Benji Brand has paid back Mick Fanning for giving him a start in the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang by winning every heat he entered. The Hawaii-based Saffa showed exquisite tube-piggery throughout the entire event, eventually accounting for Clay Marzo, Matt Wilkinson and Raditya Rondi in an all goofy-foot final.

One of the highlights of the surfing calendar, this year’s event was as good as ever, with perfect six-foot drainers rifling through the line-up one after the other.

Garut Widiarta, Agus Sumertayasa and Agus Setiawan were among the local stand-outs, but in the end two-time Asian surfing champion Rondi was the only one to make it to the decider. He posted a buzzer beater in his semi that took the judges a whole monsoonal season to make a call on but then struggled to match it with his international counterparts in the final.

Wilko was back to his former brilliance, showing that classic tube nous that saw him take out Cloudbreak in 2017. He opened the final with an 8.83 and looked hungry for a win but couldn’t match Brand or Marzo in the back end. Still, it was great to see one of surfing’s favourite characters back in the spotlight and hopefully he can carry it over for more big performances.

Clay was the favourite for the win, as he would be anytime you threw him in pumping lefts, and he showed why throughout the course of the contest, routinely pulling off some bizarre form of forehand layback in the tube that had everyone scratching their heads. He whipped it out again in the final, using it on one of only two waves he caught and scoring a 9.5 in the process. He looked set to take what would’ve been a hugely popular win until Brand chased him down.


Congratulations @benjibrand, winner of the 2019 #RipCurlCup Padang Padang! @ripcurlasia

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Needing an 8.84 in the final minutes, Brand scratched into a pristine-looking set and packed it deep before fading out and back in again for another rifling tube that shot him out into the channel. It landed him a 9.67 and what was undoubtedly the biggest win of his young career. Only 23 and primarily known for his freesurfing, yesterday’s performance showed why in the last few years he’s gone from an underground phenomenon to the kind of surfer Mick Fanning singles out. He’ll prove a hard man to beat anytime there’s firing lefts on offer.

All in all, Indo’s premier tube-shootout again proved to be an entertaining spectacle.

Bring on next year already.