Ghost Ship Crashes the Rip Curl Cup opening ceremony
Words: Lorca Lueras
An abandoned Taiwanese fishing boat smashed into the reef of the famous Balinese wave Padang Padang on the day of the Rip Curl Cup opening ceremony on Saturday, July 12. The 100ft ship wrecked around midnight and was found the next morning devoid of its crew that had apparently bailed well before it hit the reef. Shortly after dawn that Saturday morning, alarmed local fishing boats had pulled up outside of the beached vessel whose hold of oversized catch including tuna, sharks, and mahi-mahi had begun to be pilfered. It is not certain whether the boat had proper permits to fish or even be in Indonesian waters. Government officials and local police are investigating and have taken the matter into their own hands. There were no explosives or anything of a dangerous or illicit nature found on board, although rumor has it that the ship has been in trouble for illegal fishing in the past. No-one was hurt in the wreck.
This spells uncertainty for the Rip Curl Cup as the boat’s final resting place is directly in front of the surfing takeoff zone at Padang Padang. Clemens, Rip Curl Asia’s Marketing Manager, reports that the contest is still on as scheduled, perhaps even this Friday with July’s next swath of sizable goundswell. Concerned with the environmental impact, Rip Curl is in contact with the WWF and supporting a solution with miniminal environmental damage. “We are in touch with the local authorities pushing for the vessel to be removed before it turns into a potential disaster zone when the next big swell hits on Friday,” said Jeff Anderson, Rip Curl South Asia CEO.
Seeing that waves were still being surfed alongside the wreck, the spot is still rideable when small. How it will break once there is a double overhead plus swell required for Padang Padang to work is anybody’s guess. Some say the backwash off the boat will be a debilitating factor. Others reckon the reef might be altered, changing the wave. Besides speculating at wave quality, everyone seems to agree that the ship brings imminent danger to competitors and freesurfers alike.
Shipwrecks in Indonesia are no new phenomenon. From trade route shipping blunders centuries ago to present day acts of maritime misfortune, such accidents still occur regularly. Besides marring Padang Padang’s lineup, there is also concern of potential ecological hazards. The supply of diesel has been siphoned out but the oil inside still remains a worry, especially if the forecasted Friday swell begins ramming into the boat.