Friday, July 31, 2015

2015 Indo trip n.2 Report 4. Uluwatu's surf contest + gopro shots + river mouth clip

Plans are made to be changed and I decided to skip the Sumbawa trip and save the money to go back to my favorite island later in the month.
I could have done both, but, as this post will show, it's not that in Bali I'm getting bored...

In fact, a lovely 5f 15s swell arrived and on July 31st I first surfed Airport left (fun, but crowded as usual) and then went to Uluwatu for a low tide session at my favorite peak.
Little I knew I would have arrived just in time for the semi finals of the qualifications for the Padang Padang contest that will happen sometimes in August (it's on when it's on).

So I leisurely ate my lunch at a well positioned warung and took a bunch of photos. So many barrels down at Race Track on a mid outgoing tide.

Same wave, different section.

A good bottom turn is key for a good top turn.

Here's the demonstration of that.

I called the size head and a half, but there were some occasional doubles. Dreamy wall.

Free surfer about to get pounded during the break before the final.

The four finalist performing the walk on the reef at ease with no shoes.

The right tide was calling for my peak, so I didn't watch the whole final. A local Uluwatu surfer won and earned the spot for the main contest. I met him on the mystical stairs and it was radiating stoke.

This is a section of the gopro shots of my session.

I'm gonna start with a sequence that illustrates how much of a kook I still am.
Despite the fact that I'm actually looking if there's someone deeper than me, I somehow failed seeing that guy.

I only saw him when I got on my feet, tried a last minute bail so that I wouldn't drop right on his head. Didn't quite succeed and you can see how close my board got to him. That's his feet. Fortunately, I didn't hit him.

After checking he was ok, I immediately apologized. He was pissed. "That was a fucking good wave!", he was yelling. And he was right.

Guilty face paddling back to the peak. I HATE doing shit like that. Next time I'm gonna turn my head a bit more to make sure no one is paddling for the wave I'm going. Never stop learning.

I'm not good at getting barreled the normal way, so I have to come up with alternative ways of doing it.

Seen my limited air drop skills, I think it was a good call not to go.

Finally I did pretty good on my last wave and this is the stoked yell of joy. It only takes one good wave to get to that place.

That was yesterday. 
This morning I timed the tide to perfection and hit my favorite river mouth at 7am. Nobody out. At least one hour before someone else showed up. That's how it looked from the parking lot.

An hour and a half later, the high tide was making it break way closer to the beach. Still some fun ones, but a lot more wobbly and a bit backwashy.

And this is a pretty good wave that walled up on the inside.

Let's end with a bit of peacefulness.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

2015 Indo trip n.2 Report 3. More Uluwatu + UNS

Been offline for quite a few days, here's what happened in my trip in the meantime.

The post starts with some photos from Uluwatu. Time stamps says July 3th.
Hopefully they were friends. And hopefully they still are.

Guy with the white helmet dominated the session getting barreled pretty much each wave he caught.

Beautifully shaped peak.

This kid was ripping the race track.

Lovely lady nose ride.

Best wave of the photo shoot, deserves a 3 shots sequences.

Too bad the guy in front of him was not a water photographer.

Barrel kinda squeezed on him at the end, he completely disappeared and came out clean.

This clip is either from the same day or the days before. I spent two nights on the Bukit in fact. Got some really good conditions. Check out the colors.

Couple of shots from the other clips. You might have seen this one already if you follow me on Facebook.
The bottom turn is the only angle where a wave can eventually look bigger in a gopro wide angle shot. The reason is that if you go kind of deep in the flat, that distance can be mistaken to be part of the wave too.
Someone thought this wave was DOH, but it wasn't. Instead it was only 2-3 feet overhead.

This other one looks definitely smaller, but it was still overhead.
But who cares about the size, look at the shape and the colors and the texture. In other words, look at the perfection. Yes, I did catch that one. Uncontested, as you can see.

After that I was supposed to fly to my favorite wave in the whole world (which I call UNS: UnNameable Spot) on Saturday the 4th and spend there a long amount of days.
I would have left my passport with a document agency so that they could take care of renewing the 30 days tourist visa when the expiration was approaching (like I did all the past years), but when I called them up, they told me that the rules changed and this year I needed to personally go to the immigration office at least one day to take photos and fingerprints.

