Why two events in Bali is a big win for surfing.
It’s one of the great failings of pro surfing in the modern era. Every year surfers flock to Indonesia, to the most wave-blessed archipelago on earth, and yet the powers that be have brought the world’s best here only twice in the past twenty years.
Now the men and women of the 2018 world tour are in Bali for back-to-back events. That’s as much as Mick and Taj got to compete here over the full span of their careers. Sheesh, the late great Andy Irons, whose surfing is as synonymous with Indo as anyone’s ever has been, surfed the place in a CT rashie just one time.
That’s not cool. That’s a travesty.
But the WSL have brought us back, and among the many criticisms that get directed at the sport’s governing body, this decision should be commended. Slander the mongrels all you like about dropping Fiji, especially in light of the footage that’s come out of there in the last few days, but an event in Bali is a win for surfing, and as fans we should also let the mongrels know when they’ve done something right. Finishing the abandoned Margaret’s event somewhere on the Bukit deserves an additional gold star, and shows a level of quick thinking and adaptability that’s promising for the sport.
And it just makes sense, doesn’t it? Look at the surfers at the Keramas event, look at the fans. No one’s bummed to be in Bali. The weather’s warm, the beer’s cheap, and when it comes to waves, an average day in Indo is still better than a good day at most other places around the world.
As I type, Round 2 of the men’s has just wrapped-up for the day, and while we’re yet to see Keramas in full swing, it’s still been bloody cooking. Owen, John John and Julian Wilson, the guy currently at the top of the Jeep Leaderboard, have all given us a glimpse of the tubes on offer, while young Griff Colapinto has singlehandedly helped the WSL justify their ‘most progressive wave on tour’ claims. There have been some slow heats and a fair variance in conditions, but as the swell drops and the field narrows, expect the level of surfing to go up and us as fans to reap the benefits. Fast-forward another week and the mid-morning onshore that’s been junking up the face at Keramas will be ensuring all-day offshores on the other side of the island, where we’ll see chapter two of the Bali leg unravel.
Surfers have always headed to Indo, and in truth the sport owes a lot to this exotic and ever-changing archipelago. Two contests and the money they inject into the local economy won’t make up for the way pro surfing has largely ignored the islands over the last two decades, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Just promise you’ll do it again next year.