We caught up with Gull jet skiers Richard and Mark after their trip to Cronulla for the annual Rip’n Ride.
It was a bitter sweet lead up to our annual pilgrimage to Sydney this year. As usual it was laced with excitement about shredding the surf in Cronulla and catching up with all our Auzzie freeride buddies, but at the same time, knowing it is most likely going to be the last Rip’n Ride event certainly was in the back of our minds.
The Rip’n Ride is Australasia’s biggest and longest running freeride jetski event. Its attracts the best from around Australia, New Zealand and afar and this year was no exception. The legendary Butch (Gunther Pfrengle) and his wife Julie have put on this magical get together that is the Rip’n Ride each year growing it from a simple BBQ on the beach 10 years ago to now the biggest freeride gathering in the Southern Hemisphere, if not the world.
The final swan song for the Rip’n Ride would be a 3-day affair. We had our Air NZ flights booked and accommodation sorted as soon as our entries were confirmed. Just entering in itself is a challenge as the event sells out so quickly. Wednesday we met at Auckland International hoping we’d get an elusive upgrade to kick things off. No business for us but we did get bumped to Premium Economy – Yess!!
Upon arrival we picked up our rental for the weekend and hit the road to Cronulla from Sydney Airport. We checked into our luxury 3-star accomodation (you don’t really need anything more when attending the Rip’n Ride) and then headed down to the local for some dinner and a few yarns with the local lads before the event kicks off the next morning. An easy start to a big weekend.
Unfortunately the weather gods weren’t on ours or the events side for the first couple of days. Thursday saw extremely small surf with very cool overcast conditions. The Auzzie boys were all throwing down still so it was a good watch. We got out there and slashed a few waves as well but were mindful of not damaging the skis we’d been loaned in the small surf.
Friday saw the arrival of some swell and also the wind and rain. The crisp cool southerly had strengthened and thus we joked with some of the lads there that we should be in NZ as the weather was better there. Still it was smiles all around whilst riding and talking shop with everyone. Each night we hit the local to continue the banter and reminisce over the day and also the previous events.
Saturday finally saw the Sydney weather we were hoping for. The sun was out and our pasty white kiwi bodies welcomed the 28deg sunshine. It was great to have the weather on side for the final day of the event. There were the usual special events run like the Biggest Air, and Sickest Trick comps. Also the First to Flip and Cherry Popper as well. The highlight was a very touching and emotional lunchtime break were we had the riders photo, and then a minutes silence for a couple of freeriders that past away over the last year – Tom Evans and Tom Mo. Tom Evans was a kiwi bloke from Otago who we both knew and miss (he’d made a huge impression on the Rip’n Ride with his outgoing and helpful nature at previous events), and Tom Mo is an English free rider with some Auzzie ties that had planned to attend this year. A close friend of Tom Mo’s brought some of his ashes to Cronulla where they scattered them in the surf as we all looked on. A very sombre and touching moment.
The event came to a close on Saturday night with the ever special Rip’n Ride prize giving. They give a huge amount away in sponsors prizes each year and this was no different – and as with the previous six years there was another brand new Yamaha Superjet stand-up jet ski to be drawn for one lucky entrant. Unfortunately it wasn’t either of us but it would have been good. Not sure how we’d have got it back though – a bit big for carry on. We celebrated into the night and made the most of the catching up with everyone.
Sunday we headed around to Butch and Julie’s home for the post-event brunch BBQ. Its always a great way to wind down before heading to the airport and home after a big weekend. Plus we wanted to make sure we expressed our sincere thanks for their huge efforts over the last 10 years. They have always been so welcoming especially for us kiwis. We were also treated to our good mate Mark Gomez, the current freeride and freestyle world champion, doing a backflip in their swimming pool. We’ve seen a few vids of people doing it but it is so much better in person.
As the afternoon set in it was time to hit the road to the airport. We said our goodbyes and headed off worn out from a massive weekend. It was a very quiet flight home thats for sure. A huge thanks again to both Butch and Julie for the final event. It was great to be a part of it. We’re looking forward to bringing Gunther to NZ this year for the Festival of Freeride event in Feb’18 as part of receiving the “Butch Award” at the Rip’n Ride for his efforts.
Thanks to GULL for fueling our mission to Cronulla. Another epic time that we won’t forget. Summer is on its way and we’ve got a few new tricks up our sleeve and missions to go on so check back soon. #FuelYourMission #GullSports