August 9th, 2012. Padang Padang, Bali – With barely a minute remaining in the ninth annual Rip Curl Cup Invitational at Padang Padang, California’s Chris Ward scored a perfect 10 backside barrel to leapfrog into first place and win the “Ultimate Tuberiding Contest” on Thursday, besting Bali’s Mega Semadhi (2nd place), Java’s Dede Suryana (3rd), and Australia’s Ry Craike (4th) in pumping six-foot tubes at Padang Padang.
Ward was on fire all day as he battled his way through arguably the most talented field of tuberiding specialists ever assembled for a contest, including 2009 Padang Cup champ Jamie O’Brien (Haw), defending champion Lee Wilson (Bali), local legend Rizal Tanjung (Bali), Ozzie Wright (Aus), and the event’s first-ever female competitor, Bethany Hamilton (Haw).
Needing an 8.25 to take the lead with mere seconds left in the Final, Ward said he knew his miracle perfect 10 backside barrel sealed him the Padang Cup title as soon as he got spit out in the channel and heard the cheers erupt from the cliffs and in the channel.
“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.”
Padang Padang local surfer Mega Semadhi had put on a tube-riding clinic in each heat he surfed during the day, drawing massive cheers from his local fans gathered on Padang Padang Beach and lining the cliffs above Bali’s most infamous tube machine. The 23-year-old scored several 9-point barrels on his run to the Final, where he netted the day’s first perfect 10 with his first wave, a deep double barrel ride. Semadhi held the lead for 49 minutes of the 50 minute final, only to get nipped by Ward, who somehow exited an impossibly deep barrel on his backside to score a perfect 10 of his own and snatch the win from Semadhi.
“If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose,” said Semadhi, who was surfing in the second Rip Curl Cup Final of his career. “Either way, it’s an epic day. From 32 surfers all the way to four, I got to surf four heats. That’s more than two hours surfing perfect, empty Padang Padang. That’s a gift right there.”
After being crowned Rip Curl Cup champion and 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 cheering 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.”
2012 Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang Invitational Results:
1st Chris Ward (USA) 17.50
2nd Mega Semadhi (Bali) 15.60
3rd Dede Suryana (Java) 9.25
4th Ry Craike (Aus) 9.20
Semi 1: Chris Ward (USA) 16.70, Ry Craike (Aus) 16.00, Mustofa Jeksen (Bali) 13.50, Rizal Tanjung (Bali) 7.90
Semi 2: Mega Semadhi (Bali) 16.75, Dede Suryana (Java) 15.25, Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 11.50, Garut Widiarta (Bali) 9.75
QF1: Ry Craike (Aus) 12.40, Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 12.00, Bobby Hansen (NZ) 8.55, Bethany Hamilton (Haw) 2.25
QF 2: Mustofa Jeksen (Bali) 14.35, Mega Semadhi (Bali) 14.00, Rahtu Suargita (Bali) 4.10, Lee Wilson (Bali) 2.55
QF 3: Dede Suryana (Java) 11.85, Rizal Tanjung (Bali) 6.80, Flynn Novak (Haw) 4.15, Darmaputra Tonjo (Bali) 4.15
QF 4: Garut Widiarta (Bali) 8.50, Chris Ward (USA) 8.00, Made “Bol” Adi Putra (Bali) 2.50, Marlon Gerber (Bali) 1.00