May 20, 2008: – – Within the past 72 hours, The O’Neill Mission has brought together nine of the most dynamic surfers in the world to the to the European surf center of Biarritz, hosted a launch party to remember on the beach of Anglet, moved the entire troupe 382km north to Ile d’Oleron, in the hope of discovering offshore winds and a few waves, made it through protesting French fisherman blocking the entrance to Ile d’Oleron with burning tyres, and temporarily lost five surfers as Hugo Savalli led them 200km too far north, following the wrong address on his satellite navigation system, then packed up again and headed another 450km north to the shores of Brittany. And this is only the beginning.
Enjoying the adventure is last year’s O’Neill Mission winner, Michel Bourez, eager to travel through the coast of France, surfing and exploring hidden waves.
“This is so different than any other contest,” he said. “It’s more like a fun adventure than anything else. I am looking forward to finding somewhere to surf on our own, and maybe even find a new wave that no one has surfed before. I have decided this year to go for loads of airs – a superman and some reverse airs,” he said.
“It’s totally different to The Mission last year in Tahiti, which is where I grew up surfing on the reef break in front of my house since I was eight years old,” Michel said. It might be a world away from Tahiti, but as contest director Matt Wilson pointed out; “It’s got that similar sense of mystery and the unknown.”
“We have a general idea of the direction we are heading, but we have no idea what to expect when we get there. That’s part of the whole Mission package,” Matt said. “The swell forecast is better in the Brittany region, which is great for us because that area is a lot more unexplored.”
For now The O’Neill Mission is camped on the beach at La Torche waiting to see what swell and adventure the day brings.
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 wetsuit 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 popularize 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.”
For full results and up to the minute info on the O’Neill Mission check out O’NeillEurope.com/TheMission.