Christian Fletcher (USA)
The Rip Curl Cup loves its characters, and no invited surfer fits the bill better than the godfather of aerial surfing, Christian Fletcher. When Fletcher is in Bali for the comp, the island is abuzz with his exploits, from surfing Desert Point at night to hanging five in the barrel to slaloming his motorbike at breakneck speeds through Kuta traffic. Although most heralded for his pioneering skate-inspired aerial maneuvers in surfing, Christian’s tube prowess is world class. He grew up spending winters at Gerry Lopez’s house in front of Pipeline and cut his teeth out there earning respect from heavies like Johnny Boy Gomes, Marvin Foster and more, and surfed in the Pipe Masters as a teenager. This year, Christian has been surfing in Indo for a month prior to the contest, warming up his zombie tube poses deep in the belly of the archipelago’s barrels, preparing for the day of days at Padang and putting everyone on notice.
Nic Von Rupp (PRT)
You can call Nic Von Rupp a big-wave surfer, but the truth is he rips in all conditions. While still grinding regularly on the QS, Nic also finds time to put himself in some of the heaviest situations the seven seas can muster. Last year he was a semi finalist at the big wave event at Nazaré, and he’s taken his hard charging act to Maverick’s, Teahupoo and all sorts of cold, angry slabs that detonate on dry rocks in his native Portugal as well as Ireland. This is Nic’s first time competing at Padang, and while his knowledge of the reef isn’t as intimate as many of his competitors, his technical bag of tube tricks in hollow lefts is sure to serve him well.