It feels like only yesterday that the world title showdown was happening at Pipeline, with Medina going full blown next level to claim his second World Title crown and Stephanie Gilmore cruising to her seventh. I am confident that I am not the only one thinking where the hell the last 5 months went. Nonetheless, a lot has gone down in the surf world between the Christmas ham and now, and surf fans should be frothing at the mouth for the upcoming few weeks of action.
Jordy Smith cranking one at Keramas, Photo by Jordon Godley
The first and most obvious thing to draw your attention to this week, is the WSL tour stop at Keramas on the beautiful island of Bali. Although only the third event of the year, fireworks have already been lit on the Gold Coast and Bells Beach in Australia, with the usual suspects already establishing themselves at the top of the pecking order, solidifying the thought that they are a cut above the rest of the pack on the Championship tour. On the mens side there is no surprise to see the three musketeers of the Brazilian Storm in Medina, Toledo and Ferreira inside the top of 5 of the rankings already. This maybe an ominous sign that the World Title may be heading back to Brazil again, with the three dominating at many events still yet to be surfed in 2019 and Ferreira being the defending champion at the Keramas event. However the most obvious candidate for Brazilian kryptonite is Hawaii’s John Florence, who is man handling waves since his return from injury in 2018, and currently sitting on top of the ratings heading into Keramas. In spite of this, the high performance waves at Keramas, offer up perfect tubes and skate park like sections that all World Tour surfers can play with in their sleep. Expect to see the usual contenders like Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson, the GOAT (Kelly Slater) and our very own Surf Ears ambassador Conner Coffin, give the top dogs a run for their money. On the Women’s side their is a changing of the guard at the top of the rankings with seventeen year old Caroline Marks beating out the main stays of Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore, and Tyler Wright. Lets see if her lethal backhand can continue to destroy walls at Keramas, and fend of the usual suspects and World Tour hopefuls of Courtney Conlogue and Lakey Peterson, who have been so close to their Maiden World Title in recent years.
Playing second fiddle to the main events at Keramas, but none the less exciting, is the Red Bull Airborne competition, which I think will go one step above the performances put on display on the Gold Coast earlier this year. The consistent trade winds at Keramas provide light onshore winds almost on que every afternoon, creating the perfect conditions for some big punts on some of the most perfect air sections known to man. Once again it will be interesting to see some specialist air guys come up against the Championship tours finest, who don’t hold back as witnessed by the events winner on the Gold Coast in Italo Ferreira.
As most know Mick Fanning will not be surfing at this years event in Keramas, but he will be throwing on the jersey at arguably the most insane surf contest of all time, the Red Bull Cape Fear. The invite only event that attracts the world’s best big wave and slab surfers to the notorious Shipstern’s Bluff in Tasmania, which has a waiting period of 4 months to ensure some proper swell is very likely to run on Monday. Fanning who can match it with the best in waves of consequence will be going up against 19 other lunatics, who are set to put on a show for the ages. After not running for three years, the Cape Fear contest will see Fanning and the likes of defending champion Russel Bierke, Laurie Towner, Billy Kemper, Nathan Florence and Mark Matthews come up against a bunch of nuts local who day jobs range from firefighters and nurses to high school teachers and a rental car agent. The odds are probably in favour of the locals who have pioneered the wave and know its intricacies better then anyone. So no excuses for not calling in sick on monday surf fans. Sit back, relax, and put your feet up for a jammed pack week of high level, insane surfing!
Words by Sam Shearar