July 26th 2012, Kuta, Bali – Hawaiian charger Bethany Hamilton has been awarded a wildcard spot in the 2012 Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang Invitational. Hamilton, 22, from Kauai, Hawaii, will be the first-ever woman surfer to compete in the Rip Curl Cup (July 15 – August 26). The fearless goofy-footer, known for her exploits in powerful waves, is relishing the historic opportunity to surf against the best barrel riders on the planet at Bali's most revered wave.
"The Rip Curl Cup at Padang Padang is the longest running surf event in Indonesia so I am really stoked to get one of the wildcards." said Hamilton, who arrived in Bali on Tuesday night. "It should be super sick to just go and surf Padang Padang with three other guys. Even though that is a little intimidating, I am just really excited for one day of epic barrel riding."
Hamilton earned her invitation to the Ultimate Tuberiding Contest based on her solid credentials in big, hollow surf, and her several impressive freesurfing performances out at Padang Padang in recent years. Hamilton has also charged the treacherous barrels at Teahupoo in Tahiti, and is a regular at many of the lesser-known heavy reefbreaks near her home on Kauai.
"I only surfed Padang Padang for two solid swells but I immediately fell in love with the wave," Hamilton said, "It's challenging but then once you get a barrel you are just so exhilarated."
In 2003 Hamilton became arguably the world's most famous surfer when, at the age of 13, she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Hamilton with a severed left arm. Miraculously, just one month after the attack, she returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal of becoming a professional surfer. In 2004 Hamilton published a best-selling autobiography entitled Soul Surfer, which was later made into a major motion picture.
Hamilton has competed in many ASP Women's World Tour events since turning pro in 2007, but the 2012 Rip Curl Cup will be her first time competing against male surfers in a professional surf contest. In her opening round heat at Padang Padang, Hamilton will surf against Laurie Towner (Australia) and local surfers Mustofa Jeksen (Kuta) and Made Lana (Uluwatu).
Contest Director Pete Matthews also commented: "We're stoked to be in a position to award Bethany a wildcard spot into the main event, we've been discussing it for a few years now after seeing her charge the waves at Padang on each visit to Bali. With the opportunity of surfing with only 3 others in the water, I'm sure Bethany is keen to dominate the uncrowded line-up and with her incredible barrel-riding skills, she will be one to watch'.