World famous surf brand Rip Curl, originated in Torquay on Australia’s Great Ocean Road.
Rip Curl is well known in the surf town of Torquay in Victoria. It is where the world famous surf brand began, with two mates making surfboards together in the 60’s. The brand has a long and proud history of being based in Torquay.
From the beginning, designing surfboards and wetsuits, working out of garages and small workshops. Right through to becoming a household name and leading the way in designing surf gear and sponsoring surf competitions.
If you take our Great Ocean Road Tour from Melbourne, your first stop will be Australia’s surf capital – Torquay. These days it is home to many surf and outdoor brands. It is also known for its many surf breaks, and you’ll be able to view one of these when you stop for morning tea.
If you are interested in Rip Curl, and how it got started on the Great Ocean Road – read on to find out more!
Two mates and a plan to make surfboards
In 1969, two Australian surfers decided to start making surfboards together. Doug ‘Claw’ Warbrick and Brian ‘Sing Ding’ Singer joined forces in the small surfing town of Torquay, on the Great Ocean Road to start shaping boards. But they couldn’t have known where this decision would take them. Or the impact they would have on the surf culture in Australia for years to come.
They called their company – Rip Curl
They teamed up and worked from Brian’s garage – making four surfboards per week and selling them to the local surfers. Most of their time was spent surfing and shaping boards. As business picked up they moved to a bigger location – the Old Torquay Bakery – and increased their production of boards.
Adding wetsuits to the mix
Later in the year they started making wetsuits – a necessary item when it comes to surfing along the Great Ocean Road in winter. Their mate Alan Green joined them to work on the production of the wetsuits and soon business was booming again. After a few months working together Alan left to start his own business – Quiksilver – which would become another successful Aussie surf brand.
Headquarters in Torquay
Rip Curl continued to have success selling surfboards and wetsuits – and the workshop soon became a hangout for local surfers. As the business grew they moved the workshop a couple of times. In 1980 they moved to 101 Surfcoast Highway – where Rip Curl’s headquarters still remain today.
As they continued to progress the technology and development of their products, they decided to take Rip Curl overseas. But instead of exporting their products internationally, they chose to license their designs, ideas and technology. These days, nine different licensees make and sell RipCurl products in countries other than Australia.
The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach
From the creativity of surfers in Torquay a surfing contest was created at the iconic Bells Beach. It is, to today, the longest running annual surf contest in the world. Bells Beach is famous for its big waves and consistent sets. The beach is like an amphitheatre with spectators watching from the surrounding cliffs as the competitors duel it out in the ocean below.
The Rip Curl Pro is one of the event on the professional world surf tour for both men and women. The competitors hit the waves around Easter (March/April) each year, and compete for the ‘bell’ trophy. Previous winners include Andy Irons, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Layne Beachley, Stephanie Gilmore and Carissa Moore.
Now you know!
This means Rip Curl products are used all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen the brand and the designs in your own country, but had never even heard of the town of Torquay on the Great Ocean Road. Well, now you know – this is where Rip Curl was born!
Learn more about the history of Rip Curl in Australia and overseas – including their sponsorship of professional surfers and surf competitions – on the Rip Curl website.
The History of Surfing in Australia
Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku brought surfing to Australia in 1915. With Australian Isabel Letham he wowed the crowds gathered at Freshwater Beach in Sydney as he rode the whitewater waves into shore with Isabel standing on his shoulders.
Surfing in Australia was pretty conservatibe until the 1960’s when free spirited surfers set up their own board-riding clubs. They began to change and revolutionise surf culture in Australia.
This was the around the same time that RipCurl and Quiksilver were starting out in Torquay.
As RipCurl and Quiksilver pioneered new surfboards and gear in the 1970’s, and surfing became accessible to more Australians. The surfboards were lighter and leg-ropes were invented to prevent from losing boards.
Full-length wetsuits made the winter waves fun for everyone, and foam boards and boogie boards encouraged people of all ages to get into the surf. What started as a novel idea to ride the waves – became a pastime that many Australians now enjoy.
Take a Great Ocean Road Tour
To visit this special part of Australia and learn about the surf history, join us on a day tour from Melbourne. You’ll not only see plenty of waves and incredible beaches, you’ll spend a whole day exploring the coastline. Our tour includes spotting koalas in the wild and viewing the famous rock formations, the Twelve Apostles.
- Enjoy morning tea on the picturesque beaches of Victoria’s Surf Coast
- Scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road
- See the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park
- Visit the Loch Ard Gorge, the site of the Loch Ard shipwreck
- See koalas in their natural habitat in the eucalyptus forests of the Kennett River township
- Visit the charming coastal township of Apollo Bay
- Take a walk in the rainforest at Maits Rest in the Otway Ranges
- Descend the cliffs at Gibsons Steps to walk along the beach
- View the Memorial Arch and learn about the history of the Great Ocean Road
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au