Hot on the heels of historic Bells, the Championship Tour will take an Indonesian detour from the Australian leg before heading outback to Margaret River. Beginning May 13, the Corona Bali Protected will setup shop on Keramas' black sand beach and the world's best will compete at Bali's high-performance staple for the third stop of the 2019 season.
Once a tight-lipped secret, Keramas' tube-to-ramp combo eventually got leaked-causing surfers, photographers and filmmakers to flock there for over a decade now.
Keramas is a relatively new event to the Championship Tour. The venue was host to the Oakley Bali Pro in 2013 and, after a five-year hiatus, returned to the CT schedule in 2018 as the Corona Bali Protected. The Corona Bali Protected has quickly become one of the Tour's most highly-anticipated stops. Keramas' reef powered right-hander is a blank canvas for the zenith of progressive maneuvers, timeless tube-riding and lighting-fast power surfing.
Keramas, like most of Bali, likes south, southwest and west swells. The break can hold waves from three to ten feet. Most mornings are glassy, which allows the wave to barrel off of the lava rock reef. Light wind usually kicks up in the afternoon, which converts the tossing lips into ramp-friendly copings. Keramas works best on a mid to incoming high tide.
This event marks a particular significance for 2x World Champion John Florence. In 2013, Florence landed one of the biggest airs ever completed in competition with an alley-oop that earned a perfect score. Keramas isn't all happy memories for Florence though, it's also where he sustained a knee-injury last year that sidelined him for the remainder of the 2018 season. Florence is healed-up and will enter the event carrying the momentum from his Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach win.
Florence currently dons the Jeep Leaderboard Jersey. With 32 heat wins while wrapped in yellow, Florence is the most dominating amongst all surfers to have ever worn it.
Kelly Slater's best result at Keramas is a Round 5 finish in 2013. The GOAT has had a marginal start to his 2019 campaign. Given Slater's ability in a tight pocket, and his strategic genius, don't write him off for the year just yet.
The defending Corona Bali Protected champion, Italo Ferreira, will enter the event ranked number two on the Jeep Leaderboard. Ferreira's electrifying performance last year showed that as a goofyfooter, with arguably the strongest backhand on Tour, the right-handed wave poses no disadvantage to him. For kicks and giggles, Ferreira even surfed a wave switch-stance in the dying minutes of the Final as a victory lap.
Reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina currently sits in the fifth spot on the Jeep Leaderboard. Like Ferreira, Medina's a goofyfoot with a powerful backhand that's equally deadly in the tube, air and on rail.
Speaking of goofyfooters, Caroline Marks will enter the Corona Bali Protected at the top of the Women's Jeep Leaderboard. Marks' powerful backhand has earned her a Semifinal finish at Bells and a win on the Gold Coast so far this year.
2018 was the first year the women competed at Keramas. 2018 World Title runner-up Lakey Peterson won the inaugural event making her the defending Corona Bali Protected champion. Raised on the long right-handed walls of Rincon, the Californian knows what to do with a lined-up right and is Title hungry.
Let's talk champions. It would appear that Keramas' rippable walls would resonate well with Stephanie Gilmore and Carissa Moore, both World Champions are comfortable in hollow surf and have top-notch rail games. However, at last year's event, Moore was eliminated in Round 3 and Gilmore had a Quarterfinal exit.
Courtney Conlogue, who returned from an injury last year, has the momentum of her Bells win going into the event. Malia Manual is another threat who's been in impeccable form in 2019 with her appearance in the Gold Coast Semifinal and Bells Final.
What's unique about Keramas is that it's a fresh event and any man or woman's game. The wave allows each competitor to maximize strengths, whether that's in the air, barrel or on rail. Joel Parkinson, a regularfoot, earned a perfect heat total in 2013 by barrel riding. Ferreira, a goofyfooter, won last year with a mixed bag of aerial prowess and top-to-bottom combinations. Michel Bourezwas a finalist at Keramas in 2013 and 2018, and it was his power surfing that got him there both times.
Keramas is a wave that allows surfers to choose their own adventure and express themselves. Perhaps Parkinson's words during his post-perfect heat interview in 2013 sum up why the athletes and fans look forward to the Corona Bali Protected. "It's just like free-surfing," he said, while grinning from ear to ear.
Watch the Corona Bali Protected live from May 13 to May 25 on Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook.