The camera looking out over Impossibles reloads an image every 7 seconds. When the swell arrives just before dark it delivers vignettes of ruler edged lines stretching from Bingin to Ulus crashing down on scattering ants. This week in Bali you went to sleep knowing it would be on in the morning.
Early season light trades dictate a pre dawn ritual somewhere in the east, before the spiralling dance finally tails off with sundowners in the west. Dan Thornton was up early at that place where they once had a World Tour event, before presumably cancelling it for having too much consistent quality surf.
“After checking a few spots on the East Coast this morning, Keramas looked to be handling the huge swell the best." Dan Thornton related "The small crew in the water shared a great vibe with only a handful of the guys taking off deep on the bigger sets to hoots and cheers from the water. The sets were consistent – providing some amazing – if pretty intimidating double-up takeoffs straight into the barrel before blowing out in the channel. With so much water moving across the reef, the shorebreak on the inside handed out its fair share of beatings to the guys trying to get both in and out. A great morning of surf and huge barrels. Even if it did cost me two snapped boards, some skin on the reef, and a few serious hold downs”.
The sets were consistent – providing some amazing – if pretty intimidating double-up takeoffs straight into the barrel before blowing out in the channel.Dan Thornton
Keener than most, Adam Bennetts paddled out in the dark, eager for some Balinese loving. "This morning was heavy, like really heavy. I paddled out in the dark and stroked into a few nuggets. On the way back out after my third wave this big wide one reared its head up and I had to swing really late. I just made the drop and pulled up into one of the bigger pits I've had in Bali. The thing breathed twice and then just closed-out the whole channel. The wipeout itself wasn't too bad, it was the ones rolling in behind which got me."
"There was so much water moving around and these sets were holding me down for so long that I had just enough time to surface and grab a quick gasp of air before the next 8ft wall of whitewater rolled over me. After about five of them, I managed to get a hold of my board and just hang on for dear life. There was no way I was letting my board slip out of my grip, because if I didn't have the floatation of the board, I would have drowned for sure.
There was no way I was letting my board slip out of my grip, because if I didn't have the floatation of the board, I would have drowned for sure. Adam Bennetts
"Once the 8-10 wave set finished its punishment on poor old me, I was a good 150m down the beach, across the channel, just broken. I made it to the beach and was deadset so rattled. I had to just chill for about 15 mins to catch my breath before I was able to make an attempt at paddling back out.
"Two of the boys, Marshal and Scotty made their way down to the channel and I made my way back out with them, only to be met by another monster set that closed-out the channel. I made it under the first one with no hassle and popped up and Scotty's board was tomb-stoning. He just surfaced before the next one, which we all copped, followed by a third. Lucky there was only three in this set as by this point, Scotty was coughing up blood. He sat in the channel for the next 15 mins catching his breath and cleaning out his blood rinsed throat, while I enjoyed some big standup barrels for the next 2 hours."
I feel so happy today, got the best birthday gift from Padang Padang, many good barrels, so stoked.Mustofa Jeksen
Not to be outdone, the ever dependable Ulus and fickle sibling Padang were breaking. And the environment is (shock horror) cleaning up. Now all we need to deal with is the rest of the plastic in Bali. Curtis Lowe of Project Clean Uluwatu says they are winning the war against the pollution resultant from rampant development. Uluwatu is a temple of surfing and wave riders have been worshiping this hallowed place by shitting on the floor and spitting on the walls. "It's great to see everyone's hard work finally paying off." He told us "PCU has installed the large central processing tank for all of the small business and The Cave no longer has raw sewage from the toilets and grease from the kitchens going into it. I feel better about how it doesn't smell as bad anymore every time I surf. This place is so special and I’m really fortunate to be able to help and surf everyday." If you are a surfer check out the site projectcleanuluwatu.com.
According to Agus Dag Sumertayasa this was the first proper Padang of the year. “It felt so good to surf Padang today." He said "This was the first real swell of the year, and I love to surf here. Also today is a full moon (pray and surf) the best things for Balinese (Hindu) people today.
For those who eek a living in Bali expressly to surf Padang, days like this are birthdays and Christmas all rolled into one. For Mustofa Jeksen it actually was his birthday and he unwrapped his fair share of salt wrapped gifts. "I feel so happy today, got the best birthday gift from Padang Padang, many good barrels, so stoked."
Photos by Liquid Barrel