Words: Tucker McGrath
The inaugural Uluwatu Surf and Music Festival descended on the famed Bukit break this weekend with smashing success. Glassy nuggets of head high swell greeted competitors, and on the edge of rainy season, the odd squall did little to deter the fans and partygoers who turned out to imbibe Sailor Jerry spiced rum and San Miguel suds. The drizzle darkened the sky and took the oppressive heat from the air, and lent a magical aura to the beautiful tropical venue. This truly is a Surfer’s Paradise.
In the post event fervor of the Sunday night swing, Monty, who loaned out an entire quiver of classic single fin surfboards to make the event possible, waxed poetically about the mixing of past and future styles. Uluwatu is a remarkable surf break, he said, and a festival showcasing performances on boards spanning four decades marks the evolution of surfing and its colonization of Bali.
And what a strange and diversified event it was. Bodysurfing, night surfing, and single fin sliding all in the same weekend wave-bender? Let’s see how the competitors did.
Local boy Agus Blacky of the Uluwatu Boardriders Club took top honors in the Vestal Riders of the Night event. The cliff side turrets beamed bright into the lineup below, giving new meaning to surfing in the limelight. Blacky cut loose and bested aerial geniuses Dion Agius and Chippa Wilson, flying through the night like a winged bat through the darkness to take the win. The gold bling on his wrist, courtesy of Vestal Watches, is a ten million rupiah timepiece; the hottest arm clock this side of Switzerland.
The next day the crafty Blacky found himself in the RVCA Run of the Mill Shortboard Shootout, calmly making heats and boosting into the final alongside standout surfer of the day, Jason Salsburry, event founder Tai Buddha, Bingin supergrom Tommy Sobry, and Racetracks expert and local Tumbling. Blacky, on fire from the nighttime performance and carrying strong momentum, bested the field again and took the win along with 5 million Rp. Move over Alik Rudiarta, Made Lana…Uluwatu has a new top player and he’s making things happen.
Between heats the Uluwatu Surf and Music Festival took a break from conventional surfing and cleared the water for the bodysurfers to show their stuff. It was a battle of the lensmen as San Diego’s Damea Dorsey squared off against rival surf photographer Simon Dobb from West Oz. Both flipper flopping frogmen kicked into some gems, bouncing in the pocket with cunning and grace. Dobby took the win with a clean Racetracks lefthander and some deft spinners, styling down the line with his weird flippers and edging out the tattooed barber.
“I always get a weird feeling after bodysurfing a wave,” Dobby said. “I kick out and start giggling uncontrollably. I’m stoked on the win and I think I’ll be swimming a lot more.”
The body wompers do it for the love. There was no jackpot prize purse or designer handplane giveaway, just a fresh Single Fin lid and a bottle of Sailor Jerry awarded to the already-slurring Aussie photog.
After the human sea lions swam in for a cold beer, fans rushed to the edge of the cliff to witness the prime event, the Sailor Jerry Single Fin Classic. The intermittent rain paused long enough to unveil the sunset and ignite the sky. A rainbow arced over the community like a halo as Uluwatu local G’sip outfoxed an in-form Ellis Ericson by 0.01 point in the dreamy final, earning himself a brand new custom single fin. Thea board features a dreamy sunset and sambal resin tint and clean curves. A fine prize along with a cool 5 million Rp for yet another stylish Ulu local, who says he’s never experimented with alternative boards.
“I lost my shortboard heat and got knocked out straightaway,” G’sip said. “Then a spot opened in the single fin contest so I took it. I told them I never even tried one before, and then I won.”
Sailor Jerry kept everyone slurring, even Monty, the loquacious and composed MC, who could not escape the blurry buzz of spiced rum and happiness as he announced the winners and appointed himself Head Auctioneer.
John John Florence’s Pyzel deck sold for a cool 10.5 mil IDR, after a fierce bidding war among the frenzied crowd. The highest bidder took home a piece of history and contributed a healthy donation to Project Clean Uluwatu and their efforts to improve sewage and waste water systems in the Uluwatu community. PCU went on to raffle off a two-night package at the Uluwatu Surf Villas, making the most of a generous and drunken crowd to raise money for the good of the environment.
“The whole event was amazing!,” Event founder Tai Buddha said. “The waves, the weather, the enthusiasm here, we couldn’t have scripted a better event. I guess all I can say is I can’t wait to top it next year.”
The MC passed the microphone to the musicians, and the crowd began to fist pump and booty bump to the tune of Ulu Roots, Conscious Coup and local superstar Jerinx with his offside band Devildice. The performance of the year followed when Playground Zer0 tore the roof off Single Fin and made the ground shake with their earthquake beats. The venue throbbed, glowing with good vibes into the early morning hours.
The Uluwatu Surf and Music Festival was made possible by the Uluwatu Boardriders Club, the Uluwatu Warung Association, Single Fin, Vestal Watches, RVCA, Sailor Jerry, San Miguel Brewing Company, The Bali Bible, Mamo Hotel, Blue Point, Uluwatu Surf villas, Project Clean Uluwatu and the Uluwatu community.