it comes to star power, these guys command attention. Why? Because as well as gracing magazine covers and appearing in many a viral video, they're bat-shit-crazy and willing to push over the ledge on just about any wave that rolls their way.


The Chargers

Forget conventional surfing. Forget competitive surfing. Guys like Ian Walsh, Mark Healey, Kohl Christensen, Nate Fletcher and Greg Long live to surf big waves.

"When I see myself surfing the perfect wave it's a 25-footer at Jaws that I paddled into," says Walsh. Long concurs, "The speed, power and energy there is like no other."

Any one of these guys could catch the wave of the day -- hell, they could catch the wave of the century, and truth be told, it wouldn't be a huge surprise. Over the last 10-plus years they've forged a reputation for riding the angriest waters the seas can conjure, which makes them all obvious favorites to win Red Bull Jaws.

nullRamon Navarros rides into a tube in Chile/Alfredo Escobar/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

The Internationals

Don't think for a minute that big-wave surfing is confined to Hawaii or California. It's an international pursuit, and some of today's best big-wave riders come from foreign shores.

At the 2011/12 XXL Awards Brazilian Danilo Couto took "Ride of the Year" honors for the 30-footer he air-dropped into at Jaws.

Most recently Chile's Ramon Navarro was credited with the wave of the day on the historic June 8 session at Cloudbreak, Fiji. He's also a National Geographic "Adventurer of the Year" nominee.

And when it comes to international cred, Grant "Twiggy" Baker has been there and done that. A winner of the Mavericks contest in Northern California, as well as a multiple XXL winner, he's considered by all to be one of the premier heavy water surfers in the world.

nullJamie O'Brien in Hawaii/Brian Bielmann/Red Bull Photofiles

The Hawaiians

You can't talk about big waves without talking about Hawaiians, and guys like Red Bull Jaws creator Ian Walsh, Makua Rothman, Kala Alexander, Jamie O'Brien and Garrett McNamara are proudly waving the flag.

In 2003 Rothman was towed into a near 70-foot wave, which won that year's XXL Awards. He was 18 years old at the time. Growing up in the powerful Pacific means guys like Rothman come of age early.

Before he turned 20 Jamie O'Brien was considered the best Pipeline surfer in the world. And these days when he's not sliding in behind the peak look for him out at Waimea or one of the outer reefs. 

nullJohn John Florence in competition this year/ASP/Dunbar

The Youth

For the most part big-wave surfing is considered the sport's more mature pursuit, but the kids are getting into the act. Up-and-comers like John John Florence, who was in the running for his first ASP world title this year; Albee Layer; and younger brothers to Ian Walsh, Shaun and DK, are not only testing the waters, they're making statements.

With their unbridled talent and that youthful ability to quickly recover from a beating, they're the heirs to the Jaws lineup and will be setting benchmarks for years to come. It's not out of the realm of possibilities that we'll still be talking about them 20 years from now.

Red Bull Jaws Invitees

Kala Alexander (HI)
Grant "Twiggy" Baker (ZAF)
Carlos Burle (BRZ)
Kohl Christensen (HI)
Danilo Couto (BRZ)
Shane Dorian (HI)
Nate Fletcher (CA)
John John Florence (HI)
Mark Healey (HI)
Bruce Irons (HI)
Albee Layer (HI)
Greg Long (CA)
Garrett McNamara (HI)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Jamie O'Brien (HI)
Makua Rothman (HI)
Jeff Rowley (AUS)
Kelly Slater (FL)
Ian Walsh (HI)
Shaun Walsh (HI)
Dave Wassel (HI)


1. Francisco Porcella (HI)
2. Aaron Gold (HI)
3. Billy Kemper (HI)
4. DK Walsh (HI)
5. Marcio Freire (HI)
6. Reef McIntosh (HI)
7. Kai Lenny (HI)
8. Gabriel Villaran (Chile)
9. Tyler Larronde (HI)
10. Matt Meola (HI)
11. Yuri Soledade (HI)
12. Mark Mathews (AUS)
13. Nakoa Decoite (HI)
14. Ben Wilkinson (HI)

The waiting period for Red Bull Jaws is from December 7, 2012 to March 15, 2013. Follow Red Bull on Twitter for more updates.




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