Rizal Pro Spotlight 4.3

The Rise Of A LegendThe Rizal Tanjung Pro SpotlightBy Chris Cote

Thousands of miles away from the ultra-competitive and ritzy world of Southern California, there are places where simply having a rideable surfboard is a dream. Places where driving down to check the waves with some friends is done on foot and not in Mom’s new SUV. There’re places where riding a broken board circa 1983 is a common occurrence. Places that make the spoiled, fortunate, and silver-spoon-fed surfers of Southern California look like millionaire babies when they complain about the outline of their new board. One such place is Kuta Beach, Bali. To have a surfboard as a kid in Bali is uncommon, and the fortunate ones are thankful and humbled by the fact that they get to surf. When more and more young kids in Bali became able to grasp the comforts of a surfboard, they took to the water and started learning at a furious pace. In the last decade Bali has begun to produce some of the world’s best and fastest-progressing crew of surfers on the planet. One product of the wave-rich and character-building country is Rizal Tanjung.

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Rizal is one of those rare, extraordinary people who has the power to make you feel like his long-lost brother. He has a genuine disarming personality that puts you at ease as if you’ve known him for years, even if you just met him. He’s a six-foot-tall, stick-thin, permanently smiling human with a rare assortment of interesting and inspiring tattoos. One reads “surf all day,” and another is a detailed map of Indonesia-a subtle reminder of home when he’s away. He has become the voice and personality of a new generation of surfers that is quietly growing from relative obscurity out of Third World countries more known for rice paddies and poverty than progressive surfing.

Rizal was born in the small underdeveloped town of Sulawesi, outside of Padang on November 23, 1975. Shortly thereafter his parents moved to the bustling town of Kuta Beach, and he started surfing at the local beachbreak on a decrepit, sun-worn board no American kid would be caught dead riding. Because even owning a board was a lucky situation, Rizal prized his first board. He broke it five times from nose to tail, only to fix it and keep riding it with the stoke of a kid on Christmas unwrapping a shiny new Merrick. He used the same board for about four years-a common situation among Balinese surfers.

The Balinese surf legends Made Switra and Made Kasim were Rizal’s first surf influences, along with the legendary Gerry Lopez (whose visits basically started the surfing craze in Bali). You can still see a lot of Gerry’s style in Rizal when he’s stalling with perfect poise in one of Bali’s many left-hand barrels. Rizal’s skills grew quickly, and before he knew it, he was winning local contests as if they were nothing. By then local prospective sponsors, like shops and small board companies began to take notice, but it wasn’t until 1990 when the Quiksilver Jr. event rolled into his backyard that Rizal got the notoriety and respect he deserved.

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When the contest came to town, American and Australian pros knew little of the skinny goofy-footed local kid who was about to blow them all out of the water. Rizal dominated his first major event with a smile on his face. Along his way to victory he met traveling ams Rob Machado, Keith and Dan Malloy, Peter Mendia, Pat Maus, and Todd Morcom. Rizal’s happy demeanor and friendly nature were welcomed by the traveling surfers, and Rizal became close friends with all of his surfing peers.

After winning the event hands-down, Rizal signed with Quiksilver and finally got himself a new board. Soon traveling pros were staying with Rizal in Bali any chance they got, and any time Rizal traveled he would stayed with them. Surfers like Greg Browning, Jay Larson, and Jason and Benji Weatherly helped introduce Rizal to the Western world as he continued to progress and perfect his surfing. “The guy rules me, lerally,” says Rizal fan and friend Benji Weatherly. “He’s one of a kind, and you can take that to the bank. The guy rules Indo-shit, he rules the whole Asian world. He’s becoming an icon in the surf world and it couldn’t happen to a better human. In every country I’ve ever been with him he’ll just be walking down the street in the middle of nowhere and some guy will run up to us and offer Rizal the world, it’s just crazy! Also the humor that flies from this guy’s pie-hole is uncanny. He’s never one to try to be funny, the stuff just comes naturally.”

When Rizal was seventeen, he had the opportunity to jump on a plane bound for Hawai’i, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made. While surfing huge Pipeline with the world’s heaviest crowd, Rizal got one wave that changed his life forever. Any magazine-reading surf fan was awe-struck by the enormous Pipe beast that the featherweight Balinese kid gracefully pulled into, garnishing a spot on the cover of the June 1995 Surfing magazine. The shot was hailed as one of the best Surfing covers ever. Caught through the lens of Woody Woodworth, the shot is a classic, and even now it’s still a best-selling poster.* By gracing that cover with such an amazing shot, Rizal earned a place in legend as a Pipe Master.

That wave at Pipe became the tip of an iceberg frozen solid with impressive showings in Taylor Steele’s slew of hit films, and massive media coverage in every publication. Around the same time Rizal earned a spot on the prestigious Hurley surf team. Hurley’s Paul Gomez explains why they sponsor Rizal, “He embraces fun, and there’s nothing better than sponsoring a guy who’s always smiling. He’s the best.”

Rizal is constantly proving that he’s a major player by gracing surf magazine covers and completing amazing video parts in some of the best videos ever made. His place in the crew of the upper hierarchy of surfers is solid-a crew that includes such heroes as Shane Dorian, Benji Weatherly, Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Jay Larson, and Kalani Robb, to name a few. This tight-knit group loves Rizal. “Rizal is the nicest, most humble, best person I think I’ve ever met. He’s always putting everyone else first, just making sure they’re having a good time. Ever since the first time I met him I knew we were going to be great friends forever,” Jay Larson gushes.

This group of international surf stars makes an annual trek to Bali every summer to take their vacations away from the pro-surf world and hang with the Riz. Being with Rizal in Bali is like being in Washington D.C. with Bush; the country is his playground, and he truly seems like he owns the place. “I go to Bali every summer and will never miss it. The waves are fun, the friends I have there are the best. It’s just always a good time,” says Jay Larson.

As his fame gained momentum, he made his motion-picture acting debut playing a pimp in Taylor Steele’s epic production Loose Change. His acting and surfing in the movie proved that not only is he a much-loved character, but he is easily one of the smoothest and most stylish surfers in the world. He’s already a common fixture in every surf magazine internationally. It also seems that Rizal is a photographer’s dream.. “Rizal’s the best surfer I’ve ever worked with as far as getting photos,” Says Dustin Humphrey, a TransWorld SURF senior photographer stationed in Indo. “He’s really in tune to what you’re doing if you’re shooting fish-eye, 100 millimeter, shooting from a boat, shooting from a beach-he knows what to do. He’s really driven with a really good work ethic, he surfs every day, and is probably the fastest surfer I’ve worked with. He’s also a really good guy who takes care of his friends,”

Rizal isn’t selfish with his success, he has his own crew of Balinese rulers who he’s helped bring into the spotlight by showing them that international stardom is possible for surfers from Indo. World-renowned rising professionals like Betet and Tipi don’t owe their success to The Riz, but without him, there’s no telling how many more years it would’ve been until the media really started to notice the amazing talent that Indonesian locals have to offer., “Rizal’s the man.” Rizal prodigy Betet says of his mentor. “He helps me like a brother. Sometimes he’s a f-ker, but I love him. I want to be like him. I like his air style. He’s definitely the best surfer in Bali.”.

Lately Rizal has been working on building his dream house overlooking Padang Padang with his future wife Chandra. While in Bali, he’s giving back to his homeland by helping young surfers get new boards and a foot in the door of contests and sponsors alike. Rizal could be called surfing’s goodwill ambassador to Bali.

Basically, Rizal Tanjung is one of the most genuine and respected people in this small world. To have come from a tiny Third World nation a million miles from America and just blow up is an amazing feat in itself. Having a person like Rizal as one of your friends is truly a gift. His past is already legendary, and his future is boundless. Who knows, maybe he’ll be the Balinese president one day; it seems fitting, because he already rules the world.

*Poster available at

www.creationcaptured.com

“…the humor that flies from this guy’s pie-hole is uncanny”-Benji Weatherly

“Sometimes he’s a f-ker, but I love him.”-BetetAny magazine-reading surf fan was awe-struck by the enormous Pipe beast that the featherweight Balinese kid gracefully pulled into.and Tipi don’t owe their success to The Riz, but without him, there’s no telling how many more years it would’ve been until the media really started to notice the amazing talent that Indonesian locals have to offer., “Rizal’s the man.” Rizal prodigy Betet says of his mentor. “He helps me like a brother. Sometimes he’s a f-ker, but I love him. I want to be like him. I like his air style. He’s definitely the best surfer in Bali.”.

Lately Rizal has been working on building his dream house overlooking Padang Padang with his future wife Chandra. While in Bali, he’s giving back to his homeland by helping young surfers get new boards and a foot in the door of contests and sponsors alike. Rizal could be called surfing’s goodwill ambassador to Bali.

Basically, Rizal Tanjung is one of the most genuine and respected people in this small world. To have come from a tiny Third World nation a million miles from America and just blow up is an amazing feat in itself. Having a person like Rizal as one of your friends is truly a gift. His past is already legendary, and his future is boundless. Who knows, maybe he’ll be the Balinese president one day; it seems fitting, because he already rules the world.

*Poster available at

www.creationcaptured.com

“…the humor that flies from this guy’s pie-hole is uncanny”-Benji Weatherly

“Sometimes he’s a f-ker, but I love him.”-BetetAny magazine-reading surf fan was awe-struck by the enormous Pipe beast that the featherweight Balinese kid gracefully pulled into.