Australian surfers utilized skill and local knowledge to make a clean sweep over their international rivals at the inaugural Red Bull Cape Fear Challenge.
The unique event, held at a punishing slab at Botany Bay in Sydney called "Ours," utilized a boxing card type format where Australians Ryan Hipwood, Mark Mathews, Koby Abberton and Dean Morrison went up against visitors like Jamie O'Brien, Shane Dorian, Bruce Irons and Ian Walsh. The Aussies proved to victorious in each bout.
Ryan Hipwood was the star performer. He won the Best Barrel of the Day award, riding the biggest and heaviest wave to come through the Ours lineup.
"This event has been a massive roller coaster ride," said Ryan Hipwood. "I've been planning on doing something like this for six or seven years and for it now to be finish is a massive weight off my shoulders. I'm really stoked with the event and that all these international surfers came. Hopefully this is the beginning of a lot of exciting events to come."
The contest ran on the last day of the waiting period, which had already been extended a month, and although the forecasted surf did not quite live up to expectations, the surfers were still impressed by the power of the wave. Hawaiian surfer Jamie O'Brien flew to Sydney after scoing Pipeline-esque tubes at Newport Beach, California, during the Hurricane Marie swell.
"This is the heaviest 6-foot wave I've ever surfed," said O'Brien. "I can't really imagine what it'd be like at 10-to-12 feet. I surfed here for the first time yesterday and it's a super fun wave. I didn't win my heat but it was definitely fun. It's a new school way of doing a contest, you're in the water with your buddy, but you also really want to beat them."
The organizer and mastermind of the event, Mathews narrowly won his clash against his big wave hero Dorian. Stoked with how his brainchild turned out, he remarked, "This has been a day I'll never forget, I got to surf at one of my favorite spots, against who I believe is the greatest big wave surfer of all time -- Shane Dorian. I'm really happy with this event, the surf is not big enough to tow, but still one of the best days of the year out there and everyone has been going for it."
The spot also impressed and humbled Dorian, who flew in late from Hawaii to make it to the contest.
"I've been wanting to surf this place for 10 years but it's never been on when I've been in Australia," said Dorian. "I've seen so much crazy footage of Mark, Koby (Abberton) and Ryan (Hipwood) and it was great to get out there for myself. It was really cool to get the invite into this event. I was in a Battle against Mark and he's a really competitive dude and there was a great atmosphere in the water. This is a powerful wave, just before the event started I was out there for the first time and my first wave got me in the head and drove me all the way to the bottom, into the reef and I got pounded. This wave has a lot of power."
Considered the inaugural event at Ours, it will be interesting to see where this thing goes from here. With so many lunatics at such a crazy spot, no doubt good things are ahead if they can keep the momentum going.
Red Bull Cape Fear Challenge Results:
Battle 1 - Ryan Hipwood (AUS) DEFEATED Jamie O'Brien (HAW)
Battle 2 - Mark Mathews (AUS) DEFEATED Shane Dorian (HAW)
Battle 3 - Laurie Towner (AUS) DEFEATED David Rastovich (NZL)
Battle 4 - Koby Abberton (AUS) DEFEATED Bruce Irons (HAW)
Battle 5 - Dean Morrison (AUS) DEFEATED Ian Walsh (HAW)
Battle 6 - Richie Vaculik (AUS) DEFEATED Evan Faulks (AUS)
Battle 7 - Kirk Flintoff (AUS) DEFEATED James Adams (AUS)
Battle 8 - Jesse Polock (AUS) DEFEATED Sam Macintosh (AUS)