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Five Questions – Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang 2017

31 July 2017

  • Jamie OBrien and Rizal Tandjung - Rip Curl Cup 2009 - Photo: Rip Curl

Excitement lies in the unknown. Fun lives there too. That’s the beauty of the Rip Curl Cup: There are no sure bets and no foregone conclusions. You won’t find top seeds sleepwalking through easy heats because everyone’s a top seed and there are no easy heats. No one is safe and anyone can win. The wave at Padang Padang is full of surprises, which means anything can happen and usually does. It’s the surf contest that keeps us asking, “What’s going to happen this time?” With the month-long waiting period (July 10 – Aug 10) officially under way and swells stacking up in the Indian Ocean, here are five titillating questions we have for the Rip Curl Cup in 2017. The only way to learn the answers will be to watch.

1. Will the internationals take back the Cup?

The local surfers are on a hot streak at Padang Padang. An Indonesian surfer has been crowned champion the past three times the Rip Curl Cup was held. Last year, however, only one local surfer reached the four-man final – eventual champion Mega Semadhi. Since top foreign surfers were invited to compete, the Indonesian surfers currently hold a 4-3 edge over the internationals for total Rip Curl Cup titles. But as the level of international talent continues to rise each year, and the repeat foreign invitees gain more experience at Padang, could 2017 spell the end of the local winning streak?

2016 Finalists, l to r - Mason Ho, Mega Semadhi, Damien Hobgood and Clay Marzo - Photo: Rip Curl

2. Will Mega Semadhi become the first 3X Rip Curl Cup Champion?

Mega has reached the finals in three of the last four Rip Curl Cups, and he’s won the whole thing twice. This time around Mega will attempt to make history by becoming the first-ever 3X Rip Curl Cup champion and the first surfer ever to win back-to-back Rip Curl Cups in the modern era (Bali’s Bol Adi Putra won back-to-back in 2004-05 before the best international tube riders were invited to compete). Mega has said his goal is to win the event at his local spot at least on more time before possibly relinquishing his invite spot to a younger local surfer.

Mega Semadhi and Makua Rothman share a barrel in 2011 - Photo: Mick Curley

3. When will the swell arrive?

Timing is everything at Padang Padang, and everyone is hoping for a perfect swell to arrive on a day with good tides. What are “good tides” at Padang? Avoiding a massive spring high tide in the afternoon at all costs. If the tide is too high at Padang, the wave’s trademark barrels can go MIA, and the risk of slow heats with not enough high-scoring waves becomes an issue. An ideal Rip Curl Cup swell would hit overnight, build through the morning and peak on a beautiful all-afternoon low tide, just in time for a classic finals barrel shootout.

Swell Arrival - Photo: Rip Curl

4. Will a dark horse shake things up?

It seems with every new running of the Rip Curl Cup, a surprise giant killer bursts onto the scene. Back in 2007 it was underground Aussie charger Kane Faint who sniped heavy local favorites like Betet and Made Lapur and took home the crown. In 2013 it was relatively unknown 16-year-old Jacob Willcox outlasting former champions like Jamie O’Brien and Bol and nearly winning the whole thing. Last year it was French Caribbean teenager Tim Bisso who shocked the world and proved that he’s not just a one-trick beachbreak pony by packing some highlight barrels and storming into the later rounds. There’s no doubt Padang Padang loves an underdog. The question is: Who will it be in 2017?

Darkhorse Jacob Willcox finished runner up in 2013 - Photo: Rip Curl

5. Are we in for another last-second surprise?

Padang Padang has an uncanny knack for producing the best sets of the day just before dark. And since the final of the Rip Curl Cup – a one-day event – is always held in that golden twilight, it means there’s often a dramatic turn of events. In fact, for a three-year stretch from 2012 to 2014, the final was won on a buzzer beating wave: Chris Ward leapfrogged Mega Semadhi on a last-second wave in 2012; then Mega surpassed Jacob Willcox on a buzzer beater to win the final in 2013; and Garut Widiarta came from behind to beat his cousin Raditya Rondi on a buzzer-beating low-tide death pit in 2014. At Padang Padang, it’s on when it’s on, and it ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t be surprised by a surprise finish just as the sun sets on the 2017 Rip Curl Cup.

Chris Wards buzzer beating perfect 10 ride to win the 2012 Rip Curl Cup - Photo: Lawrence

Event Waiting Period - July 10th – Aug 10th

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