Words by Justis St John.
Swell of the century is the only phrase that comes to mind in summing up the the swell that blasted Kandui Left on the 17th and 28th of June. Going into our tenth season at Kandui Resort, I'd like to think we've seen it all, but my mouth was agape for 48 hours straight. Kandui Left is one of the most fickle waves on the planet and catching it like this is equivalent to witnessing a solar eclipse, winning lottery ticket in hand.
The overall mass of the storm was mind boggling. At one point it was bigger than Australia and had all the elements you dream of for a perfect Kandui Left swell. The angle of the swell meant that it wrapped around the top of the island, running with the reef, rather than unloading straight onto it. The dreaded southerly trade winds which raged for weeks prior to the swell dropped to 5mph easterlies all day, for three days straight. The tides were tight too, moving only 1ft during the day making high and low tide mute. The overall size of the swell made for three days of huge surf. It felt like we were witnessing history since based on the chance of all the elements aligning again, you might have to wait until the 22nd Century.
Below is a countdown of the top 10 moments seen through the lens of FTR Films at Kandui Resort. While the list is in no particular order, it's not for lack of trying. Who are we to crown the best tube? Attempt to put these rides into your order of favourites and prepare for your mind to be addled.
10. Eli Olsen
Koa Rothman saw the charts and dragged his friends Eli Olsen, Billy Kemper and Zak Noyle along for the ride. I bet Eli's glad he made the 48 hour journey.
9. Billy Kemper
Billy is one of the hardest charging guys we've surfed with and was claiming this as some of the best surf he's ever seen. That's saying a lot.
"The swell straight up blew my mind," says Billy. "I've been to the Ments once on a boat trip with John John a few years ago, so this was only my second time ever to Indo. I spoke to a few of the boys who have it wired and they said if there's ever a swell I should go for this is it so, I had pretty high expectations but Saturday afternoon overcame anything I ever imagined it being."
8. Koa Rothman
Koa and this day at Kandui have been a long time in the making. He's spent the last couple years catching a couple smaller days, having fun but never getting what he came for. After two days of waves like this, he said he won't come back to Indonesia unless it's for Kandui Left.
7. Dingo Morrison
Dingo Morrison is a great friend of Kandui Resort. He's one of our favourite humans and one of the best barrel riders on this planet. He owned the first couple hours of the first day's session and got more barrel time than most surfers get in a year.
6. Jerome Sahyoun
Jerome is one of my favourite humans I've run across in a long time. He spends the whole year chasing down huge swells and gets barrelled more than any other human on Earth. He's super humble and charges harder than most of the guys on tour. Filming this wave from the beach and his stoke afterward was the highlight of the swell for me. Absolute legend.
5. Koa Rothman
It's hard to wrap your head around how heavy this wave was unless you have surfed Kandui. Waves that move wide of the pack have nowhere to go and end in completely dry reef. Koa made this wave but after straightened out, ending up face first into the reef, shirt and boardies ripped apart and cut to shreds.
4. Nate Behl
Nate is Kandui family. It's been insane watching his transformation over the last year from Florida grommet to world class surfer. He comes from a great family, is the most humble human on earth and in our opinion has redefined what is possible at this stretch of reef.
3. Billy Kemper
Every swell, there's one wave that sticks out and this is it. The video doesn't do it justice since the set was so big that the first wave completely blocked out the barrel.
"Saturday afternoon I was but out of rhythm," recalls Billy. "Seemed like I was waiting for a wave that wasn't coming. Then I got a pretty mental 8 footer and found my mojo. Went out the back and just waited. 30 minutes later the biggest set of the swell came through and it seriously looked like 15ft west one at Cloudbreak. I ended up knifing under it and kicked out to Koa Smith and Koa Rothman screaming their brains out. I'm pretty positive that was the wave of my life!"
2. Nate Behl
Hands down the heaviest thing seen during the swell.
"I was about to get out of the water since everyone was leaving for lunch but something told me to stay," says Nate who spent from sunrise to sunset for three days slotting into tubes. "The waves were so good all day, it was unbelievable. The drop on this one felt good and it set me up perfectly for the end section where it's tends to get pretty gurgled out. It felt super sketchy and I'm so happy I made it since it's pretty much the worst place to fall. You can see all the warbles sucking up the face, which can get a bit hairy. It was such an amazing view looking out of that beauty. I can't wait to get back to Kandui, best place in the world."
1. Koa Rothman
7200 miles and 2 days of travel. Worth every second.