May 13, 2019

Photo of Koa Rothman, Nathan Florence and Billy Kemper by Daniel Russo

Congratulations to Nathan Florence for taking home the win and Red Bull Cape Fear 2019’s most insane big-wave surfer bragging rights.

This year was full of firsts for Red Bull Cape Fear. It was the first time a swell has cooperated with the event window since 2016. It was the first time the event successfully parted ways with Cape Solander to run at an equally mental wave— Shipstern Bluff, in Tasmania, Australia. And it was the first proper contest Nathan Florence won.

The 24-year-old came fired up—so fired up, he was suited up well before the boats were headed to Shippies to start the day. Once the first heat got underway, he joined the likes of Mick Fanning, Marti Paradisis and Pedro ‘Scooby’ Vianna, Nathan’s preparedness began to pay off.

While the others opted to be towed in, Nathan paddled into every wave to lock in the first heat win of the day beating out Mick, who in a pre-comp interview with Red Bull labeled Nathan a “proper nutcase.”

Of the five heats and 20 entries, the finals were narrowed down to: Nathan, Laurie Towner, Michael Brennan, James Hollmer-Cross and Justen ‘Jughead’ Allport (a fireman by trade, and a people’s favorite for his non-pro status).

Again, Nathan opted to tap into his cross-trained muscles and paddle into his waves. And again, this paid off massively with a finals-winning 15.16 after pulling into some massive judge-pleasing barrels. Wave choice, jedi mastery and a bit of recklessness landed Nathan a winner’s check, trophy and all the bragging rights.

Congratulations, Nathan! We’re stoked to see what’s next.