It didn't take long for the surfers of Perth back in the 1950s to realize that the 10-square mile chunk of limestone that sat 11 miles due west was the reason their beaches received so little swell.
As they searched for new lineups, this small group of dedicated wave-riders quickly came to learn that there were a dozen or so quality waves around Rottnest Island. Strickland Bay, the island's most consistent and best wave, became a focal point.
Over the decades a trip to "Rotto" became a Western Australian surfer's right of passage. The protected status of the island meant cars were banned and only workers and their families could live there. With a permanent population of just 300, it was, and remains, a surfing anomaly where very few "local" surfers live. Of those, the most famous is Mitch Thorson, a former 1980s CT surfer, who was born and raised on the Island.
The combination of great waves and scarce crowds has helped make it a regular competition venue and an ideal site for the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona. It has hosted numerous State and National Titles and has been a regular stop on the Australian Junior Series. It was at Strickland Bay that Ace Buchan claimed his second Australian Junior Title back in 2001 (unfortunately, due to a back injury Buchan has withdrawn from the event).
Wayne Murphy is a former WSL judge, surf writer and now a teacher whose Irish-born parents ran the Island's Quokka Arms Hotel when he was a kid. Now living in Ireland, Murph can't wait for the CT kick-off.
"Having grown up on Rottnest, I often dreamed of seeing pro surfers getting stuck into Strickland Bay's big chunky peak," Murphy told the WSL.
Murphy likens it to Margaret River Mainbreak, just condensed, more intense, and without the flat sections. "The tapering right hander is a bit like Haleiwa in Hawaii, complete with a turbulent toilet-bowl finish," says Murph.
"The freight train left-hander can hold more swell and provides some serious tubes over a very shallow reef and a hairy finish before the lagoon for those who want to put it all on the line. When it gets to double-overhead plus size, it can match just about any wave in the world for sheer power."
The good news for competitors and surf fans is that the best months for those conditions happen in May when the Indian Ocean groundswells are often met by easterly offshore winds.
Rip Curl's Search events have traditionally offered a high bar for both wave quality and a fresh surfing scene. Rottnest and Strickland Bay (a.k.a. Rotto and Stricko) easily jump that bar. It boasts a world-class wave that offers both power and performance and comes wrapped in an environment that is both wild, pristine and protected.
The waiting period for the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona kicks off on May 16. Stay tuned for all the latest news, forecasts and updates right here at WorldSurfLeague.com.