We need wetsuits at The Wave. In fact, we need a lot of wetsuits. We spent a long time researching every type of wetsuit and wetsuit manufacturer you can imagine - we actually enjoyed getting geeky about it. We wanted to make sure we got it right and we are excited to say we will be partnering with Rip Curl to make sure everyone is well suited and booted at The Wave!
Independently owned and innovative
Rip Curl is one of the original surfing companies and it is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It is still independently owned by the founders and is constantly pushing to be at the forefront of innovation, in terms of wetsuits and surfing.
Our Surf Manager, Nick Rees, caught up with Rip Curl’s UK Manager, Sean Harris, to chat about all things wetsuits, surfing heritage and The Wave.
NR: First Sean, I want to say how pleased we are to be working with Rip Curl!
SH: Thanks Nick! It’s an amazing opportunity to be involved in such an innovative and inspiring project. It’s an exciting time for us, marking 50 years in the industry, and an incredible time for surfing with the 2020 Olympics on the horizon and massive developments in wave-making technology and inland surfing. Our team can’t wait to try out The Wave and we can’t wait to welcome your visitors to the newest surf destination.
NR: Can you tell me a bit about the Rip Curl story?
SH: Rip Curl was founded back in 1969 by two Australians, Brian Singer and Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick at Bells Beach, Victoria. They started by developing wetsuits for the cold Victorian winters, to take advantage of the winter swells. Brian and Claw still own the company 50 years on, along with our third founder Francois Payot who helped launch and drive the global business we have now.
We are a company run by surfers for surfers, and our key brand philosophy of ‘the Search’ still runs deep. The Search is the driving force of the brand; it describes the quest and need to travel and discover the lifestyle of the oceans. It’s the idea of adventure, looking for and surfing good waves, having a good time and then getting up the next day and doing it all again. Our products always relate to the Search and what you need for your journey.
There is a definite synergy that we feel with The Wave. The adventures and entrepreneurship that helped sparked The Wave were similar to what drove the founders at the start of Rip Curl. We hope Rip Curl will always be known as the Ultimate Surfing Company, and to launch the next 50 years of the Search with The Wave will help ensure we stay at the forefront of surfing.
NR: We are getting a range of suits from you to cater to people of all ages, sizes and abilities. Can you give a bit of detail on what you have recommended for us?
SH: Definitely. We are providing our ‘Surf School Steamer’ model for the Surf School. This is one of the most durable and user-friendly wetsuits on the market, with a back zip for all and a zip at the bottom of the leg on the young children’s suits to make them super easy to get in and out of. We will have female and male wetsuits in a wide range of sizes, so that all your visitors get exactly the right fit for them. We will also have a number of our Dawn Patrol suits available. These are particularly flexible and performance-focused and are aimed at intermediate to advanced surfers. There will also be opportunities to test Rip Curl’s latest wetsuit technologies at the Rip Curl Test Centre.
NR: Where are your wetsuits made?
SH: We are the only surf brand to own and run our own factory in Thailand. This allows us to ensure that we have the highest quality control across the entire production line, and that any new technologies we develop can be kept in-house until we launch them on the market. We also spend an extensive amount of R&D (research and development) time in the water around Bells Beach, Australia, before giving the all-clear for a suit to enter the market. It also allows us to look after our awesome staff who get the chance to learn to surf courtesy of Rip Curl!
NR: Sustainability is really important to us and we always consider the effect our decisions have on the people around us, the planet we share and our financial sustainability. We’re very aware that wetsuits are not the most environmentally sustainable product to produce, but we’re looking forward to working with you to see where we can make environmental gains in this area.
SH: I think by working together we can make some good progress in this area and it’s an element of our partnership that really excites me. As a company we are making major steps in reducing packaging from our global operations, and we will be working with you guys to minimise packaging as much as possible, including removing plastic bags from the wetsuits and wetsuit accessories. Our R&D on neoprene means that the future will bring development in sustainable wetsuit technology. Also our durability and repair services ensure that we extend the lifetime of every wetsuit. We are also working up some exciting sustainability projects, which we'll release with The Wave soon.
NR: When our surf store is open, what should customers expect to see from Rip Curl and your new organic range which we’ll be stocking?
SH: We will be offering a complete collection of apparel and hardware in the store. This will include our new organic range, Salt Water Culture, which covers men and boys and is a global initiative to use organic cotton and recycled yarns across all the products. The women’s range will also include some exciting innovations such as Econyl in the swimwear, which is made from regenerated nylon yarns. There will be a dedicated wetsuit area where we will offer a comprehensive range of wetsuits to cater for all, from our top-end Flashbomb Heatseeker to our entry-level Omega wetsuits.
NR: So what do you think about inland surfing destinations? Are they the future?
SH: I think that inland facilities are an amazing opportunity to introduce people to the sport and culture, and to educate the general public about what we do as surfers, both in sport and the environment we play in. I don’t see inland destinations as a way to replace surfing in the sea, but as a way to complement it, whether that is by helping develop the skills of aspiring Olympians or introducing people to their first wave-riding experience.
NR: What opportunities do you think they open up for Rip Curl?
SH: The opportunities are endless really, and Rip Curl are really pleased to be able to support The Wave in their vision of bringing the benefits of surfing – health and wellbeing, lifestyle, education – to the general public and especially those who don’t have the opportunity to get to a beach regularly. It’s all really positive. We are also working closely with the team at The Wave to develop some new and exciting event concepts that we are really excited about launching in the near future!
NR: Tell us a bit about Rip Curl’s Team Riders. Are we going to see them popping into The Wave?
SH: As the Ultimate Surfing Company, we support an international team of riders including two-time World Surf League (WSL) world champion Gabriel Medina, three-time WSL world champ Mick Fanning and two-time Ladies WSL world champ Tyler Wright. We also support our local UK crew including Britons Ellie Turner, Harry de Roth, Seth Morris and some up and coming juniors. We also have great ambassadors, or Searchers, like Mason Ho and Bethany Hamilton, who represent Rip Curl on a global stage. The high-performance training opportunity that The Wave will offer is something that really appeals to our elite riders and I can guarantee that some of the world’s best surfers will be dropping into Bristol soon!