Video + Photos: Ellis Ericson Wins Good Vibrations Retro Classic at Canggu-Bali

IndoSurfLife.com | August 27, 2012 | Kuta, Bali:  It was a truly epic day of good vibes at Canggu Beach on Saturday, with 23 year old Ellis Ericson topping the field of 48 surfers that had come from near and from afar to surf together in celebration of the classic single fin surfboard at the second annual Good Vibrations Retro Classic.

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Text and photos by Tim Hain / Coca-Cola Indonesian Surfing Championships – Bali

The good vibes were felt from Canggu Beach down to Mantra in Petitenget from the early hours of Saturday morning until past midnight as surfing legends such as Terry Fitzgerald and Mitchell Rae, pro surfers Rob Machado, Rizal Tanjung and Marlon Gerber, musician-surfers Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, and Chad Butler from the band Switchfoot, Bali legends Made Lana from Uluwatu and Ketut Menda from Kuta and others with their families and friends from all over the world came together to honor and celebrate the roots of modern surfing at this unique surf gathering.

Winning the 30-minute six man final was nothing short of a dream come true for young Ellis, who hails from Byron Bay Australia and is an admitted retro addict who has done nothing but surf and shape single fin surfboards for the last four years.  He has been hanging out around Canggu recently and clearly had both the place and his style dialed in to perfection on Saturday, after almost missing the event.

“The night before I send Jake a text telling him I wanted to be in the contest, but then ended up getting really drunk,” he admitted, somewhat embarrassed.  “So I woke up this morning and like, ‘I’m not going in the contest but I’ll just go down there and say hello’.  When I got there they were like ‘get out there, you’re in heat 8’, so I just got out there….I just kept powering and the heats just started turning over you know?”

Ellis was in his element to be sure.  “There were so many good boards out there, the Blue Bird, the Hot Buttered, the Flex Tail, and seeing Terry (Fitzgerald) and Mitchell (Rae) here, who are my favorite shapers including my father….having those guys here and surfing in a heat with Terry, I was so inspired!  It’s the stuff I just thrive on.  It’s so good to see everybody here appreciating the old boards and the older figures in surfing, the guys that laid down the foundation of what we know, see and love today.”

His inspired surfing got him the win and accolades from his peers including Steven “Monty” Montell, who was one of the judges along with Arya Subyakto, Wayan Pica, and Wayan Suandhi.  “Throughout the day Ellis surfing with a mix of power, flow and functional flare,” said Montell, “reminiscent of the 70’s tail following the nose style, all of which the judges were looking for today.  It was truly gratifying to see a young surfer like Ellis surfing with such style, and so appreciative of surfing’s history.”

The 48 competitors were allowed to use only classic single fin retro surfboards and were not allowed to use a leg rope (leash), all in order to maintain the integrity and true spirit of the Good Vibrations event.  Consequently, all surfboards had to be inspected and approved by Drifter’s Jake Mackenzie, Insight’s Mike Rommelse, and Mantra’s Tipi Jabrik before the competitors took to the water.

The 6 man final ended with Ellis in first, Jay Button second, Marlon Gerber third, Tipi Jabrik fourth, Chris “Cutch” McHutchison in fifth, and Rob Machado in sixth.  In classic Drifter form Machado elected to spend the entire final down the beach at the Sand Bar rather than with the others at the rivermouth righthander.  From the podium at the awards presentation at Mantra, Machado said, “Congrats you guys…that was some amazing surfing and it was a pleasure to watch from down the beach.  I was taking notes all day….(laughing).  Seriously, it was a really cool event to be part of…I didn’t know what I was getting myself into today and I had a blast.  It was really fun surfing with all you guys, and being back here in Bali.”

Each of the finalists received a custom made classic style Luke Studer single fin surfboard at the awards presentation held at the Mantra bar and restaurant later that evening, where the massive celebration included raffle prizes, the awards presentation, hours of free drinks from Ketel One, San Miguel Light, and Cape Discovery wine, with live music by Los Gringos, Andy 6-String, and the internationally acclaimed band Switchfoot.

Bringing the epic day and amazing night to a memorable finish at Mantra were the platinum album selling San Diego-based band of surfing musicians that go by the name of Switchfoot.  They had the crowd magnetized and singing along with every word from each song as front man Jon Foreman, bassist Tim Foreman, guitarist Drew Shirley, guitarist/keyboardist Jerome Fontamilla and drummer Chad Butler put on a high energy, emotionally charged, up-close-and-personal performance.  As they ended their last song, Jon described it best when he said to the audience, “This really reminds me of back in college when we were playing in living rooms….and so I want to thank you all for inviting us into your living room here tonight.”

Jon, Tim and Chad had all surfed in the Good Vibrations event earlier in the day, and were still on a high from their first single fin experience. “We loved the opportunity to get out there, to meet so many cool people,” said Chad.  “The community is so strong and it’s a rare thing to see, and we were honored to be adopted by the Bali community today…it was really great.  And experiencing the Good Vibrations event…I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a single fin until today… but now I want one of these things.  I gotta get home and start learning on a single fin, it’s just that much fun!

The band has been together for 15 years now, surfing together, playing music, and hanging out, and during the contest it was Jon who put together one of the day’s highlights, going switchfoot not once but twice on the same wave.  “That was the best wave I’ve ever surfed switchfoot, for sure…it was so long!” exclaimed Jon.

The band took their name from the surfing term switchfoot, means to change your normal stance to an opposite stance while surfing on a wave.  As Chad explained, “We grew up in San Diego surfing together…so wanted to have a name that represented our home and the culture we grew up in.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously, so we thought Switchfoot was a pretty good name…even though none of us are really good at it.  Well, except for Jon…I think he has been practicing more than me, as obviously he’s gotten really good at it!”

According to Chad, they have kind of on-going joke that whenever they are surfing together, before they get out of the water they have to ride at least one wave switchfoot, just to keep in form.  “Every year in June we organize an event at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas called the Switchfoot Bro Am, which is a benefit for homeless kids with music and such,” he continued.  “In it we have a little contest where you have to ride one wave regular and one wave goofy, so we have to stay in practice!”

A groovy and good time was had by all who attended the Good Vibrations event, and as Tipi Jabrik said afterwards, “I don’t know what we’re going to do next year to create a better event than this, it was so far beyond our expectations…but we’ll find a way to do it somehow…count on it!”

Good Vibrations Retro Classic 2012 – Final Results
1.  Ellis Ericson (Aus) – 15.50 points
2.  Jay Button (Aus) – 14.93 points
3.  Marlon Gerber (Bali) – 13.50 points
4.  Tipi Jabrik (Bali) – 12.83 points
5.  Chris McHutchison (Aus) – 12.77 points
6.  Rob Machado (USA) – 10.73 points

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