In an exciting climax to four days of surfing, sun and fun on Balangan Beach at the inaugural ASC sanctioned 6 star Billabong Pro Bali yesterday afternoon, Kuta’s Raditya Rondi came from behind to snatch the win from Uluwatu’s Mega Semadhi in the challenging low tide 1-2 foot waves, earning him a winner’s check of Rp 15 million ($1,500 USD), ASC championship points, and a beautiful Indonesian “Kris” sword trophy.
After four days of often challenging wave conditions at Balangan Beach, a rarity for this beautiful reef break beach on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula that is known for having consistent surfing waves, the Billabong Pro Bali finished on a high note with fans standing on the exposed reef in two camps, Kuta and Uluwatu, cheering on their favorite surfer as the sun began to set over the Indian Ocean.
Local Mega Semadhi had jumped it the lead early getting his wave count up and by well past the midway point of the 30 minute final looked to have the win well in hand. But with just under 10 minutes and sitting on priority, needing a wave score of 6.5 points to take the lead, Raditya was in perfect position to get the best wave of the final.
“ Mega and I were talking a lot during the final,” said Rondi. “So when that wave came I joked with him that I would get a 9 on it. I was surprised that the wave turned out to be so good. I needed a 6.5 or something, and got 8.5 to get the lead. When I got back to the lineup Mega said, ‘I think we’ll have to wait another 20 minutes for a wave like that again!” Mega’s prediction may have been accurate, nobody knows for sure, but for certain there wasn't another good one for him during those last few minutes, and he was relegated to second place.
When asked about his win, the talented goofyfooter Rondi replied, “To be honest I wasn’t really thinking about winning this event, as my plan was just to go out, relax and have fun. Since my knee is still not healed up fully, I wanted to surf safe so I didn’t injure it again. It’s hard though when it’s a left, it’s so tempting to go for those sections, but I think I just got lucky to get that wave in the final. If Mega would have got it maybe he’d have gotten a 10, who knows. He was surfing so good and getting the highest scores in every heat, so he was really surfing the best out there, so I just feel lucky, but also very stoked to have won.”
Runner up Semadhi had his smile on and was satisfied with his performance, saying, “It was a big tricky out there, so whoever gets the best wave will win for sure. Everybody is surfing really good and I know I surfed my best.”
“If I got that wave instead of him, I’d of gotten a 10!, said Semadhi laughing. “I’d had a 9 and an 8.15 before, so that was the next score I wanted. But I had lots of fun out there, I think everybody did, so I’m happy to get in the final even if I didn’t win this time.”
In addition to the Men’s Open division, there were also Longboard, Women’s and Master’s Division finals yesterday, rounding out a full gamut of surfing options that drew surfers from all over Asia including Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand Malaysia, Singapore, the Maldives, Indonesia, and there were even competitors from France, the USA, and Australia taking part.
In the Longboard Division it was the Philippines Luke Landrigan taking the win over fellow Filipino/Filipina Mike and Alma Oida, and current ASC and Indonesian Longboard Champion Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat. “I’m happy to get one over on Mencos, as that is really hard to do,” said Landrigan. “We’ve met in several finals before and this the first one I’ve ever won over him! I’d never surfed here before on my previous trips to Bali, and found that it’s a great little spot especially for longboards on these small conditions. It was really fun out there and thanks to Billabong, the ASC and especially the locals for sharing their spot with us,” he added.
In the Women’s Division it was Rina Kitazawa from Japan who scored her second ASC win of the 2013 season. “The waves were small but I got some good ones,” said Rina. “I came here for a week and I practiced here, so I think that helped me. I’m very happy to win, and I plan to compete in all the ASC events, as my goal is to be the ASC Women’s Champion this year.” Rina is well on her way, showing great wave selection and execution on her way to winning the final. 11-year-old local Cinta Hansel put on a last charge to push the Philippines Nilbie Blancada into third place, and 5-time Indonesian champion Yasnyiar “Bonne” Gea finished in fourth spot.
The Master’s Division (over 35 years old) saw goofyfooter Wayan “Kopling” Wirtama taking the win over ASC president and first time Master’s competitor Tipi Jabrik, with Kuta legend Wayan Gantiyasa coming in third and Richard Johnson from Hawaii in the fourth spot.
Just prior to the trophy presentation, the crowd was quenching their thirst with the cold beverages that were liberally free-flowing courtesy of Bintang and Smirnoff ICE, and then MC Lorca took to the microphone to welcome everybody and encourage them to stick around for the big BBQ and live music that would be coming up after the finalists received their winner’s checks and trophies.
A special prize was given to 9 year old Dhany Widianto from Kuta, who received a winners check of Rp 1 million ($100 USD) and a pair of boardshorts for taking out the first ever “Life is Better in Boardshorts” Billabong Paddle Challenge, besting a field of much older surfers in a paddle race out to the Billabong buoy on Day 3 of the event.
After the prize presentations, everyone at Balangan was treated to a fish barbeque and as many Bintang beers and Smirnoff ICE’s that they could drink, by which time the “Bad Haircut” band took to the stage to play some good old fashioned rock and roll. At their first set break, Billabong’s own Paul Anderson and his band “Los Gringos” played a few surf music tunes before handing it back to Bad Haircut to rock on into the night.
Looking back on the event, Anderson had this to say, “It was a great four days at Balangan Beach, and as I’m looking around its pretty clear everybody had a good time. This is one of the only spots left in South Bali that still retains the old Bali Bukit warung feeling, with white sands, clear water, and beautiful scenery. Although the waves were uncharacteristically small we made the best of it, and especially with that great final between Mega and Cabul, nobody can say there wasn’t some great surfing on display. We’ll be back next year!”
The Billabong Pro Bali was proudly sponsored by Billabong, Dakine, Von Zipper, BIMC Hospital, KIX TV, Bintang Beer, Smirnoff ICE and Ray White Properties, and sanctioned by the Asian Surfing Championships with media partners Surfersvillage.com, Baliwaves.com, Balibelly.tv, Outdoor Channel, Mylifeonboard.net, Surftime, Lines Magazine, and Magic Wave Surf Community Newspaper.
To see all video highlights from the Billabong Pro Bali:
For complete heat draws, heat scores, photos, videos and more, as well as schedules for upcoming ASC events, please check www.asiansurfingtour.com
Billabong Pro Bali Contest Results:
ASC 6 Star Men’s Open Division Final
1. Raditya Rondi (IDN)
2. Mega Semadhi (IDN)
3. (Equal) Marlon Gerber (IDN) / Garut Widiarta (IDN)
ASC 1 Star Longboard Division Final
1. Luke Landrigan (PHL)
2. Arip Nurhidayat (IDN)
3. Mike Oida (PHL)
4. Alma Oida (PHL)
ASC 1 Star Women’s Division Final
1. Rina Kitazawa (JPN)
2. Cinta Hansel (IDN)
3. Nilbie Blancada (PHL)
4. Yasnyiar Gea (IDN)
ASC 1 Star Master’s Division Final
1. Wayan Wirtama (IDN)
2. Tipi Jabrik (IDN)
3. Wayan Gantiyasa (IDN)
4. Richard Johnson (HAW)