His Name is Rio Waida and He Has Trampolines For Knees - Stab Mag
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Big Bruce vibes. Photo: Pete Frieden

His Name is Rio Waida and He Has Trampolines For Knees

The Balinese prince talks Young Guns, quarantine and the Olympic Athletes Village

features // Dec 28, 2021
Words by Alistair Klinkenberg
Reading Time: 4 minutes

If Instagram is any indication, the majority of the surfing population would love to see Rio Waida on surfing’s Championship Tour. There are several reasons for this, including…

One, Indonesia and its inhabitants have given so much to surfing in general, that not seeing any Indonesians at the elite level just doesn’t feel right. 

Two, Rio is blessed with the philosophical outlook common among his Balinese countrymen and woman — Buddhism. That means Rio believes in the concept of karma, which stipulates that one’s actions in this lifetime have a direct impact on who or what they are re-incarnated to in the next. Which is a long-winded way of saying that Rio’s a very polite young man.

And three, because of surfing like this; who wouldn’t want to see turns like that light up the WSL’s famed dance floors?

We recently caught up with Rio to talk quarantine, missing home, and that 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Dig in, below.

Stab: Hey Rio, you’ve been traveling a ton this year… USA, Mexico, Japan for the Olympics. Where are you at now?
Rio Waida: I just arrived in Bali last night from Hawaii. With ten days hotel quarantine in Jakarta in-between.

How was quarantine, how’d you pass the time?
It was pretty bad. Especially when you’ve travelled for so long and you’re excited to get back in Bali, it felt like an extra long quarantine. Just Netflix, all day. A bit of training and stuff, but that’s it.

What about the recent Young Guns trip to Europe — had you been on many big Quik team trips?
I think I’ve done a trip like this before during the Quick Pro Gold Coast, when the older Quiksilver team used to get together. I did Stab High too, that was more of a classic surf trip rather than travelling for a contest, but this was my first time with the new group of Young Guns.

How about Europe, was it nice to visit without the pressure of a contest singlet?
I was actually doing a Challenger Series in France before this trip. And then I was going to go straight to Hawaii after the Challenger in France, but Quiksilver told me about the Young Guns trip, and when I heard about it I thought, “I’m still a Young Gun, I’m 21 years old?” But I knew it was going to be fun, so I decided to go.

How was loading up the van and taking off with the groms?
It was cool. It was kind of a bad time for me after I lost in the comp and I was so down, but I think it was a good to do a little surf trip. Good for me to have fun a little bit and not think about competition. The younger guys were going big, Joel Vaughan, Jackson, and also Hiaru, they’re younger than me and they were going big, so it was good for me to learn from them. I’m sure they were pushing the limit more than me, so it was good. It was good motivation.

Did you watch the original Young Guns movies when you were growing up?
Yeah I grew up watching the Young Guns movies. My favourite was Young Guns II with Kelly, Jeremy in the Mentawais on the boat, that was my favourite.

It looks like you scored in France?
Yeah there were really good waves in France at the beginning of the trip. But for me it was kind of bad because when it’s bigger in France you need bigger boards and it was pumping. We all got really good waves, full tubes, but it was hard for me because all my boards were for the QS. I didn’t have a little step up, but the waves were pumping. After that we went to Spain because a big storm came so France was not going to be good, it was just going to rain, so we went to Spain to find something different. We found a fun wedge and then drove to Mundaka, which was fun.

Tell us about your Olympic experience earlier in the year?
The Olympics was a crazy one, it was a really good experience, so unique. The actual competition was kind of normal, you see all the pro surfers, that’s normal, but then at the Athlete’s Village that was my favourite part. You get out from your room and see all the athletes, big guys and small guys, and to think that you were surrounded by all the best athletes in the world at one time was crazy for me. 

What about the festive period at home, what does the next few months look like for you?
It’s been six months of travelling for me since the Olympics, so it’s really good to be back home. I definitely learned a lot of stuff travelling, not only surfing but also in my life, what I need to do, what I need to improve. I have five months until the next Challenger Series in Australia, so I’m going to work on that. I think five months is enough time to get ready to try and qualify again. 

What do you miss most about home while you’re away?
It’s good to see my family first, and then definitely food also and just the vibes. Life in Bali is the best. You’re free, you can do anything you want, you can find good waves everyday. When I was in Hawaii, you only really get two days of good waves and then after that it’ll be flat or super windy and small, but Bali’s a small island so you can drive anywhere by scooter and find good waves. Everything, I miss my friends also. I’m going to do a little surf trip with them too, find some good waves, make a little edit maybe, I’m excited.

What about next year, all about qualifying?
Oh yeah, for sure qualifying. This year I had a lot of friends qualify so I’m more hungry, I don’t want to loose, I don’t want to stay on the QS all the time, I’m getting a bit over it. I want to be on the CT surfing good waves and surfing with the best guys. In Mexico it was really good for me, because on the CT you just have to go big to beat the best guys. So now I just have to work on that and go big in the QS. I need to work on small waves and bad waves.

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