Coronapocalypse

Matt George
Swellnet Dispatch

On an island of surfers that have already had to stand by and watch two months of empty, dry season perfection peel by, the Bali locals have been remarkably well behaved.

The pandemic lockdown here has been strict, with beach closures casting a ghost-like atmosphere over the wave-saturated southern end of the island. Dealing with the shuttered businesses and abandoned streets of the Coronapocalypse is tough enough for a population for whom 80% of income is dependant on tourism. Let alone staying off the beaches that inspire the lion’s share of that seasonal haul. But the local boardriders clubs have not been idle, with many of them creating their own grassroots efforts to help out those most in need during the extraordinary time.

Although the surfers of Bali deeply respect the rules put in place by their neighborhood to neighborhood system of local governing, the fourth significant swell of the season drove an elite crew to flashpoint. And to a small group of the in-the-know, indicators suggested that a rare, heavy, and very remote righthander was set to kick off. In the early hours before dawn a small exodus of locals was underway to find this small corner of jagged, shallow reef on a remote stretch of coastline known to break boards and hearts whenever ridden.

Tonjo Darmaputra racing from deep on the reef (Liquid Barrel)

Dawn revealed a wave not many would want a piece of. Dark lines marching out of the mist from one of the deepest channels in the world were heaving with crushing power through a line-up potholed with seething boils. There were surfers back in bed with pins in their legs, still healing up from the spiral fractures of the previous season. This was a wave that takes complete commitment from take off to improbable kick-out. Not a matter for the faint of heart, but a matter for those with the heart to ride it at all.

Koby Abberton joined the pre-dawn convoy and then surfed with white line fever (Liquid Barrel)

What made this secret session so unique was that maintaining social distancing was easy. This was a line-up of a small group of surfers that, although from all points of the island, like a boxing club, all knew each other by first names and punching power. This made for a line-up with a built in pecking order in place. Respectably a few of the riders even started out in masks.

Andreawan Supra, weight shift as the lip pitches (Liquid Barrel)

Which is why this remote experiment worked so well. Like Australia, it is time for the rule-makers of Bali to open the line-ups. To limit the beach activities to social distancing and allow the surfers of the island the healthy physical outlet of surfing, and outrageous sessions, like this. After all, another built-in social distancing element of surfing is the length of our six-foot boards. And there is no shoulder to shoulder clunking of rails on a day like this. Even the photographers, equally familiar with the surfers, made a deal before they swam out.

Jared Mel finds trim from deep within (Liquid Barrel)

Despite the harsh challenges of the lockdown here on the general populace, the surf vibe in the air in Bali makes it feel as if open line-ups are right around the corner. And many local surfers are leaving offerings at their local Hindu temples in hopes of to speeding up this reality. But for now secret sessions like this one, respectfully approached on the remote, mostly unridden stretches of island coast, are as good, and certainly as heavy, as it is going to get.

// MATT GEORGE

Comments

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 3:37pm

Some beaches are open now. You can now surf Labuan Sait and Canggu providing you're not a local. The Balinese government has opened beaches to foreign surfers only, and locals are advised to stay home.

https://coconuts.co/bali/news/bali-beaches-reopen-only-for-foreign-surfe...

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 5:27pm

That was yesterdays news, today its all off again

"Bali governor closes beaches a day after reopening for foreign surfers
News Desk"

Only in Indo

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/06/02/bali-governor-closes-beac...

Please Stunet give me an ignore button for Talking Turkey, Shatners Basoon, Dale Cooper, Factotum, Pupkin, and any new fake profile he decides to create.

MartinNow's picture
MartinNow's picture
MartinNow commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 4:23pm

Well I trust the strict shutdown finds most on Bali safe and well. It sounds they have demonstrated respect and self control. I think they deserved a locals only month before the touros were given open slather at the spots mentioned but understand the importance of the touro $, euro etc

MartinNow

agibbo's picture
agibbo's picture
agibbo commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 5:09pm

I just heard from my brother, who lives in Bali, that as of today (Wed, June 3) the beaches have again been closed, to everyone. People are getting very frustrated there, both local surfers and foreigners alike.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 6:07pm

That Jared Mel photo is so good. So clean and glassy

Andrew P's picture
Andrew P's picture
Andrew P commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 7:39pm

Gotta love the yanks. Turns one (probably illegal) session with 4 photos into a chargeable article. Didn’t see any Aussie journos writing about this one! Prob honoured KA’s call not to tell anyone

Bshop_feez's picture
Bshop_feez's picture
Bshop_feez commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 10:12am

Haha what a load of shit.
I saw video from this session and with it the packed car park of photos and videographer standing in groups with each other, exchanging equipment etc.
If you are going to “expose” a secret “illegal” session at least do it properly

helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose's picture
helmet-not-hose commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 10:30am

Would that involve naming the place? Maybe dropping a GPS pin for everyone to see???

FFS some people are clueless.

gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti commented Sunday, 7 Jun 2020 at 6:30pm

Clown has told everyone where it is anyway.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 12:04pm

Was a fun read but.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 1:39pm

i still think the locals should be able to surf their breaks

Kham's picture
Kham's picture
Kham commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 1:58pm

Shhh, its a secret. Lets hope none of the surfers get arrested after their secret surf became very public.
I think that it is disgusting that foreigners were allowed to surf while locals could not, Shame shame shame.

Kham

Horas's picture
Horas's picture
Horas commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 11:50pm

Ha ha ha ,fuck this bloke can spread the mayo

Horas

jacksprat's picture
jacksprat's picture
jacksprat commented Friday, 5 Jun 2020 at 3:08pm

As usual the people who surf think the rules do not apply them. And then an American writes an article about their folly. Pathetic.

onetimeonly

troppo dichotomy's picture
troppo dichotomy's picture
troppo dichotomy commented Friday, 5 Jun 2020 at 7:10pm

In George's Hands!

Now on a serious note,i am mystified if people from anywhere on the planet get on a plane and go on a surf holiday to Indonesia right now?
Fly curious??

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 5 Jun 2020 at 7:23pm

If flights were available I’d go tomorrow.

jacksprat's picture
jacksprat's picture
jacksprat commented Sunday, 7 Jun 2020 at 11:15am

Go now. Paddle across.

onetimeonly

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Sunday, 7 Jun 2020 at 11:54am

Flights are opening up in a couple weeks

bigredcouch's picture
bigredcouch's picture
bigredcouch commented Sunday, 7 Jun 2020 at 10:00pm

Please explain Shoredump? I haven't heard anything about flights from Aus to Indo opening up?

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Monday, 8 Jun 2020 at 7:36am

No inside info just a quick google for flights. Not available on the 3 or 4 dates I tried over the next couple of weeks but once you type in early July dates, (school holidays and previously mentioned by the government as a date for further easing of restrictions) they’re there for sale.

Yeah I could be very wrong so my bad in putting such a simple statement out there that can mean so much, apologies.

But yes, you can buy a ticket to Bali now to fly in 3 weeks times!

Qantas have been running a couple flights a week to LA out of Brisbane this whole time

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan commented Monday, 8 Jun 2020 at 9:53am

"But yes, you can buy a ticket to Bali now to fly in 3 weeks times!"

the airlines have been doing this for months ie. sellling flights not too far into the future while its pretty much guaranteed not to fly, good way to keep cash flow I guess. on a positive, they seem to offer much more generous date change policy than before

having said that, everyday those flights are looking more and more likely they will fly. and bali looking more likely they'll let you in

question is, will oz let you out?

apparently flights still running most places, just very limited numbers. still many flights for cargo, diplomats, business people, family...

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Monday, 8 Jun 2020 at 12:20pm

Yeah ok. That’s pretty shit from Garuda if they are doing that. I just spoke to some friends from Qantas chasing it up (I operated the A380 up until late last year) and they’ve been told half the 380s are going to be tossed, and expect it all to come back very very slowly. They’ll add flights based on demand when they can.
Crew are starting to look outside the industry for work.
Decimated overnight