Long Read: Back To G-Land

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)
Swellnet Dispatch

Everything flows, everything changes.

In the beginning, was G-Land. Almost literally for the Javan people who believed this jungled eastern tip of Java was the first place in the creation of the world. In symmetry with some Australian Dreamtime stories, animals here are believed to be the embodiment of their ancestors. In surf mythology Grajagan is almost equally foundational. In the last twelve months, not one but two separate books have been devoted to the discovery and development of G-Land and its jungle camps. Fifteen years had elapsed since my last visit to the spot and when my oldest mate offered up an Afterpay-type sponno deal I gleefully accepted. I was keen to see what had changed in the post-mobile phone era as modernity steam-rolled across Indonesia.

The first change is an indisputable benefit. A 15-metre full cabin, deep vee fibreglass with four 200hp yamaha's got us the thirty or so miles across the Bali Strait from Tuban to Plengkung in just over two hours. Unlike the overland-ferry-overland-Grajagan village river crossing which left you feeling like a sack of potatoes which had been pummeled by a baseball bat, we arrived as fresh as daisies. Ready for an immediate paddle-out. As were the other members of our boat.

Those members revealed a stark change in the human diversity visiting G-Land. In 2008, the camps were full of Aussies and Americans - a fair whack from Hawaii - plus a smattering of South Americans and the very odd Euro. This time the accents were thicker and more ungulate, even if the skin was fair and the hair was blonde. Russians dominated. At least 50% of the boat was Russian, a handful of Aussies, and a big contingent of Argentinians, along with a French trio.

No change to the jungle walk past the camps and dilapidated fishing huts nestled in a tangled grove of bamboo. The keyhole between Kongs and Fan Palms seemed less keyholey, but we made the paddle-out into groomed 4-6 foot Fan Palms before drifting down to the Ledge/Money Trees. I looked around at my mate: “Where the fuck is everyone?”

There was nothing but space and water and sunlight and a sparse scattering of human beings in the lineup.

All our new comrades were nowhere to be seen: Constantin from a village outside St Petersburg; Olga from Moscow; 'Hero' from Volgograd, along with the others who filled up the boat. All marked absent.

We found out later that while we had turned left and walked up to the keyhole, they had gone the other way down to Tiger Tracks and 20-20's. Thus, the rumours of Russians dominating the camps and packing out the “beginner” waves turned out to be largely true.

No change to the wave itself. The top of the reef is shiftier and softer. Peaks, wedges, and walls all reveal themselves if you can find a take-off. Further down the line it gets faster, hollower, and more sectiony. Contra the great mythology surrounding it, it's far from a perfect wave. More a series of sections as great swell lines from the Indian Ocean interact with the massive karst reef complex. Finding the take-off is tricky, a tapered wall is not a guarantee. You have to feint and jab and roll the dice many times to find an open one. It's no Cloudbreak. This is one reason I have no qualms about writing about it: the wave itself will always regulate its numbers, especially as adult learners become dominant in numbers across Indonesia. It's just not a good wave to learn to surf on and even for the competent it's a constant challenge.

Guy's Surfari Maps

The distortion of space and time I remembered from my last visit remained intact. It was shocking how quickly you untether from the human realm on the most densely populated Island on Earth next to one of the world's busiest tourist destinations. Walking past the camps you find yourself quickly alone walking the sharp single track across ancient raised reef. It's not kind to barefeet. Nor is the long walk out and back in across the reef. I've never been able to make peace with booties but I took my colleagues Stu's advice and bought a pair of folding booties along for the trip. I only wore them once or twice before passing them onto a WA fifo worker. [Editor's Note: Untuk apa?] That put me back in the realm of long, meditative walks in across the reef. With care and attention you could traverse the multitude of ecological niches without too much damage to foot or reef. Lightfootedness was a key to slipping away from the sharp spikes of urchin enclaves before the spikes snapped off.

Cuts were inevitable. Borrowing from Balinese/Hindu customs I made a small microbiological offering to the bacteria of the littoral zone asking for a simple bargain: don't go ham on me and I won't smash you with antibiotics. It seemed to work. I could feel the cuts and flaps of skin catching on the blanket at night, but nothing blew up.

Along with the change in human diversity I noticed a change in biodiversity. Mostly for the better. Birds were abundant and judging from the breadth of birdsong many species were inhabiting the lowland jungle. Only the pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) stood out enough for me to identify. Prey species were more conspicuous. The Javan deer (Rusa timorensis) grazed freely on forest edges. Herds of Eurasian wild pigs (Sus scrofa) wandered in the jungle undergrowth. Old World and Colobine monkeys were abundant, mostly long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascularis) and less commonly the black (with ranga babies) Javan Lutung (Trachypithecus auratus). With such abundant prey, sightings of the Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus) in both the 'black panther' and spotted form have become more common. Several mornings I woke with the first bird song and selecting a stout stick walked the jungle road hoping for a sighting. At one point a startled herd of pigs ran out of the jungle as if fleeing a big cat, but no sighting of the cat was forthcoming.

Even the coral reef communities, especially up towards the keyhole, seemed in reasonable shape. Abundances of brain and branching corals seemed in good health. A multitude of turtles, mostly greens, shared the lineup with us. Plastic pollution, of course, was horrendous. WSL with its much vaunted greenwashing at G-Land last year made no difference, in fact, with the amount of contest livery and junk they left behind, they made it worse. Concrete pilings from the now deceased judging tower with rebar poking out at crazy angles sit halfway in at the end of Moneys. We won't judge too harshly there. Nature is structure agnostic and already the pilings have been colonised by a multitude of marine invertebrates.

Our founding documents - Morning of the Earth and Tracks for example - fuel a self-conception for surfers as being guardians of an environment they are intimately connected with. By and large that self-conception is a mirage. We are as much a part of environmental destruction as any other group of humans on Earth - maybe moreso with our extravagant tastes for travel and petro-chemical toys. The surf camps built on the edge of the jungle at Plengkung offer a more optimistic vision of how it could be. Yet even that is not without a certain degree of dark irony.

The G-Land jungle camps are largely a result of the vision of Mike Boyum. After reading the Jack McCoy-Ritter history of G-Land it's impossible to escape the conclusion that Boyum was a vile scumbag who thought nothing of ripping off his mates, then ratting on them to put them in prison for long stretches. Yet reality demands we accept there was something inherently good and pure in his vision of surf camps in the jungle which would, in effect, serve as surf monasteries existing in harmony with nature.

The author skates across water the most mesmeric shade of blue (Joyos)

The opening days of 4-6 foot surf were perfect warm ups for the big days that were to come. My preparation of surfing 1-2 foot waves at The Pass with my kids left me a little short when it came to hollow left-hand reef surf. The days were long and the nights were longer. My mate was going through a rough patch. Marital breakdown. He was up in the night, pacing, sitting outside smoking Indonesian cigarettes, sometimes until first light. Life leaves no-one unscathed. Surf travel when young is about adventure and exploration, a complete letting go. As you get older, problems become stickier, the consequences of falling short more acute. Even Kelly Slater, when referencing his own family and personal issues admitted, “sometimes you go surfing and forget about it and you don’t think about it. Surfing becomes that drug that covers it up for a while.” To be a respected surfer in a respected surf community was what my mate wanted. But what if that ain't enough? Like our environmental self-deception we are not disposed to count the costs of a hard-core surfing life. Romanticising it creates a much easier pill to swallow.

Forecasting has changed in the last fifteen years. The accuracy now, especially for the Indian Ocean basin, is astounding. A full week out from the arrival of a major swell, Craig Brokensha wrote: “Large, consistent, long-period S/SW groundswell building late Wednesday, peaking Thursday to 8-10ft range across exposed breaks”. Close to note perfect. The only discrepancy was in the strength of the trades, which came in at close to full dry season strength on the big days.

There were nerves, intimidation, fear as the swell filled in. I spent a long time watching from the Speedies tower. Walking back to the room to suit up I watched an epic battle between rival troops of macaques. The battleground was the heli-pad, for reasons unknown. The two sides squared up in the bamboo groves with copious shrieking before the growling and snarling alpha males ran into the centre of the pad, which precipitated all of the combatants charging the pad. Multiple attacks of the males finally climaxed in the beaten troop fleeing back to the bamboo while the victorious male howled and danced with teeth bared, before casually walking to the nearest female, lifting her tail, and copulating.

I took a 6'6” Desert Storm out as the swell began to fully pump. Bombing at the Pad, throttling tubes down into Speedies. A boatload of Balinese pros and expats had arrived. A frothing, ruthless, relentless feeding frenzy ensued, the equal in intensity to the monkey battle I had just witnessed. My mate managed to find a couple in the chaos. For an hour I zigged and zagged and got nothing, but far from despondency, the most delicious and intoxicating sense of freedom overcame me. To be here in the jungle at G-Land, able to paddle-out while vast sections of the world were immiserated seemed an almost obscene luxury. Freedom is nothing if not the freedom to retreat, and like a humiliated simian I retreated to the relative security, safety and peace of 8 foot Money Trees.

The sense of being untethered from the human realm had been shown to be nothing but a brief illusion. The Balinese surfers had taken over, primarily with skill and intent. They caused me to reflect on our Indonesian neighbours. We tend not to give them much thought. Our relationship with Indonesia is ill-formed. Lacking in depth and complexity. We burn their illegal fishing boats, they execute our drug smugglers. We're remarkably incurious. We see the locals as ciphers, cooking our meals, transporting our boards and bodies across island straits. Mostly as functionaries of our surf desires, forgetting they have dreams and aspirations of their own.

'Pedro' at the camp, is a Javan who said he was pushed out of Bali in the COVID period by local forces. He now works for a pittance sweeping paths. He tells me the fishing boats, mostly traditional pirogues with the double outrigger set-up, have been killing it the last few years, catching lobster planula to sell to Taiwanese lobster farms. The sheer fecundity of the Java Trench and Indonesian Through-Flow is almost impossible to conceive.

The lights of the numerous fishing boats at night strike a cheery note, like sparkling Christmas lights. Other elements of our relationship with Jawa Timur (East Java) are less positive. The Bali bombers Amrozi and his brother Muklas were from Tenggulun, East Java, and learnt their severe form of Wahhabism from religious schools in the area. Any visitor to areas of Indonesia outside Bali will recall stern gazes and uncomfortable vibes as they are assessed as takfir (unbelievers) by those hard-core adherents to the strongest and most severe elements of Islam.

We scarcely credit the Indonesian principle of Pancasila, which mandates religious freedom and plurality, with keeping the moderate form of all religions in the ascendancy. Extremism, by and large, has been sidelined.

The tower view as Steve crouches through a Speedies barrel - sequence continued below (Joyos)

The next day was bigger. In the morning mist my mate and I watched an endless 10 foot set (twenty waves?) bombard the reef. I'd like to say we were fresh and ready, all yoga-ed up like the Russians who performed a daily group ritual on the sunset deck. Hungover from copious Bintangs is closer to the truth. Coughing after too many Indonesian cigarettes. At least we had migrated to the slightly milder Sampoerna's. Eight years (Cloudbreak 2015) since I had last packed left tubes of any size, girth, and consequence. I had one advantage. A 7'6” Desert Storm I packed in a last minute spasm of quiver anxiety as the reality of the forecast dawned. A 7'6” sitting in the rack also removes the possibility of excuses due to quiver inadequacy. Damn. I briefly thought about hiding the board in the bush and claim a monkey stole it. I couldn't take that froth fest on again. What to do?

There was one small window of opportunity my mate had identified. As the tide dropped, the crowd thinned out rapidly. The camera boats left and the lineup became more spacious, albeit rapidly increasing in danger as the already shallow reef became even shallower.

I held off. The tide peaked. Four years since I had ridden a wave on the 7'6”. I probably should have paddled it out, even at The Pass. Too late for second guessing now. It was still a froth-fest but the extra size from yesterday had reduced more of the aspiring crowd to spectators. It took a while to catch a wave. Two ten-footers on the head. Then two more. Like a heavy crest to trough wipeout at the Cobra the day before, the punishment was a great ally. Mentally, it filled me with confidence. I could still take a hit.

A moderate set pushed in a little wider, I was able to scramble deep, into space and stroke into it. Hard trades meant I was half way down the face before I could take bearings. There was a second to decide whether to commit to the Speedies section. And then the wave was sucking and lurching and what felt like a large, thick lip was throwing over me. It felt like the whole wave was sucking dry so I went low. It was the wrong line. I travelled with an insane view but the 7'6” was not going to break that low line. The lip pounded down on me and drove me deep. I foetaled up and waited for the harsh thud of reef. Two, three, four violent rotations. The impact never came. I could see the dude in the camera boat gesturing at me - was I alright? I offered a weak thumbs up and slow paddled down and out. Thought I was done. Sat there for ten minutes.

When I looked around again, the camera boats were gone. I could see people paddling in across the reef. This was the small window of opportunity I'd identified. Back in the lineup, there was space galore. Room to pick and choose. I didn't have to wait long. A smaller set, with a wide swinging wall, unencumbered by any aspiring rider. I whipped it and dropped down, again a brief moment to decide to commit. It threw over. This time, the low line was correct.

James Joyce once described a night sky as a “heaven tree of stars hung with night blue fruit”. This tube was equally beautiful. It was glowing blue inside, streaked with lines of pale white from a previous wave. The reef was perfectly visible below, like a buckled set of train tracks rising sharply upwards towards some undisclosed terminus which would, in the very near future, bring the ride to a shuddering halt.

A horrifying urge to jump off as I saw the reef and thought 'you're too deep' was somehow squashed. A moment of pure luxurious joy followed as I sensed the wave slowing enough for an untouched exit. I could have pulled in again, to ever shallower reef, but the sensation of banking a clean make was so overwhelming I simply straightened out.

It's fun, and appropriate to realise, that no-one gives a fuck about your best ride. That you could sit afterwards and smoke a clovey, listening to the croak and groan of bamboo, the gentle whoosh of straw brooms sweeping paths. Sitting in a gentle euphoria and letting it all wash through to where it belongs. Back to nothingness, to memory. The jungle endures its myriad forms, at least for now.

Everything flows, everything changes.

// STEVE SHEARER

Comments

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 4:35pm

Lovely.

stuart cox's picture
stuart cox's picture
stuart cox Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:34pm

I've often wondered what Gland would be like, that was a lovely description, really well written and very relatable. Thank you

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 5:18pm

Sounds amazing. Thanks FR.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 5:32pm

Great stuff FR!

arty's picture
arty's picture
arty Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 5:40pm

Great read The older I get the better I was .And the easier it was .

Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67 Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 5:48pm

Steve, that was an epic read, thank you. Deep pit well deserved

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:04pm

Outsider...Unreal Read ...Cheers.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:09pm

Unreal tube description. Epic stuff fr76.
Fuck it’s a good place

Fraser G's picture
Fraser G's picture
Fraser G Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:18pm

Great job getting one that day was quite hard work...fantastic read as well.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:26pm

Is that Fishing Boat still on up the Reef ?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:38pm

yep

surf-stoked's picture
surf-stoked's picture
surf-stoked Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 9:45am

Yes

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:30pm

Sick one Stevo! Sounds like you scored. It sure is a special place.

Major kong's picture
Major kong's picture
Major kong Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 6:32pm

That was great...

southernraw's picture
southernraw's picture
southernraw Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 7:09pm

Great read FR.
And great pics. Love that throaty one you made. Yew!

upnorth's picture
upnorth's picture
upnorth Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 7:12pm

Enjoyed that

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 7:13pm

Unreal ...
Great pit!

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 7:19pm

Great read FR you took me there, good one.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 7:57pm

Middle of October and still pumping

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 8:24pm

And the WSL got skunked in prime time hahaha

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 8:04pm

Well written and great read Steve. Glad you got that pit on camera too. Puts the words all into perspective.

I don’t know how you copped a 10ft set on the head so calmly. I watched in horror as my mate copped a 5 wave 8ft set on the head. He reckoned if it was a 6 wave set he probably wouldn’t be here right now.

gunther's picture
gunther's picture
gunther Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 8:29pm

Beautiful report! I also went there in '08, best week of my life

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 8:54pm

Onya Steve. Lovely stuff.

nicko74's picture
nicko74's picture
nicko74 Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 9:01pm

Great words steve!! I had just flown home from Bali as this swell was making landfall. What a month it had been,

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 9:26pm

Great read. Simple first person surf stories putting you in the lineup seem so rare for some reason with all the journalism and analysis.

Stu..... Should be more if you can find them. Well written is good, but some in the forums are a bit rough but if the tale is good enough that does not matter, so it does not have to be Steve quality.

dbut's picture
dbut's picture
dbut Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 9:29pm

https://www.surfer.com/features/100-foot-wave-surfed-chile?fbclid=IwAR0m...

Side note this has to be the biggest best wave ever caught, and it happens to be a party wave!!!!

conrico's picture
conrico's picture
conrico Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 9:34pm

great work FR brings back memories from big days in Indo!

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 10:15pm

Hows this from a Few years ago....

Bubble elder's picture
Bubble elder's picture
Bubble elder Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 11:02pm

wow that's seriously deep! Solid as well.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 10:24pm

Goofy footer!??? I don’t know why, but I had pegged your as a natural.
Sounds like a great time. Thanks for sharing.

Bubble elder's picture
Bubble elder's picture
Bubble elder Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 11:06pm

Brings back lots of good memories from the jungle FR! Love the pics and the stories, such a special place and i'm glad it's still got that magic to it. I feel you with picking the line out there, i'm on my backhand there and always found it really challenging as it can pinch and blow open again quite a bit, compared to deserts which was always just so open and easier to hold your line. Certainly a wave where one wave you feel like a hero and the next you are humbled and flogged on that reef. Speedies on a dropping tide is an intimidating place! Stoked you scored.

ODeals's picture
ODeals's picture
ODeals Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 12:12am

I really enjoy your prose Steve. The monkey battle had me in stitches.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 4:10am

” To be a respected surfer in a respected surf community was what my mate wanted. But what if that ain't enough?"

That sentence - indeed the whole paragraph about your mate and his problems - was special. All the best to him.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:25am

That's what stood out to me too. So much so that I stopped reading for a minute and just stared out the window.

Beautiful, insightful writing Steve.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 9:09pm

Sacrificing certain aspects of life to be a respected surfer in a respected surf community could be worth a thread of its own. Love to hear other’s personal experiences and thoughts on this topic.

Ben Wallis's picture
Ben Wallis's picture
Ben Wallis Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 7:49am

Great read Steve, thanks for the memories :)

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 7:51am

Great stuff Steve, and that second put is deep. Nice.

H2O's picture
H2O's picture
H2O Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 8:00am

Thanks for that Steve. Inspiring, in light of your well documented disability and comeback not so long ago . Motivating to stick to any rehab path needed to get back out there.

pittsy's picture
pittsy's picture
pittsy Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 8:17am

Bloody well written, especially that line in the last paragraph about best rides rung so true.

HaleOhana's picture
HaleOhana's picture
HaleOhana Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 8:36am

I surfed there during the swell event in September this year, the strike mission crowds were horrendous for the three day tide window at the pad .Literally everyone i spoke to only caught one or two waves .Lots of crew on 8' Dylan boards so you could not compete .It did get fun and far less crowded later in the week ,after over three decades of surfing there this trip may very well be my last .Lots of Euro surfers and their bikini clad girlfriends doing the insta shots on the beach a Russian jet ski tow team chopping up the sets and engaging in verbal assaults with paddle riders .I am lucky I had it uncrowded for a few of those decades and the best years were from memory during the few years of the Bali bombings when it was literally deserted but everything changes in these days of swell forecast easy access and insta fame .

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:08am
stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:27am

Surely that sort of carry on can't last?

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 11:13am

You'd like to think not, but the way surfing is going it wouldn't surprise me if it was there to stay.

I occasionally fantasize about Zuck deciding he has had enough and shutting down Instagram, and TikTok following soon after. I think the surfing experience would change dramatically for the better within the space of a few days if the ability to commodify it all through making content disappeared.

lucky-al's picture
lucky-al's picture
lucky-al Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:13pm

You could interview young Ruslan, Stu, get his side of the story and meanwhile if you wanted drop subtle hints that his behaviour might seem strange and unacceptable to many of his fellow surfers. He's in the Ukrainian National Surf Team, would probably make for a good read!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 11:04am

Yep, no chance of lasting. Fark off.

Roystein's picture
Roystein's picture
Roystein Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 2:38pm

what a kook fest...don't need to know Russian to know that.

lucky-al's picture
lucky-al's picture
lucky-al Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 9:20pm

The difference may seem insignificant in this context, but Ruslan Kulish describes himself on his Instagram profile as Ukrainian and in fact represented Ukraine in the ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador earlier this year.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:30am

The Tiger Tracks Surfers of Today
Are your Gland Tow Surfers next Season...

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:41am

Quick Helmet review.

I reckon on big days 50-70% helmet wearing.

I wore DMC fins soft helmet, purchased off Don here on way to airport (so no test runs). Much appreciated Don for facilitating such an easy transaction.

I like the design, it was light and comfortable.
Would definitely protect against lacerations from board/fins/reef.
Some protection (not as much as hard helmet) from impact.

Biggest thing is fit.

Mine was a size too big and thus neck flap would push helmet up when padding in, sometimes over eyes.

I ended up folding neckflap up into helmet which helped.

It's a size L and I'm happy to pass it onto anyone who needs/wants it for postage and a six pack.

Will purchase correct size for next trip to reefbreak.

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 10:45am

Rich Russki,s avoiding the draft and generally making cunts of themselves in Indo on Dad,s stolen bucks
That was awful to watch , thanks Udo

HaleOhana's picture
HaleOhana's picture
HaleOhana Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 3:25pm

mikehunt207 they really have know idea and no understanding of the rules in play , well those rules seem to not exist anymore or apply to this new gen of Euro trash .
It is all insta instant gratification and they just don't seem to have a grasp on surfing etiquette its history and reason for being .The Oligarch narco /human trafficking money or stolen Nazi gold passed down through the generations too these rich spoon fed look at me now go pro famous trustafarians .
Well I suppose they were smart enough to get out of Dodge as Putin rained down on Ukraine so they didn't end up as drone bomb fodder on the front line , I for one would not shed a tear if Indo government decided that they have overstayed the welcome but money talks so they get a pass.

flow's picture
flow's picture
flow Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 12:22pm

Nice work FR. Those barrels must have felt even sweeter after your injury.

theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep's picture
theblacksheep Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 12:22pm

"No-one gives a fuck about your best ride"

Gold

Should be on a giant sign at every crowded break.

Baldhead's picture
Baldhead's picture
Baldhead Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 12:53pm

Thanks Freeride, I enjoyed your write up, trip experience.

I had the overrun experience in June this year.
70 people leaving Joyo's the day we arrived. All the other camps were full.
The day we left 55 people arrived into Joyo's.
Up to 4-5 foot it was a circus at G land drops ins, lots of bad etiquette, drones flying around.
When the swell picked up it was super crowded with the strike mission crew.
Unfortunately, It's not worth it anymore. So many kooks. Better places to go.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 1:02pm

How good did it feel pulling into that beast on the 7'6 DS?

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 1:12pm

I had the best trip ever there this year > avoided the crowds; and mainly paddled out when fewer people were interested...I love the remote jungle vibe feeling there..then again Speedies is way beyond my capabilities; and/or I certainly have no interest in participating in a debased human grovel over a wave. Also, I experienced weird Russian behavior; anti-social in and out of the water. I felt sorry for them that surfing for joy wasn't on their surf coaches radar.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 1:19pm

Fingers crossed they don't discover my big sandbar, or my little South Island ski paradise.

Troppo's picture
Troppo's picture
Troppo Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 3:00pm

Thanks for a great write up Steve!
A Really good read. It put me straight back there like it was yesterday.
That one barrel alone would make the whole trip worth it mate!!
Cheers.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 3:25pm

Old free ride's a screwfoot.....
Magic, great work bro !

gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023 at 5:55pm

The strike mission guys are kinda fkd. At least stick around and support the camp for a week.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 10:07am
Komodo's picture
Komodo's picture
Komodo Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 10:23am

Interesting Tome!

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 11:09am

What's good, apart from the story, about Steve's article is the SN response. An article about Jack, Joao and Kai ripping large Cloudy gets just 4 comments, whereas the ordinary bloke ( take no offence ) and his mate scoring some meaty G Land resonates with so many more readers. Possibly the Pro worshippers are all over at Stab, and the everydayers are here.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 1:21pm

To be fair, the Jack , joao, yago.
Article came first and garnered plenty of comments.
Freeride76 is no mere mortal either.
No one should ever consider themselves a regular punter.
If you've got a 7' 6" + in your board bag
You're on a mission.........

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 1:33pm

From 2015 re 7'6" DS
Fuck, I'd love to get it out at maxing Outside Corner.

BigFigs

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Bnkref Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 12:28pm

Thanks Steve. Great read. It's a special place.

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udo Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 1:35pm
caml's picture
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caml Saturday, 28 Oct 2023 at 9:56am

Eco friendly quiver of kook boards!

views from the cockpit's picture
views from the cockpit's picture
views from the ... Wednesday, 18 Oct 2023 at 9:23pm

Eco friendly boards on a chopper.
Is there a greater irony?
A full load of Russkis crashing on take off would be perfection.

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san Guine Thursday, 19 Oct 2023 at 11:33am

Great article, thank you

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Vince Neil Thursday, 19 Oct 2023 at 11:41am

Great write up

Re Lanky's comment - being appropriately gunned can be even scarier than being undergunned when its pumping (no excuses) ;-)

i still managed some magic uncrowded sessions this year, but then i am easily pleased...

mredhill's picture
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mredhill Thursday, 19 Oct 2023 at 4:57pm

And every one of those Russians at Tigers will tell their mates "Yeah, I surf G-Land, is no problem".

stew_asu's picture
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stew_asu Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 1:51pm

Great read and summary Steve. Took me back to my last trip there in 86' and the effect it had to start my own camp a few years later. Yes, the Russians seem to be spreading their wings, recently buying into Telos acquiring the Pinnacles Resort. Sort of glad I got out when I did before the stampede, was simpler back then too, no phones, internet, WX forecasts ect..though most days would still trade it back for the Asian city life I now live. Anyway mate, keep up the good work, you definately have an art for writting.

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andy-mac Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 2:15pm

Wisma Jendela?

stew_asu's picture
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stew_asu Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 3:20pm

Yes andy-mac Wisma Jendela

maddogmorley's picture
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maddogmorley Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 2:02pm

Pegasus Lodges sold Pinnacles to the Russians?

stew_asu's picture
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stew_asu Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 3:18pm

That's correct maddog

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maddogmorley Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 12:00pm

Wow - had heard from some of the ex staff that the resort was never that busy. Probably due to the price. Guess that made the sale easy. There goes the uncrowded days at Mishos. Not that there are that many these days. Sigh....wonder if Pegasus will sell TIL to them as well....

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 2:07pm

Paging Gra Murdoch

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sammo Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 3:33pm

Brilliant read Steve.
Thanks for sharing.
Much respect for your perspective and the insightful, honest and interesting way you deliver it.

linez's picture
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linez Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 3:49pm

Such a good read FR. Found myself smiling at a few sentences which I can fully relate to. Cheers.

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Island Bay Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 5:37pm

While their styles are miles apart, I see a kinship with Bill Finnegan, in that they are both so keenly observant of the environment and people they describe - and so well read as to be able to put it into good perspective.

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linez Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 7:04pm

Yeah, very much so IB. Don't know how keen he'd be, but I'd love to hear Steve's take on the life he's lived in the pursuit of waves, very much in the vein of Finnegan.
Such a great read...
If you haven't read Barbarian Days, make the time, it's well worth it.

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caml Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 11:34am

Some will find this opinion wack ;
A 7"6 at G-Land is a short board , especially if you at the launching pad section. People are using boards over 8"0 because if you want catch a set wave - then you got a chance.
I notice that on videos nowadays surfers are shoulder hopping waves at launching pad, so if you take the right equipment you could get set waves, just take off deeper, and I mean 30 metres or something!

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lostdoggy Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 1:29pm

You have the runs on the board so can’t see anyone thinking that is wack.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 8:04pm

If you could take one board only to G-land caml what would it be? Size, fin set up, etc

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caml Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 1:05pm

One board quiver! Suppose I am allowed to check swellnets long range forecast before making decision?! I don't want to answer this, what I will tell you is that in 1997 I had a 36board quiver in GLand, joyos camp , all waxed, ready to ride, all on wooden racks,
6"2 - 9"0 mostly 2nd hand

Craig's picture
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Craig Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 1:28pm

Haha, one for every day of the month, or part of the tide cycle ;p

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caml Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 1:48pm

Craig hey mate, seeing you mentioned it; I had found 13 different sections of the main left reef of GLand, they had names too! Names that still are used like Quicksilvers,
Hoop throwers, the cobra, the ledge, the fang, fan palms, wrongs, the pad , you all know the rest, well known sections I don't need to name, some of these lesser known sections was more fun with specialised equipment,
The single finners were for The Pad - speedies , Thrusters were not many in my quiver, maybe about 2 total, for small days at kongs , and they would get the side fins reduced, inner foils, less drag in any Thruster set ups I had, no twinnys or quads back then either

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Craig Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 2:14pm

Awesome, wouldn't have expected anything less.

Spending so much time on a patch of reef it's great to work out it's little nuances, not only for yourself to read and surf it better but to also see what others can't. Love it.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 3:27pm

Ok let me narrow it down for you!
You check Craigos long range forecast and it’s calling 6-10 foot with good tides and direction for speedies.
So, what’s it gunna be?

Ray Shirlaw's picture
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Ray Shirlaw Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 4:16pm

150 guys on the right equipment?

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 5:13pm

Love to hear your Back to G-land experience Caml.

Paperwork in order to go back to Indonesia?

caml's picture
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caml Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 10:20am

The right equipment hey, since when, hah, why would they start now, when there's been decades of time.
I will never forget seeing,
1997 quicksilver pro with 12- 15ft launching pad and the pros 200metres out on the shoulder, quick pro video competitors interviews with Tom Carroll saying "you don't need a big board"
As for the Russians towsurfing, what about the boat ride out thats been happening for ever, dropping kooks on the inside of the rest, boat wake ruining the barrell. If you pay you can get permission, grease palms , your in Indonesia!

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 10:27am

Pat Oconnell 6-8 ft G.Land on a 5'11"
1997.

caml's picture
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caml Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 10:42am

Yeah but it was actually much bigger than 6-8ft a lot of the time, they surfed so far down the shoulder away from the swell, a new section of reef was named Quicksilvers, the videos are heavily edited to eliminate any waves of real G-Land, only showing the Quicksilvers section, which is the very last and smallest wave on the main gland reef

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 11:39am

That was the Year all the Pro's Fucked you over eh Caml
And it was Proper Speedies...Big ?

caml's picture
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caml Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 10:24am

Goofy foot: Most likely pack a few toys, surf mat, Boog, finless, and disappear to a spot with no crowds!

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caml Thursday, 26 Oct 2023 at 10:36am

If Launch pad was going to be 10ft on the sets, back in my dayi would take a board that is for 10ftsets, forget the 6ft ers, that board would be a 8"2 James Jones tuberider ,
I am not sure about the desert Storm for indo waves goofy Foot , I used to have much flatter rocker for indo boards than in Australia ,
I guess a 7"6 DS would have same paddle as the old 8"2 , being younger and fitter then, but now days perhaps an 8"6 ds would be a good board for 10ft L Pad.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Saturday, 28 Oct 2023 at 10:45am

Thanks caml.

Would love to see ya back there now on the boards you’re riding today.

Or on anything tbh

dandandan's picture
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dandandan Monday, 30 Oct 2023 at 12:52pm

I had never heard of James Jones until just now. After reading a little bit about him (there's surprisingly very little!) it makes sense that he made good boards for serious waves.

https://www.surfersjournal.com/product/the-privateer/

On that note Camel - a few interesting looking boards in this old pic of you at G Land. How did the single fins go at G Land?

mredhill's picture
mredhill's picture
mredhill Monday, 23 Oct 2023 at 9:28am

100%, that's not wack at all, couldn't agree more. Over the years the shortest board I've taken has gone from 6'10" to 7' to 7'6" with a 7'10" as my go to.

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radiationrules Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 12:21pm

FR > I keep coming back to this sentence of yours "He tells me the fishing boats, mostly traditional pirogues with the double outrigger set-up, have been killing it the last few years, catching lobster planula to sell to Taiwanese lobster farms." - as when I was there earlier this year, there must have been 200+/- of these boats out there every night.

So my question is; do you know anything about the supply chain dynamics of this "last few years" industry? Of course, I expect the answer will be the status quo "all rape & pillage" - but thought there may be some hope for sustainable change that I could latch onto. On yah; masterful writing this piece BTW. > RR

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Richard Allen Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 9:15pm

Great read. I was there August, first time in 13 years. Not much had changed, just one extra camp. I only surfed money trees up to 6 feet, and surfed those beginner waves further in the bay with the hot russian girls on the bigger days. Really bad wave that Tiger Tracks

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stephen Titus Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 10:31am

Great story. It is a rite of passage place. 4 times visiting going back to 1986. G land friendships are forever. Liked your story of your friend wanting to be a respected surfer in a respected surf community. and your copulating monkey story. at 64 I got an 8 foot wave of the decade. My 1986 trip made me transform from being a divorced man to a single man with a track record. every committed surfer should go to Grajagan. sorry about the russians and crowds

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velocityjohnno Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 11:10am

Thank you for the wonderful writing Steve, I've come in about halfway down in your experience of the surf, will read the whole article. You are taking me to a place that I probably will never go to as of medical stuff. Much appreciated.

Loved the monkey quote, and this one:

"The next day was bigger. In the morning mist my mate and I watched an endless 10 foot set (twenty waves?) bombard the reef. I'd like to say we were fresh and ready, all yoga-ed up like the Russians who performed a daily group ritual on the sunset deck. Hungover from copious Bintangs is closer to the truth."

https://beerandstupidity.blogspot.com/2012/10/drunk-yoga.html

udo's picture
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udo Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 4:25pm
StayAtHome's picture
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StayAtHome Saturday, 28 Oct 2023 at 7:52am

love your story FreeRide, brings back happy memories of the most beautiful jungle, orchids, bird life and the most awe inspiring waves. Speedies was maxing when we got to Plenkung by slow boat from Grajagan village. I was on my own as my brother had to stay in Bali and fix his sailboat. It stayed big for a week and I caught a few waves on my 7’4 at Money Trees and Kings, coached by my friendly treehouse neighbour Peter McCabe. I mostly surfed on my own at Chickens in the bay where the boat came in, at 20-20 and Tiger Tracks. It was 27 years ago and I was a young girl. I can still clearly recall the smells and sounds of the jungle track, the intimidating reef magnified by the clear clean ocean and massive waves cracking over the reef from the lookout. Love G land.

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StayAtHome Saturday, 28 Oct 2023 at 8:27am

*Kongs

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StayAtHome Saturday, 28 Oct 2023 at 11:27am

Steve’s articulate and razor sharp observations capturing the essence of G Land have reminded me of my first connection with this part of Java. I have recently resolved to starting writing down some of this stuff before my brain rots from old age, lo siento if this is not the appropriate forum.

In 1994 I was working as an underwater camera operator filming coral spawning, wildlife and reefscapes around Australia. On the day of 4th June 1994 our chartered aluminium fishing boat plus Boston Whaler and inflatable chase boats were busy all day filming whale sharks, dugong and manta rays just outside the fringing reef at Yardy Creek up near Exmouth. It was heaps fun. That night, my girlfriend and I were sleeping in our tent at Yardy Creek Station, to get some privacy from the film crew who were staying in more salubrious accoms. Early the next morning we woke and there was a funny oceany aroma, like a mist you get when the surf is triple overhead.

As we drove our shitbox van a few Ks to the bay where the boats were anchored (we joke today that we invented #VanLife) we saw large fish and crayfish flapping on the road. I thought I was dreaming. When we got to the anchorage there were dinghies and wooden pallets washed way up above the normal tide line.

Our mothership however was intact. It had just gone up, and down. Anchor held. There was a report on ABC radio about Aussie surfers who had survived a tsunami at a surf camp in Indonesia. Later I heard that the whole fishing village of Grajagan in Java had been wiped out. How sad.

I thought how lucky we were that the wave didn’t hit when I was filming right on the outside edge of that reef yesterday in fairly shallow water. We had been surrounded by manta rays that were feeding ofrf the outgoing tide, offshore of a significant ecosystem of mangroves on the shore that had over time created enough fresh water to make a channel in the reef. Dugong and whale sharks also took advantage of this vegetation in the Cape Range National Park to feed on the nutrients pulled offshore by the ebb tide. (I have also seen mantas doing this at Lennox Head.)

Months later in Tracks I read about Richie Lovett, Shane Herring, Simon Law and other pros who had been at Bobbys Camp that night and held on to trees in the jungle and survived. Two years later I finally made it to this mythical place at Plenkung. I travelled to Bali to get on board my brothers sailboat, with the promise of a long stint at G Land and other mysto spots. However the stainless steel rigging he asked me to bring over from Brisbane was just a little short (next time, measure 10 times and cut once). So after a couple of fun sessions at Ulus and Bingin he sent me on a minibus to Java on the Bobbys Camp tour for a week. $100 a day seemed way beyond my means but I just had to go. Mike who was the owner of the camp was on docked next to my bro’s boat in Bali, and Mike and his family showed up on their luxury catamaran while I was enjoying the comforts of the jungle camp.

It was one of the best weeks of my life, so glad I made it to Plenkung.

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freeride76 Saturday, 28 Oct 2023 at 12:23pm

Nice one StayAtHome, would love to have some time diving with those manta rays.

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batfink Sunday, 29 Oct 2023 at 3:50pm

Enjoyable read, Steve. The art of writing, knowing what to include and what to leave out, connecting threads. Sweet.

So the russkies have taken over there too. Such an unhappy people, never seem to smile, could never get a ‘g’day’ out of them, a smile, an acknowledgment of anyone’s existence other than their own. Must be a grim place.

“All my mate wanted was to be a respected surfer in a respected surfing community”…

Some have mentioned above as a quote that stopped them, made them think. I just find it ineffably sad. I wish him well though, hope he achieves that at least. So many higher planes to aim for.

If I had a surfing ambition it would be that my mates saw me have a red hot go sometimes. I’ve done that, that’ll do me. Plenty of good days ahead, but ambitions now are all personal, nothing to do with anyone else. Appreciating the moment is chief among them.