The Flyer: G'Land and the Jungle Puzzle
This week, I felt mixed emotions while writing the long range forecast for the upcoming G’Land Pro.
On one hand, I want to see the world’s best surfers in great waves, so you betcha I’ll be glued to that webcast.
On the other hand, I’m aware that by tuning in I’m somewhat complicit in whatever becomes of Grajagan in the booming World Surf League era.
For two decades, Indonesia’s first super wave has been hiding in plain sight, as ever more discoveries were made to the north and east dragging the hordes in those directions. At times, Grajagan has felt like an olde world wave, a once glorious spot now faded as performance levels moved on - think of Makaha or Crescent Head - yet anyone who's surfed Speedies over six feet knows this is an incorrect analogy. It remains as fearsome and technical as any Indonesian wave.
So the seasonal regulars - the true believers of Plengkung - have chuckled as it fell off the radar.
Yet with the Woz announcing a Championship Tour contest, the spotlight again befalls the reef and, as predicated by human psychology, more people will follow, thus ending the ‘quiet’ period at G’Land.
Unfortunately, that’s not all. To cater for the contest - which has a three-year contract - the Wozzle had to build a wide, seasonally-operable road into the park. With easier access, and popular, untapped development potential, the future for Grajagan just got a little more uncertain.
Take a look at the unrestrained development across the Bali Strait for an idea about Grajagan’s future, and keep in mind that Alas Purwo National Park is a national park in name only. It has few of the protections that Australian national parks do.
There’s an episode in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror where the general public is given a choice: The protagonist will livestream a misdeed if the public is watching him, however he won’t do it if they switch off their devices. Effectively, the viewing public become the moral arbiters - the decision is theirs to make.
Of course the people watched, it’s what we do. And I expect that even those surfers, like myself, who have grave reservations about the future of Grajagan, will also watch the Grajagan Pro when it starts next weekend.
However, when looked at this way, it’s a win/win scenario:
If the surf pumps then it’ll be great viewing, however if it doesn’t it’ll feel like a stay of execution - one more year where G’Land flies underneath the radar.
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I’m sure the Indonesian Government would say otherwise….
Fuk… didn’t realise they had x 3 year contract. Had a conversation this morning with a mate who explained the WSL shit show to me. Sounds like there’s a whole lot of the top guys aren’t even surfing it due to being shut out and there’s quite a few lucky amateurs in it. So there’s really only a handful of guys who will really take to it if it’s proper G Land. That’s a shame. Will the woman really keep up with it if it’s proper?.
A few 'lucky amateurs'? Sure you've got the right competition? The Toonalook point score is the following week.. Barry has the meat tray raffle at the bowlo this arvo.
Toona's been flying under the radar lately, but Baz passes on his regards to 'all the caaarrnts out there'
Building a road in there does not bode well for the future of the park. Roads act as barriers to movement of some wildlife, while traffic threatens others. WSL will I expect try to 'offset' the damage and keep playing their glossy feel-good advertorials, but those are mostly greenwash, as their small elite continue to pollute at levels far beyond anything sustainable. The biggest problem though is that thousands, maybe millions, of young crew aspire to this destructive lifestyle.
i wonder if they have factored in animal safe passages under the road .
otherwise it could split the park in half.
the apex predators need to be kept at healthy numbers or if they go. It can quite literally get out of hand.
i think indo was best until the late nineties.
Super disappointed with myself that I've never made it there, was all planned to go in 2002 and had to change plans. However I must say I am looking fwd to watching the worlds best out there.
I reckon your mate might need to take a look at the heat draw ED, nothing surprising on there, just the current best in the world that have risen to the challenge through some seriously challenging comps.
……and Sally Fizt
Hey Stu > every now and then you write one, like this one, that's so spot-on literally and metaphorically that I wish I'd written it. Ha! It's a real pleasure to read your multi-layered insights, so economically described, on such important socio-political contexts for surfers.
There’s no similar voice or sentiment in all the surfing media. Crazy that this is still true even after the decade plus of internet supposedly revolutionising the diversity of opinion in the surfing culture. A surf media outlet not just unbeholden but openly questioning the power, legitimacy and benefit of the corporate claim to ownership of the surfing culture.
The WSL are the smack peddlers of the surf world.
Like any junkie, I’ll surely accept heroin off the dealer but never assume there’s any reciprocated love between the dealer and the junkie. Nor should you ever fall for the notion that the dealer’s motives are ever based around improving the lot of the junkie, nor does the junkie care for the dealer.
Live surf feeds are the dragon we chase and the WSL knows it can help itself to everything we hold dear as long as it keeps producing what we crave.
I’m going cold turkey….as soon as G Land wraps up.
Gosh you write well sometimes.
You sure about that Dude?
Had my doubts, too.
And I fully agree with your sentiments above.
You ready for some blasphemy?
I’m not a massive fan of Chopes. Like the Box, the in-and-out barrel bores me after a heat or two. I’ll still watch it, just as I watch 1 ft onshore low tide close outs at Supertubes….cause I can’t turn away.
Chopes isn’t an event I look forward too. Cloud break was much more enjoyable. As is pipe.
Even thinking I’ll like the girls at Chopes more than the blokes. At least there’s the potential for some of them to kook it and give some context to the better surfers. With the men there’s so little difference between rides amongst the men at sub 8ft perfect Chopes that it gets a bit repetitive.
BTW - That quitting comment was tongue in cheek. I’ll be first in line for my hit of live feed ripping. I’m watching dogshit Manly pro right now.
But then stuff like this happens...
I missed that year. Maybe that’s why I don’t really get the buzz?
Every time this photo pops up I stare at it for about 5 minutes.
Apt comparison for G land considering it was first surfed and sold to surf perfection junkies by Boyem and his buddies lol.
Ah WSL, ripping out trees at Snapper, smashing a road into a remote Indo point, campaigning for a concrete cliff top path at Bells. All while wanking on about our “one ocean” with feel good video of two pros planting a stick of grass to show their “commitment”. Karnts.
An absolute joke, power lines to judging tower at G land and loud speakers all day. Fucking hypocrisy
After the annual arsefuck that is the Margaret River Pro
and the bane of the locals surfing life here, now to watch the same promotion machine head to my favourite holiday destination ...
Somewhere that has somehow remained a bastion for older (can I say original? or people who have been surfing since before the internet anyhow ) Surfers from around the world. Guys and girls you run into year after year .
What follows is wsl rubbish through the jungle, through the internet and then come the man buns ,mid lengths and the influencers
Wsl you should be fucking ashamed of yourselves
Let's here Joe turdpull wank on about the jungle ...
May a rabid monkey tear his balls off
I’ve got a recurring nightmare of Joe Turpel’s voice over describing his eternal love for the sacred feelings he’s found in the desert two days after he’s gotten off the plane at Carnarvon for the first time in his life.
Pray it never happens.
Sad state of affairs really for any surf destination. Too many people want to surf and in the modern era travelling to 'remote' spots has never been easier. Seems to be happening everywhere. Gland hidden in plain sight, first trip in 1990, last in 2019 and a bunch in between. Great waves and meeting great people, glad I had the experience. Mates living in Bali were doing day trips from Kuta last year for Rp 1 million, beers on way home included... Lucky pricks...
Sure it’s back on everyone’s radar, but it never left for those in the know
Its old Skool and not everyone’s cup of tea and here’s hoping it remains that way.
Nice piece Stu! I'm looking forward to this event like no other in ages. Just occurs to me that there are in fact Indonesian laws and decrees governing management and use of Alas Purwo National Park as well as an official management structure and system in place, so your reference to it as a national park in name only is slightly inaccurate. Your comparison with the Australian situation makes more sense to me, although I don't really know, but anyway allow me to recommend this webpage for your information (whack it into your online translator and away you go - it's got zoning maps and everything!): https://tnalaspurwo.org/kelembagaan-taman-nasional-alas-purwo. Semoga dapat ombak bagus, Bli!
This Indonesian-language booklet produced by Alas Purwo National Park office is interesting and informative, too, Stu: http://tnalaspurwo.org/files/buku/Buku_Informasi_TNAP.pdf.
That's not a bad Instagram account, especially for a national park office! I've not met any of them but I'd say the staff there take pride and pleasure in their work.
I'm torn because even though Ive never been there, I know the reverence that's held in the hearts of those that have.
But, I love pro surfing. There, I said it. And I'm so looking forward to seeing what these one percenters can do on those long, green walls. In fairness to the WSL their production has really stepped up and the cameras are gonna catch it in real time clear as crystal. Sorry to say but I predict It's gonna be visually spectacular.
Now, if Shannon could just somehow be struck down with some jungle illness that prevents her mouth from opening, that's gonna be the cherry.
Classic. Shannon seems to grate everyone I know and I feel her tone of voice can actually cause physical pain. But she's got the job and she's still there, so I wonder who does she appeal to? There must some demographic out there.
well the seppos would love her
I'm guessing the profoundly deaf lip-reading surfers with early onset cataracts.
Shannon could back up Strider for the water calls. She can be heard from the beach if the equipment fails
I'm gonna give her a vote. She's grown on me and there's way worse in some other sports and she knows her stuff. But each to their own I guess
I agree p-m, watched a bit of snapper and Shannon was better than the 2nd tier Aussie commentators who seemed to use the same lines over and over again.
News Flash "Monkey pox running rampant at WSL G-Land contest, commentator suspected of being virus host. "
I read a news article yesterday on someone that caught it and was given a vaccine for it.
I never even new there was a 'monkeypox' vaccine already,literally not even a week after this new pox was first mentioned.
I guess they were so impressed with half the world taking covid shots that were rushed to market in around 6 months,they're confidantly aiming for 6 minutes for the next generation new disease or variant ones lol.
I’ve only been there a handful of times but each time is etched into my memory. Such an amazing reef from Kongs to Moneys to speed reef .
Hopefully it’ll maintain it’s semi under the radar status after the circus moves on.
There is a special place in hell reserved for internet surf forecasters
Pause here to think of how this contest's webcast will ignite "the passions" of so many cashed up Brazzo globetrotters who weren't even born when the G-land 90's contests were happening to book a trip to there!
At least there's a bit more space to minimize their habit of dropping in. BUT....also there's no audience. And that might be G-Land's silver bullet! It's hard to tell who's surfing out there.
No one ever mentions the time it takes to get out and back in - reef walking (or paddling at high tide).
You won't get Balangan, Bingin and Cangu (and Ulu's on a small day) regulars going there - Man bun, flouro (Andy Irons) shorts along with 5 "mates".
There will be a buzz before people realize it's actually hard work with no adoration or insta proof.
Then back to invisible in plain sight (with a huge road coming in).
This is a great read Stu, and like someone above said we are lucky there is someone in the surf media who has your take on the industry and the state of surfing.
Personally, not too concerned about G-land... pretty B grade kind of stuff other than Speedies... which wasn't exactly uncrowded. Went in 2018 on a perfect forecast (first mistake) and surfed cooking Speedies with 60 out. Old blokes love it cause they can roll in to waves they couldn't paddle into on most Indo reefs. Luckily, doesn't look like they'll be surfing good speedies with the tides and early season winds.
Biggest issue in my eyes, is that having a WSL comp in Indo just draws the surfing world's attention here, rather than to Fiji, or to Chopes or to that half-wave at Margies main break. Feels like there's been pros gorging on their insta content in all the indo outposts last two weeks from Lakeys to Lombok to South Sumatra to Ments... and places like the Mandiri Beach Fuck Up love to gloat and brag that Jordy Smith's getting barreled out the front.
Might I just add to the above, that while how busy G-Land becomes doesn't concern me too much on a personal level, I do feel for all the crew who hold the place near and dear and consider it an important part of their lives.
For me, the G-Land comp is disturbing and distressing due to the greater evil it represents... The Castle said it best... it's the vibe of the thing.
Not trying to be a dick Stu but I felt a similar conflict internally about surf cam websites when they first evolved, like the road to G land. I'm a junkie now. In part I blame you.
Some great insights into our surfing loves, hates and dilemmas (can't stop watching). Showing my age here (again), but way back in the 70-early 80s, Bill Finnegan and Brian de Salvadore wrote a series of articles for Tracks, called 'Notes from the Paradise Trail' or something similar. They got to Gland in the period after Boyum's original camp had fallen into disrepair and before Bobby Radiasa's and others (Tiger Camp was another one I stayed at in early 90s) got started. Their writings were a very good read at the time, and they noted how Gland bucked the trend of discovery, then losmen / homestay / shops / hotel / airport / surf crowds .. having returned, albeit briefly to the jungle. I was lucky enough to get to Nias in April 1978, as the 1st losmen on the point, called Jamborai 1 from vague memory, was just getting built, following a mini-war between Botahili and Lagundri - a long story that left people dead and Lagundri half burned to the ground. I returned in 1981 by which time there were quite a few losmen on the point. The rest as they say ... But back to the G-land story, there were far less surfers back when Bill and Brian got there, and the whole surf camp / boat industry was in its infancy. The risk now, obviously, with WSL, is that their road, apart from disrupting the wildlife, opens the place up to additional development. How good those Indonesian zoning and management plans are may be put to the test.
