Photos: Bali Frequent Flyers
By Matt George
Photographs by Federico Vanno
With the pandemic motoring towards its third year and the crowds famously down, the hotshots of Bali have doubled their wave count per session. On any Sunday, Keramas can look more like a trampoline park than a surf spot; the perfect tapering peak-to-wall set up and the sheer talent in the line-up inspires wild attempts and produces huge success rates.
With so many surfers employing the pump-pump-and-a-jump technique, the barrel-on-take-off at this spot is looking more like a mere transition these days. And with names like Eli Hanneman, Kai Lenny, Bronson Meidy, and Lee Wilson all shoulder to shoulder in the line-up, the standards of the air game is…well, sky high. Every one of these guys are forged by the fact that they are usually the hottest guy in the water. But get them all together and the peer pressure creates a line-up that could use an air traffic controller.
“Yeah, it gets heavy out there,” says local Bronson Meidy, “especially with the international guys out. But that only pushes us locals to make our statements just as loud”.
Just paddling out into one of these sessions can be a sensory overload, and the sound of slap landing surfboard lends it the atmosphere of a shelling barrage. The punishment of surfboards seems a small price to pay. The speed, mass, and power of the break, combined with glassy to light offshore conditions, make it any aerialist’s muse. At least for now. When the world really opens up the 're-population' of the Balinese line-ups is going to be confusing.
But hopefully - and this is a hope against a hope - surfers this time will bring their best angels. For the opportunity to boost an aerial of a lifetime in one of the most exotic settings in the world, maybe this time it won’t be too much to ask.