If a surf contest goes off with no live webcast to send it out into the world, does it really actually happen? According to the good folks at Rip Curl, the answer is a definitive 'yes.' That's because they've just wrapped up the 2012 Rip Curl Cup in Padang Padang, Bali.
Thirty-four of the best tube riders in the world -- a field that included Benji Weatherly, Laurie Towner, Ozzie Wright, Bruno Santos, Flynn Novak, Bethany Hamilton (the first-ever female competitor at the invitational) and 2009 Rip Curl Cup champ Jamie O'Brien -- were on call for nearly a month (stranded in Bali -- oh, the humanity!) as contest organizers waited for the perfect swell. The rest of us here in the Western Hemisphere waited anxiously for daily email updates.
O'Brien dominated the early rounds (photo above) but was ultimately defeated in the semifinals.
Based on the highlight packages provided on the contest website, the competition was thrilling -- day after day of perfect over-head left-handed barrels. And according to Rip Curl, the contest ended in dramatic fashion: with less than a minute remaining in the final heat, California's Chris Ward pig-dogged his way through a perfect heaving tube en route to a perfect 10.
Ward had needed an 8.25 to pull into the lead, ahead of local legend Mega Semadhi. Ward knew his miracle perfect 10 sealed him the Padang Cup as soon as he got spit out in the channel and heard the crowd on the cliffs above erupt into cheers.
“I knew I had it,” Ward said. “I knew it was at least an 8.5 for sure. Last year I had an onshore heat and didn't even get barreled and lost in the first round. Today it was a completely different story. I was feeling it out there all day. This year Padang gave me the waves.”
After receiving his winner’s check for Rp 60 million (over $6,000 USD), Ward surprised everyone when he got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, which sent the hundreds of fans gathered on the beach into a frenzy.
“I asked her before we came here, and I got her family's blessing,” Ward said. “I bought the ring and was thinking, how should I propose? I told myself if I won this contest I was gonna do this right here on the stage. So I guess it was meant to be.”
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