Words by Doctor Josh.
In the Mentawai’s, surfers are spoiled for choice. It’s as simple as that. An unfortunate glitch in human psychology dictates that we all become accustomed to anything, no matter how good it is. There’s books on the subject. Anyone who has spent time in the Mentawai Islands will have experienced it. No one surfs onshore waves out there. Why would you? There are so many glassy, sunny days that it only takes a few days of stormy weather for everyone to sink into a deep depression.
Well, as depressed as you can be in a lone surf resort situated on a deserted tropical island. It was two of those days that preceded some of the best waves out there, not that Basque Country big wave surfer Natxo Gonzalez seemed affected. The perpetually cheerful pro had arrived at Botik Resort a few days earlier to spend some time with his buddy and resort owner Iñigo Gasset. Iñigo is deeply connected to the Mentawais and after spending part of the pandemic living with a local tribe in the jungle there, he seems to prefer the locals' approach to life.
He keeps a traditional canoe for solo fishing trips and sunset adventures with his wife Debbie. During the days of bad weather, while other surfers, including his girlfriend Sofi, couldn’t control their froth and ventured out for waves, Natxo calmly rested, knowing the waves would show.
Also seemingly unaffected was Tasmanian charger Hahnee Vail. On the morning of the first day of waves, Hahnee, who had self-appointed her temporary accommodation as the linen closet was, as usual, awake and frothing early in the morning, on the first day of the swell, Iñigo and Natxo hatched a plan with photog Jack O’Grady. The three bonded during poor weather and Jack delayed his planned travel for the chance to get Natxo into his boardies. That little canoe got loaded up with eggs, fruit and water. The engine was fired up and they headed off away from the charter boars in the area. The plan worked brilliantly.
The next two days are spent cruising about unnoticed between five of the best waves in the world and getting completely baked by the sun in a dugout canoe.
Natxo blows minds, air-dropping into some bombs at Kandui and pig-dogging for his life at big Rifles. Hahnee looks at ease the whole time, taking off deeper than most and trading bombs with local legend Ade on a shallow right hander. Sofi also gets her fill of waves while Italian surfer “Gucci” snaps his third board of the trip but still comes home smiling.
“It looked like Teahupoo,” said Natxo. Given the fact that he has spent six seasons out here, as well as a few in Tahiti, safe to say they really scored. Surfed out and needing some time out of the sun, Iñigo has an idea to show Natxo his former home with the tribe in the Mentawai jungle. They pack the canoe for the trip and there's a feeling that Natxo will relish the chance to live simply amongst the Mentawai locals, eating fish and sleeping on the ground, rather than finding anything uncomfortable about it.