Tom Curren (USA)
What accolades remain for Tom Curren to add to his once-in-a-generation resume? A Padang Cup title, of course. Last year Curren was unable to take advantage of his invitation and instead had to watch the webcast from home while his fellow barrel maestros scored 9 and 10-point rides all morning and into the afternoon. This year he’s determined to seize the opportunity to compete in his first Rip Curl Cup, and, if the gods smile upon him, maybe take home the coveted Cup trophy to display in a place of honor among his many trophies.
Mason Ho (HAW)
Surfing’s Ambassador of Fun finished third in his first Rip Curl Cup appearance in 2016. Now the merry regularfoot from the North Shore is looking to claim the crown. “This is one of the best contests in the world,” Ho said on the podium last year, “right beside the Pipe Masters and The Eddie. I wish I had the words to describe how much fun that was.” But competitors beware: While he may be the ambassador of fun, Mason’s skills in heavy barrels are no laughing matter.
Damien Hobgood (USA)
Damien Hobgood and hollow lefts go together like Bali and motorbikes. The WCT veteran is a two-time Fiji Pro winner (he beat Andy Irons in the 2004 final). Last year was Damien’s first appearance in the Rip Curl Cup and he fell just 1.10 points short of eventual champion Mega Semadhi. When Padang rumbles to life in 2017, you can bet Damien will be once again be chomping at the bit, and woe to whoever winds up in his heat.
Bruce Irons (HAW)
People in Bali are still talking about Bruce Irons’ perfect 10 during last year’s Rip Curl Cup. The fact that it wasn’t enough to propel him out of the first round is a testament to the barrage of high scores going down. Still, it was widely regarded as the most impressive and technical barrel ride on a day that was brimming with them. Even before he won the 2008 Rip Curl Search event in Bali (his lone WCT event victory), Bruce always had a special relationship with the Island of the Gods. With Bruce’s track record, don’t be surprised if he finds another jaw-dropping 10 – or two – the next time around at Padang.
Kai Otton (AUS)
Kai Otton was a late bloomer when it came to competitive surfing success, but once he found his rhythm, the rest of the WCT was put on notice. During his ten-year run on the WCT, Ottz was always a risky draw for the WCT elite, earning a reputation as a giant killer on the big stage by taking out Kelly Slater and other top dogs in clutch situations. Ottz earned WCT Rookie of the Year honors in 2007, won the Rip Curl Pro Portugal in 2013 and has finished as high as world No. 7. Although this is his first invitation to the Rip Curl Cup, Ottz should have no problem navigating his springy mop of blonde hair through some tall Padang caverns.
Bruno Santos (BRA)
Outside of his native Brazil, few people knew of Bruno Santos when he entered the trials of the 2008 Billabong Pro Tahiti. Bruno quickly changed that by marching his way from the trials all the way to winning the main event in thundering Teahupo’o against the WCT’s best. These days, if you don’t know Bruno, you better ask somebody. From Skeleton Bay to Desert Point, Bruno’s paranormal vanishing acts into the barrel led Kelly Slater to proclaim him a perennial favorite to win in heaving left barrels. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Clay Marzo (HAW)
It was only a matter of time before Clay Marzo found his way into the Rip Curl Cup. The electrifying Hawaiian goofyfoot is tailor made for a man vs. man competition at the Balinese Pipeline, and proved it last year as the standout of the early rounds, putting on a Houdini disappearing act all morning. No hassling for priority, just some of the best performances we’ve seen in or out of a heat all year. Clay topped his finals performance off with a huge plate of tacos at the local cantina and the grin of a very satisfied man. Will his hunger be enough to take the win in 2017? Order up!
Jack Robinson (AUS)
The fearless regular footer from West Oz has already established himself as one of the best in the world on his backhand in the truly hollow stuff. Jack has already graced surf mag covers across the globe, standing tall in angry pits from West Oz slabs to thundering Tahiti. In addition to several wildcard berths in WCT events already under his belt, Jack will be appearing in his third Rip Curl Cup at Padang Padang. Now that his competition experience is catching up to his fearlessness, expect Jack to do big things at Padang in 2017.
Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Jacob Willcox’s coming out party happened at the Rip Curl Cup 2013. At just 16 years old, Willcox put on a blistering performance, finishing a close runner-up to Mega Semadhi and expertly threading countless incredible tube rides on the day. He went on to use his momentum from Padang to defeat Kelly Slater at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal a few months later, helping to bolster his Rip Curl teammate Mick Fanning's 2013 ASP World Title run. These days, nobody is underestimating the smooth goofyfooter from West Oz, known to his mates as “Chippo.”
Ryan Burch (USA)
Ryan Burch describes himself as “a soufflé,” a diverse mixture of different ingredients. He’s part surfer, part shaper, shortboarder, longboarder, and everything in between. The unique goofyfooter from Cardiff, CA has tested his self-shaped asymmetrical boards with great success at places like G-Land and Desert Point, drawing unique lines and sometimes even cross-stepping – yes, cross-stepping! – his way into serious pits. Don’t be surprised to see guys like Tom Curren and Mason Ho jumping at the chance to ride Ryan’s designs during the holding period, but don’t expect anyone to ride them better than the shaper himself.
