In what ASC Judge Billy Hangan described as a “perfect day at the office,” the Asian Surfing Championship’s top 16 surfers and the 8 international invitees were treated to a day full of barreling 4-5 foot Lance’s Right perfection to start off the Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl on Thursday.
The arrival of a new swell had the competitors frothing to get started as the rising sun revealed 4-5 foot sets launching themselves onto the reef and offering up barrel after barrel in the early morning light. Contest Director James Hendy had no hesitation in green lighting the start of the event at just after 8 am. Though there were some periods of rain in the morning and a few quiet times in a couple of the heats, the consensus from competitors and the organizers alike was that “it doesn’t get much better than this!” For a surfing competition, anywhere in the world, it was a competitor's dream, as the quality of the waves was indeed second to none.
The highlight reel is chock-a-block full, topped by Heat 7 of Round 1, which saw Bali’s Made Darmayasa post a 10 point score for a big and deep barrel, Nusa Lembongan’s Putra Hermawan rack up the highest combined heat score of the day, a 17.60 (out of a possible 20), and 16 year old Sunshine coaster Harry Bryant get one of the best contest waves of his life, scoring a 9.4 (out of a possible 10).
“Having no sleep and throwing up all night, I didn't know if I could even surf,” said Harry. “But I went out to the boat anyway, and just watching those pumping waves definitely inspired me to get out. It’s funny too because I almost missed my heat, I was so busy watching the waves, but then noticed there were only two guys out, and somebody was calling my name. So I paddled out after 6 minutes had already gone by, and I already needed 14 points, so was combo’d for basically the whole heat.”
He went on to describe the wave, saying, “So when I saw that wave coming I just took off, I didn't know if it would be a good one or not before I paddled for it, but after I dropped in I just had 100 % confidence that I would get a good score. Getting spat out and hearing the cheers from the crew on the boat, it was the best feeling ever. This is the best experience a surfer could ever get at the age of 16, especially with Rip Curl as my sponsor. Getting to know all the Indonesian crew, and the local guys, I'm so lucky to be here.”
Fellow Aussie Jackson Baker from Newcastle, also 16 years old, was narrowly defeated in the final seconds of his Round 2 heat against 2011 Indonesian Surfing Champion Marlon Gerber from Bali. Baker was leading until the last 30 seconds of the heat, when Gerber under priority needing an 8.1 score, locked into a beautiful tube ride that got him an 8.5 and the heat win.
Baker was still smiling back on the beach, showing off a few battle scars from his Lance’s adventure saying, “Last night I paddled out at almost dark and got a sick one, then tried for a little one and got sucked over the falls and dragged along the reef on my belly, so this morning before my first heat Matt George patched me up. It stung like hell at first, but it I got a couple of ok ones in my heat so I was stoked. In my second heat with Marlon it still hurt but only until I paddled out, and then it felt fine. I just wanted to get as many barrels as I could, and was leading the heat with an 8 and a 6.4, all the way until just 30 seconds to go, and then Marlon got a nugget under his priority so I could do was watch and hope he fell or something. But this was such a good experience at such a great wave, it rates really high especially compared to contests back home.”
Getting the most intense heat of the day award was Heat 4 of Round 2, which saw the ASC’s top ranked surfer Pepen Hendrik up against local wildcard winner Marvius. Marvius got right to work and posted the second highest score of the heat, an 8.25 out of possible 10, to jump into the lead. Hendrik had his work cut out for him, gaining the lead just to have Marvius snatch it away again. Finally Hendrik posted an 8.4 that put him into the lead again, and luckily for him Marvius couldn’t find another deep barrel before time ran out, so the heat ended with Marvius’ two wave total of 15.30 points narrowly short of Hendrik’s final total of 15.90.
In the post heat interview it was revealed that some 10 years ago on a surf trip here to Lance’s Right, Hendrik had given a young grom surfer one of his surfboards…and that grom was Marvius. No wonder Hendrik is such a legend to the locals here!
To sum up the day, ASC Judge Billy Hangan has this to say: “It was a real pleasure to be judging at this comp with waves like this today. From the very first barrel from Kaishu Tanaka in heat 1, through Darmayasa's 10 pointer in Heat 7 of Round 2 and finishing with the last gasp tube ride from Tipi Jabrik in the final seconds of the day to pip Mega under his priority in Heat 8 of Round 2...Just a perfect day at the office!”