The cream of European surfing having a blast in Hainan…

A decade in existence, The Nixon Surf Challenge has grown from a casual get-together of befriended riders into an annual trip discovering new destinations. The event’s concept was first hatched over a decade ago and for many years was held in the Basque beach town of San Sebastian, Spain where Nixon, a handful of team riders, friends of the brand, photographers, and magazines would post up, hang out, and surf their faces off during this annual event. Fast forward a few years later and the Nixon Surf Challenge migrated to colder, lesser known surf spots in Lofoten (Norway), Iceland, Kamtchatka (Russia) and this year’s event landed the crew in Hainan, China (May 26 – 31, 2015), the beating heart of China’s rapidly expanding surf industry.

After nearly a week of competition, it was Jonathan Gonzalez – the 34-year-old surfer from the Canary Islands – who was voted by his peers ‘Overall Winner’, more than 10 years after his first victory in San Sebastian. The win didn’t come easy. In humid, hot weather with temperatures often hitting the mid-30s, Mr. Consistent Marlon Lipke and Gony Zubizarreta were both also in contention throughout the five-day contest window, repeatedly demonstrating why they too continue to occupy positions at the very pinnacle of the European surf scene. 

The surfers, including adventurer Kepa Acero were kept on their toes throughout the event by high-energy young guns including aerial specialists William Aliotti and Gaspard Larsonneur. But when it came to ‘Best Trick’, it was the turn of another Frenchman, 2013 edition winner Vincent Duvignac, to blow the doors off with a flawlessly executed and grabbed 360 to revert. 

Over the years, we’ve explored some of the most remote and inhospitable surf spots on the planet. Not exactly easy to get to, Hainan will leave a lasting impression on everyone for different reasons, with its seemingly endless rows of empty beach-side skyscrapers – in some ways a bit like Hawaii and Miami, but with its own Chinese twist. With waves like that, and China’s ability to build the unthinkable, it’s going to be a place to watch in the future for sure.

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