These were the best Red Bull Surfing films of 2019
© Domenic Mosqueira
From South Africa to Indonesia, California to Portugal, these 10 film projects took a deep dive into what it looked like being a surfer and adventurer in 2019.
At Red Bull Surfing, we start with the simple truth that it's the act of surfing that should be at the center of every film project we do. But that doesn't mean we ignore all the personalities, cultures and landscapes surrounding that gooey surf core. After all, a truly epic day of surfing is the sum of all its parts – the people you shared the waves with, the place where the waves broke and the travelling that got you those waves of your life.
Below are 10 film projects that our global network of filmmakers embarked on this year that we think embody that ethos outlined above. From a look into the lives of the crew whose made South Africa's Cave Rock the centre of their surfing universe, to a young Canadian surf star's discovery of the wave-riding history of the land's original inhabitants, it was a year of incredible stories.
And, yeah, we've got some pure action mixed in here as well – because what's a good story without an adrenaline rush!
1. Made In dives deep into South Africa
Cape Town, the mother city
Back in July, we released three parts of gold from South African filmmaker, Jason Hearn. From Cape Town to Cave Rock to the legendary Searcher, Frankie Oberholzer, Hearn showed us a side of South African surfing that we've never seen before. The series was a hit, garnering a Surfer Awards nomination for Best Web Series.
2. No Contest goes XXL
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o 2019
No Contest took behind-the-scenes to a new level this year when we brought on STAB's Ashton Goggans to host us through every stop on the WSL World Tour. But when Ashton and the No Contest crew got to Tahiti in August, the action in and out of the water reached another level. No one covered the World Tour like No Contest did in 2019, and this episode was our most popular.
3. Meet the guardian angel of Nazaré
The Guardian Angel of Nazaré
Nazaré's big wave surfers get all the spotlight when those 60 to 80-foot mountains start rolling across the sands of Praia do Norte. That often means the world doesn't get to learn much about the men and women who are there to make sure these surfers are safe after they've wiped out. Sergio Cosme is one of these people, and this short film by Mikey Corker and Alex Laurel resonated with our viewers like few others this year. The film, The Guardian Angel of Nazaré, has won several awards at film festivals across the world.
4. Nathan Florence takes the Cape Fear crown
Highlights from Shipstern Bluff
We were starting to turn blue. It had been years since Cape Fear last ran. Now, the venue had shifted to the epic but logistically nightmarish Shipstern Bluff. The difficulties were mounting... and then a swell showed up. Some of the best big wave surfers in the world were called, last-minute plane tickets were booked, and history quickly ensued. In the end, Hawaiian Nathan Florence was the man at the top of the pack. It was a day that won't soon be forgotten.
5. Leroy Bellet goes where no one has gone before at Teahupo'o
Chasing the Shot – Leroy Bellet
And then came the story of young Leroy Bellet, a mere high schooler when we started this project, who we captured in the midst of revolutionising surfing photography forever. Filmmaker Tyge Landa followed Leroy's journey, as he double-towed fierce Australian slabs with world-class big wave surfers like Mark Matthews, to the ultimate challenge: double-towing Teahupo'o with none other than Michel Bourez.
6. California's forgotten big wave gets its story told
Made In Central California Episode 1
Once upon a time, the Central California big wave, originally called Pescadero Point but since nicknamed Ghost Tree, was one of the most sought-after and publicised surf breaks on the planet... and then it just kind of disappeared. In this three-part Made In series, Filmmaker Graham Nash recounts the rise and fall of Ghost Tree, featuring Carlos Burle, Kai Lenny, and many more of the world's top big wave surfers.
7. The life of the professional aerialist is exposed
21 hours with Ian Crane
Some things have gotten too serious. That was the consensus when we, along with the World Surf League, decided to launch the Airborne Series. Taking it to the next level, we decided to introduce to the world 21Hours, an intimate, inside look at the lives of some of Airborne's top competitors — like Ian Crane and Jack Freestone — in the hours leading up to an Airborne event. Spoiler: You won't see burpees and exercise balls here.
8. A young Canadian surfer explores her country's surfing roots
Experiencing traditional Haida canoe design
Mathea Olin is a rising star in Canada's surf scene. She is scratching ever closer toward WSL World Tour qualification, and is on her way to officially qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games. But between relentless travels to far-flung surf destinations, Mathea returned home to surf and discover the deep history of the nearby island of Haida Gwaii. What ensues is stunning visual lesson in responsible travel, cultural heritage and incredible surfing.
9. The Jaws champ escapes to outer Indonesia
Mikala Jones, Billy Kemper and Dede Suryana score big, perfect Indo
What does a three-time (now four-time!) Jaws Challenge champion do in the off-season? He goes to outer Indonesia, of course. This past spring, Big Wave World Champ Billy Kemper joined Mikala Jones and Dede Suryana on a legendary trip to one of the Indo's best barrels, and filmmaker Ryan Moss was there to capture it all—from the moments leading up to the score to the last barrels.
10. Justine Dupont chases world records at Nazaré
Justine Dupont surfs a huge wave in Nazaré
We didn't expect to be putting this one on the list! But, as an early-season monster swell approached Nazaré in early November, Justine Dupont was prepared for take-off. Sure enough, she scored the biggest wave of her life, and perhaps the biggest wave ever ridden by a woman. No one was more caught off guard by such a feat this early in the season... who knows how much bigger Justine will go this winter.