One Week of Empty Perfection: A Video Diary from the Mentawai Islands

22 Jul 2020 4 Share

C'mon... July 16. Photo: Justis St John

C'mon... July 16. Photo: Justis St John

COASTALWATCH | TRAVEL

Diary by Ray Wilcoxen // Videos by Justis St John // Intro by Dashel Pierson 

In case you haven’t heard, Indonesia has been absolutely pumping. Like historically good. Like ridiculously firing. Like, “once-in-a-lifetime stuff going on here right now,” as Kandui Resort manager, “All Day Ray” Wilcoxen called it. And the best part? (At least for those who are there…) There’s been nobody around. Especially in the Mentawais.

And so we decided to catch up with “All Day Ray” who gave us a diary of sorts from seven days of all-time surf in the Mentawais. And Justis St John, photographer and videographer for Kandui Resort, was on-hand to document the recent run of swell, which you can check out below. Just remember to pick your jaw off the floor once you finish.


Day 1, July 10 2020

“First signs of the 27-second period swell start trickling into Hideaways. Long waits, but a couple incredible waves before dark. Great session with just the three of us.”


Day 2, July 11 2020

“A bit bigger than July 10, but the lulls were twice as long. Great session at nearby Bank Vault and once the winds shifted to SE, we headed to Kandui. Kandui was about as fun as it gets with double-overhead sets and long waits. Great session with just the three of us.”


Day 3, July 12 2020

“At 7am, the winds kicked up to the south and the ocean had a good amount of morning sickness, but the swell hit. Solid 8 to 10-foot, very long period swell but cross shore winds. By 9am, a local storm switched the winds to the east and I checked Kandui left on our ski and saw hands down the best set of waves I’ve seen out here in almost two decades of living here — 12-foot plus, perfect offshores and the calmest ocean we’ve seen. I rushed back to the resort, loaded up the boat, and came back over to watch a perfect 10-foot set. It was heartbreaking though; we made it into the lineup, caught one wave, then another storm turned the winds north and tore the ocean apart. We stayed to watch a couple more 10-foot sets but overall, one of the most heartbreaking days of my life on this island. Tide and winds never cooperated for the remainder of the day. Check out the video for what the ocean looked like once the winds went to shit. That’s some of the scariest surf I’ve seen out here. It may look doable on video (and there are probably some crazies that would attempt it) but it was way bigger and heavier than it looks.”


Day 4, July 13 2020

“At 7am, it was still massive — 8 to 10-foot but low tide and morning sickness. The tide filled in by 9am and the ocean cleaned up. Super long period 8-foot plus, but very shallow and very dangerous since the tides were super close together and the swell period was massive. Our resort videographer, Justis St John went down super hard on his first wave and hit the reef twice as hard as any other wipeout I’ve seen out here. Massive hematoma on his ass, covered in reef rash and out for the swell after one wave. Super scary since if that was his head, there was nothing anyone could do. Sets started growing and winds improved; Anthony Fillingim had a great session. He also had a shocker towards the end of his session after straightening out at the end of the wave and getting his leash wrapped around a coral head and treading water for two waves. Good thing we had our ski and I almost jumped off to get his leash untangled. So much water moving this day; it really never felt like it was anything but low tide all day.”


Day 5, July 14 2020

“At 8am, it was 6 to 8-foot and glassy — as good as we have seen Kandui Left. The direction of this swell was super west — 220 degrees — which makes it a bit faster and heavier, but also the direction that makes it the best wave in the world if you can keep up with it. With the two other people in the area that live for Kandui Left injured, Anthony Filliingim scored it alone for five hours straight. It was mind-blowing to watch someone of Anthony’s ability make almost every wave and surf it alone. Strange feeling watching something you know you will never see again in your life. This was the day we have been waiting for the last five months and, really, since we’ve been open. Perfect barrels, perfect conditions, no one else in the water, and not even one boat checked it all day long.”


Day 6, July 15 2020

“The swell dropped a bit, but pretty mind-blowing that this was the sixth day of swell from the same storm. Nearby Hideaways turned on and it was nice to surf something a bit more tame. Perfect 4 to 6-foot barrels and just the three of us and one lucky resort guest who stayed on for the swell. Seven hours straight of perfect surf and not one boat drove by.”


Day 7, July 16 2020

“Again, the swell dropped a bit, but the winds shifted to the opposite side of the island where 4Bobs is located. Everyone was cached out except the animal, Anthony. He surfed 4Bobs alone and the drone footage of that session really captures what is going on out here the last five months. Another massive swell hits tomorrow with an angle that is good for Rifles.”

This article also appeared on Surfline

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