Jim Banks, Setting the Record Straight at Big Outside Corner, Uluwatu

[This post by Jim Banks has been making the email rounds. I haven’t nailed down permission to re-post this, but I don’t think Banksy will mind , because if you want a good Indo board, or a real Indo gun for 10-12 foot Outside Corner, then go to Jim Banks Surf or contact him via surfboards@ jimbanksurf.com. The photo that accompanied the blog post…I don’t know if this was the famous big day of 1974 1978 (off by four years, typical) but if it was, then my good friend Mike –see his comment below — was out that day too — paddled out from Padang — took off on one monster and was so tense on making the drop he blew it, got gobbled up, and that was his session]

Setting The Record Straight

by Jim Banks

I keep hearing stories about a two wave hold down that i copped at huge Ulu’s earlier in the year so i thought that maybe i should set the record straight.

The swell was back in October when we had what many people were calling the biggest swell in Bali for many years. It was not the biggest that i have ever seen Ulu… but i think it was the thickest…

I was flat out building the new cafe at the time and so on the biggest day i only managed to sneak out for a late one at outside corner. As i mentioned the swell was thick and it was still building when i paddled out. After a severe thrashing and then getting washed halfway down to Padang on the way out, i finally reached the line up only to discover that my beefed up 7’3″, that usually handles 4 – 5 time overhead was a little out of it’s depth for paddling into these massive slabs of water. Everybody else was on 8 – 9 foot boards and paddling circles around me…

Even though it was not the biggest swell i has seen, it was really thick and doing things that i had not seen before, including breaking so hard just before dark that it started churning sand and seaweed off the bottom! At one stage i was sitting at way outside corner with the deck of my board covered in sand and seaweed! Some of the lengths of the walls were amazing… they had almost no taper on them and were lining out across the bay for as far as we could see!

It was actually a bit of a disappointing session for me as i really was undergunned and i didn’t get many good waves and the best wave that i managed to line up for myself, was stolen from me when another surfer on a larger board steamed out past me and took it from me! Aaaaargh!

Anyway by the time the sun set, there was only three of us left and we started to look for our last wave in. Right as the light was fading we saw another large set out on the horizon. It didn’t look any bigger than the previous bomb sets and so i was cautiously paddling out to meet it, trying to be careful not to paddle too far out where i wouldn’t be able to catch it….

Turns out it was the biggest set of the day….

As the first wave stood up in front of us it was obvious that Cacho who was way inside of me had no chance, leaving only Jay and myself as possible contenders for catching them. Until the thing started breaking way outside of the previous waves and began peeling across the ocean in front of us…

At this point i could see that Jay over to my left was now out of the race and that i was now the only one with a chance of getting over them or catching one…

I was pretty wide and was still just cautiously paddling, being wary of being out of position as i watched the wave peel across the ocean towards me, waiting for it to back off and slow down as it hit the deeper water of the channel. I knew that i was going to have to be right under the lip to have any chance of getting into one of these massive mountain of water and was trying to position myself when i noticed that this thing was not backing off or slowing down at all, but steaming right across the deeper water like a freight train. At that point i realised that i might have miscalculated and began to dig deeper so that i could get over it and hopefully position myself for one of the following waves. But it was too late…

I was close, so close, but no close enough and as i slipped off the side of the board i could see that i was probably less than 10ft away from being able to punch through it. Fortunately it didn’t hit me too hard and i got back to the surface pretty quick… just in time to see the next one landing on top of me! The light was fading pretty fast now and because i was so far out, the crew probably didn’t see me quickly surface to snatch a quick breath before the next one steamrollered over the top of me, hence the two wave hold down story. And then, ping! My leash breaks! Great! It’s now dark, I’m friggin miles out to sea, I’ve got no board and there’s a massive set in the process of fully unloading on my head!

A duckdive the third wave, being careful not too dive too deep and get sucked way down but by the the 4th wave i figure that maybe i could get below it and dive deep. Down into the blackness i dive… until i reach a depth that i think is safe and wait….

Even though i’m way under the water i can hear it coming like a roaring volcano and i can’t help be awestruck as it thunders overhead. It really was a profound experience, hovering down in the depths as this thing roared over the top of me…

Once again, I’m lucky and have managed to get below the turbulence. I let it pass and then fight my way back to the top, only to see yet another one about to unload on me. I take the dive deep option and once again am awestruck by the magnificence of the massive energy as it thunders over me….

Finally, it stops and i look around. Houston, i have a problem…

I’m a long way out to sea, it’s dark and there is a raging current sweeping along the coast. For a while i consider that maybe the lifeguards have called the zodiac from Padang to come looking for but quickly decide that i’m not going to float around out here all night waiting for a very convenient ride back in. This was the right decision as i find out later that all hell was breaking loose at padang as the channel closed out and the set that cleaned us up at Ulu’s went down and also cleaned up everybody in the water at Padang.

After a long hard swim and inadvertently almost drowning in a seriously underestimated giant patch of thick froth, i eventually made it in through Thomas’s beach next to Padang. This is an absolutely nasty place to come in and i discovered that it’s even worse without a board! It now tops my list as the worst place anywhere to get out of the water. But me and my now hamburgered feet finally reached the shore..

It was a big adventure and by the time i got back to Ulu’s in the now pitch black, a huge hoot went up from the crew as i appeared…. almost an hour after my board had washed in and the crew were starting to be concerned about me!

So, there you have it. It wasn’t a two wave hold down…. but it was one hell of an adventure and i’m off the shaping bay to make myself an 8 footer…. and may be a 9 footer as well!

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10 Responses to Jim Banks, Setting the Record Straight at Big Outside Corner, Uluwatu

  1. Bukit Bear says:

    Now this was truly a legend read… thanks for posting it..

  2. Rod thomas says:

    I was there that afternoon, drinkin with Lana at the edge. We saw that set. Holey shit. There was panic on the cliffs for a while. Was a relief to all to see them make it in. Fucken legends if ya ask me

  3. bigjim says:

    Glad I miss that session and at home in bed…… having a afternoon nap …… After the smaller morning session…. good to see the old guys still having ago. Our head is saying no and our ego are saying yes …… I hope my ego is not the death of me . Good work Mr Banks ………. ……..

  4. Michael McHugh says:

    Michael McHugh,Jim I was out that day with my brother(chris McHugh),and his friend Patro,I lived in Bali for 15 years,it was 1978 the biggest outside corner I have ever seen.There was only 4 other guys out,you were taking off way inside,100 feet or more than any one else.You where not making every wave,you took some good hits,but you were surfing with the force behind you.You might have been under gun with your board,but not with your spirit…

  5. Rob says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    Absolute bloody legend, K Dog

  7. Stuart SCAr Campbell says:

    It was cool to meet the iconic Aussie soul surfer who was friendly and humble. Legend

  8. IndoMe says:

    Is the Cacho mentioned the one of Sunset Grill?

  9. darren. evans. from. the. cp. days says:

    Hey. Jimbo. So. Good. To. Sëe. Your. Still. Charghn m8. Wish. I. Was. There. Havent. Seen. Ya. Since. 88. at. Ctrrumbin. Ran. Into. Chook. Martin. Fri 3 may. We. Were. Reminiscing. Hawaii. 79. All. The. Best. take. Care. Jim. Till. Later. Regards. Darren

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