THE Mentawai Pro presented by Rip Curl will see the top 16 ranked ASC (Asian Surfing Championship) surfers competing against seven international wildcards and one local trials winner at Lance’s Right on the island of Siporo, in the world renowned surfing mecca of the Mentawai Islands from April 21st - 29th.
Originally named after Lance Knight, an Aussie surfer who is credited with discovering it, Lance’s Right is quite possibly one of the best waves in the world. You will have seen countless images and videos of pros surfing the guts out of it all over the internet and in magazines. It also goes by the name HT’s, the acronym for “Hollow Trees”.
Not for the faint of heart, Lance’s Right is tailor-made for the experienced surfer, with perfectly round and seemingly endless barrels reeling down the reef and ending on what is known as “The Surgeon’s Table”, the extremely shallow end section with only a few inches of water covering up the razor sharp coral reef. But it does have variety as well, depending upon swell size and direction, offering up anything from big open face carves to puntable air sections on the inside in addition to those throaty barrel rides.
The international surfers are: Oney Anwar from Indonesia, Ian Cosenza from Brazil, Harry Bryant from Australia, Brent Dorrington from Australia, and Seb Smart from the UK. There will be one Mentawai local competing as well, from a trials event held just prior to the main event.
What to expect from the event forecast?
By Ben Freeston, MSW forecaster
With the Southern Hemi moving into autumn we’re moving between a season of consistent, modest long period south swells with the interruption of an occasional tropical system to the start of winter season with its bigger, generally more westerly swell.
The good news for us, as forecasters, is the mechanical nature of Southern Hemi swells and Indo’s mid latitude position means long range forecasting is a relative breeze. Long range forecasting (we run out to 16 days globally) might struggle this far out in areas dependent on shifting local systems, but for the Mentawai we’re talking about 6-7 days of swell propagation for the typical south swells we see this time of year. It allows us to talk with real confidence in about that range (once the wind has made the swell tracking it home is the easy job) and well beyond.
The bad forecasting news is the wind. Situated in the doldrums, that area of low pressure caused by warm air rising at the equator, the story is generally of light variable wind - but frustratingly it is this that computer models have the most trouble coping with, leaving a little bit of luck required for absolute perfection.
Despite it’s position HT’s is a masterclass in refraction picking up way more swell than you’d expect. While the southerly direction of these off-season swells ensures every drop of energy finds its way through the gap in the islands, the downside is that it tends to hit the first sections of the reef a little straight on, splitting the wave into sections and making it easy to get caught inside. As the swell moves round to SW or even WSW the size isn’t badly affected (bear in mind the long period typical here will allow for significant refraction) but the waves start to focus on the Office section and slow down - creating the epic barrelling conditions you’ll have seen in photos and videos.
The opening day gives us a dropping swell capable of getting things started before we run into a new pulse later on the 24th. Again very southerly this isn’t likely to offer those deep barrels and two swells running in combination will further confuse things, but will certainly offer some good waves as it fills into the 25th. The next pulse looks to build through the 27th, with a touch more west offering some of the best conditions of the window. The storm creating this pulse will run through over the weekend giving some finalised numbers for Monday.
Check out the Lance's/HT's forecast.
The mechanics of Lance’s right
Lance’s Right is located in front of Katiet Village on the South East Coast of Sipora Island, Mentawai, Sumatra.
Lances Right or "HT's" faces west, so the swell has to pass through the deep channel between Sipora and Pagai Utara (South) island and turn around almost 180º to finally arrive at HT’s. All winds with a west component work well here, but straight west wind is the best. Lance’s right is a shallow and hollow right hander. The waves finishes in a deep water channel where boats anchor for a perfect view of the spot. It’s one of the best right handers in the world when conditions are on. It’s not 100% mechanical and can vary in different behaviour depending on the swell direction and size, that’s why it is a challenging wave and a place where knowledge is key to make the most of it without suffering any injury or trouble.
There are mainly 3 areas where you can take off: “The Office”, “Mid Section”, “Surgeons Table” or “Cage”. The office is the deepest one and needs very specific conditions to break, but it’s also the one that offers the longest and best barrels. Super dangerous when smaller than 2-3 feet because the wave runs super fast on a very shallow reef. It’s hard to find long connecting waves from “the office” to the channel at this size.
3-5 feet: the wave looks pretty good and offers the best rides. At this size, the wave still runs very fast but it’s easier to pump and generate speed to come out of the barrels. It’s also a little bit safer as there is more water between the bottom of the wave and the reef...
6 feet and over: At this size The Office changes shape. There is a reef further up the point that makes the wave break outside permitting surfers to take-off earlier before dropping into the double-up and racing in the barrel to the channel.
Mid Section: is actually not a proper section.You would only normally take off here on smaller days (under 3 feet) when “The Office” is too fast and dangerous. When its between 3 and 6 feet you can still take off here, but it’s hard to find connecting barrels from here to the channel. On bigger days you won’t take off here.
Surgeon’s Table or Cage: This is the final section. There is a group of rocks/reef that are more elevated than the rest of the reef in this spot. It’s super shallow and if you get caught there, you’re in trouble. You just surf here from 2 to 5 feet. On small days you can get some short barrels just in front of these rocks, so make sure you don’t feel off! On bigger days when its 3 to 5 feet this section can be good for turns.