Of course I found that out on the afternoon of the day before (Friday) and there was no way I could pull that off.
By paying the fair "expedite" fee, they managed to set an appointment for me on Monday, so after having spent a decent amount of money for moving the flights, I managed to leave on Tuesday the 7th, still in time to catch a 4-5 feet swell forecasted for Thursday the 9th.
The clip below is from the morning of that day when the swell was still well on its way up.

Unfortunately, right after that session, I got sick with the usual sore throat turning into cold with fever and muscle pain that catches me every single year in Indo.
Nothing tropical, no Dengue or stuff like that, no Bali belly either, just a damn simple cold that always gets me when the waves are good.
This time it only lasted a couple of days, just in time for the swell to hit (everybody was pretty stoked about the quality of the rides).
"Oh well, could be worse", I said to myself, "last year it lasted 5 days!".

After that we had a whole week of very marginal conditions. This is probably the surf spot in Indo that gets the least amount of energy and, even though I still surfed each single day, the waves were knee to thigh high and sometimes with a strong offshore wind.
Surfing waves that small, IMO, is far more difficult than surfing bigger ones, so I managed to have fun because of the challenge. Nonetheless, I still had the appetite for something bigger generated by that sweet one session with overhead waves.

The week after the small spell had a solid head high forecast, so I just hung on and did not complain much.
The head high waves arrived, and it was really fun until... I got bloody sick again!
Same exact thing. That never happens to me in Maui, so I'm blaming the combination of:
- change of food (the immune system might suffer from the change of nutrients)
- more chances to get in touch with germs (passing plates and stuff around at the surf camps).

Here's a couple of shots of the last days when I was still well.

Beautiful sunrise with longboarder taking off down the line.

Doesn't really render how perfect this wave is.

Towards the end of the head high week, I started feeling better, but the forecast for the next week was poor again, so I decided to come back to Bali, from where I'm posting this.
I still have almost a month to go, so plenty more action to come.
I'm actually thinking to go to Sumbawa (Lakey Peak area) on Thursday the 30th. I've never been there and I like to squeeze a new place in each Indo trip I take.
One way ticket is only 50 bucks (+15 for the board bag), it's so damn easy to travel in this country.
Here's how the surfline forecast looks like: fun.

As you probably guessed, other than that huge swell at the beginning, it has been a fairly average season for Indonesia so far. Nothing like last year.
Still, if it wasn't for those damn colds, I would have surfed every day, so no complains whatsoever.

So far I've also been able to escape the closures of the Bali airport due to the eruption of Mount Raung in Sumatra. Here's a picture of it taken on yesterday's plane back to Bali.

And, as soon as I'm finishing this, I just felt a mild earthquake that made the walls shake a bit. Wonder if the things are related... will find out later online I guess.

Fevers, eruptions, earthquakes, flat spells. Doesn't matter. A trip to Indo is a trip to Indo and I'm loving it.

PS. Here's a bunch of extra photos from the UNS.

Friday, July 03, 2015

2015 Indo trip n.2 Report 2 (medewi + ulu's)

I'm gonna start the report n.2 with one more photo of the big swell of last week. It was taken from the Jimbaran beach and I needed to max out the zoom of my camera to find out that there were some ridable waves over to the edge cliffs of the bay.
There's actually a guy crouching down in the barrel of that wave and the sequence shows he's gonna come out of it.

This was the second day of the big swell (Sunday) and I went to check that place out. The waves looked amazing with a take off close to the rocks that reminded me a lot of China Walls in Oahu, but since it was one of the very few manageable sized spots on the whole Bukit, it was very crowded.
So I went further to check Dreamland, which wasn't good. From there Impossibles looked unreal, but at least three to four times overhead. After having watched a couple of successful rides from the distance, I saw a guy getting caught behind a huge wall of white water and I decided I didn't want to have anything to do with that kind of situations and drove back to Jimbaran where I enjoyed surfing the mellow shore break again.

