We may have lost Cloudbreak, but at least the tour is heading back to Indo.
The last time we were in Keramas for a Championship Tour event it was the Oakley Pro Bali, and oh my sack what an event that was. It ran back in 2013, and it was a great place to be at the time. Next year, among many other changes, sees the return of one of the funnest right-handers in the world. Let’s unpack.
Keramas is made to be a contest venue. With perfect elevation on the beach, a locale that enables a WSL-standard tower and contestants area to be built, and a great spread of space for spectators to sprawl and catch some sun while watching the best surfers in the world. Komune also has a great setup there, and there actually is a pool overlooking the wave, and a bar alongside. So it’s all about waves, dips in the pool and cold beers. It’s the most perfect set-up, for a real wave as opposed to a wave pool that is.
It’s a sick right-hander. It does have a few anomalies about it though. For example, if the charts are showing good swell, and everything is in place, there will still be no waves on the low tide. As soon as the tide starts moving up, the swell comes with it, literally by every set. On the best day of the event in 2013 it started off at dawn totally flat at full low tide. By that afternoon it was six-foot dredging barrels and Joel Parkinson had a 20-point heat and went on to win the event in its entirety. To make matters even better, there are a few other excellent waves in the area. Just look to your right, when looking out to sea.
Having an event late May (May 27 - June 9) is a slightly questionable call, as it might be too late to get good winds. Having said that, with the amount of waiting period, and the variances of conditions that are prevalent in Bali as a whole, there’ll definitely be good days out there. The wave is a fast high-performance right-hander with barrels and ramps, and the water is bath-warm. It showcases futuristic surfing, but still acknowledges old school tube riding and power carves. In 2013 John John pulled off what was at the time the best alley oop ever seen in competition.
The Bali Vibe
The whole Bali scene can be a bit much at times, unless you succumb to the Zen of it all, and decide to go with the flow. There are loads of people and it does get a bit oppressive with radical traffic and highly congested roads and shops. They’re a mellow bunch on the whole though, and there will no doubt be a good crew of locals working with the WSL and their team to ensure that it all runs smoothly. It’s different though. Bali is not G-land, and it’s not a boat trip. There is dirt, grime, pollution, crime and other issues, but there are also amazing beaches, smiling faces, incredible waves, and great food.
Keramas has powerful lights set up so that you can surf at night. People utilize this, and there are bound to be some midnight sessions going down during the waiting period.
The Expat Scene
There are a whole lot more expats in Bali than you would expect. During the finals day of the 2013 event they all started emerging, and I remember seeing so many South Africans, Australians and plenty of Europeans who were all living in Bali long term. Many of them had found decent work in the surf industry, while others were trustafarians living la vida loca. It’s a great place to be if you can make it work, and there’s no winter, and that alone is worth something.