Water News

The Local Advantage at Red Bull Cape Fear

Red Bull Cape Fear will feature 12 professional surfers in the competition.

Cape Fear is a dangerous wave break located at the southern tip of Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia. Established in the 1960s as a premiere bodyboarding spot, it was soon taken over by surfers once they realized the opportunities provided by the enormous waves. But surfing there is only for the most talented—and least intimidated.

Red Bull Cape Fear hand-picked 12 of the most accomplished professional surfers to take on the wave break in a competition that features a waiting period from April 17 through August 1. “For the event to be called ‘ON’ the ideal Coastalwatch swell forecast will predict a moderate to long period ESE swell in the range of eight to 10 feet (three to four meters) with light south west to west winds. There will be a 48-hour period from the ‘ON’ call for all invited surfers to make it to Sydney in time for the event.”

According to the Red Bull Cape Fear website, professional surfer and event organizer Mark Matthews said, “There’s no wave in the world from six to 10 feet that is heavier than it. Deep water swells pitch on a super shallow ledge that’s covered with razorblade barnacles and then it breaks only 10-15 meters from the cliff face. So if you fall off and don’t hit the bottom, chances are you’re going to get washed in to that cliff face. There are plenty of dangers and few people willing to navigate them.”

The competition will be carried out as follows:

  • Seven one-on-one battles
  • Each battle will consist of the two best-matched surfers
  • Like a boxing card, the first six battles are on the under card for the main event. Consider it seven consecutive finals if you will.
  • Each battle will consist of approximately 20-minutes of paddling in and 20-minutes of towing in
  • Surfers will be judged by wave size and difficulty
  • There will be four surfers in the water at all times—two contesting the paddle-in element and two contesting the tow-in element
  • Each battle will crown a winner

A recent video by Red Bull discusses how non-natives will fare against locals at the competition. Most are aware, even those traveling from different countries, that locals have the upper hand because they’re well versed about how the wave break moves. Check out the video below that includes interviews with the surfers:

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