After a month of epic free-surfing action around Bali and a historic Warm-Up Session at Padang Padang, the window for the 2023 Rip Curl Cup Invitational has drawn to a close without the magic swell required to run the hallowed event. Despite a month-long waiting period during prime swell season (Aug 1st – Aug 31st), the waves at Padang Padang never reached the world-class caliber required to run the 20-Year Anniversary of the Ultimate Tuberiding Contest.
The official closing of the event window was announced by contest directors in front of a large audience at the Rip Curl Cup Wrap Party at Ulu Cliffhouse on Friday, Sep 1st. This year’s invitees, past event champions and the Bali surfing community all gathered at Ulu Cliffhouse to celebrate the event’s 20-year anniversary with a special “20 Years of Tubes” video screening, musical performances, and to look ahead to what will hopefully be a truly epic day of waves at the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang in 2024.
For now, The Cup will remain in Bali and reigning Rip Curl Cup Champion Clay Marzo (HAW) will have to wait until next year to defend his title. Meanwhile, this year’s all-star cast of international invitees, which included such heavy hitters as Taj Burrow (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA), Mason Ho (HAW) and Koa Smith (HAW), will be eager to steal away The Cup in 2024. The surfing world also eagerly awaits next year for the inaugural Women’s Rip Curl Cup at Padang Padang.
Only one borderline swell hit Padang Padang during the 2023 event window, but the narrow tide window and less-than-XXL swell heights meant that conditions were never spectacular or consistent enough to greenlight what has become the most anticipated barrel shootout of the year.
“Our standard is to guarantee that 24 of the world’s best tube riders – 16 men and 8 women – are competing in all-time barreling conditions at Padang Padang,” said Event Director James Hendy. “Anything less would mean compromising the integrity of the event.”
Hendy added that holding the contest at an alternate site, such as Bingin or Uluwatu, was also out of the question. The Rip Curl Cup will only be held at Bali’s premier barreling wave, Padang Padang.
During the opening week of the event window, a healthy dose of Indian Ocean swell saw the mythical wave at Padang Padang roar to life for the Rip Curl Cup Warm-Up presented by Samudera Indonesia, a three-hour surfing exhibition featuring 18 of the 24 invited surfers in this year’s Ultimate Tuberiding Contest at Padang Padang. In a historic performance, several of the women invitees seized the opportunity in the first-ever women’s exhibition heat at Padang Padang held in legitimate top-to-bottom spitting barrels. The women’s impressive barrel-riding performances put the surfing world on notice for next year.
“There were actually some really good waves during the Warm-Up, and I thought they might at least run the women’s event,” said 16-year-old Erin Brooks (CAN), a finalist in the men’s open division in 2023 and an invitee to this year’s Women’s Rip Curl Cup. “But that’s the really cool thing about this contest – it only runs if it’s perfect Padang.”
The large crowd gathered on the beach and cliffs at Padang Padang for the Warm-Up Session, as well as fans watching around the world via the Rip Curl x Island Brewing Livestream on YouTube, were treated to a barrel riding Master Class – and several brutal wipeouts – at the world-famous lefthander.
“I saw some girls charging and getting the best waves of their lives,” said Brooks. “I bet next year there will be so many women surfers who want to compete in this contest. Hopefully some legends come out, like Bethany Hamilton. She’s been in the men’s contest before, but it would really be cool if she joined us in the women’s contest next year.”
“Even though we didn’t get a green-light swell this year, the waves were still pumping here in Bali,” added Brooks. “That’s what this event is about, it’s about competing in the absolute best conditions at Padang Padang. We didn’t get it this year, but hopefully we get it next year and it’s bigger and better than ever!”