Friday the 13thMarch was such a crazy day. I just lost a contract for a festival that I was scheduled to start on the 29thMarch due to the Corona virus, and I was now really concerned about the huge Vivid contract being lost as well.
I was chatting to Paul Jones about whether or not to still head to Bali for the event, in which he eventually pulled the pin due to work and family concerns, as did Andrew Cassidy amongst other crew.
Personally, I was hovering in limbo with the real threat of being stuck in Bali if things went south, the state of uncertainty was intense and anxiety was paddling in my mind, so I rang Pete Cox to get a reply of “See you in Bali”.
I was flying out the next morning and getting a lift to the airport with fellow Illawarra Sup head Paul Lomas, Facebook conversations confirmed he was all in as was Jason Barbour. With a swarm of confidence from others enthusiasm, I decided to go, so let the journey begin.
We arrived at the airport and made our way through to the other side to learn that the event had been cancelled. Not to be discouraged we journeyed on, boarded the plane and were on route to Bali.
We landed in Denpasar at approximately 1.30pm to basically an empty airport with only airport workers wearing masks and gloves, a quick transition through customs, luggage grab before making our way out of the airport to be meet the Mercure pickup driver who looked a little concerned about the size of the two large board bags and how he was going to transport them, regardless we were greeted with a huge smile and that classic Balinese hospitality.
We strapped the boards down to the roof with millimetres to spare from the concrete structure and crawled out of the airport to eerily quiet and empty streets, the trip from the airport to Sanur was a total of 20 minutes, Crazy times indeed.
Sunday the 15thMarch 2020
Today was the first official day in Sanur, with a Facebook group scheduled meeting time of 9.30am at the Rip Curl School of Surfing.
We were given the luxury of leaving all of our boards there for the rest of our trip, which personally saved me so much hassle as I was staying further up the road in Sanur, and we also received discounts on getting the boat out to the reefs, which was epic! 50’000 rupia for a return boat trip, today we had 6 of us heading out consisting of Michael Jenkins, Paul Lomas, Jamie Ralston, Keith Bennett, John Mathews (our new Canadian mate) and myself.
The starboard team were there shooting and testing new products, but they went out on their own boat for the day.
We launched the boat and motored past Oka point which was the venue for the competition, it looked super fun but with the approaching high tide we opted to continue around to Serangan Island which looked in the three to four foot range and lining up on the right hander with a bit of a crew on it. We all jumped off and split up, half the crew went to the left and the other half sat on the right, I noticed this other heavy right hander about 400m down the reef and ended up surfing there with only 2 other shortboarders who were cool as, we chatted and took turns catching waves, the J-Hawk Surefire by Mick Slattery felt darn good under my feet and I snavelled some absolute pearlers.
Serangan Island is essentially two waves that are separated by a small channel, three waves counting the wave that I surfed down the reef. The playing fields are fairly small with my estimate saying both reefs are close to 50m in length breaking both left and right, however I
noticed the reef us stand up paddlers were predominately surfing has a few personalities with tidal movement but is predominately a left hander when its bigger and the tide starts to fill in with a nice right hander pending on the angle of the incoming swell, the right on the other side didn’t overly change that much and is a really fast wave and demands full commitment to chasing it down the line to set up a solid carve or if your lucky get pitted.
The wave I surfed was a slabby right with a bowling take off which would link into an oncoming wedge section which would allow two critical turns before either shutting down on shallow reef or it would allow you to flick off before the shutdown, this wave is basically what I dream about on a 10ft sup, I can’t wait for next year and some swell to hit this reef, hopefully it coincides with the LSR 2021 Bali experience.
After two and half hours of pumping waves the crew were bearing huge salty exhausted grins, the boat ride back was filled with joyful wave stories and full belly laughs, the crew parted ways for the day, tomorrow looked like another day of epic conditions…until then.
Day 2 – Monday 16thMarch 2020
Another beautiful day in Sanur, Bali. The morning routine of coffee and breakfast followed by bike ride to the Rip Curl School Of Surfing was in full swing and had me feeling like I was back on the North Shore of Oahu, Pete Cox flew in last night and was the first to greet me in the morning, Oka point was firing in the distance and we were frothing to get back to Serangan Island, I was shooting water photos today so we opted to hire the boat for the session so I could get a few waves at the tail end. The crew arrived we packed the boat and went straight to Serangan Island to be greeted by basically the same conditions 2-4 ft of clean long range swell with little crowds, we basically had both patches of reef to ourselves… No crowds very little planes flying overhead, were we dreaming? The crew were evenly split between the two breaks which made my job of shooting water photos a whole lot harder, I swam over to the left, which actually had a really nice right hander today and shot some great images, I put myself just in the zone to try and get a really nice angle of the right and capture any one picking off the pumping left, it seemed to work a treat and I shot some last millisecond shots before the wave passed over me, the light was perfectly lit for where I positioned myself.
