What he should have ridden Big Sunday at Uluwatu (and for sale for fund raising)

The other day, Lorca Lueras of Lines magazine showed me some jaw-dropping water shots of a Seminyak kid dropping drown on an Uluwatu Big Sunday wave that made him look like an ant. And the kid was on a 6’6″!

This board below is what I would have been riding (my excuse for not: still recovering from hernia operation). A classic Campbell Brothers fixed-fin thruster that Malcolm shaped for me in 1994. It’s 8’10” and 3 inches thick — these days boards are also measured by liter volume but don’t ask me what that would be except it would be voluminous. I asked Malcolm for some paddle-in beef for big Nusa Dua. I never rode this board except for small wave trials.

campbell bros big board

I didn’t need to ride it because I also had Malcolm shape me a baby-brother 8′ that worked fine for as large as I wanted to ride Nusa Dua (and other places). This is the board at Lance’s Right, taken by Paul Graham from the Indies Trader at the end of the 1994 season. Just friends on the boat for a last hurrah of the year. No other surfers around. A bit overgunned but I sure felt safe on that thing.

for Bill 12

For personal fund raising purposes that I wish I didn’t have to do but it is for a good cause, I am selling the 8’10 for $700 firm — not only is it in great shape for somebody who wants to tackle the next 12-15 foot Ulu swell, I reckon it’s also a historical archival shape from an era before big boards were really on the scene, not to mention it’d look beautiful on a wall. Get in touch if you are interested.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bali 27th June 2015 Swell: Most hyped ever?

The way the hype was building for over a week, you would have thought Jesus Christ, He Who Walked on Water, was going to show up with his step-up board.

Now your blog correspondent must state up front that he did not so much as put foot in water for this swell. Twas onshore all night and day in his neck of the woods and his hernia scar still pings. All I did was watch the live webcams from Balibelly and Surfline. So perhaps I am not the one to raise the question, like the timid like kid in the back of the classroom, but was this swell over-hyped?

I don’t mean in quality. I phoned around the archipelago a little and friends told me it was as good as it gets. But some of the places they were surfing, if this swell was in fact an XXL or even XL, they wouldn’t be surfing, because it would over maxed in size.

Was the 2007 swell bigger? I’m not a meterologist with access to reams of data but I do have the simple NOAA wave height charts for comparison.

swell june 25

May, 2007:


At any rate, what seems pretty clear to me is that in the history of Indonesia surfing never was a swell more hyped. All the frothing, you think rabies shots were in order. All the Frolickstanians who paddle out to overhead Serangan on their hypo-krypto popout knockouts and think they are charging were frantically scouring around for larger boards. Why, I sold a 7-3 glassed fin thruster that had been sitting in my attic for nearly two decades to a pleader.

I don’t know, brothers and sisters, but I’m scratching my head. To the old dinosaurs in Bali reading this post, didn’t it seem that in the pre-Internet days you just rocked up to Ulu or Nusa Dua and took what came? Am I wrong in thinking that this swell, while indeed an excellent and classic trade wind season swell, was something to be expected and hoped for at some point in the season? You know, typically terrific? Or am I pressing a few sour grapes because I’ve been drydocked?

At any rate, it’s an odd and unsettling feeling to be in Bali during a trade season swell. In previous years, I’d be outer island on my boat.

scar reef

rogue set


Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Bali après surf barbecue circa 1995ish: the usual suspects, unusual suspects, and most unlikely suspects

A friend sent me this photo of a long ago barbecue in the Sanur area.

usual suspects

That’s Mickey far left and Erin third left. Mickey was, well, Mickey, an unforgettable character and I am sure some readers of this blog will remember him. Erin was one of the era’s Pipeline specialists. The guy gnawing on the corn was the Man About Town. The fellow who looks like a bemused altar boy holding his first beer was Brett, an Ulu master and one of the owners of the Hard Core surf label of the time. I’ll leave the rest unidentified, but boy, this photo stirs up stories that I had best not tell, except as fiction.

