The Mexican state of Oaxaca is home to some amazing wonders, like ancient Zapotec and Mixtec archeological sites, smokey and smooth mezcal, and fresh seafood. But for surfers, its crown jewel is a fang of land jutting out into the Pacific Ocean - and when a strong south swell makes its way to the shoreline of Barra de la Cruz, one of the best waves in the world puts on a show.
For a few days back in the summer of 2006, with a tuned-in global audience, she put on arguably the best show the competitive surfing world had ever seen at the famed righthander.
Nestled near the coast in the southern Mexican jungle, the small village of Barra de la Cruz has been on the minds of surfers since the 1980s in one way or another. Given the lack of mainstream exposure and its extreme remoteness, no one quite knew what to make of this isolated area of Mainland Mexico.
Then came 2005, and with it, the inaugural Rip Curl Search event. Held at the rippable left of St. Leu, Reunion Island, the event was such a success that the powers that be at Rip Curl immediately began looking for next year's venue. As members of the search team scoured the globe for a suitable venue, word of a roping right point break began trickling through the office corridors at the company's headquarters.
After a week-long scouting trip by a select few, the tiny hamlet of Barra de la Cruz was selected. With the exception of a few of the competitors and some Rip Curl employees, no one involved with the event had ever been to this break before that's located just a few hours south of Mexico's most famous spot, Puerto Escondido.
Billed as "Somewhere in Mexico," the second Rip Curl Search event exceeded all expectations. From the secret location and the high level of surfing to the "swell of swells" hitting Barra, this event had it all. For four straight days of 6 to 8-foot draining right-handers grinded along the sand-bottomed point produced some of the best rides the Tour has ever seen.
There was Taj Burrow's 20-second long tube ride that was somehow not awarded a 10. There was Pancho Sullivan's power carves that would snap the back of any mortal surfer. And, of course, there was the late, great Andy Irons' tube-to-massive straight air combination that sealed his victory over Taylor Knox in the final.
Mick Fanning compared it to Kirra. Kelly Slater claimed it was better than Snapper Rocks. The locals loved it. The surfers loved it. The fans loved it. This was going to become a staple Championship Tour event.
Then it wasn't.
For a myriad of reasons, the World Championship Tour hasn't held a contest there since those phenomenal four days in June of 2006. However, all that is set to change.
It's been 15 long years since the world's best adorned the lineup at "La Jolla" - that was the only name used to describe the location back then - but come July 2021, they'll be back at the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver.