Lee Wilson just won the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang. He beat an international field of handpicked tube-gurus (like Ryan Turner, Kalani Chapman and Chris Ward) and a local field of Padang ninjas (like Rizal Tanjung, Garut Widiarta and Bol Putra). He did it in pumping surf. He did it with flair and style. And he did it on his backhand.
On stage, he took a shower in champagne and beer. But after all the microphones had been unplugged, he sat quietly on the beach with a few friends. He simmered in the glow. He was about to go home, but I talked him into having some dinner. You gotta celebrate somehow, right?
We ended up seated at a table with Chris Ward and Kalani Chapman, as well as Thai Graham, the owner of the bar. Thai was pouring tequila. Chris and Kalani had a look of sweet trouble in their eyes. “What are we gonna do to celebrate?” they said.
Unfortunately, that’s when I had to go (if you must know, I flew directly to Komodo Island to watch dragons have sex, but that is a different story for a different magazine). But when I got home, I wondered how Lee’s big victory choose your own adventure went.
I do that sometimes. —Nathan Myers
SURFING: Last I saw you we were taking shots with Chris Ward and Kalani Chapman. Did the victory party go mad?
LEE WILSON: I just had one more drink and went home to my wife and daughter. I wanted to celebrate with them.
That’s very mature of you. How’s the aftermath of the win feeling?
You know, I’ve had two Indonesian titles, but that was the biggest result of my life. It’s an international field of some of the best tuberiders and just being on that list is an honor.
Did you get your motorbike yet? [At the end of the comp, Kawasaki awarded Lee a new motorbike for having the most 10s in the event.]
Rip Curl is giving it to me at the party tomorrow night.
How many 10s did they say you got? Five? Eleven?
Haha, yeah, right. About that… I didn’t get any 10s. There was some miscommunication with the Kawasaki guys up on the bridge and [announcer] Matt George down on the beach. Kawasaki wanted the bike to go to the highest finishing local. But it was a bit confusing, with Matt talking about all my 10s when I knew Bol had a 10 earlier. It’s all good. I gave my old bike to Bol, so I’ll always be able to see it. We’ve had some good times, that bike and me.
Have you had weird reactions to your Innersection part this round?
So many. But maybe more good than weird. Or maybe I like the weird reactions. Someone was saying they felt like they needed a shower after watching it. Someone else claimed they’d lost their innocence from it. Fun stuff.
Any regrets for going so, um, artsy?
Not at all. To me, you gotta do something original. It’s ain’t easy avoiding cheesy. You gotta take risks. How many filmmakers – even in Hollywood these days – take risks anymore. Jimmy [Kinnaird] is awesome for wanting to do that. He doesn’t give a shit. He’s punk rock. He’s done that thing so well.
Is it harder to qualify coming from Bali?
You know, I used to think that. But I think I’ve been getting some great international support on this one. I don’t think any of the support is coming from Indo — most of the surfers here don’t even own a computer. So, I’m stoked to make it this far. No matter what happens I’m not giving up.
You had a life changer of a car crash last year…does that incident remain with you?
Totally. It was with me the other night when I had my car out on the Bukit after the contest.
What happened when you crashed?
I was out at a contest all day at Keramas, and just had a bunch of beers with Garut and Putra after the event. We’d probably had 10 each, just telling stories and hanging on the beach. And afterwards we all jumped in our cars and headed back to town. I was driving in front of the other guys so I thought it would be funny to put my foot out the window. I was looking in the rearview and the other guys were laughing. When I looked ahead, traffic had stopped and I slammed into the car ahead of me doing about 50k. Full stop, with my foot out the window.
Ow. Did you do the splits inside your car?
Well, luckily I was wearing a seatbelt, so I didn’t project forward. I wasn’t hurt bad at all, but I just felt so stupid. That may well go down in history as the stupidest thing anyone’s ever done. And after it happened I just realized I can’t act like that anymore. I could have killed someone. I could have been killed. I have a wife and a kid to think about. I’m not a stupid kid anymore.
So, you went home after the contest?
Yeah. Partly because of that. But mainly I just wanted to be with my family to celebrate, not up all night in some bar. That was more important. Besides, there’s a party for me tomorrow night at the Rip Curl building, so now I’ve had some time to let it sink in and I can go out and have some fun without needing to drive myself home.
Well, if you’re in Bali tomorrow night, there’s a party on the Rip Curl building in Lee Wilson’s honor. Free motorcycles for everyone. If not, you’re welcome to hang a foot out the window of your car wherever you are in his honor.