Finals Day At The World’s Best Grom Contest: Rio Waida’s 10 Grand Richer
That’s a whole lot of rupiah.
It was a very quiet car ride. No trap music. Little conversation. Just a handful of undersized humans in an oversized van, all trying to get their heads right for the 2016 Quiksilver Young Guns final. A lot of money was on the line. A title, too.
The van stopped, but the silence kept on rolling as the kids piled out to greet three to four foot waves already being whipped by the wind. A blanket of grey clouds blocked the brightness, both literally and figuratively. That all changed fast.
The day started with an expression session for those who weren’t in the final. Malakai Martinez, that sly devil, won it with a chunky air reverse to the flats. His peers on the beach screamed, cheered, whistled, then realised they had to get their shit together and surf the final.
Rio went just a quarter past twelve and is now ready to cash his cheque.
The final, the result of months of great surfing. Sammy Pupo, Marco Mignot, Sandy Whittaker and Rio Waida all posted Instagram clips that were hand-picked by Mikey Wright, Ezekiel Lau and Jeremey Flores. Then they had to survive a round of public voting. Then a trip to California and four rounds of surfing here at DMJ’s, judged by Mikey, Zeke and Jeremy. The culmination of it all was an hour-long free surf with no criteria. Whoever surfs the best wins; it’s fair to say the judges know what they’re doing.
Sammy started strong. Sandy started stronger. Marco started strongest. He opened with a few turns and an air, then settled into a pace of a good wave every few minutes. With time disappearing, he was all but chaired up the beach.
But then, Rio. He had only a few waves in the final. Nothing special, though, until he took the liberty of putting together one of the best combos of the event in the last thirty seconds.
The judges, camouflaged into the military base of DMJ’s.
The judges gathered: tension built. A bird flew by, but it was symbolic of nothing. Then Mikey Wright paddled out with a check for 10 G’s and handed it to Mr Waida.
Before this event, Rio didn’t have much — just access to some of the world’s finest surf and one of the best attitudes you could ever hope to encounter. He grew up on Bali and faced some serious medical and financial issues in his early life, but surfing was always there when he needed to escape. This was his first time to America. This was not a bad payday.
Rio caught a wave in and the feels came out. He was excited. Then in disbelief. Then “so happy.” Then grateful. And finally, a mix of them all. Everyone offered him a hug, a high-five or even a tear. It was an emotional moment, and in the best way possible.
It was not a very quiet car ride back.
Exactly 131,229,807.01 Rupiah.
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