14 Sep A Mentawai’s Winter Adventure
Post by Red Herring Surf’s General Manager, Victor.
If you ever wanted to go to a perfect surf destination – and let’s face it who doesn’t, the Mentawai’s has got to be top of your list. As far as a range of great waves, not too many crew and a good place to stay at Mentawai Surf Retreat it ticks a lot of boxes. I first went here as a frothing grommet in ’93 or so, and have since been back 3 times and am still a frothing grommet. Every time I go it is different, different swells, different directions, but one constant is how good the waves are. This place pumps!
Right out the front of the camp (you can literally raise your head off the pillow for a surf check) is one of those dream waves that you wish was in your back yard. Pitstops is a right hander that breaks on a reef but finishes on the sand. Like any reef it can catch the unwary out but the ride is so sweet and if you are good enough you will get a little cover up on take-off then race down the line to smack the lip. On the other side of Pitstops is E Bay, this is a heavier left that only starts breaking properly from shoulder high up. You can paddle from one to the other. You have to be on your game here as there are a couple of rocks in the end section waiting to catch the slow surfers!
Every day the crew take you out to any of the numerous other breaks in the area, Nipussi is a fantastic right hander just around the headland (a 15/20 min walk through the local subsistence farms – worth doing the walk just to remind us of how lucky we are) and the outside break is Bank Vaults, which like E Bay is a lot more serious. About 30 minutes away is the Playgrounds area, within a relatively small space there is Pistols, Rifles, John Candy/A Frames, 4 Bobs, KL Left, Bikinis and Kandui. This is just amazing, boats anchor in the channel and there can be crew going left/right on both sides of the boats and everything from double overhead to shoulder high just depending on the swell direction. This means there is something for everyone here.
We surfed every day, at least twice and sometimes 3 times. I spent an average of 4 hours a day in the water and the guys joked that I got 400 waves. I am still the frothing grommet and I figure if a wave comes my way I might as well catch it!The local crew are brilliant, they call me Bupuk, which is Grandfather. This came about after one of the trips I did where I was the oldest. It was so good to get back and see them all and the greetings they gave ‘Bupuk’ when I turned up nearly bought a tear to my eye. I go out of my way to meet all the crew and make sure I thank them for the trips each day and although my Indonesian is limited we always have a good laugh.
The kitchen staff are crucial on any trip and Nina has been a real constant at Mentawai Surf Retreat, she is a beautiful lady who gets the apron on and cooks up a storm, smiling all the time. I always make sure I stay sweet with the kitchen staff so I can get my extra omelette!The camp is managed by Vere, a South African Kiwi who keeps it all under control and the main surf guide for us was Leo, a young South African. Leo did an amazing job of getting us into good waves (that suited our level) and with very few people. We surfed on our own a lot of the time and a lot of the credit must go to Leo with getting the timing right on when to be at which break.
I can’t wait to go back and would love to share somewhere like this with RHS crew!