Today, the Championship Tour gathered in Keramas ahead of the Corona Bali Protected for the first time in five years. The event window will kick off tomorrow, May 27 -June 8 and the world's best athletes will compete in arguably one of the most high performance waves in the world -- Keramas, Bali.
The current Jeep Leader, Julian Wilson, is renowned for putting on memorable performances in both competition and free-surfing sessions at Keramas and will we be a clear favorite to move deep into the draw. The Australian natural-footer is sitting pretty at the top of the rankings and will be looking to further his lead as he looks to clinch a maiden World Title.
"To be back competing in Bali is really exciting," Wilson said. "I try and make a trip to Bali every 12 months so having the opportunity to compete here is awesome. Keramas is one of my favorite waves on the planet. This place has it all - barrels, power and air sections. Before we had the WSL Surf Ranch we had Keramas which has such a mechanical air section. This event is going to be really entertaining. It's good to be in the Jeep Leader Jersey because it means I've had a good season so far but there is still half the season to go. I need to keep my focus going and make sure I'm around the mark at the end of the year."
Filipe Toledo is the current World No. 2 after taking a win at the last CT event in Brasil. He will be one to watch when he takes on Conner Coffin and Mikey Wright in Heat 4 of the opening Round of the Corona Bali Protected.
"I am super excited to be back in Bali," Toledo said. "The last time we were here was one of the best events ever. Bali is incredible, the waves, the food the people and Keramas breaks really close to the beach so it's really good to watch -- I just love it. My plans have been working over the last few weeks and I'm feeling good and ready to go."
Lakey Peterson, current World No. 2, is enjoying an impressive start to the season and showing no signs of the injury that has hampered her performance over the past few years.
"I am excited for this opportunity for the women's CT to compete here for the first time and I'm excited to show people what we can do out here," Peterson said. "Keramas is a great high-performance wave -- it can offer you tube rides, turns and air sections. I went online to watch the highlights of the men's event in 2013, I watched a lot of John John (Florence) and of course Joel (Parkinson) who won, it got me really excited to get out there. I'm super happy right now, I'm in a really good place, I'm trying to really enjoy every event and keep the consistency going and hopefully keep up with Steph (Gilmore) on the rankings."
2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) won his last CT event at Kramas in 2013, even posting a perfect heat (20/20) along the way, a feat that has only been achieved a few times in WSL history. Currently sitting uncharacteristically low on the ratings, Parkinson is in need of a big result at the Corona Bali Protected and having proven himself year in year out at Keramas, will certainly be one to watch when competition kicks off tomorrow and he hits the water in the opening heat of Round 1.
"It's so good to be back competing in Bali -- I love this place," Parkinson said. "It's a perfect right hander that you can sit and watch by the pool all day, it's such a cool vibe. I've surfed here a lot over the years so I feel super comfortable plus I surfed in a few QS1,000 events here in recent years so I definitely feel confident with that in mind. It's going to be such an amazing event and i can't wait to get it started."
With Kelly Slater (USA) still recovering from a foot injury he sustained last year he will be unable to attend and will be replaced by Hawaiian prodigy Barron Mamiya (HAW). Mikey Wright (AUS) will grab another opportunity on the big stage with the WSL wildcard while Indonesia's own Oney Anwar (IDN) has been awarded the local wildcard.
Winning the Hurley Women's Trials was Carol Henrique (PRT) who will have her first ever appearance in a Championship Tour event. The young Portuguese competitor will have her work cut out for her, taking on Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Sage Erickson (USA) in Heat 3 of Round 1.
"I can't believe this, it feels amazing to win," Henrique said. "There is a lot of pressure on me but it will be good for my surfing. I think I'm the first Portuguese female to compete in a CT outside of Portugal which is really special. I'm so excited for the event to start and to be competing against my heroes."
Catch it all live on the WSL and Facebook, starting Sunday, May 27 local time (Saturday in the US), with a window that runs until June 9.