Although I can tell a small one. One night at anchor on the Good Ship Hati Murnih in a far outer island channel, Mickey and Brett gambled playing backgammon until the wee hours of the morning. The only detail I can remember about that night is that one of the boat’s folding aluminum chairs ended overboard and sinking to the bottom. No bodies followed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

13 June 2015: The Bingin Memorial Paddle Out for the Unknown Surfer (plus, boards for sale)

Being temporarily ejected from the surf for post-operation recovery reasons, your blog correspondent hasn’t been following the forecasts and webcams. Except yesterday, in boredom, I browsed over to Bali Belly and belatedly noticed they have a new webcam on Bingin. I had a look and was at first saddened to see a memorial paddle-out for somebody, a circle of friends fondly saying farewell.

bingin pack paddleout

Then a wave rose and approached and I realized I’d been looking at a lull in the sets. What I assumed was the paddle out circle was in fact the pack, all bunched together in Bingin’s notoriously tight takeoff spot. The pack started to jostle for position, and any lingering sense I might have had about camaraderie evaporated at the hustle and the drop-in.

On another note, I have two McTavish surfboards for sale, a 7’6″ Carver model and a 7’2″ The Egg model. These will be in the next Bali Advertiser but this is a first look for anyone interested. I bought these some years ago during a trip to Perth, thinking to have variety in my boat quiver, but my back blew up and I never really got a chance to ride them (a visiting friend recently borrowed the Carver hence the fresh wax). Carver 6 juta rupiah, The Egg 5.5 juta rupiah (it has an emergency boat ding repair on tail that can easily be fixed up). These are essentially new boards at half price. I don’t want to put my phone number on a public site so if you are interested you can send me an email at richard@richardlewisauthor.com

boards for sale

Since I am in a state of fund-raising, may I again mention a short story that might interest readers of this blog:

menarche cover small

After the death of his Balinese wife, financial difficulties force American expatriate Jordan Elliot to return with their nine-year old daughter Dewi to Connecticut and his wealthy, domineering, social register mother.

Available for Kindle or Kindle apps on other e-readers.

Available at Smashwords for a variety of other reader options.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Rip Curl Bali Bootie is back!

Since I don’t surf much on the west side — normally I am on outer islands during the trade wind time of year — for this past week I’ve woken with gratitude to the Eternal that the dawn winds have been howling onshore at Sanur-side as I still am out of the water for a couple more weeks.

I’ve raved before about the original Bali bootie, one of the best surf products ever. No, I wasn’t trying to earn discount points with the Rip Curl boys, because that product has long been off the market.

But lo! And behold! I have just been informed that Rip Curl has a new product that is very similar. I only have a photo to go on for the moment, but it does look terrific. How many surf booties can you fold up and stick in the pockets of your board shorts?

rip curl new booties

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Urinal wars: Bali International Airport vs. Singapore Changi Airport

Your Herniated Hero (still a week away from first post-operation paddle) was recently to Manila for youngest son’s graduation. If you’ve been through Bali’s international airport and used the men’s toilets, I am sure you have seen the urinals’ most recent decoration. Before, it was fish aquariums. As you took your stance, you could contemplate fish swimming in a small aquarium set at eye-level–I surmise as an aide to relax your bladder.

Now the aquariums are gone, and in their place is a urine hydration chart placed right above the urinal. You can compare the color of your stream to the chart. I wonder which airport authority had this somewhat baffling idea. The gentleman two stalls down from me said to his friend beside him, “Hunh, mine’s yellow. I better go drink more Bintangs.”

urinal bali

Then, in transit in Singapore, I swing into a men’s toilet and resting on the urinal ceramic is a fly, which startled me, for Singapore is famous for its sparkling clean bathrooms. I automatically move to the next urinal, and there too is a fly.

urinal singapore

I realized it was painted on, a brilliant psychological aide, because the natural instinct is to aim and hose that insect down. Helps avoid splatter, you see.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

All Indonesia Surf Report, May 18 – May 25

Well, I wouldn’t know, hobbling around home after my hernia operation. Minor surgery with major pain. I haven’t even checked the web cams.

The World’s Oldest Grommet texted me asking me if I wanted to know what I’ve been missing. I said that would be most unkind of him.

But I’ve managed to sit at my computer and upload a short story about Bali that I reckon is worth a read at a modest price.

menarche cover small

After the death of his Balinese wife, financial difficulties force American expatriate Jordan Elliot to return with their nine-year old daughter Dewi to Connecticut and his wealthy, domineering, social register mother.

Available for Kindle or Kindle apps on other e-readers.

Available at Smashwords for a variety of other reader options.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment