After spending the morning playing hide and seek, at midday Padang Padang turned on and began to detonate serious 5 foot bombs over the razor sharp reef, much to the delight of the 24 tube riding specialists who had been frothing to get out into the lineup and find some shade under the burning sun.
The late arrival of the predicted swell created a challenge for the Rip Curl Contest Directors in the early hours, but as the morning progressed their confidence grew and at 1:30 the first heat of Round One got underway as the consistency and quality of the waves grew.
Mustofa Jeksen, who has been surfing Padang Padang since he was old enough walk, went to work early to slot into a nice barrel that netted him 7.5 points and the early lead, which he never relinquished. He’s never won a Rip Curl Cup despite logging more time at Padang Padang that anybody else in Bali, he is deadly serious about winning this year.
The only other Balinese surfer that has logged more time at Padang Padang than Mustofa Jeksen is Made “Bol” Adi Putra, who put on the day’s most amazing performance in Heat 5, posting the highest single wave score of 9.5 (out of a possible 10) on his first wave, an almost perfect score, and then adding to it a 7.75 to end up with the highest heat score of the day – 17.25 (out of a possible 20 points).
Tuberiding Master Bruno Santos (Brazil) and Hawaiian Kekoa Bacalso showed shrewd wave selection, using their experience to overcome their local opponents, Bali legend Rizal Tandjung and past winner Lee Wilson, to come out with stunning 1 st place finishes.
Last year’s Rip Curl Cup winner Mega Semahdi, gunning for back to back win’s, handily won his first round heat with great wave selection and poise under pressure, as young Jack Robinson posted a 9 point barrel before Mega even had a chance to catch a wave. Jack wasn’t able to follow up with another big score, but none-the-less made a second place finish to advance.
2012 Rip Curl Cup winner Chris Ward won the final heat of the day, with Rip Curl Team rider Garut Widiarta coming in second over Trials winner Rathu Suargita, whose luck seemed to run out with the setting sun.
The day’s action closed with an even split of 8 international and 8 local competitors still in the running to hoist the Rip Curl Cup. According to Rip Curl’s official swell forecaster Surfline, the waves are predicted to continue to pump tomorrow morning. The event is looking to run through the morning and midday with man-on-man heats, picking the best available swell around the good tides.
In a special appearance at the end of Heat 8 today, Rip Curl WCT campaigners, Matt Wilkinson and Owen Wright paddled out and snagged a few waves to the delight of the crowd gathered on Padang Padang Beach as the bright orange sun disappeared into the Indian Ocean.
“We were happy to get some great action with the Live Search Sessions today followed by round 1 of the main event,” said Rip Curl’s James Hendy, “We are all keeping our fingers crossed that the waves will continue to pump for us tomorrow so we can crown the 2014 champ in great conditions like we saw today. Padang Padang sure showed us how fickle she can be, it was a real test for all the competitors, but there were definitely some diamonds out there providing some epic action for our live Broadcast that will continue tomorrow morning. Stay Tuned!”
Tomorrow’s match ups are as follows:
Heat 1: Raditya Rondi vs Kekoa Bacalso
Heat 2: Lee Wilson vs Jacob Willcox
Heat 3: Dede Suryana vs Bruno Santos
Heat 4: Made Adi Putra vs Ricardo Christie
Heat 5: Mega Semahdi vs Koki Hendrawan
Heat 6: Garut Widiarta vs Jack Robinson
Heat 7: Chris Ward vs Elliot Paerata-Reid
Heat 8: Luke Hynd vs Mustofa Jeksen