After several close calls at Padang Padang in recent weeks, the waiting period for the 2017 Rip Curl Cup Invitational has drawn to a close without the magic swell required to run the hallowed event. Despite a month-long waiting period during prime swell season (July 10 - Aug. 10), the waves at Padang Padang never reached the world-class caliber required to hold the Ultimate Tuberiding Contest.
For now, The Cup will remain in Bali with reigning Rip Curl Cup Champion Mega Semadhi (IND). The local Balinese surfer who grew up just down the road from Padang Padang will have to wait until next year to defend his title. Meanwhile, the international invitees, which included such heavy hitters as Mason Ho (HAW), Bruno Santos (BRA), Bruce Irons (HAW), Clay Marzo (HAW) and Damien Hobgood (USA) in 2017, will be eager to steal away The Cup in 2018.
With just five days remaining in the waiting period, invited surfers and fans were hoping that the impressive westerly swell that hit Bali over the weekend of Aug. 5 might provide the classic daredevil waves the Rip Curl Cup demands in order to hold competition. While there was the occasional spitting bomb on Saturday evening at Padang Padang, the conditions were never spectacular or consistent enough to greenlight what has become the most anticipated barrel shootout of the year.
“Our standard is to guarantee 16 of the world's best tube riders are competing on the best day of the year at Padang Padang,” Rip Curl Southeast Asia Marketing Manager James Hendy said. “Anything less would mean compromising the integrity of the event.”
Hendy said holding the contest at an alternate site, such as Bingin or Uluwatu, was also out of the question. The Rip Curl Cup will only be held at Bali’s premier barreling wave, Padang Padang. On multiple occasions during the 2017 waiting period, large swells prompted event directors to place the event on High Alert for a possible start to competition. While Padang Padang certainly dished out some memorable freesurf rides for the 16 invited surfers gathered in Bali during these swells, the conditions were never consistent enough to hold the contest.
“I think it was a good call not to run the event on the mediocre days at Padang,” international invitee Dillon Perillo (USA) said. “If you run this event, you want to have full guns blazing.”
The 2017 waiting period in Bali provided plenty of freesurfing action from the 16 invited surfers, including the event Expression Session that saw the Indonesian surfers put on dominant barrel riding performances that put the international invitees on notice for next year.
“There’s been swell every day,” Perillo said of the recent swells to hit Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. “People have been getting barreled every day and there’s been people on the cliff watching and cheering. It just wasn’t good enough for this standard of a contest. When the waves did come they were pretty legit, but there weren’t enough waves every 30 minutes for a heat worthy of a global audience. This isn’t a wave catching contest, it’s a barrel riding contest.”