In a week that saw tens of thousands of women march for rights and equality on land, Ripcurl let fly its new brand campaign heroing Australia’s best women in the water.

Superstars including two-time World Surfing Champion Tyler Wright and twice-Australian Champion Molly Picklum took to the waves at the Urbnsurf wave pool in Melbourne on Wednesday to test ride the brand’s new summer 2021 collection.

The launch event saw Ripcurl girls take over the pool for a solid five hours of barrels, turns, and the occasional wipeout, wearing a new line of technical high-performance swimwear dubbed the “Mirage” collection. The collection is, according to Ripcurl, aimed at “adventure-seeking surfers and beachgoers alike”, made from neoprene for compression and “two-way shape and stretch retention” with eco-friendly Italian Lycra. Whatever the tech; the women looked sharp, fluid, and comfortable while slashing turns in the pool, and reported to Tracks they were toasty enough in 16-degree water on a sunny autumn day in Melbourne.

The takeover of the wave pool marked the beginning of a new brand direction for Ripcurl in empowering women to feel confident in swimwear, under the tag line “summer looks good on you”.

“The messaging is to be confident, get out there and have a go,” two-time World Champion Tyler Wright, who has represented Ripcurl for more than 18 years, told Tracks poolside.

“Whoever you are today, that is the best you. Remember, you’re f*cking brilliant and you’re doing a great job. I think the way the team and the women behind Ripcurl are marketing this, they’re really authentic and they want to drive that message of inclusion, diversity and accessibility.”

Tyler Wright and friends at the launch of Rip Curl's new Women's range on Wednesday.

A long-time champion of inclusion and diversity, Wright skipped the “advanced” barrel sessions in the pool to share some longboard rides in “cruiser” waves with 78 women of all skill levels from the Ripcurl head office. Meanwhile, your faithful Tracks correspondent alternatively ripped, then ate concrete, as she got the hang of the man-made tube rides sucking up chlorine next to experts like former QS surfer Jamaica Selby and up-and-coming Northern Beaches threat Tru Starling.

“When I was young, the surf media’s portrayal of women was always: sex objects,” Wright told Tracks. “Oversexualisation of women’s bodies. We were never portrayed as incredibly strong, fierce athletes. I think finally that is beginning to change.”

The athletes put on a show in an exclusive girls-only barrel session in the afternoon, then swapped their wetsuits for Ripcurl’s 2021 range of surf fashion for speeches and a cocktail party at Urbnsurf’s Three Blue Ducks into the evening. Former pro Dimity Stoyle took control on the DJ decks (“DJ Shimmy”). Makeup and shoes were optional.

In focus behind the veil of an Urbnsurf slab.

In a sign of the times, the red carpet seemed very much an afterthought to showcasing the women’s prowess in the pool.

The “summer looks good on you” campaign was devised in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, when lockdowns made it impossible to travel the globe and shoot video in epic surf locations as past brand campaigns have. Instead, Ripcurl called on almost 50 team riders of different sizes and backgrounds around the globe to submit a video message about what summer meant to them. The diversity in talent ranged from QS surfer Kobie Enright to amputee surfer Bethany Hamilton.

Senior Swimwear Designer Nat Bortolotto also took a leap of faith in choosing to use real Ripcurl employees in the modelling shoots for her new clothing line.

Dimity Stoyle aka DJ Shimmy on the decks.

“We always talk about visibility and real women – you can’t get more real than your own staff!” she told the audience at Three Blue Ducks café after the surfing sessions.

“I thought, ‘you’re always talking about this diversity and inclusion stuff, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.’”

Brooke Farris, who worked with Rip Curl for more than 10 years before stepping up to become the brand’s General Manager of Women’s in November 2020, said she was particularly proud of the research and engagement Ripcurl undertook before shaping the brand’s new direction.

“We did a lot of research and surveys of customers that shaped this new range and campaign,” she told Tracks.

“We asked – what do women want? And what do they want to see? I’m really proud of the direction we’re heading.”