"A young lady, facing men on equal ground in perfect, gnarly conditions, reaching the finals of a legacy surf tournament. And doing it convincingly."
Man tears are still flowing into their beers here in Bali as eleven male invitees had to watch fifteen-year-old little girl named Erin Brooks rip her way past them into the finals of the 2022 Rip Curl Cup at Padang Padang.
(She also soared past the female competitors while winning the inaugural women’s division as well.)
After charging through the early men’s heats, in the last light of day, the men’s final was a scorcher as little Erin held the led for the first 12 minutes on two double-hand dragging screamers. Fellow finalists Clay Marzo, Mega Semadhi and Mega Artana were left to re-think their strategy, realizing that this little girl was a real threat.
Spectators were holding their breath with the unimaginable thought that a little blonde girl from Hawaii was going to win the prestigious Men’s Rip Curl Cup in pumping conditions at this famed and fearsome left hand reef barrel.
From dawn to dusk, showing fearless and total commitment on every wave, Erin pulled into spinning barrels that Ian Crane described as “like being inside a jet engine”.
The only controversy came in on one of the early rounds when Mason Ho did one of those cool switcheroo rail grabs inside a giant tube and only scored a low six. Apparently the drone wasn’t able to give the judges a replay so they never saw Mason’s creative moves behind the lip.
Erin advanced into the next round and the usually irrepressible Mason was rumored to leave the beach in a huff. Understandably, since Mason was dropping bombs all day and looked sure to be in the final if not on top of the winners dias.
Regardless, throughout the day, Erin kept pulling into and blasting out of barrel after barrel. It was quite a sight to see this young lady dropping in late, stomping a tail stall and then squaring off and hitting the gas to go flying out into the channel as the media boats and caddy ski’s in the channel went wild. You could hear the cheering all the way up into the judge’s stand on top of the 200-foot limestone cliff.
Having earned their respect, the boys in the final rallied, albeit with full sportmanship respect to Erin’s savvy priority tactics. But in the end, Clay Marzo styled his way to a comfortable win with Mega Semadhi and Mega Artana barreling their way to second and third. Erin crossed the line in fourth after surfing four high powered heats all day long against the best tuberiding invitees not on the WSL tour.
Despite Marzo’s win, the scuttlebutt from the spectators was that the real winner of the Rip Curl Cup, the real story of the day, was a little 15 year old girl who achieved something that has never been done before in surfing’s history. A young lady, facing men on equal ground in perfect, gnarly conditions, reaching the finals of a legacy surf tournament. And doing it convincingly.
(A word concerning Benji Brand. The South African terror and Pipeline A-Lister, the 2019 Rip Curl Cup Champion, has never lost a heat at Padang Padang. Considered a shoe-in for the win this year, again, he won every heat he paddled out into. Unfortunately, he had to surrender to a devastating case of Bali Belly which left him bedridden. He was forced to yield his spot in the competition at the last second to Clay Marzo, the surfer next in line on heat points. ).
But whether or not Benji would have been able to achieve a repeat championship, the real lesson here is that Erin Brooks proved that the future of female surfing is going to strike fear into the hearts of our misogynist surfing culture. And that is the straight up truth.
As proof of this fact, here is a list of Erin Brooks victims on her great day on the way to the final:
Nic Von Rupp
Taina Angel Izqueirdo
Ziggy Aloha Mackenzie
Garut Widarta ( Rip Curl Cup Champion 2014)
Made “Bol”Winada Adi Putra ( Rip Curl Cup Champion 2004, 2005)
Think about that list. Could you do it?