Cape Fear open for business

Courtesy of Red Bull Newsroom

Russell Bierke performs during the Red Bull Cape Fear in Sydney, Australia on June 7, 2016. –
Photographer Credit:
Brett Hemmings / Red Bull Content Pool

Four-month window begins for the hugely popular big-wave surfing contest.

Red Bull Cape Fear, the one-of-a-kind, invitation-only big wave surfing competition, is open for another season.
Twenty of the world’s best big-wave surfers have been invited to take part in the event at Cape Solander near Sydney.
Last year, the competition happened in June but no one is quite sure when this year’s will play out, the waiting period any time between 1 May and 31 August.

Ryan Hipwood crashes during the Red Bull Cape Fear in Sydney, Australia on June 7, 2016. –
Photographer Credit:
Brett Hemmings / Red Bull Content Pool

When the time comes for the optimum conditions, surfers ranging from American Makua Rothman, the 2015 Big Wave World Champion, to last year’s Cape Fear winner Russell Bierke will line up in the water.
Competitors will ride close to three-story high waves at speeds of up to 50km/h as the equivalent of 27 Olympic pools of water break over the shallow reef.

Red Bull Cape Fear director Mark Mathews, himself a big wave surfer, said: “Last year’s event was beyond my wildest imagination and I can hardly wait to see what mother nature throws up at Cape Solander this year.
“Having the 16 surfers from the 2016 event and the additional four internationals will make for an unbelievable show.”

Richie Vaculik performs at the Red Bull Cape Fear 2016 in Sydney, Australia on June 6, 2016 –
Photographer Credit:
Ed Sloane/Red Bull Content Pool

The four-month event window means that organisers can assess the perfect swell of the big wave season.
Ben Macartney, chief swell forecaster of Coastalwatch, explained: “I’m analysing mean sea levels and pressure for any major storms forming over the Tasman Sea or Southern Ocean.
“Then I’m assessing potential surf-heights, wave period, wave direction and arrival times – as well as local winds ideal for running Red Bull Cape Fear.”
The event uses a unique, overlapping heat format whereby four surfers compete across 45-minute heats, with the heats varying between paddle and tow, and surfers scoring points for their highest paddle and highest tow.
The winner of each heat will go straight to the final while the runners-up will qualify for a re-charge round to surf for the remaining spot.

Russell Bierke poses for a portrait at the Red Bull Cape Fear in Sydney, Australia on June 7, 2016. –
Photographer Credit:
Brett Hemmings / Red Bull Content Pool

The highest-placed finisher in the final, last year Bierke, will be crowned champion.
He said: “I’m excited to see what kind of swells are brewing this winter. The southern hemisphere has swell systems developing everywhere at the moment so I have a good feeling that we will run this year in some amazing conditions.
The event is closed to spectators but will be broadcast live and for free at Red Bull TV.

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