Just Another Rock-Star Boat Trip

Five of the world’s best surfers find enlightenment on a luxury cruise through the Mentawais.

I know what you’re thinking. Another rock-star boat trip with millionaire pros lounging off the side of some rap-video yacht sipping Cristal and living in the lap of luxury. Well, if that’s what you’re thinking—you may be half-right. These five guys are close to being millionaires, but I didn’t see any Cristal or even Moà«t on the boat, even though it was a luxury cruiser. But, instead of Jay-Z and booty dancers, you get five of the world’s best surfers—five men with different styles, stories, and stigmas.

The crew was a mix of power (Taylor Knox), style (Shane Dorian), speed (Mick Fanning), flair (Dane Reynolds), and freakish, raw talent (Andy Irons). While the starring members of this cast are regular-footers, they all have diversity in their surfing, and they all have this one last chance to film for Taylor Steele’s new movie.

Getting this group of guys together was easy. We just downloaded their locations with NASA’s global-positioning satellite and a few spy-drones borrowed from the CIA. The crew’s travel schedules read like a spy novel. Each person was strategically plucked from opposite ends of the world and brought together for a mission to rip the Mentawais and sit on the platinum sea rims of the most decadent boat in the region. The support team consisted of Brian Bielmann and Dustin Humphrey (photographers), Dave Emge and Cory Hartung (filmmakers), Blair Marlin (DC team manager), and me (TransWorld SURF editor).

Here’s the rundown of how the crew gathered at Padang Harbor. [IMAGE 1]

Tuesday, August 19

Blair Marlin, Cory Hartung, and I left out of L.A. at 2:50 p.m. International flights out of L.A. usually leave at night, but the airline has changed its schedule to accommodate international transfers. Our flight arrived in Singapore at 1:10 a.m. the following morning.

Wednesday, August 20

Mick Fanning and Poor Specimen’s Dave Emge left Brisbane, Australia at 11:55 p.m., arriving in Singapore at 6:00 a.m.

Wednesday, August 20

Brian Bielmann left Hawai’i at 12:50 p.m., arriving in Singapore late at night.

Wednesday, August 20

Taylor “I Hate LAX” Knox left San Diego at noon. Dane Reynolds met up with Taylor at LAX at 1:30 p.m. They arrived in Singapore at 12:45 a.m. Taylor posted up at the oxygen bar at 2:00 a.m., by himself, strapped on a mask, and took in some fresh oxygen. “I don’t know if it worked. I feel great right now.”

Thursday, August 21

Dustin Humphrey left Bali and arrived in Singapore that same day.

Blair, Cory, and I met up with Dave Emge and Mick Fanning in the electronics department of a mall located inside the Singapore airport. The place is known throughout the world for having amazing electronics. You can bet that more than a few of the WCT’s iPods were purchased in the Singapore airport. “It’s the Mentawais of electronics,” laughs Taylor Knox. “It’s so clean and nice. It’s the best airport in the world, besides San Diego.”

Voltron was forming, but half of us had to deal with a one-night stay in Jakarta, capitol of Indonesia, (in the news lately for an anti-American bombing of the Jakarta Marriott Hotel). We stayed at the Jakarta Hilton and were four of ten guests at the whole place, which could hold 2,000 people—making for an eerie and awkward night.

The next day we all met in Padang Harbor, the launching point for nearly all Mentawais boat trips. We were still missing Andy Irons and Shane Dorian, who had been out in the Mentawais with Jack McCoy for nine days already filming for the new Billabong movie. We were going out to meet their boat and pick them up. Some kind of boat-to-boat transfer.

As our crew was ferried to the boat from the dock, we got our first glimpse of the Adventure Komodo. We’d been told that this was the newest, most luxurious boat in the Mentawais, but when we set foot onboard its deck, ourollective jaws dropped. It’s a 1.1-million-dollar 75-foot high-speed catamaran fit for royalty. The inside of the cabin was designed like a posh New York club/lounge. The living room came complete with wraparound couches, brightly colored beanbag chairs, flat-screen televisions, a ten-person custom dining table, DVD player, and full surround-sound Bose speakers. The Komodo had a fully stocked gourmet galley, three full bathrooms, and six separate passenger rooms with ice-cold air conditioning in each room. On the hardwood floor near the dining-room table sat a fully stocked beer fridge, complete with frozen candy bars inside the door. [IMAGE 2]

Captain Oliver and Chef Elizabeth (who was formally trained at Le Cordon Bleu School Of Cookery in London) greeted us upon arrival to the Adventure Komodo. We were immediately served our first meal, consisting of quiche and garlic-whipped potatoes, fruit smoothies, and a light vinaigrette salad—all presented on fine china. Fine china on a surf trip? This was some serious five-star treatment. We all laughed while eating perfectly whipped garlic potatoes from sterling-silver forks.

“Are you kidding me?” Taylor asked me across the table. “This is nicer than my house. I swear I don’t even have to surf this whole trip. I’m totally fine just relaxing in here all day.”

We finished our meal as the twin 430-horsepower Cummins engines revved up to the cruising speed of fifteen knots. The boat was by far the biggest star of this trip. Yeah, we had five of the world’s best surfers aboard, but the Adventure Komodo is really a sight to behold. Its catamaran hulls plowed through waves without a bump, and the beanbags strewn across the living-room floor provided maximum comfort as we watched Ronin, the first of many movies.

The crossing from Padang to the Mentawais takes about eight hours and is usually done overnight. It’s nice to go to sleep in the middle of the ocean and wake up looking at a perfect left peel across a reef in front of a wall of green palm trees.

Guilt set in on the first morning of surf. A feral boat that looked like it was sinking chugged by us as we ate pancakes with chocolate syrup, freshly baked bread, fruit plates, bacon, and made-to-order omelettes. After days of traveling just to get to here, everyone aboard was ready to surf, no matter what the waves looked like.

We arrived at the first break, a long semi-hollow left called Thunders. The light gray revealed waves about head-high with some texture on the face (pretty bad for what you’d expect in Indo). But Mick, always the first guy out, lit up every wave with precise cuts, body-bending carves, and a level of speed beyond anyone else. Watching him surf in real life is an experience. His approach to riding waves is bionic and as natural as it gets. Every turn he did was better than the previous one.

The second guy out was always Dane Reynolds. Dane looked ready to blast something crazy on every turn. Dane’s a nice kid—definitely not stuck up or arrogant like a lot of high-paid people his age. He’s humble and even seemed a bit in awe of his surroundings. I asked him if he felt nervous, and after a pause followed by his usual boyish grin, he answered, “I’m amazed that I even got invited on this trip with these guys. I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m not nervous, just excited.”

As Dane and Mick warmed up at Thunders, a brand-new, three-story, beautiful blue boat called The Pelagic drove up and dropped off the icing on our trip’s cake—Andy Irons and Shane Dorian. They walked into the lounge, looked around, and laughed.[IMAGE 3]

“F—k, this thing is so crip!” Andy yelled as he checked out his new surroundings. “What movies do you guys have? It’s been flat for a week straight. We’ve watched every movie ever made.”

An hour later our boat’s crew filled the lineup, and the first full session of the trip went down. The waves weren’t that good, but everyone used the head-high left to work out the bugs of a hectic traveling regime—legs stretching and arms loosening up. Luckily for me, it wasn’t huge. Getting used to these kind of waves was difficult after surfing shitty California all summer.

No Pasta For Me, I’m Watching My Carb Intake

As we all gathered back on the boat, I started noticing an interesting phenomenon. Just as women obsess about weight, hair, and makeup, Andy, Shane, Taylor, and Blair obsessed about their stomachs, diet, abs, and working out. Of course, these finely tuned machines needed to be taken care of, but over dinners, movies, and out in the water, a good portion of conversation was filled with talk of Atkins diets, carb intake, elliptical machines, and protein shakes. Either way, the one copy of Men’s Health magazine onboard was read cover to cover, and Shane even brought little water-fillable weights in his board bag. Water-filled weights on a surf trip?

Focus Group

Another thing I noticed about Andy, Shane, Mick, Dane, and Taylor was how closely they followed each other’s surfing. While out in the water, they’d huddle in a tight circle and watch every wave the other guy got. After each wave, a quick discussion would follow. “Did he grab on that?” “What did he do on the inside section?” “How did that first turn look from the front?”

At the end of the day while watching footage you could see each person critiquing themselves and making mental notes. After someone got a good wave, and the group would comment, “Whoa, you just whipped that one,” or “Damn, that board looks good.”

