RIP CURL… the name has been synonymous with Torquay and surfing for over fifty years. Since the late sixties, Rip Curl has grown from the kitchen and front room of a house in Torquay into a multi-million dollar surfing company with surf shops scattered around the globe.
It has been home to many of the world’s best surfers including Wayne Lynch, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Michael ‘MP’ Peterson, Pam Burridge, Tom Curren, Stephanie Gilmore, Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright and Brazilian world champ Gabriel Medina. Even 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater started out on the Rip Curl team in his teens.
Rip Curl have been innovators in wetsuit design and construction. They have produced some of the best wetsuits in the world.. all designed in Torquay not far from Bells Beach (where they were often tested by Rip Curl locals and team surfers).
Rip Curl have been (and remain to this day) the key sponsors to one of the longest running surfing contests in the world, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. In 1973 they stumped up $1,000 for the winner (Michael Petersen) and world surfing was changed forever.
Rip Curl have invested heavily in surf films and paid for the production of not just the highly successful ‘The Search’ films (and marketing campaign), but also Feral Kingdom and Searching for Tom Curren.
In 1981 Rip Curl funded the feature length surf film STORM RIDERS produced by Jack McCoy and Dick hole. STORM RIDERS sold out four weeks straight at the Sydney Opera House and would go on to become one of the most successful Australian surf films of all times. The film featured breathtaking waves in Australia (including 20-foot surf at Bells Beach), Indonesia and Hawaii. The big waves and radical surfing was supported by a killer soundtrack featuring the hottest bands going around at the time including Australia Crawl, The Sunnyboys, Split Enz, The Church, and Men At Work.
Rip Curl have dominated surf culture in Australia, Europe, Japan, Indonesia, California and Brazil for a long time. While Billabong and Quiksilver were sold off to overseas companies they stayed loyal to Torquay and Bells Beach maintaining one of the biggest commercial and retail surfing operations in the Southern hemisphere at Torquay.
Rip Curl have just been sold to Kathmandu a few weeks after they celebrated 50 years in operation. The reaction in Torquay has been a weird one. Will they stay or will they go? What will change, will there be change? Rip Curl were, are unique. Not many other coastal towns can boast a company that has achieved so much.
Written by John Foss