Stab Magazine | Which Will You Watch: Shipsterns Or Keramas?

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Which Will You Watch: Shipsterns Or Keramas?

With Red Bull Cape Fear and the Corona Pro Bali set to kick off simultaneously, viewers must choose their tabs wisely. 

news // May 13, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sunday afternoon (US) or Monday morning (Aus) will be the most exciting day of surf spectatorship in 2019. 

Maxing Bells was great, and Day 1 at pumping Keramas will be a delight, but the inaugural event at Shipstern Bluff is on a different plane of entertainment.  

Red Bull Cape Fear has taken on the challenge of broadcasting a live surf event at one of the most dynamic and remote big wave locations on the planet. Thanks to their vision and dedication, we’ll all get to tag along – for free. 

The thing is, Red Bull really should be charging us to watch. Not because they need the money, as those cans continue to fly off shelves worldwide, but merely out of principle. If you create something engaging enough that people stop what they’re doing for five-plus hours and just …watch… you’ve earned the right to charge them, us, for it.

Because you know we’d all pay for this shit.

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Especially when you’ve got Fanning on the guest list. 

You’ll remember the last Cape Fear event, in 2016, at the infamous Cape Solander off Sydney’s Botany Bay.

It was the most spectacular event in surfing, spanning two days across east coast Australia’s decade-defining swell. Rumors indicate that the viewership reached unprecedented levels for a surf comp, which relates to the fact it was so much more than people riding waves for a score. The 2016 event was more of a Colleseum-esque deathmatch than it was a surf comp.

“Last time the event ran I watched every second,” said 3x World Champion Mick Fanning, a competitor in this year’s Cape Fear event. “I was in awe of the athletes and their performances.”

This year could be even better, for two simple reasons.

1. Recognizing they could never improve upon the 2016 Cape Solander event, Red Bull, under the direction of Mark Mathews, made the call to move the event to Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania. For over a decade, Shippies has been the most recognizable and sought-after ledge in surfing, known for its mid-face step that surfers must delicately dance above to complete their ride. It’s a taller wave than Solander and, despite not breaking directly in front of a rock face, offers a similar shock and awe value. 

2. Because Red Bull is finally on good term$ with the WSL, Big Wave Tour athletes are now able to compete in Cape Fear. You might remember that some of the world’s best surfers (Albee Layer etc.) were forced to remove themselves from the 2016 event out of fear that the WSL would banish them from the Tour if they chose to compete. This year, that’s not the case. On top of the lesser-known Tassie locals that will compete on Sunday/Monday, we’ll also see Nate Florence, Billy Kemper, Koa Rothman, Ryan Hipwood, and the 2016 Cape Fear champion, Russell Bierke, all of whom are full-timers on the WSL BWT.

As an added bonus, Mark Mathews will make his big-wave return after brutal back-to-back injuries, which have kept him out of ‘heavy’ surf for nearly four years.  

“My goal is to get one big barrel and finish the day without any lasting injuries,” Mathews said. “This will be my first time surfing really big tow waves since my injury, so if I can pull that off, I’ll be psyched.”

At the same time Shippies is running, the WSL will begin its opening day of the 2019 Corona Bali Pro and potentially the Red Bull Airborne (which would be a strange marketing decision on RB’s end, but whatevs). With ample swell and uncommonly moderate tides forecasted, Keramas will likely run throughout the entire day, finishing Round 1 for both the Men and Women.

One of the best waves on the Tour, on a day of damn fine surf, and how many people do you think will tune in? Barring those, like myself, who will be running double tabs, you’d have to think the vast majority of surf fans will opt for Shippies over Keramas. Hell, I bet most of the Top-34 will sneak away to catch some of the Tasmanian action between heats. 

But maybe I’m wrong. If so, tell me below. 


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