GALLERY: Bali Pumps for Post-Lockdown Opening Day

Matt George

by on

Updated 31d ago

A few days ago, a long awaited Independence Day dawned on Bali. Prior to July 2, it seemed the tortures of the Pandemic lockdown were made doubly horrific by a string of perfect swells that bombarded the island during one of the best seasons in a decade.

Surfers were dry docked of course, forced to only watch swell after swell march ashore unridden, groomed by our seasonal offshore trade winds. Beautiful, yes, but also agonising. It drove a lot of surfers underground.

Live cam: Padang Padang

Fine-tuned by the beachbreaks of Padma, Putu Gunata’s approach involves relaxed lines and impeccable positioning. It’s not as easy as it seems on a wave that may look easy to ride, but which undulates over the reef as it fights a ferocious current sweeping out of the small bay. Every wave is a different challenge at Padang Padang and it takes a local like Putu to make perfect sense of them.

Fine-tuned by the beachbreaks of Padma, Putu Gunata’s approach involves relaxed lines and impeccable positioning. It’s not as easy as it seems on a wave that may look easy to ride, but which undulates over the reef as it fights a ferocious current sweeping out of the small bay. Every wave is a different challenge at Padang Padang and it takes a local like Putu to make perfect sense of them.

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Forming small cadre’s of in-the-know locals and trapped expats that would cruise the island, looking for any opportunity to nab a furtive go-out before the authorities would make their presence known. These busts were generally benign.

The surfers complied and no one was fined or had their boards confiscated. It was a cat and mouse game for the lucky few that were able to surf line-ups that had not been so empty since the early 70’s. And surprisingly, their were no protests or even any signs of rage other than general frustration.

Spot guide: Bali and Lombok

Bruno Santos has long been given honorable local status at Padang Padang. He somehow shows up out of nowhere on the best days of the year. Taking off impossibly deep on the biggest set waves of the day, his understanding of the reef allows him to stay inside for the whole wave. The trick is having the confidence to draw a clean high line on the outside and then to drop down the step of the inside section and pump like mad for the light. A technique that demands both subtlety and aggression. Not many have the guts.

Bruno Santos has long been given honorable local status at Padang Padang. He somehow shows up out of nowhere on the best days of the year. Taking off impossibly deep on the biggest set waves of the day, his understanding of the reef allows him to stay inside for the whole wave. The trick is having the confidence to draw a clean high line on the outside and then to drop down the step of the inside section and pump like mad for the light. A technique that demands both subtlety and aggression. Not many have the guts.

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With many surfers appreciating the fact that the ocean was being a given a break. An empty line-up, after all, is every surfers dream. But that’s only the half of it. Not being able to paddle out was the rub.

Which is why when the July 2nd swell rolled around and the authorities here decreed the beaches open to “physical activities with the observance of social distancing”, it felt like our own Independence day had arrived. Especially since Padang Padang, the Queen of the Bukit, was set to fire on eight cylinders.

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With perfect tides under a cloudless equatorial sky, with the offshore trades smoothing her line-up golf ball smooth, she opened he arms to an all star crew.

With most surfers wave starved, what followed was our own display of fireworks from some of the most die-hard Padang Padang masters on the island. A new day in the global Pandemic had arrived for us. No longer looking in the rear view mirror for the memories of great waves, we could finally look out the windshield toward a future of new ones.

A master at work, it is hard to believe that Bali’s most famous surfer since the ‘80s, Rizal Tandjung, is still casting his own shadow at Padang Padang. Like his friend Kelly Slater, still surfing like a teenager and picking off the best waves of the session. And like his mentor Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Rizal’s surfing will secure him the same historic ownership at Padang Padang.

A master at work, it is hard to believe that Bali’s most famous surfer since the ‘80s, Rizal Tandjung, is still casting his own shadow at Padang Padang. Like his friend Kelly Slater, still surfing like a teenager and picking off the best waves of the session. And like his mentor Gerry Lopez at Pipeline, Rizal’s surfing will secure him the same historic ownership at Padang Padang.

© 2020 - Liquid Barrel

12-year-old springbok Kai Hall has been making the most of the lockdown here on Bali, sneaking out a few secret sessions here and there. But on July 2nd, set free, and confident in helmet and boots, he took on the hollows of Padang Padang with all the courage of a heavyweight.

12-year-old springbok Kai Hall has been making the most of the lockdown here on Bali, sneaking out a few secret sessions here and there. But on July 2nd, set free, and confident in helmet and boots, he took on the hollows of Padang Padang with all the courage of a heavyweight.

© 2020 - Liquid Barrel

On the big outside bombs, it’s a roll in takeoff that soon becomes very serious. A perfectly timed bottom turn is the make or break maneuver. Mustafa Jeksen, Padang Padang’s ultimate showman, has got it down. It’s moments like this that separate a master from the “pretty good.”

On the big outside bombs, it’s a roll in takeoff that soon becomes very serious. A perfectly timed bottom turn is the make or break maneuver. Mustafa Jeksen, Padang Padang’s ultimate showman, has got it down. It’s moments like this that separate a master from the “pretty good.”

© 2020 - Liquid Barrel

© 2020 - Liquid Barrel