Good Vibes and Heaps of Highlights on Day One of the Uluwatu Single Fin Classic
The Uluwatu Single Fin Classic at Bali’s most iconic surf spot was gifted with excellent waves and way too many highlights to even bother counting….just ask Single Fin’s Tai “Buddha” Graham: “It would be impossible to narrow it down to just one thing, or even a couple of things,” said Graham at the end of the day’s competition. “There has been such a good vibe all day, from Koki (Hendrawan) getting that 10 point wave to Ozzy Wright hopping across the reef, and just all the awesome surfers that wanted to rock up and surf here…the whole day was a vibe. If I could just say one word it would be…vibe!”
And what did Ozzy Wright have to say about it? “I rarely ride a single fin, almost never in fact…well, I’ll take a twinny out sometimes with just one fin one it, that’s my version of a single fin,” he said laughing. “But that was super fun…this event is just sick, especially how it levels out the playing field, where guys are riding what they’re not used to riding. I like it because it’s not so serious, even though I was trying as hard as I could and I cut myself on every wave! And the reef stuff…I guess I was just going for daredevil points because the waves weren’t barreling so I had to do something!”
Uluwatu’s own Made Lana, who happens to be the owner of the Edge Bar where the judging panel is located, posted the highest scoring wave of Round 1, 9 points out of a possible 10, but admitted that it had been a long time since his single fin days…well at least up until a couple days ago. “It was so much fun out there, especially getting a few waves with no crowd. I hadn’t surfed a single fin in a long time, so two days ago I started taking one out to see how it felt,” he said. “ When I first started surfing, maybe about 25 years ago, I started on a single fin. But it was a way different feeling back then…now it’s actually much more fun coz I find I can surf it much better!”
Chris “Binnsy” Binns joined the event as both a competitor and a commentator, and when asked which was more fun he replied “Well, I’m going to go in order….my first heat was the most fun I had today, then commentating was the second most fun. My second heat though was the pits….and not like the fun pits where you’re getting barreled but the shit pits where you kick the reef and carve chunks out of yourself. But hey….it’s not racing if you’re not exchanging paint as they say, right?” Throwing down a few dozen Bintangs tonight will no doubt help to ease the pain of those reef cuts for Binnsy.
Californian Jared Mell was another competitor that joined up with the commentating crew after his heats, and was having nothing if not a great time both in and out of the water. “The vibe of everybody coming together here and sharing this unique experience of surfing single fins from pre 1985 with your best friends, trading waves with some surfers that you’ve looked up to at this iconic place that you’ve always dreamed of surfing, well… it’s just amazing,” said Jared. “Then to come up here and relax and make fun of each other, talk a bunch of jargon, it’s really cool. We become like a family, cheering each other on. I don’t even know most of the people here, but I get inspired by them and we end up hanging out. It’s what surfing is all about.”
Other commentators that entertained the crowds gather on the Uluwatu cliffs today included West Oz’s Billy Hangen, Single Fin’s Tai Graham, and Jed Smith of the irreverent podcast “Ain’t That Swell”.
The day started off with about 70 surfers competing in two rounds, but tomorrow will see the top 48 surfers vying for the top spot on the podium where the winner will receive a beautiful Gerry Lopez surfboard and a trip to Australia to join the 2020 Burleigh Single Fin Festival, and the other finalists will receive prizes from various sponsors.
Tomorrow’s action will start off at about 7 am with the Junior Single Finners taking to the water, and then a full day of action culminating in the awards presentation and live music at Single Fin.
Water photos by Trevor Murphy
Land photos by Mick Andrews