Made "Bol" Adi Putra (IND)
DOB: August 5, 1980
It could be said that what Gerry Lopez is to Pipeline, Bol is to Padang. No other surfer has put in more time and is more synonymous with the wave. That’s why on the best days, when the set of the day steamrolls toward the reef, it’s reserved for Bol. He remains the only back-to-back champion of the Rip Curl Cup, a feat so improbable it probably will never be repeated (though defending champ Mega Semadhi certainly hopes to prove us wrong in 2017). It’s been over a decade since Bol last hoisted the Cup (although he made the final in 2009 and 2011), but to become the first three-time winner in event history would make it worth the wait.
Raditya Rondi (IND)
DOB: January 29, 1989
Raditya Rondi is always in the mix at Padang, having reached the Rip Curl Cup finals two years in a row (2013-14), but falling just short of a title on both occasions. The multiple-time Asian Surfing Champion is a highly respected contest tactician and recognized by his peers as one of the most intense competitors on the tour. Having narrowly lost out to his cousin Garut in the final in 2014, look for “Cabul the Bull” to make a stampede to get over the hump of second place in 2017.
Mega Semadhi (IND)
DOB: July 14, 1989
The reigning Rip Curl Cup Champion is the ultimate Padang local. He lives closer to the wave than any surfer in the contest and is on it any time Padang turns on. Mega is a three-time finalist at the Rip Curl Cup and a two-time champion. He’s attempting to become only the second person to win back-to-back titles at Padang (Bol was the only other surfer to accomplish the feat in 2004-05, before international surfers were invited to compete). Last year Mega was the only local surfer to make the final, but he outsurfed Damien Hobgood, Mason Ho and Clay Marzo for the W. He’ll have the support of the hometown crowd behind him as always, along with the sharpest local wave knowledge of anyone in the event.
Rizal Tandjung (IND)
DOB: November 23, 1975
The man who put Indonesian surfing on the map. Rizal Tandjung remains the most globally recognized surfer ever to come out of Indo. He’s shredded his way all over the world as a WQS warrior, made a name for himself in Hawaii by scoring American cover shots on Pipeline bombs, and earned his spot in Taylor Steele’s seminal Momentum Generation films alongside guys like Kelly Slater and Rob Machado. But despite being arguably the greatest Padang surfer of all-time, Riz has yet to win the Rip Curl Cup (he made the finals in 2005, but lost out in an epic battle with Bol). Will the godfather of Bali surfing take down a Padang trophy before he sets down his spear? It would seem to be only a matter of time.
Garut Widiarta (IND)
DOB: March 9, 1988
Hands-down the fastest surfer on the island, Garut Widiarta’s lightining-fast surfing makes him one of the odds-on favorites at Bali’s best lefthand reefbreak, and his endless bag of tricks will surely be on display during the waiting period freesurfs. Some felt Garut’s lackluster performances at the Padang Cup early in his career were partly the result of the heavy expectations saddled on him as the heir apparent to the throne at Padang. After claiming The Cup in 2014 – an achievement some pundits felt was only a matter of time – the Padang monkey (figurative, not literal) is finally off his back, and Garut should continue his forte of making the impossible look effortless.
Lee Wilson (IND)
DOB: August, 10 1985
After taking a hiatus from professional surfing last year and moving to New Zealand to focus on his art and family, Lee Wilson is back. He’s got a new sponsor supporting his unpredictable brand of hi-fi surfing and his sights are now set on pushing the performance level of Indonesian surfing to new heights. Lee is a two-time Rip Curl Cup champion as well as a two-time Indonesian national champion. A third crown at Padang could cement his legacy as Indonesia’s best.
Pepen Hendrik (IND)
DOB: 15th May 1976
Pepen is the longest standing team rider on the Rip Curl Indonesia squad. Widely regarded for his serious power surfing blowing minds with his clinical rail game and air technique, but also his tube riding skills.
The most respected of all Indonesian Surfers, Pepen is gracious and ever smiling on land, and a demon in the line-up. His backside approach at the Balinese Pipe is well practised, he has been ass-dragging through tubes across the inside bowl for over 15 years and has claimed the best tubes of the 2017 to date on the past 2 swells of the season.
Rio Waida (IND)
DOB: Jan 25, 2000
Rip Curl has announced that the local wildcard entry into the Rip Curl Cup main event will be granted to Rio Waida, Indonesia’s highest-ranking junior surfer. Waida has been on a tear in 2017, winning the first stop of the REnextop Asian Surfing Tour at Canggu and taking second place at the recent WSL Komune Bali Pro at Keramas. At just 17 years old, he is currently ranked second among all pro surfers in Asia. Now Waida will look to replicate his success on the biggest stage of his young career, the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang.