Padang On Fire

Apparently, the Quiksilver team were doing a photo shoot atop the illegally double-parked fishing boat at Padang Padang, when someone — a local, we're told — chucked a Molotov cocktail at the thing and the boat started blazing like a Roman candle. That's just the latest development in the on-going drama of the Wreck of Padang.

First, there was a shipwreck. A 115-foot Taiwanese fishing boat mysteriously materializing at Bali's famous Padang Padang reef the night before the Rip Curl ISC championships. The rumors spread like fire. The crew had mutinied and murdered the captain. They were on the run from the police. The gods were angry. Whatever the truth, the local got to looting. Hundreds of giant fish. Boat equipment. Personal belongings. They even siphoned off the fuel. The Bukit was in barbecue heaven for a week. But then what? The free fish were gone, but the boat was still there.

Locals and environmentalists were freaking out. The boat was leaking fuel onto the reef. Dripping toxic oil. Dropping jagged chunks of metal onto the reef. They rallied the cry for help, raised the money to tow the boat off the reef, gathered the resources to get it done, and then corrupt cops barred their efforts denied them the tug-boat they needed. Welcome to Indonesia. They tried to tow the boat off the reef anyway, and things only got worse.

Everyone knew the swell was coming. And when it hit, the boat situation went from bad to worse. Now the shipwreck was way up on the reef, and there would be no towing it away. Someone said they should cut it into pieces and carry it away. Someone suggested turning it into a restaurant. Someone painted "Save the Ocean" on its bow. The message seemed unclear.

The Dream Tour came to town. And the Rip Curl "Search" event held it's opening day at perfect Padang Padang, right in front of the boat. Kelly Slater scored a Perfect Ten his first time ever surfing the shallow lefthander. He went switchfoot over the dry-docking double-up section. The surfing was so awesome you barely even noticed the boat. Saving the Ocean. Slinging Nasi Garang for the tourists. Posing for action shots for the water photogs. Nobody even knew where we were, right. The shipwreck at "Somewhere"…hadn't it always been here?

One week later, the Quiksilver boys are posing for catalogue shots and someone hucks a firebomb. KA-BOOM. Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater skadaddle off the ship and head into town for the Bali premier of Taylor Steele's "Stranger Than Fiction" at The Balcony. You can see the boat blazing from clear across the island. And in the morning, the charred wreck of Padang is still smoldering like an infected wound. What next? Somehow I feel like this story isn't over yet.