The reef at Padang does not forgive. Mega hammers an inexcusable turn above a shallow section. Photo: Mick Curley
Mega waited. He waited and waited. And he won.
The Rip Curl Padang Padang Cup is a big waiting game. It’s on when it’s on. And on day 43 of the 45 day waiting game, the swell arrived. Mega was there waiting. Like he’d been from the very beginning. Born and raised on the Bukit. Competing in this event since he was 13. Milking the perfect tide of every proper Padang swell. It was only a matter of time.
Last year Mega was leading the finals when Chris Ward caught a last minute wave to steal the win, and then proposed to his girlfriend on the victory stand. This year the tables were turned, with Mega grabbing the last second wave he needed for the win. No ring necessary.
But when the winning set came, Mega didn’t pounce on his first possible chance. He let one pass. He let another pass. With just a minute left in the final, Mega waited. And he won. —Nathan Myers
SURFING MAGAZINE: You dropped off the map after last night? How’d you celebrate?
MEGA SEMAHDI [rasping laughter]: Just went home and had some drinks with the boys. I don’t even remember. I woke up the next afternoon in all my clothes wondering, “Did that really happen?”
Feeling bad never felt so good?
Oh man, that was the best day of my life. Like a fairy tale.
You’ve been doing this comp for a while now?
Every time they hold it. Ten times already. Since I was 13 years old. I got third early on, then it took me five years to get second. Last year was close, but now I finally won.
Were you having flashbacks from the year before during the final?
Yeah, I mean, from the very beginning I couldn’t get a wave, then I fell on one and got pounded. I just started thinking, “It’s not gonna happen. Maybe next year.” I was getting really stressed. I got a six, but I still needed a good score.
Did thinking about Wardo’s comeback remind you that it was possible?
Actually, yeah. I learned something from him last year. He was losing and caught a wave in the last minute to win. So even with only a minute left I knew it was possible. Then the set came and I knew I had to catch the good one. I let the first one go to Alik. Then Jacob took the next one. I already knew I wanted the last wave. When I saw it, it looked just like the wave Wardo caught last year. Not perfect, but good enough to get the score, for sure.
How about after the wave?
I didn’t know. Jacob only needed a small score and he took off ahead of me. I was asking all the boys, “Who won? Who won?” It’s you, they said. I still couldn’t believe it.
Did you propose to your girlfriend on stage like Wardo did last year too?
Ha ha, I didn’t learn that much from him. I brought my mom up there with me. Seeing her that happy was the best thing in my life.
You’re in line to be a Balinese priest someday, do you ever use your connection to the gods to summon the waves you need?
It’s a little like that. I pray every day. And the day before a contest starts, I always go to the beach with my mom and make an offering, talk to the gods. And in the water, if I need a wave, I say, “Just give me one chance and I’ll make it happen.” That’s how it works. The gods give you opportunities, but it’s up to you to make them work.
I like that. So how long till you’re officially a priest?
I’m still young. Much to learn. Not until I’m 40 or 50 years old. Now I’m just learning the mentality, learning what life is about. How to treat people right and stuff.
I think this win was a sign that you’ve been doing the right things.
Thank you. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for so many years, I can’t believe it’s real. Now I just want to do it again. To keep the trophy in Bali. Last two years the Padang trophy was won by non-Balinese. [Jamie O’Brien, 2011 and Chris Ward, 2012]. So, hopefully we can keep it home for a while.