With thirty-six of the word’s best surfers descending on the north stretch of Ocean Beach for the Rip Curl Pro Search surf contest—the first major San Francisco surf contest—the City becomes the unlikely focal point of the professional surfing industry Nov. 1-12.
The contest features surfing mega-star Kelly Slater, currently ranked first in standings for the Association of Surfing Professionals, and surfers from around the world competing for piece of the $425,000 purse and points that benefit their standing in the championship race.
Surfers will compete in heats during five days—ideally, days with the biggest waves and best conditions—of the 12-day waiting period. Each day during the waiting period, organizers will decide to go for a potential 8am start for the competition, the contest will be put on standby or it could be called off for the day.
With strong currents, cold water, often windy conditions and no assist from jet skis due to a Golden Gate National Recreation Area rule (jet skis are used get surfers into the lineup without paddling), the urban surf contest will be a new experience for the competitors, who finish the ASP tour on Oahu’s famed North Shore after the San Francisco event.
Bob Wise and his crew at Wise Surfboards, a surf shop located across the street from the contest site, have a prime spot to catch the action.
“We’ve been in business 43 years and we’ve never seen a contest of this level,” Wise says. “We’ve never seen world-class surfers up here more than a couple of a times—guys travel through, but this is a different deal.”
Wise, who organized an “Expression Session” free surfing event with local surfers between the semi-finals and the finals of the contest, says depending on conditions, any of the competing surfers could win the event.
“I think every guy on the tour is capable of winning this,” he said. “I think if it’s small surf, you have to watch out for Gabriel Medina. He’s phenomenal in the air. We’re all kind of in agreement here at the store—if it’s small, the younger guys will do well.” ”
If conditions are bigger, Wise expects the surfers at the top of the rankings to do better than some of the younger, less experienced competitors. And, of course, there is always the unprecedented 10-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater—perhaps, the most well known surfer in the history of the sport. He only needs to reach ninth place in the contest to secure his 11th world title, according to Transworld Surf magazine (Read Transworld’s predictions for the contest HERE).
“You can’t rule Slater out ever,” Wise says. “That guy just keeps going.”
The contest will be held at Stairway 18-20 at Ocean Beach, but the site could shift to Kelly’s Cove at Stairway 1 if conditions are better there.
Since this is the first major surf event in San Francisco, it’s hard to predict how many people will show up, but Wise expects a big crowd, especially if the semi-finals and/or finals fall on a weekend and the weather is nice.
“If it turns out to be nice weather, and it turns out they are running a main heat on the weekend, it could be a nightmare,” Wise says. He recommends biking, walking or taking public transportation to get to the contest site.
If you’re stuck behind a desk dreaming of tasty waves or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting to the beach, Rip Curl is streaming the event on its website and there will be regular updates right here with photos, interviews, event coverage and more. Check back often.
Competitors Listed By ASP Ranking