The Corona Bali Protected -formerly the Corona Bali Pro - men's and women's contests will bring the world's best surfers back to Bali and the incredible location of Keramas. The wave itself provides the athletes with a canvas to perform to their very limits, while it has to be the only place where you can sit in a pool, sip a beer and watch Filipe Toledo do a front-side flip. One million years in the making, we take a long term look at surfing's most modern event.
From Homo Erectus to Homo Surfus
Bali formed when the Indo-Australian tectonic plate moved under its Eurasian neighbor. This tectonic subduction, as it is called in the Bali nightclubs, lifted the ocean floor's limestone and coral reefs above sea level. This movement also created fissures in the crust through which volcanoes eagerly sprang. Mt Agung, Bali's largest active volcano, has been depositing magma for over a million years, the most recent being just 40 years ago. Humans were quick to spot the beauty, with Java Man, the first known specimen of Homo Erectus, arriving in the hood between 1.7 and 0.7 million years ago. Homo Sapiens, on the gap-year walk to Australia, arrived around 45,000 years ago. The Buddhists and Hindus appeared around 1000 AD earning Bali its nickname, "Island of The Gods." The Portuguese touched down in the 1500s and the Dutch set up camp a century later. However, it wasn't until 1970 that Homo Surfus arrived, changing the island forever. It was their introduction that eventually led to where we are now, on the eve of the first-ever Corona Bali Pro.
To the Bukit and Beyond
It was the 14-year-old Australian Steve Cooney who is credited with first surfing Indonesia, in 1970, when he traveled there with filmmaker Albe Falzon and American surfer Rusty Miller. Their arrival at Uluwatu on the Bukit Peninsula and the subsequent footage that featured in the seminal movie, Morning of the Earth, put the island on the surfing map. Over the next four decades the surfers came in trickles, then in waves and, finally, in floods, drawn by the epic waves, warm water and the beauty of the Balinese people. It is now an international global hub for surfers, providing something special for every type of surfer. Basically if you're a surfer, and haven't been to Bali, you need to sort your life out.
An Eastern Secret
Up until the 1990s, Bali's east coast was a well-kept secret. While Sanur and Nusa Dua were well known hubs on that part of the island, the other parts of coast were kept hidden by swaths of rice fields. Who rode Keramas first is unknown, but early on, naturalfooters guarded it with their lives, as it was a world-class right in the land of lefts. However, surfers aren't known for keeping secrets, and eventually the word got out. When photos appeared of Keramas in a surfing magazine in 2000, the secret was out. The world then knew that Bali had another absolute diamond of a wave that offered tubes, big turns and massive ramps. When the Komune Resort opened up in front of the wave in 2012 and brought a pool, lawn, beach bars, DJs, night-surfing lights and accommodation, a new dimension of fun was added. In the water, and out, there is perhaps no better place to be a surfer.
The Circus Comes to Town
"I'd been coming to Bali since I was 12 years old and surfing Keramas for a decade," 2012 World Champ Joel Parkinson told the WSL. "It's a part of the world that I'm most happy and relaxed in. That's how I won the Oakley Pro in 2013. I just enjoyed myself and the wave. It's almost impossible not to." That year, the Oakley Pro featured a week of perfect waves and a series of incredible performances. Parko nailed a perfect heat score with his tuberiding, and John John Florence performed what could possibly be considered the biggest alley-oop of all time. It was a one-off however, with the Keramas event becoming a Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000-level contest ever since. Despite its lower ranking in terms of points, though, the event always attracted the sport's biggest names (Taj Burrow, for example, has won it twice). However, with the arrival of the Corona Bali Pro, the wave and the location are finally bringing the world's best surfers back to one of the most fit for purpose locations in the surfing world.
A Wave That Works for Everyone
"The addition of Bali just makes sense," WSL commentator Ronnie Blakey said at the start of the 2018 season. "Keramas is a wave that is tailor-made for where the sport is right now. It is the perfect CT wave with punch, power, innovation and tubes. It will work for everyone on Tour." That, and the fact that we have little historical data, makes picking favorites incredibly hard. Parko, the de facto defending champ, must be in the mix. Kelly Slater, too, has probably done more time at the wave than any other surfer on the CT. Twelve months ago, Adriano de Souza logged a perfect heat score on the way to the Semifinals in the QS event, a result that Sebastian Zietz matched. The CT's best aerialists -- Florence, Filipe Toledo, Griffin Colapinto and Italo Ferreira -- can all be expected to produce fireworks. Among the CT women, Stephanie Gilmore's incredible tuberiding skills will likely stand out, just as her closest rival, Lakey Peterson, will likely bring her progressive skills to the fore. Yet as Blakey said, this is a wave that works for everyone. On the Island of the Gods, under active volcanoes and surfing over coral raised from the depths millennia ago, the Corona Bali Open will showcase the very best of our sport.