Fed up with the big unsurfable waves (I'm sure there were some surfable ones on the Sanur side, but only in the early morning before the trades picked up around 9 and only rights), on Monday I drove to Medewi, where I've been wanting to go since a long time.
Finding a cheap room was as easy as it gets and the locals confirmed me what I rightly guessed: it had been too big during the weekend over there too.
I did a quick sunset session together with a British guy that I met there, but the conditions were pretty horrible: still too big and too bumpy. Medewi is a morning only wave in the dry seasons, since the trades ruin it later in the day. But even more than the wind, what counts is the tide: it pretty much only works at high tide and I made sure that's what was going to be in the next couple of mornings.

Below is a photo that shows the setup: it's a point break, not a reef break. As such, it's more mellow and you have to cutback a lot to go back to some steepness.
But at the right swell size and right tide, it can offer some really fun walls to work with and can get quite long. They say the longest left in Bali.

At the end of the post you'll find to video clips: a wave in Medewi and one in Uluwatu. You can see how the difference in speed is quite evident.

Medewi is a fishermen village. Here's part of the local fleet.

Launching through the low tide at sunset. Tricky, but those guys knew how to.

This snapper was caught the same day and it was cooked on a low coconut wood fire grill. Absolutely delicious. $3.7 with vegetables side dish.

After two nights (and two morning sessions) in Medewi, the waves were getting considerably smaller, so I returned to the Canggu home where I'm staying.
The rice fields looked particularly beautiful in this gorgeous morning. Unfortunately, that guy in the middle is spraying them with some chemicals.

This other flower patch offers a view of the two Bali volcanoes on the background.

The local Canggu breaks were a bit too small/weak for my tastes (geez, I'm hard to please!) and it was low tide in the afternoon which is what my favorite peak in Uluwatu likes, so I started driving over there for the last couple of days. From Canggu it takes a minimum of 1 hour each way and the traffic and overall road conditions are pretty bad.

This particular day, there was a jam so bad that not even the bikes could squeeze through and I started mentally bitching about it.
Then I got to the bottleneck where I observed the road workers carrying on their shoulder with their bare hands some pretty heavy rocks all sweat under the ferocious sun.
I immediately stopped the internal complains as respect to them. We always forget to put things in perspective, don't we.

And that's what I was doing an hour after that.

I'm too honest to claim a drop wallet turn and I'm gonna admit instead that I was totally losing my balance there. Managed not to fall though.

Wrinkled kick out by the rocks face. Inside looked pretty shallow.

Love these kind of shots.

These gopro shots are taken from video clips that are really good for analyzing your mistakes and try to improve. I noticed my front arm is always dead along the body in the top turns and here I'm doing an effort to involve it in the upper body rotation.
I'm now about to go to Uluwatu again and sleep there for a couple of nights, since there will be low tide conditions both at sunrise and sunset. Forecast calls for slightly bigger waves, which I'm not necessarily happy about (last couple of days it was perfect solid head high, my favorite size), but hopefully I'll be able to enjoy anyway. For sure I'll love the lack of driving.

Then on Monday I have to be back and take some photos at the immigration office for the extension of the visa (they changed the rules and now you can't commission everything to a document agency and forget about it anymore, but you have to physically be there at least once for the photos) and after that I should finally be able to get on a plane on Tuesday and go to my favorite island and enjoy a regime made of: surfing, eating, reading and sleeping.

The forecast doesn't look epic, but it doesn't look too bad either. Below are some weather maps I snapped on the 3rd and they all show some fetches (which I circled). The first one is pretty intense and the related swell on Friday the 6th is called at 6f 16s from Surfline. That's DOH at least, but that is not hard core wave, so I should be able to enjoy it anyway.

This last one is the worse one since it doesn't show any fetches at all, but it can always change and even if it doesn't, I probably won't mind a few days of rest.

As promised, here's a couple of clips from Medewi and Uluwatu.
If you're wondering how many wetsuits I took with me, here's a little anectode.
As a imbecil, I managed to lose my favorite top. So I bought a new one which I took to Medewi only to find out that a couple of seams were sitting right under my ribs and bothering me when paddling.
I don't know how, but after a total of three sessions I managed to exchange it for another one.
Things that not even in the States you can do....
Ok, time for me to hit the road for the Uluwatu weekend. Aloha.