The Rip Curl Pro Search, the blogosphere's favorite event, is bringing World Tour surfing back to the Indonesian archipelago. Not since the glory days of the Quiksilver Pro at G-Land—which was forced to close shop after 9/11—has Indo had the pleasure of playing host to the world's best. After a bit of a shake-up as of late, thanks in large part to both a rusty, runaway fishing boat and Kelly Slater's steamrolling of the Top 45, we figured you might want a little help refining your Fantasy Surfer squad as we turn our attention to the isle of perfect waves and monkey temples:
What’s in it for you?
The Fantasy Surfer PacSun Sky Boxes have been dishing out the goods. To date we’ve already seen boards from Andy Irons and C.J. Hobgood doled out, and for this stop on Tour—we'll tell you exactly where it is in a minute—the good people at Rip Curl have outdone themselves. But that's not to say that Billabong, Hurley, Globe, Volcom, and Pacsun aren't just as eager to outfit you with some filthy gear. Don't be left searching, sign up right away.
What We Know
According to sources, that hellacious fishing boat that washed up and is currently wreaking havoc at Padang Padang won't cause as much of an issue for this event as originally thought. While organizers will probably pin my nuts to the wall for saying all this, the contest has always been slated for Uluwatu, it was just the trials that were planned for Padang. This means two things:
1) You will not see Dane Reynolds launch airs over any rusty pirate ships.
2) Ulu's is up-current from the diesel and oil spewing shipwreck. So while most everywhere down-current is more polluted than a Vegas stripper on a Sunday morning, the water quality at Ulu's hasn't been an issue thus far.
Lucky for you, we’ve got last-minute, insider info about the wildcards for 2008. Since the trials’ conclusion, the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search’s newest competitors are: Bruno Santos, 24-year-old, Kuta local Komang “Gogo” Sujaya, and king of groms who are tall and rip: Owen Wright. So get back to your dashboard, and pick those teams!
Visit the official event site
The Slater Situation
Kelly Slater has a 100-percent win ratio against the Top 45 (his only loss this season came at the hands of Manoa Drollet in Tahiti). He's won four out of five events, and has a commanding 1,262-point lead over second-place Joel Parkinson. "It's good for me because it puts all of the pressure on other people's shoulders," Kelly said in a statement to the ASP. "Winning in South Africa has put an immense amount of pressure on those guys, but No. 9 is still a long way off."
And while Kelly may feel that a record ninth world title is a long way off, his competitors aren't nearly as optimistic. "I will be going to the Rip Curl Search giving it my all," said Mick Fanning, who ended up playing second fiddle to Kelly at J-Bay. "I think if Kelly wins another event, the race for the ASP World Title will be pretty much over. Whoever is going to give him a run will have to start winning events."
Andy's Searching for a Win
Four quarterfinal appearances would be a good year on tour for most, but for Andy Irons it's not what he was hoping for. Luckily for him, the next top is the Search. He won somewhere in Mexico, he won somewhere in Chile, and this year he could very easily win "somewhere in the Indian Ocean."
"It's an even playing field because most people haven’t surfed those spots before," says Andy. "In the beginning of the year, there are always rumors of where the Search event will be, so it's always fun to finally get the real scoop on the venue, and the next step, if I hadn't been there in the past, (like Chile) is talking to people who have been there before to mentally prepare. When the Rip Curl Pro Search events are happening there it's an exciting, competitive, nervous feeling in the air. You can see it in all of the competitors."
And that "excited, competitive, nervous feeling" is just what the three-time World Champ thrives on. Besides Pipe and Teahupo'o, Bali's a favorite of his, which could spell trouble for everybody else. His surfing is there—although at times it has been a bit passive compared to his flare of old—all A.I. needs now is to break out of the fifth-place funk.
The rub on why Bali's indigenous talent doesn't have more of a presence on the international scene is that they either lack the desire or the funds to leave, but when the circus comes to their town count on a host of Bali originals, guys like Garut Widiarta, Rizal Tanjung, and Dede Suryana, to succumb to the national fever. Similar to Tahitians and Hawaiians on their home turf, they are more comfortable and more capable of performing should the event go down in pumping conditions…and judging by early season indicators, it very easily could.
Location, Location, Location
At even a hint of a Southern Hemi Americans make their tactical strikes to the beachbreaks and points of Mexico and Central America, but Aussies have the benefit of Indo perfection being a mere four-hour plane ride away. Keeping this in mind, those young and frothing lads from the Land Down Under could certainly have an ace up their sleeve for this Search excursion. And while Parko, Mick, Taj, and Bede are obvious options, dark horses like Kai Otton, Luke Stedman, Ace Buchan, and Jay Thompson may all be worth looking at when filling your roster. "I think it's awesome how Rip Curl changes the location of their Search event each year," says Bede. "I get so excited to hear where it's going to be and I'm sure all the other surfers do too. It's the only event on tour that changes every year and that's what all surfers want to do—surf new locations around the world. So we're really lucky to have the Search event on the calendar each year."
Stay tuned to Wavewatch.com for the local forecast.