Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ten things I learnt about the Mentawais

Australia's Surfing Life magazine recently ran a great article by Tim Baker about the Mentawai Islands (in Indonesia). I had the immense good fortune of going on my first trip there in October. I thought in the true spirit of slacker commentary I would steal the concept of Mr Bakers piece and kind of mash it up with my own opinions on this over exposed surfing paradise.

  1. As was pointed out in ASL A Skipper who surf's is critical. Our trip was unfortunate to have a rotund sweaty dude piloting our vessel who didn't surf. His care factor in terms of the waves we were getting was limited. I felt jealous of the guy's on the boats like the Indies,the Barrenjoey or the Huey who had skippers who not only surfed, but ripped and were tuned into the conditions. This probably lead to their guys getting better empty surf.

  2. Booties are important (for the average surfer at most breaks). We've all seen copious footage of pro's getting tubed and destroying HT's and Macaronis sans booties. For the average guy a surf at these joints can result in your hooves being hacked apart by the beautifully evil reef. Alpha and the Gooch discovered this on our first surf at HT's when only wearing one booty each they tore lovely holes in there footsies. This lead to a fun time as I got to scrub Alpha's wounds out with a Tooth brush and hydrogen peroxide whilst he squealed like a girl and the cougar hit him in the face to distract him from the pain.

  3. Take loads of boards. Having a range of boards ensures that you can derive fun from what ever conditions get thrown at you.

  4. Pin tails and rounded pins rule up there. There is something about the feeling of surfing a refined pin tail or rounded pin in good clean powerful surf that cannot be beaten. I took a new 6'3" DHD rounded pin which was unridden and fell in love with it.

  5. Give money to Surf Aid. if you haven't heard of them Surf Aid is an awesome grass roots charity started by a Kiwi doctor Dave Jenkins. We were wandering in Tuapejat while our tubby wolf larsen wannabe refuelled the boat and came across surf aids local office. Dr Dave was in a planning meeting but graciously made time to chat to us about what they were doing. Surf Aid has made a huge difference in the lives of the locals in the Mentawais with their malaria prevention work and are now moving into teaching the locals about other areas like better building practices and sustainability and permaculture. This is what charity is all about and I couldn't think of a better organisation to give $50 to (apart from Medicin Sans Frontiers)

  6. Good waves is to surfing progress what water and sunlight are to plants. The feeling of improving your surfing is what all surfers are chasing (from the top pro's to the masses of flailing backpacker kooks at bondi). I'm not busting 540's or anything but my trip has definitely helped me refine a few style issues and make me a little sharper.

  7. Watching your mates get good waves is almost as good as them watching you get good waves. Seeing the cougar nail a late vertical forehand top turn on a four footer at Macaronis was one of my highlights of the trip. Also seeing Alpha's wave selection, fearless charging at HT's and general approach improve was another highlight.

  8. Getting barreled in front of your friends is what its all about. One wave at ****** (censored) I managed to secure a fun little barrel and then backdoored another little section while the cougar was paddling up the shoulder hooting madly. It was a very good day.

  9. Take a good quality SLR with a paparazzi grade zoom. Most of the indo photos on this blog are courtesy of Brian an American guy form Santa Bruta in California. Brian had the foresight to bring a kick ass camera that captured some awesome shots. All surfers are closet egotists and we all secretly like to see photo's of ourselves on waves.

  10. Its still prone to earthquakes. There was a quake while we were crossing between islands. It felt very strange and was quite disconcerting. In my biased opinion I would avoid land camps like the plague as the chance of another big quake is high. In the land camps that I saw there wasn't a lot of high ground. This means that any tidal wave action would obliterate you.

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