Pete Cox and Drew were sitting on the right and catching some absolute smokers so after getting a set of 4 or 5 waves on the head and getting washed into the shallow inside I swam over and positioned myself perfectly to capture some golden LSR Sanur moments.
Eventually everyone moved over the to the left hander and with the tide pushing in it started absolutely firing, the crew got so many waves and safe to say I was so happy to capture a defining day in the Longboard Sup Revolution history, check out the imagery below.
Ishak, our boat driver for the day asked if he could use my board and paddle, I was like absolutely mate! Get out there. He impressed me with his skills and was loving the lighter board under his feet, I snapped off a couple of nice shots of him and he was stoked!
In total we stuffed ourselves with a three-hour sup session and were completely surfed out, nothing like a boat trip back to share surf stories! What a day in Bali.
Day 3 & 4 – Tuesday 17th/Wednesday 18thMarch 2020
I awoke to a now ground hog day resemblance, same place, same coffee haunt, same bike ride to Rip Curl, Tuesday & Wednesday blended into each like a Dj mega mix combining ACDC thunderstruck and TNT, same same but not the same.
We now had Wayne Dean from Port Macquarie as well as Will Guy and his wife jump on the boat from Sanur to Serangan Island 2-3ft clean glassy lefts and rights with just the sup crew on it sharing wave for wave, I was stoked as I finally got to show off my nose ride paddle air guitar and take off to coffin ride in real life, pretty darn funny to see the crew laughing out loud as I passed them on a wave. Once again, we surfed our little backsides off before climbing back into the boat and heading back to Rip Curl.
The Australian government had now issued a recommendation for all Australian citizens abroad to start making their way home right away so a lot of us brought forward our flights to fly out on Thursday or Friday evening.
The swell was on the way out so we made the call for a Nusa Dua Session for tomorrow, we booked the boat for the whole trip so I put my hand up to shoot as I was frothing to jump in and swim and try and capture some more images.
Later that night we had a few drinks and a mini ceremony to hand out the prizes, the crew had really bonded and we all certainly made lifelong friends. I won the weekend warrior award and I have to admit I’m stoked to have a Michael Jenkins piece of art as a reminder of a once in a life time trip, under the circumstances this moment in time is something that none of us will ever forget…To me, this is what I was searching for, this is what the journey was all about.
Day 5 – Thursday 19thMarch 2020
8am meet up at Rip Curl, the crew split into two with the other crew heading to Serangan Island, I was talking to Sam Sierakowski on messenger leading up to the trip as he was already there with his family and had been scoring fun Nusa Dua, he dropped in and headed to Serangan with the other crew, it was nice to meet him in person.
We hit the water for a 45 minute to hour boat trip to Nusa Dua, we timed it so we were just past the top of the tide so it was beginning to drain out, we were greeted by 3ft waves with the occasional bigger set, the crew sat on chickens and Coxy went further up the reef, I jumped out up the reef with my housing hoping the to sit on the inside and use the current to my advantage, it was pretty slow and wasn’t get much of an opportunity to get photos so after an hour I basically swam down the reef and through the inside over the shallow reef and swapped out for my board and paddle, the driver took me back up the reef where I jumped out and paddled into some really nice fun runners, I got caught on the inside a few times standing on the reef with water up to my knees but didn’t get too lit up and made my way back out without any carnage. Check out the go pro mouth footage link below.
Nusa Dua is such a beautiful place, such a beautiful wave and I can see why surfers are drawn to this spot, I know I am and can’t wait to get a crack at it on a solid day.
One by one we made our way to inside to jump on the boat for the journey back, such a great day and unfortunately it was last surf day on the island as I had to sort everything to fly out the next evening, a small crew went back to Nusa Dua the next day and from what I was told scored similar conditions to the previous day.
Hope to see more of you for the 2021 Longboard Sup Revolution Cosmic Experience in Sanur, Bali. Its already pencilled in my diary.
I wanted to end this story by wishing everyone a safe time as we deal these life changing events, 2020 has taught me a lot about community from the bushfires that devastated our nation at the back end of 2019 and the start of 2020, to now the new threat of a world-wide virus that has flipped life on its head. Stay safe people.
Thanks for reading and following Australian Sup Life, the photo annual is in full swing.