When we catch a glimpse of the surfing community, we always slap our heads collectively and wonder why we didn’t pursue a life of beaches, sun, and drinks with little umbrellas. We had one such moment this summer. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to reflect on our life decisions while enjoying the beaches, sun and drinks with little umbrellas in Bali, Indonesia, where we covered the Oakley Pro Bali, the fifth stop of the year on the pro surfing tour.
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Bali has been a beloved surfing destination since the 1930s, boasting a number of world class beaches like Uluwatu, Padang-Padang and Keramas, a reef break on Bali’s eastern shore that was home to this year’s competition. The world’s best surfers were on hand, including Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, John John Florence and Sebastian Zietz. After several days of competition, Australian Joel Parkinson bested Michel Bourez of Tahiti in the finals.
Pro surfing competitions are pretty simple. In the first heat there are three surfers in the water at a time; after that, they go head-to-head, governed by a “priority” rule that prevents surfers from vying for the same wave. Surfers are scored by a panel of judges on a scale of 1-10 based on their performance in five criteria: commitment and degree of difficulty; innovative and progressive maneuvers; combination of major maneuvers; variety of maneuvers; and speed, power and flow.
The good news for spectators? This is one sport that’s pretty effortless to enjoy, even if you don’t know the rules. Just kick back and take it all in.