When you land in Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico, you quickly begin to understand that the journey you’re embarking on will be anything other than ordinary. As you descend through the clouds you’re greeted by expansive views of lush jungle, with wide, brown rivers flowing out into a bright blue ocean. You crane your neck and strain your eyes to try and decipher what the ocean is doing far beneath you and your tiny window. When you land, you see that the airport is made up of a few small buildings with thatched roofing, and the humidity and heat smacks you in the face as you step off the plane and onto the steaming tarmac. The few locals you see working at the airport smile widely. You’ve arrived.
This is the last leg of travel for those surfers who are lucky enough to find themselves on route to the middle of Oaxaca, a coastline that offers up perfect waves at the end of long dirt roads. Oaxaca was first recognised on the world stage in 2006, when Rip Curl brought The Search event to Mexico. The surf was firing – wave after wave reeled off the point and conditions were perfect. Ever since, the world’s best have dreamt of having the opportunity to surf this wave on Tour again. As it turns out 2021 is their chance, when the WSL rolls into Huatulco for the Corona Open Mexico this August.
So, when Owen Wright and Morgan Cibillic finished competing at the WSL Surf Ranch Pro in June, rather than heading home they decided to plan a trip south and put in some pre-game time in Mexico. A few quick checks of the Surfline forecast sealed the deal, and the team was on a plane less than a week later.
“It was a really last-minute call,” says Kekoa “Bam” Bacalso, Rip Curl Team Manager and former Tour surfer. “We were all sitting in Leemore after the Surf Ranch and were messing around looking at swells. We saw that this area in Mexico said 6-8 feet and good conditions, so we just went for it and pulled the trigger.”
With a bit of risk comes great reward, and the crew scored. “It was perfect five foot,” says Bam.