From Kelly Slater dominating the Quiksilver Pro at perfect G-Land in the 90s, to Bruce Irons winning the Rip Curl Search at pumping Padang in the 00s, Indonesia is good for some of the greatest surf contest highlights in history.
After a long hiatus from the Championship Tour schedule, in 2018 the WSL returned to Indonesia. First to Keramas for the Corona Bali Pro, and then across the Bukit peninsula to Uluwatu for the Uluwatu CT, a make-up event for the canceled Margaret River Pro. While Uluwatu was just a one-off, Keramas returned again in 2019. Three events. Three great swells. Hours and hours of highlights.
While we await the return of the CT to Indonesia in June - this year to Java and the famous left-handers on G-Land - we decided to revisit the Top 7 heats and happenings from the comps at Keramas and Uluwatu during the past two years.
1) Kanoa Igarashi takes his first Championship Tour win in 2019 at Keramas
The rundown: During finals day at the Corona Bali Pro in 2019 Igarashi was unstoppable. His surfing was far and away the most impressive of his young career. "I kinda went into this zone that, I truly believed I didn't know what could stop me," Igarashi told Surfer Magazine after the win. "I felt like I knew exactly what I needed to do and as long as I did it I would win the contest. Once I won that heat against Slater in the semifinal I felt completely locked in. It was almost like I just had to go through the motions, I was so confident."
Why it's important: Igarashi's win marked his arrival as a full-blown world title contender.
2) Italo Ferreira's perfect 10 during his 2018 semifinal at Keramas
The rundown: This semifinal at the Corona Bali Pro was one of the best heats of 2018. Jordy Smith and Ferreira went back-and-forth in perfect, sheet glass, 4-foot Keramas - a high performance dream. But it was Ferreira's backside full rotation, followed up by two big snaps and a shuv-it, that stands as one of the best waves ever ridden in competition at Keramas.
Why it's important: This air lifted Ferreira into the finals (which he'd easily win), and started him on his two-year roll that culminated with his 2019 world title.
3) Steph Gilmore's perfect 10 during the 2019 final at Keramas
The rundown: The beauty of surfing is you can ride a wave so many different ways. However, every so often a surfer draws a line from start to finish that is unanimously considered perfect. This wave from Steph Gilmore is that; it simply could not have been ridden any better. We're just lucky it happened in competition.
Why it's important: Aside from winning Gilmore the final, this wave set her up for her 7th world title.
4) John Florence dominates opening day at Keramas in 2018
The rundown: The CT's return to Keramas was met with a bang. Literally. Opening day coincided with one of the biggest swells of Indonesia's season. While the wonky 6- foot slabs were a challenge to the majority of the surfers that day, John Florence paddled out and bagged two 8-point tubes and basically showed the entire field how it's done.
Why it's important: It proved, again, that Florence is untouchable in barreling surf. It was also the last time we'd see Florence surf before hurting his knee - an injury that has kept him out of full-time competition for two years.
5) Eli Hanneman's frontside full rotation from the 2019 Red Bull Airborne at Keramas
The rundown: While it was Jack Freestone that eventually won the first-ever Red Bull Airborne in Bali, young Eli Hanneman made the biggest splash. The young Maui gluefoot stomped nearly every air he attempted on his way to a third place finish. This inverted frontside air 360 from the qualifying rounds was the air of the contest, and a glimpse of what we'll see from Hanneman when he eventually qualifies for the CT.
Why it's important: Hanneman was an underdog in his first Airborne event against CT vets and freesurf stars. This air proved him capable of winning the whole thing.
6) Julian Wilson's buzzer beater in the 2018 Uluwatu CT semifinal
The rundown: After the 2018 Margaret River Pro was canceled due to "heavy shark activity", the WSL rescheduled the event for Bali's Bukit Peninsula, and renamed it the Uluwatu CT. The contest that was never meant to happen ended up being one of the most enjoyable events of the year, for surfers and fans alike. In the semifinals, Kolohe Andino had Julian Wilson on the ropes, until Wilson hammered this wave to the tune of an 8.5 with only four minutes left.
Why it's important: This wave kept Wilson in the world title hunt all the way to the end. Had he won the Uluwatu CT, he may have actually won the world title. Which leads to…
7) Willian Cardoso wins the 2018 Uluwatu CT in his rookie year
The rundown: The feel good story of the year in 2018. After a decade of grinding on the Qualifying Series, Willian Cardoso finally qualified at the end of 2017. In just his fourth-ever CT, Cardoso broke through to the finals by absolutely smashing the Uluwatu left. Against Julian Wilson in the final, he dropped a pair of 8-pointers and never looked back. Cardoso's one and only CT win will always be something worth celebrating.
Why it's important: Some CT vets never win a single event. This was Cardoso's unforgettable day.