An Indonesian teenager pulled off a stunning upset Monday by defeating two-time surfing world champion Gabriel Medina in Bali.
Granted a wildcard spot to compete in the World Surf League (WSL) event at Keramas beach on Bali’s east coast, 19-year-old Rio Waida quickly proved why he is considered Indonesia’s next big hope on the international stage.
Waida scored a low combined two-wave score of 9.60 out of 20, but that was still enough to edge out 2018 world champ Medina and Deivid Silva — both from Brazil — in clean head-high waves.
“I’m very happy I won in the first round, especially because I was competing against Gabby Medina, the world champion,” Waida said in a post-heat interview.
“The waves were small, but I know the break here so I could implement my strategy.
“I don’t care about other competitors — I just thought about myself.”
On his best scoring ride, Waida — who finished third in the WSL World Junior Championships last year — completed a series of powerful maneuvers in the pocket of the wave that earned him a 5.67 out of 10 and cheers from fans on the beach.
The Balinese surfer followed that up with a 3.93, which was enough to see him advance to round three where he will compete against the winner of a round-two elimination heat.
Some five decades after surfing was first introduced to Bali by foreign visitors, Waida is from a new generation of Indonesian surfers that are stamping their mark on the international scene.
The Corona Bali Pro is the third stop on the 11-event men’s world tour and follows competitions on the Gold Coast and at Bells Beach in Australia.
John John Florence, a two-time world champ from Hawaii, currently has the tour ratings lead and advanced on the first day of the competition along with event favorites Italo Ferreira, Filipe Toledo and Jordy Smith.