Surfing competition may return to Indonesia after years of terrorism threats

After a decade of cancellations due to terrorist threats and bombings, a professional surfing competition may be returning to the perfect waves of the Bay of Grajagan, Indonesia.

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    A surfer sliding in the barrel in the Bay of Grajagan, near Java, Indonesia.
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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Indonesia’s tourism industry, which has been slowly recovering from targeted terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, is poised to receive a valuable boost sometime next year with the return of the Quiksilver G-Land Pro, one of the world’s most prestigious surfing tournaments.

The 2001 contest was canceled due to continued terrorist threats. In 2002, twin nightclub bombings in Bali put the event on hold indefinitely. But surf company Quiksilver and the Association of Surfing Professionals, professional surfing’s governing body, are considering bringing back the competition in 2011.

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The contest, which takes place at a remote surf break in the jungles of West Java, would feature such surfing superstars as Floridian Kelly Slater and Australian Mick Fanning, and would be a boon to the band of local and Balinese surfers who staff the few surf camps overlooking the legendary waves of “G-Land,” in the Bay of Grajagan.

When the millionaire professional surfers and their entourages have had their fill of G-land’s legendary waves, they leave behind all sorts of goodies such as board shorts, T-shirts, surf wax and, of course, surfboards, much to the delight of local surfers, many of whom earn just a few dollars a day.

The contest, which will be streamed live on the Internet, will also remind the world’s surfers of just how perfect the waves at G-Land can be, says Quiksilver spokesman Jake Paterson.

“This is one of the world’s best waves, no question. It’s just insane,” Mr. Paterson says.

Hosting a major surf competition in Indonesia would also send a clear message to tourists and traveling surfers alike that the country has recovered significantly from the terrorist attacks, which killed more than 200 people, including dozens of people who had come to Bali to surf, says Paterson, a former professional surfer who has competed at G-Land.

Paterson says it’s time for the professional surfing community to move on from those tragedies and not allow the events of the past to dictate the sport’s future.

“It’s time we started looking forwards, not backwards,” he says.

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