Pop quiz: Would you rather hold a surf contest in closeout beachbreak or the most perfect righthand reefbreak on the planet? Yeah, the answer was pretty obvious to the Asian Surfing Championships Tour as well. While the ASP's Top 34 prepare for their next tour stop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, home to “Floatergate” and the shortest wave on the WCT, on the other side of the world a select group of Indonesia's top surfers and a hand-picked crew of international shredders will descend on the dreamy tubes of Lance's Right for the 2013 Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl, set to go off April 21st - 29th.
The invitational contest, the ASC's first-ever Premium event, will see the top 16 ranked ASC surfers competing with five international wildcards, two Indonesian wildcards and one local trials winner at Lance’s Right, also known as HTs, on the island of Sipora, in the Mentawai Islands.
“When you're a goofy at a barreling righthander, it's easy to say you're at a disadvantage, but I think you can do things on your backhand that you can't do frontside. You can draw out your turns more and get more power, and sometimes the judges will give you a bit better score for a backside tube ride similar to one a frontside surfer gets. So I think it balances out.” Widiarta
The draw is stacked with Indo's finest surfers like Dede Suryana, Garut Widiarta, Mega Semadhi and Marlon Gerber, as well as two very lethal Indo wildcards, Bali legend Bol Adi Putra and super grom Oney Anwar (who just came off a wildcard appearance at the Rip Curl Pro WCT event at Bells Beach). Meanwhile, a pack of hungry international grommets and proven chargers is looking to shake things up, including: Brent Dorrington (Australia), Kaishu Tanaka (Japan) Jackson Baker (Australia), Harry Bryant (Australia) and Seb Smart (England).
An armada of boats packed with surfing talent is scheduled to invade Lance's Right this weekend, including Rip Curl's Search vessel from the Tip-2-Tip mission, The Quest 1, as well as the storied Indies Explorer. The groms, meanwhile, will be packed onto the Ambo Ambo ferry from Padang, Sumatra to Tuapejat in the Ments.
“It's a good thing, for sure. When you compete with surfers from overseas, the level is different. Before, the only time we got a chance to surf against these guys was once a year during Padang Cup. Now it's starting to happen more. Who doesn't want to come surf a contest in the Mentawais?” Widiarta
Last year, the Mentawai event was held at Macaronis, the first-ever professional surfing event held at the world-famous lefthander. The final came down to the top goofyfoot, Garut Widiarta, versus the best regularfoot, Lee Wilson. In the end, Wilson overcame Widiarta in an electric conclusion to an amazing week of hi-fi surfing. Wilson won't be back to defend his Mentawai title this year, but Widiarta, always a standout in high-class waves, will be looking to prove that he can make the final going right as well.
Widiarta, currently ranked No. 8 on the 2013 ASC Tour said that HTs is one of the sickest waves in the world and gets pretty gnarly at low tide when its big. While it will be tough for the goofies at Lance's, he doesn't think surfing backside out there is necessarily a disadvantage. Widiarta said he is relishing the rare opportunity to compete against top international surfers in his own backyard.
“When I got the call I couldn't believe it, I don't normally do contests, but to surf epic HTs in a heat with one other dude is a no-brainer. I've been traveling through Indo for several months this year and the level of the top guys here is up there with anywhere in the world. I'd much rather compete against the best guys because it pushes you way more. You find yourself doing stuff that you never normally do.”Sam Smart
That's certainly how UK goofyfoot Seb Smart felt about his invitation to compete at Lance's Right for the Mentawai Pro. Smart, 20, one of the five international wildcards, said he's over the moon about his first-ever trip to the Mentawais, but acknowledges Competing against Indonesia's finest surfers like Bol, Oney, Dede and Garut will be a tall order.
That's what we're all looking forward to seeing when competition kicks off next week. Given the logistical challenges of holding an event at a remote outer island reef pass, the 2013 Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl will not feature a live webcast. However, video highlights, photo galleries and interviews will be updated daily on the event website, the very same day the heats go down at HTs. You can see all the action from the 2013 Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl at: asia.ripcurl.com/promentawai13.html