THE LADIES, THE MEN, SOME EPIC BATTLES AND FRYING FISH ANTICS. THE NINTH 9FT & SINGLE
Happenstance has a way of rearing its head in life and this weekend we’d lucked out with the International Surfing Day, right along with our festival of footwork. It’s an unofficial, environmentally conscious sports-centred holiday that celebrates surfing, the surfing lifestyle, and the sustainability of ocean resources. Sounds exactly what we are about.
We came into today with clear and concise objectives and when we arrived at the beach we knew the weather gods had our back all the way along. We didn’t dawdle once the judges and first contestants had assembled, pouncing into the men’s semi’s at seven. The waves were abundant and the surfers, the top of the crop. Yawns were soon forgotten as everyone there under the sun all had something of a shared nirvana moment, you see in those early morning heats everyone in the Deus Beachside Grandstand understood what a great spectators sport longboarding is.
Solid sets gave everyone ample opportunity to put scores on the board. The reward for skill and wave selection was to be progression to the finals. From there the top of the four was the prize sought.
Not pausing to take breath we got the ladies semi’s lined up straight after the men’s and then underway. They stunned us once again with displays of grace and poise that sent ovations and applause through what was now a full boardwalk of spectators. Meanwhile, in the judge’s tent, they’d finish tabulating the results from the two men’s semi’s to come up with a final four. Kai Ellis Flint was in red, Jack Lynch would wear white. Harrison Roach got the yellow jersey and Matt Cuddihy rounded out the field in blue.
Same thing happened the ladies surf, distilled and before we knew who would be the final four, the Men’s final slipped into the water right behind them. Wave for wave they battled. Perfect waves, four very different styles and all had eyes firmly on taking home the prize.
To give you an inkling into their drive and motivation you just had to peel back the veneer to see that there was some interesting handicaps thrust on this bunch. Jack Lynch had been sitting out the back taking the cleanest bombs he could. For the past two days, he’d been holed up in his accommodation taking charcoal pills and drowning himself in electrolytes trying his damnedest to fight off the gift that keeps on giving, Bali Belly.
Then halfway through the heat, Harrison came down hard on his rail. Grasping his leashless log so that it wouldn’t sally away, the resulting tug must have pulled shoulder from joint, he lay taking in air in the shallows out front, we were for the most part oblivious to the true extent of his injuries but it became apparent as he paddled back out towards the lineup, using only one arm. It was around then most knew that something was awry. Kudos to him as he took a few more waves, some of the best he got in the twenty five minute final.
To round things out Kai Ellis-Flint had been nursing a persistent back problem since arriving in Bali. He’d gotten some solace from massages and other holistic treatments though the effects had mostly worn off after the previous few days surfing to get himself into the finals.
The results of the women’s semi’s were in, we called out over the mic for the final four to suit up and head out. In red was Rachel Tilley, white would be Honolua Blomfield, Hiroka Yoshikawa was yellow and Sierra Lerback would be in blue. And then it was done and results hidden away until tonight when the big cheques will be given out.
But that wasn’t the end of our beachside fun, no siree, we had a Fish to Fry. Logs were laid aside as the surf turned epic and the keel finned craft were under arm and people running for the shore. Four six people rounds dropping to 2 six person semis and then six in a final. This was the blow off steam, the nonserious bit of the weekend. Man was it also super exciting to watch. One-upmanship, can I say that if there were women out there too? Abound. The size had stayed and the wind held off for most of it. We were only starting to see rocks as the final came to a halt.
What a weekend of surfing we had. We’d seen the worst to the best of what you can expect Bali conditions to serve up.
If you want to know the winners, you will have to check back here tomorrow. Because right now, we’ve got a party to throw.