NEW Video! – Mentawai Rogue

SDB Pioneer Andrew Bennett Scores in Indo

Words by Andrew Bennett // All Photos by Nick Liotta

Despite the roughly 50 hours of travel to get from California to the Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, I’ve managed to find myself there eight times in the past decade. Heading towards my favorite destination, my goal was to have a new experience in a familiar place.

A surfing charter boat in the Mentawai typically consists of a group of 8-10 surfers on a 60-foot plus boat with ice cold air conditioned rooms and three massive meals per day. This time, I hopped on a 35-foot speedboat with Southern Mentawai Outpost and looked to surf without a crowd at surf spots in the island chain that I hadn’t previously seen.

Southern Mentawais Outpost is in the process of building a surf camp at the most consistent surf spot, Thunders. This is their boat to hop over to the numerous other waves in the area.

With plenty of swell in the ocean for five days and nice calm winds, we found a unique surfing experience. Occasionally, the captain caught a few waves, but a good amount of the time I surfed alone in a place that has more recently become known for crowds.

We slept outside on the deck of the boat, ate minimally, and spent much less time driving the boat around to different spots to appease a variety of surfing interests aboard. Living in boardshorts the whole time. It was a surfing/camping trip at its finest. I became a content observer of the other charter boats running around on a mission—dissatisfied, chasing. We spent days posted up at one wave while other boats came and went within hours.

Another photo of typically perfect, buttery left tube in Indonesia.

At one point a captain from another boat came over on his jet ski and gave me rides back to the peak of the surf spot after each ride. I rode every wave that came in with his help, but without the assistance, I was back to mind-surfing waves on the paddle back out.

Feeling the bliss of surfing alone with the strike mission vessel “Temptation” in the background.

I had never surfed waves anywhere near this quality all by myself before. It’s times like these that make for some of my favorite surf memories. In between focusing on line ups and sets pouring down the reef there was a dead silence that would bring my attention to the sound of the constant bustle of insects and birds on the desolate islands. The solitude of these moments provided an opportunity for me to absorb the beauty of the surrounding Indonesian environment.

The water color at this particular surf spot off the Southern Mentawai Islands has a Caribbean turquoise look to it.

You could definitely feel the girth of the long period swell. This session went from completely stormy and blown out to groomed and offshore within half an hour.

 Nick Liotta did a great job lining up with me during the best part of the tube sections. That’s hard to do on such a long barreling wave.

This reef offered a slabbing take-off to dry reef ending during low tide, and had no takers.

A big thanks to the crew of the Temptation for the convenient trip, and to photographer Nick Liotta for capturing the best moments. I can’t wait to make more Indo memories like this. Hopefully this summer! – AB

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