"The risk now, obviously, with WSL, is that their road, apart from disrupting the wildlife, opens the place up to additional development. How good those Indonesian zoning and management plans are may be put to the test."
Jeez I hope this doesn't come true.
I'm conflicted about this contest, since the first time I heard it was on the schedule I was voicing my disproval.
Like many others on here G-land has been somewhere that I have enjoyed over many years now, ( compared to some older regulars my 17 years of going there is nothing), and I have enjoyed watching other parts of Indo take the lions share of the spotlight while often enjoying some very quiet sessions in the jungle.
Some of my most memorable surfing experiences have been sitting out there and not being able to see another person in the water as far as you can see. Instead its just reeling perfect waves steaming down the reef towards you.
But in saying all that I will be watching the contest, I cant not.
I just hope that it doesn't turn the place in to something I and many others have enjoyed for a long time, and hopefully can enjoy it for years to come.
I've been to G-Land a couple of times, a mate of a mate drove us out there through the jungle track in his VW type 181 Küblewagen. It was a wild old ride, pretty sure it was around 2005. We stayed at an old camp further down the bay. Had to drive another hour to get to the end of the road, the last bit of the road was bamboo matting over sand, then a bit of a walk to get to Speedies.
Having been there a few years before I knew what was going to be waiting for us at the end of our gruelling drive....everyone!
It was an epic journey to get there though. We also drove to other spots around East Java and surfed with no one else.
I don't like the sound of this road widening, paving the way for groomed beared, top knot, cardigan wearing types... You'd have to think there are parts of that peninsula that have never been trodden on, would be nice if it could stay that way.
There's an effing road to everywhere these days, even the North side of Everest, parking lot at 5017m
Whatdya mean “cardigan wearing types”…..I find that offensive.
Cardigan wearing surf guides are exempt.
If it drags a few guys away from the 3 foot onshore beachie at Mona Vale then this is a win for me
So I'm going to feel a sense of guilt tuning in to the comp now I know a shitstorm of cashed up developers are about to plunder the place. Thanks Stu.
If I decided to boycott it's not going to make a skerrick of difference. Is there nothing surfers who give a shit can do? Agitate for World heritage listing?
Keeping Grajagan un-fucked would be a tremendous achievement in this world.
At least no one can strictly claim it as their local, all of us who have been there have been privaledged to do so and might just need to leave it at that.
The truth is that pro surfing is now being run by people who aren't really core surfers, at least the money and the top brass. It's kind of like they are the pimps of surfing, dressing it up in trashy clothes and trying to pull in the Johns. When it comes to who's getting [email protected]#$'d I'm pretty sure I know who that is.
I went there in 2003 and it was cheap as chips for a week given it was a year after the bombings. We drove in then and the road wasn't too bad, although i was asleep for most of it. The place was over run by Javanese high schoolers on day trips trying to learn English off the surfers.
There are a few things that may protect it. If it's macking lower tide Speedies hopefully some pros will lose some skin (it can get pretty vicious). It's actually hard to get tons of waves there if the camps are full, this may discourage a lot of punters. Lots of the cream is picked off by guys with big boards on Launching Pad. Most days you're only surfing for a portion of the day when the tides and wind are right and the water can be fecking cold. There's a reason it's dropped off the radar a little. Give it a bit of time and equilibrium may return.
For me personally I'd give up all of the webcasts if only they'd stop prostituting our sport, trying to tell us it's something we know it's not. Please let Ziff move on from pro surfing I don't really care if it all crumbles. There'll still be good content coming out from free surfers maybe that's all we need.
Great post Yendor, couldn't agree more. With quite a few trips there under my belt I'm just as conflicted as the rest of the regulars, there's a selfish element that hopes they get completely skunked although that's highly unlikely. I live in hope though.
I have a solution that will make everyone happy. Put a dirty big sign at Chickens which says 'G-land'. Greet the newbies with offers of surf lessons and photo opportunities, rent them foamie mals, sell them t-shirts and vegan smoothies and then send the punters back they way they came, happy in the knowledge they came and conquered.
All jokes aside, a lot of younger crew seems to like places where they can pretend they are practising their airs in easy view of the assembled peanut gallery and close to refreshments and conveniences, and then hang out in a cool internet cafe to update their social media apres surf.
What's the point of sporting a moustache, carefully manicured long hair, matching black board short and t-shirt ensemble and this seasons HPSB if no-one can see you riding it?
Ments and other many places offer more idyll locations, better barrels and are more user friendly and/or cheaper.
A very fundamental part of G-land is hardship, uncompromising reef and jungle and serious beatings.