Watch: Benji Brand Wins The Rip Curl Cup Padang, Eclipsing Clay Marzo’s Laid-Back Assault
A highlight clip for the uninitiated.
Name an event where the waves look exactly the same every year, surf tubs excluded.
If you’ve said anything other than the US Open or the Rip Curl Padang Cup, you’re lying. And lucky for us, HB’s annual observance of saggy, overexposed bums doesn’t start until later this month.
That left us, today, with Padang Padang, the Indonesian jewel pulsing as if commanded to do so by a Hindu deity.
As a southwest swell filled in across the Bukit Peninsula, Bali’s best and a crew of international glass-throwers were baptized beneath the limestone cliff, threading offshore tunnels on either end of the midday high.
The morning session was dominated by Clay Marzo, Agus Setiawan, and Benji Brand, who was the only surfer to win both his preliminary round bouts.
By the time we reached the semis, both the sun and winds pointed firmly at the horizon, creating the quintessentially groomed, emerald image of Padang that rests on mantle places the world over.
Local boy Mega Semadhi called today’s conditions a 7/10, which, we get it—Padang can be better—but fuck. This is a 15 at our local.
The semis consisted strictly of goofyfoots, which makes sense considering the local demographic, who seem preternaturally opposed to standing with the left foot forward (The Guy excepted), held a majority of the eight slots. However, all three of the remaining expats managed to advance to the final four, including Clay Marzo, Benji Brand, and Matt Wilkinson, who were anchored by local cat Made Rondi.
With the sky quickly darkening, former world number one Matty Wilko banked an 8.33 for a thick forehand runner, putting the impetus on his competitors to catch him if they could.
Clay Marzo caught a wave that should have been a low five, but thanks to the dramatic lines he drew both in and out of the barrel, netted a mid-seven.
The final’s Balinese contingent, Raditya Rondi, kept himself in the heat with a clean seven-pointer.
Benji Brand, who’d yet to place anything but first all day, fought back with an eight of his own, which Wilko instantly snuffed out by securing a seven as back-up.
Perceivably peeved, Benji dropped into a dark, hollow nugget and pulled in straight off the drop (not especially common for Padang), arm-barring his way behind the foamball and out the other end for a 7.9 and the lead.
Clay Marzo was next, using a combination of gymnastics and strength to knead a double-barrel shotgun of a wave, exiting in a lawn-chair-lounge for 9.5 points. He was straight to the lead.
Needing a high-eight to retain pole position, Benji caught one last bomb on dark, using his patented front-leaning technique (completely opposite to Clay’s back-footed plunge) to manage his speed and thread twin pits into the channel. The judges hardly deliberated—it was a 9.67.
Rip Curl Cup commentator Matt George said that surfers are unique because, despite being ‘fragile bags of water and blood’, we can’t help but hurl ourselves off of continents and into the abyss.
This came full-circle when Benji Brand, who’d suffered a significant leg gash that same morning (he’d get stitches later on), validated his selection from Mick Fanning by winning every single heat en route to a Padang Cup victory. According to Matt George, Benji is the first surfer to achieve that feat in the history of the Cup.
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