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Mon, 13 May 2019

John John's boet Nathan Florence beat an elite field including Mick Fanning to win the Red Bull Cape Fear early today at heaving Shipstern's Bluff in Tasmania, writes Spike.

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YES BRAH! Nathan Fletcher wins the first contest in his surfing career. Photo Red Bull

The invitation-only event saw 20 invitees, including defending champion from the last time the event ran (2016) Russell Bierke, tackle the infamous 'Shippies' using tow or paddle.

Florence, 24, younger brother to former WSL world champion John John, opted to paddle into the wave for the duration of the event at the infamous spot, known for its gut-dropping step downs and dropoffs from waves within a wave that scare the living daylights out of most of us.

Three-time world champion Fanning opted for the tow option, but struggled to master Shippies in the same way that Florence did, or the Aussies who made up the rest of the podium, with New South Wales chargers Laurie Towner and Justen "Jughead" Allport second and third respectively. Tasmanian hellmen James Hollmer-Cross and Mikey Brennan brought up the rear.

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HANDS FREE! Mark Matthews is no stranger to gnarly slabs that break off Oz. Photo Red Bull

In the final Hollmer-Cross, the only one in the heat who opted to tow, stole the show when he scored a perfect 10 after a beast hollowed out, swallowed him whole then spat him out into the channel.

Florence paddled into and successfully negotiated a double-overhead barrel deftly dealing with Shipstern’s notorious ‘step’ to score an excellent 9.33 to cement himself as the one to beat and followed up with a 5.83 to seal the win. Hollmer-Cross failed to find a second wave.

North Shore local Florence, 24, said: "I'm so baffled, it's the first contest I've ever won. To be at this venue and win is amazing. To be surfing with the boys and the local legends, I just can't believe it. I'm so psyched. We drew straws to decide priority and, as soon as the horn blew, I was looking at this thing going, 'It's mine!' It was the best wave I caught.

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BARREL MONGERING: Mikey Brennan is a local Tasmanian with a tough reputation. Photo Red Bull

"James had that unbelievable wave. It was perfect and he got a perfect score, but I’m so stoked he couldn't get another one… I was counting the minutes. It was the longest hour of my life."

It is just the third time Red Bull Cape Fear has run in six years, after Sydney's thick ledge “Ours” played host in 2014 and 2016. Shippies is a "welcome" addition to the carnage.

Gnarly bru!

1. Nathan Florence (Oahu, HAW) 15.16 points
2. Laurie Towner (NSW, AUS) 14.10
3. Justen Jughead Allport (NSW, AUS) 10.93
4. James Hollmer-Cross (TAS, AUS) 10.0
5. Mikey Brennan (TAS, AUS) 6.50

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