Starting the Countdown to the Mentawai Pro
Press Conference at Tourism Ministry Office in Jakarta Starts the Countdown to the Mentawai Pro Presented by Rip Curl
12 April 2013, Bali-Indonesia: The official press conference for the Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl, a Premium Asian Surfing Championship surfing competition being held from April 21-29 at Kagiet-Sipora in the Mentawai Islands of West Sumatra took place yesterday in the Tourism Ministry Office in Jakarta, and was attended by 30 plus members of the national media who were presented with detailed information regarding the event and the Mentawai Islands by West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno, the Director General of Tourism Marketing Mrs. Esthy Reko Astuty, the Head of the Department of Culture, Tourism and Sport for the Mentawai Islands Mrs. Desti Seminora , Rip Curl Marketing Manager Mr. James Hendy, and Asian Surfing Championship’s Media and Communications Manager Mr. Tim Hain.
The press conference began at 10:15 am with an opening speech by Governor Prayitno, who explained to the media that although the Mentawai Islands has an extensive menu of attractions including unique flora and fauna, aboriginal culture and biodiversity, surfing is by far the leading tourism draw to the islands. “People say that the Mentawai Islands have the best waves in the world,” he said. “Maybe except for Hawaii,” he continued, “But some say just as good, though our facilities and infrastructure aren’t as good. We do have a lot of very good surfing spots, and that’s why we want to support and promote it as tourism destination.”
This is the fourth year that the government of West Sumatra and the Tourism Ministry has been supporting surfing events in the Mentawai Islands, and in her presentation Mrs. Desti Seminora provided video footage taken during the 2011 Mentawai Surfing Competition (6 star Indonesian Surfing Championship event) held at Kagiet-Sipora and the 2012 Rip Curl Pro Mentawai 6 star ISC/ASC event) held at Macaronis as well as detailed information related to growing tourism numbers and the diversity of surfing spots throughout the islands.
“There are over 71 surf spots around the islands,” she said, with some 49 of them actually considered ‘secret’. She went on to say that in a recent Surfer Magazine article rating the 10 best waves in the world, two of them are in the Mentawai Islands; Lance’s Right (the location of this year’s event and the 2011 event), and Macaronis (last year’s event location). According to Mrs. Seminora, the secret to Mentawai’s popularity is the fact that there are less crowds then in Bali, that most of the waves were hollow and barreling, which are best for tuberiding (the ultimate surfing maneuver), and that the waves were very consistent. She revealed that she has seen a year on year increase in tourism numbers that can directly be attributed to their tourism promotion efforts over the last four years.
Rip Curl’s James Hendy was next up to address the press, saying, “On behalf of Rip Curl we are proud and honored to be working with the government on this event, and it is our intention to continue to do so. We think surfing is very important to Indonesia, both as a natural resource and as a job source, so we feel it should be given as many opportunities to develop as possible. The Mentawais is the best surfing destination in the world and we want to help the government in their efforts to promote it, and we ask for your help as media to support our efforts.”
Hendy had just returned from a trip to both Katiet and Silabu villages, where in addition to doing a final inspection of the event site in Katiet, he delivered on Rip Curl’s 2012 promise to raise enough money to buy and install toilets (121) in every household on Silabu. He and Mrs. Seminora were able to hand the head of the village a check for 30 million rupiah, which was raised through the sales of a special t-shirt whose design was donated by American artist (and frequent Mentawai traveler) Phil Goodrich. The toilet project was given a further boost by Macaroni Resort’s Mark Loughran, who raised another 30 million in addition to helping to purchase materials and oversee the proper installation of the toilets and septic system.
“We believe in giving back to every community who welcomes us and shares their waves with us,” said Hendy. “It was very gratifying to help out the village of Silabu, and now we are working with A Liquid Future (an NGO) to support their teacher training program and a future school in Katiet as well as raising money to supply toilets to the schools in both the Siaban and Katiet villages. At the moment there are no toilets for the pupils in either of these schools!”
For the last 6 months, A Liquid Future has been giving free English classes 5 days a week for adults and children, swimming classes mainly for girls 3 days a week and surfing classes on Saturdays to the Katiet locals.
Hendy also announced the international surfers who would be competing with the top 16 Asian surfers in the upcoming event. They are:
Oney Anwar from Indonesia, Ian Cosenza from Brazil, Harry Bryant from Australia, Brent Dorrington from Australia, and Seb Smart from the UK.
There will be one Mentawai local competing as well, from a trials event held just prior to the main event, and there are still two open spots remaining.
Finishing off the speeches was the Asian Surfing Championship’s Tim Hain, who expressed his appreciation to the government for their support of the growth of surfing in Indonesia saying “On behalf of the ISC and the ASC I’m very grateful for the continued support of surfing by the West Sumatra government and the Tourism Ministry. Through the ISC we’ve been working hard since 2004 to increase the visibility of surfing in Indonesia, and now throughout Asia with the ASC. At first it was only with the support of surfing companies such as Rip Curl, but now more government entities are seeing what benefits promoting surfing can bring to their regions and are joining in. Our dream is to make surfing the national sport of Indonesia, as it is truly the best surfing destination on the planet, and with the support of Governor Prayitno, Mrs. Esthy Astuty, and Mrs. Desti Seminora, that dream is coming closer to becoming a reality.”
After a question and answer session, some very tasty Sumatran food was consumed by all for lunch and then the media attendees were given thank you presents in the form of Rip Curl goodies in appreciation for their participation before they departed.
Asian Surfing Championships
Tim Hain – Media and Communications
Rip Curl Indonesia
Ivona Puspita – Public Relations