Monday, July 28, 2008

Ghost Ship Won't Stop Surfing Event

A world Surfing Championship event will go ahead in Bali, with organisers confident a "ghost ship" stranded at one of the island's most famous breaks poses no immediate safety or environmental risk. Amid allegations of mutiny and murder, the Taiwanese fishing ship was discovered on July 12 abandoned on reef at Padang-Padang, some 20km from Kuta beach. It was leaking oil and petrol and organisers of the $330,000 Rip Curl Pro Search initially believed it posed a serious safety issue for the world's top 44 male surfers who will contend the title at either Padang-Padang or Uluwatu. "When the boat first washed up, it was in the middle of the line-up," said Rip Curl Indonesia chief executive Jeff Anderson.
Ho Tsai Fa No.18
"I climbed on board and waves were breaking on the stern, and I thought, you could surf it but you could run into the boat and die. "We started helping to try and get the boat out, but police arrived and said, 'This is a crime scene, this is not your boat and you don't want to get arrested do you?'." Working with environmentalists from the R.O.L.E Foundation, police failed to tug the 50-tonne, 30m-long fibreglass ship free using eight local fishing boats. Large waves have since pushed it some 50m into rocks. "Now it's not in the way at all," said Mr Anderson. "The best thing right now is for it to stay where it is until after the contest." Scheduled to start between July 30 and August 10, the event will mark the ASP World Tour's return to Indonesia after an 11-year absence caused by travel warnings.
Ho Tsai Fa No.18
Brisbane surfer Mick Fogarty, who runs a small hotel overlooking the next break along from Padang-Padang, said the pollution has been washed away. "Last week it was gagging material, but you can't smell or see any oil now," Fogarty said. "The boat has almost done a Blues Brothers car park, it's swung itself into the rocks and is almost parallel to the beach, so it doesn't affect the surfers or the wave action, but we still haven't had a really big swell yet." The next swell is due mid-week. Taiwanese coast guards received distress signals from the ship in May before it disappeared off their radar altogether. Relatives in Taiwan reported its captain missing in early June, a Taiwanese Interpol officer said. Police are still searching for the crew, believed to be from East Java, but their investigation has stalled with no body, no witnesses and a crime scene compromised by looters who have taken fish, fuel and equipment.

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