It's been a complex time in parts of Indonesia. Just as a solid swell was about marching into everyone's favourite surfing archipelago, strict new lockdown rules introduced -- which meant; closed beaches across Bali until July 19 at the earliest.
But, other parts of Indo were still ok though, you just had to jump through the various hoops, like quarantining and multiple testing in order to get further afield. If you were willing to do so, though, you were almost spoiled for choice on this swell. Nias roared, a few XL tubes scored (we're looking at you, Conor Maguire) Kandui, one of the jewels of the Mentawais, remains relatively empty, a phrase we're writing all too often these days. It's that exact kind of environments that 13-year-old grom phenom Erin Brooks thrives in. This kid's been slaying out there.
Spot guide: Bali.
This one's a wrap up that stretches all across Indo's nooks, so let us take you by the hand and walk through what's going on here.
First up, Bali -- and straight in with; to surf or not to surf during lockdown? It's a question that far exceeds the humble column inches of MSW. The fact is, people did, unashamedly so -- and far be it for us to criticise the choices of those on their home turf. About that situation, here's what lensman Everton Luis had to say: "Following all the procedures to keep myself and others safe, I managed to be in water to shoot this epic surfing session. Probably more than 30 locals got lucky and scored some sick barrels over the last two days.
"Kinda crowded [laughs] sometimes, there was one wave with two or three of them on, but it always ended with a big smile and stoke. This swell must have been sent from the Gods so everyone could get their mind away from all the pandemic situation. Healthy mind, healthy life."
Meanwhile, some 400kms east of Bali and its incredible Bukit Peninsula; Conor Maguire may have just bagged the wave of the swell a couple days ago at Scar's Reef in Sumbawa. "James Hendy told me a space had freed up on the Kaikoa and said 'you have to get on this boat," says Conor. "Unfortuantely, Hendy had work commitments and had to pull out but said I was pretty much guaranteed to score with [Nick] Chong [Nick fixes up the likes of Kelly and Mick when they swing over that way]. Hendy had considered doing meetings from the bow with eight foot waves in the background but couldn't swing it. I injured my MCL six-weeks-ago so have just been learning to surf again the past week and said I'd go but take it easy..."
Skirt back on yourself from Conor's location, heading north along Sumbawa's west coast, over the sea to Lombok and then take the four hour drive to Lombok's most south westerly point and you'll find yourselves at Desert Point (or, you could fly, but where's the fun in that?) where you may have bumped into the frothiest of slab hunters in Nic Von Rupp. "Best Deserts I've ever seen but then, I've not been here a lot," he laughs, right after Margarita Salyak caught this salt water smasher of a wave earlier this week.
But if it's relative emptiness, or just a playground of waves you want, it's off to the Mentawais you go. First, if you were in Nic Von Rupp's shoes, you'd probably want to get to Denpasar on Bali, hop a flight to Padang city in West Sumatra, aka, the gateway to the Ments, and from there, it's a boat trip (4 hours or so by fast boat) to Siberut island and which ever resort you're staying at is a drive away. Or, some will send over a private boat to fetch you right from Padang City.
Had you made it to Kandui Resort, say, in Sierut's southern point, then you may have shared waves with aforementioned grom legend Erin Brooks. Nate Behl's there too, along with photographer Manu Miguelez. If you've been swiping thumbs over MSW's IG account recently, you may have noticed a number of shots from Manu. This legend used to be a boat skipper over there. And when he heard it was kind of empty, that was too hot a topic to just drop. So he flew out there a couple weeks ago, pitching up for however long -- for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
"He's been out all day getting the shots in heavy surf," says Erin.
"As soon tide started to drop on Wednesday, the waves became better and better," says Manu. "But the swell direction was a bit south for the break so not really big but solid 6ft even a couple of 8ft sets coming through. Big tides so it was dangerous and the day got called off.
"The second day was half the size but pristine conditions Dylan Wilcoxen (aka all day Dylan) and Erin Brooks put on a clinic, we surfed perfect low tide Sideways, as shallow as it gets, with none around."
We're going to add much more to this gallery as things start to come in from the past few days. And, to sweeten the deal, there's even more surf coming next week, too, or so the long-range forecast shows. If you want 16-day forecasts, don't forget to sign up to MSW Pro HERE.
Breaking down this Indo forecast, MSW's Tony Butt said: "The main bulk of the swell was generated last Sunday July 11, by a moving area of storm-force southwest winds between a low that deepened west of Australia and a high situated in the mid Indian Ocean.
"The swell first arrived at the most exposed central areas such as West Java on Tuesday, and then went on to areas further west and east. At Uluwatu, for example, wave heights ramped up during Wednesday morning, then held steady at eight feet or so all afternoon and through most of Thursday, before ramping down during Friday. More swell is expected over the weekend and into early next week, with wave heights barely dropping below five feet."
Cover shot by Nate Lawrence