May 15, 2008: – – With just days until The O’Neill Mission 2008 starts venturing along the French coast, the final lineup of surfers determined to discover the uncrowded perfect waves of France has been confirmed.
Among them is Cory Lopez. A surfing legend, the Floridian is eagerly anticipating a new adventure following eleven years on the ASP World Tour. “It is my first year off the WCT,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is that The Mission is a freesurfing contest. It makes it so much less restrictive.”
There is no fear however that Cory has lost any of his competitive edge. While his excitement at exploring the French coast might be genuine, so too is his desire to win. “I’ve had some great waves in France before, but I’ve only been between Lacanau and Spain, so I am excited to explore the northern coast,” he said. “But I really want to win badly.”
He will be in similarly illustrious company during the week ahead. Former O’Neill Mission winners Michel Bourez from Tahiti and Hawaii’s Ian Walsh will be among the nine surfers gathering in Anglet in southwest France on May 17th.
Local surfer, Tim Boal, might be at home in Biarritz, but he too is looking forward to discovering new waves in his own country. “I have been traveling non-stop around the world so I only surf around Biarritz when I am at home,” he said. “It’s surprisingly going to be something new for me to get out there and explore the rest of the coast.”
Completing the most dynamic lineup of surfers The Mission has seen so far is Jarrad Howse, Hugo Savalli, Justin Mujica, Julian Wilson, and the recently crowned winner of The O’Neill Highland Open, Adam Robertson.
After two years exploring the Tahitian surf, The Mission has chosen France for its adventure in 2008. Free to roam wherever the best waves and surf conditions dictate, the nine surfers will have the entire French coastline at their disposal – including the possibility to make a detour to the Mediterranean if required.
During the week of May 17th until the 25th, the guys will be taken on a surfing mission, for a competition like no other. Breaking every French-surf stereotype, The Mission will take full advantage of the rugged coastline of the northwest to the renowned surf beaches of the southwest of France.
Traveling the coast in campervans, with the freedom to stop and camp wherever Mother Nature provides the optimal conditions, the flexibility of this unique event formula is extended.
The innovative ‘no judges, no rules’ formula of The O’Neill Mission continues for 2008. Every wave of every surfer will be filmed, with each surfer selecting their favorite waves to be edited into a video and judged at the end. Then it is all about surfers judging surfers, with the overall winner walking away with US$25,000.
The Mission will also see the first ever Amph Progression Session, as well as The Amph Progression Award take place over the week, with a total of 2,000Euro prize money up for grabs.
1 Ian Walsh USA
2 Michel Bourez TAH
3 Jarrad Howse AUS
4 Julian Wilson AUS
5 Justin Mujica POR
6 Cory Lopez USA
7 Tim Boal FRA
8 Hugo Savalli REU
9 Adam Robertson AUS
17 May Arrival & Kick-Off, Anglet
18 May First surfing day in the Basque Country/Les Landes
19 – 25 May Travel & surf the French Coast from Biarritz to Brittany
25 May Judging Session, Prizegiving & Closing Party – wherever we are!
The O’Neill Story: From Ocean Beach to the Highland Open And The Mission
Jack O’Neill created O’Neill in 1952, after he had moved to San Francisco and discovered the cold-water joys of surfing Ocean Beach. As much a sailor, hot air balloon pilot and serial inventor as a surfer, Jack always knew instinctively what his fellow ocean lovers were looking for. Jack’s pioneering development of the wettsuit meant that before long surfers were riding more waves, and riding them better, in large measure because they could enjoy longer sessions in cold water.
By 1980, Jack’s shop, which began as the classic surfer’s garage outfit, had metamorphosed into a leading global surfing company. Remarkably, even now – at the age of 85 – Jack’s energy and passion for the ocean continue to define O’Neill. The company’s ethos is born of its Northern California roots, as Jack continues his mission to pursue and popularise the environmental projects that have become synonymous with O’Neill.
Chief among them is the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program, begun in 1996. In the US, this is a free, educational cruise aboard the Team O’Neill catamaran that acquaints children with the microbiology of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. For as Jack says: “The best thing I have ever done in my life was to bring those kids to the ocean.”