Legends Clean Up

22 Jul 2016 1 Share

MR at Ulu. Photo courtesy of BBEW

MR at Ulu. Photo courtesy of BBEW

Story by Vaughan Blakey

MR, Carroll, Anderson, Hoy and McCabe in Bali

I’m sitting in golden glassy waters off Anderson Cliffs. To the left of me is Jim Banks. To my right is Tom Carroll. A truly classic Balinese Sunset is illuminating the whole scene in a way no amount of pixels or pumped up filters could ever truly replicate and if it weren’t for the rooftops of resorts starting to light up along the Uluwatu cliff tops, you might not know if it was 2015 or 1981.

A friendly six footer rolls in and Banks makes a move. As he drops down and fades off the bottom his style is iconic and unmistakable. I give him a hoot as he speeds up into a highline and he hoots back. Spray showers me as I slide down the back of the wave. I turn to Tom to say something like, “Man, how good is this?!” But Tom isn’t there. He’s taken off on the same wave. I laugh and wonder how many times Banks has taken off only to see Tommy’s little shorts flying off down the line in front of him. 10 years? 20 years? 30 or 40? Like I said, 2015 or 1981, it's hard to tell.

Tom Carroll with some of the crew who got to share empty Ulu for an hour

Tom Carroll with some of the crew who got to share empty Ulu for an hour

I’m not the only one enjoying near perfect empty Ulus with a couple of legends this weekend. Only yesterday the Uluwatu Surf Challenge gave a handful of punters clever enough to fork out the $150 entry fee a chance to surf a six-man heat at Inside Corner and Racetrack for an hour. That’s a heat against Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Matt Hoy, Simon Anderson, Peter McCabe, Rizal Tandjung, Made Switra or Ketut Menda, mind you – a legit Indo fantasy for those who grew up with those guys plastered all over our bedroom walls. Even better though, this is a fantasy with a cause.

The Ulu Surf Challenge is just one small part of the Big Bali Eco Weekend, an initiative co-created by Quiksilver and Coca-Cola back in 2007 to improve the shocking state of Bali’s beaches. In the nine years since the first BBEW, 31 million kilos of rubbish have been removed from five key Bali beaches, including Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Jimbaran and Kedonganan. Bins have been donated from the Bukit to Canggu, waste disposal education and management has improved drastically, 80 full-time staff are employed to clean beaches daily and there’s been infrastructure support with the purchase of beach cleaning tractors. In addition to these on the ground efforts, the BBEW has also contributed support to the local lifesavers, co-sponsored Indonesian surf events, and played an intergral role in a sea turtle hatch and release program that has seen over 130,000 baby turtles returned to their natural habitat – an amazing figure considering that in 2007 only just under 2000 eggs were collected on Bali beaches. 

Mr Single Fin Tai Graham

Mr Single Fin Tai Graham

With now the fourth largest population in the world, there’s no question Indonesia’s waste problems affect us all. Millions of tons of plastics and raw waste spew out of river systems close to major cities forming giant islands of garbage in the straits, which then get blown onto western facing coastlines all over the archipelago during the wet season. The estuaries of the Northern Territory are also becoming increasingly affected. With Bali expected to see 8 million foreign tourists a year by 2019, a healthy coastal environment is finally starting to register as a matter of importance for the Indonesian government.

And, while cleaning beaches alone won’t solve Indonesia’s waste problems, maintaining high visibility about this issue goes a long way in helping to encourage and facilitate positive change.

From the perspective of the surfers who came to this year’s BBEW, it’s a wonderful feeling to play a small role in the healing of the original surfer’s paradise. As well as taking part in the Ulu challenge, MR, Tom, Simon, Hoy and McCabe were also involved in a Padma Beach clean up, surfboard auctions and a special Q&A session streamed live on the Quiksilver Facebook page that reached nearly 400,000 people globally. 

Tai Graham wins the comp and contributes to a cleaner Bali. Double victory for Buddha.

Tai Graham wins the comp and contributes to a cleaner Bali. Double victory for Buddha.

“I’m very happy to be a part of this each year as I respect and admire the commitment of Quiksilver and Coca-Cola in educating and empowering the local community to do more for themselves, to take care of their environment, as it sends a powerful message and shows great integrity,” said Tommy Carroll at the presso of the Ulu Surf Challenge.

Next year the BBEW celebrates it’s 10th anniversary. Stay tuned to coastalwatch for details on how to get involved and who knows, you might end up surfing the heat of your dreams against a childhood hero at perfect empty Ulu, and all for a more than worthwhile cause.

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