One of the best things on the trip went down on a rainy day. The crew surfed a weird, chunky right that had some crazy sections. Dane caught an overhead set and pumped down the line. As we all watched the video, you could tell something crazy was about to happen. Dane bottom-turned, then clicked off the top, and launched an air at least six feet up. Somehow he traveled about twelve feet across over a crumbling whitewash section. Every witness’ jaw dropped, and Dorian summed it up best by simply saying, “F—k. That was crazy.” Dane smiled but looked embarrassed. He just one-upped four of the world’s best.

Chef Liz Rules Us

After watching the footage at the end of each day, we’d line up and eat dinner, which became another highlight of the trip. Every afternoon we’d find out the menu for the night and immediately get excited for dinner. Our chef Liz was an ace in the kitchen—fresh barbecued fish wrapped in banana leaves, stuffed bell peppers, crab legs, lamb—she kicked ass on the Chart House.

Down In The Hole

The surfing picked up on the third day when we arrived at a gnarly wedge called The Hole—a short left that peaked up on the outside, barreled across the reef, and quickly closed out over dry reef. Most normal people would take off, stall for the tube, and pull out directly after, but these freaks were going vertical and doing lipslides over dry reef. Andy was hitting the lip six times on a wave reserved for one maybe two turns. I’ve witnessed a lot of surfing in my life, but to see these guys doing this shit in real life was wild. They surfed the place like it was Lowers or something. Andy buckled a board in three places on one wave, an amazing feat in itself. I straightened off after a weak head-dip and almost killed future World Champ Mick Fanning. That’s a great feeling, almost cutting both Achilles tendons of one of the world’s best surfers. The sky was still a lighter shade of gray at this point—not the hot Indo sun we’d prepared for.

[IMAGE 4]

Lance’s Right

As the days went by, the surfing started getting ridiculous. All five guys threw their boards and bodies into incredible situations. We had surfed mostly lefts in the beginning of the trip, so when we got to Lance’s Rights, it was on. The photographers were dying to start shooting on the first really sunny day of the trip, so the boys got busy.

Shaneigh left to work out the bugs of a hectic traveling regime—legs stretching and arms loosening up. Luckily for me, it wasn’t huge. Getting used to these kind of waves was difficult after surfing shitty California all summer.

No Pasta For Me, I’m Watching My Carb Intake

As we all gathered back on the boat, I started noticing an interesting phenomenon. Just as women obsess about weight, hair, and makeup, Andy, Shane, Taylor, and Blair obsessed about their stomachs, diet, abs, and working out. Of course, these finely tuned machines needed to be taken care of, but over dinners, movies, and out in the water, a good portion of conversation was filled with talk of Atkins diets, carb intake, elliptical machines, and protein shakes. Either way, the one copy of Men’s Health magazine onboard was read cover to cover, and Shane even brought little water-fillable weights in his board bag. Water-filled weights on a surf trip?

Focus Group

Another thing I noticed about Andy, Shane, Mick, Dane, and Taylor was how closely they followed each other’s surfing. While out in the water, they’d huddle in a tight circle and watch every wave the other guy got. After each wave, a quick discussion would follow. “Did he grab on that?” “What did he do on the inside section?” “How did that first turn look from the front?”

At the end of the day while watching footage you could see each person critiquing themselves and making mental notes. After someone got a good wave, and the group would comment, “Whoa, you just whipped that one,” or “Damn, that board looks good.”

One of the best things on the trip went down on a rainy day. The crew surfed a weird, chunky right that had some crazy sections. Dane caught an overhead set and pumped down the line. As we all watched the video, you could tell something crazy was about to happen. Dane bottom-turned, then clicked off the top, and launched an air at least six feet up. Somehow he traveled about twelve feet across over a crumbling whitewash section. Every witness’ jaw dropped, and Dorian summed it up best by simply saying, “F—k. That was crazy.” Dane smiled but looked embarrassed. He just one-upped four of the world’s best.

Chef Liz Rules Us

After watching the footage at the end of each day, we’d line up and eat dinner, which became another highlight of the trip. Every afternoon we’d find out the menu for the night and immediately get excited for dinner. Our chef Liz was an ace in the kitchen—fresh barbecued fish wrapped in banana leaves, stuffed bell peppers, crab legs, lamb—she kicked ass on the Chart House.

Down In The Hole

The surfing picked up on the third day when we arrived at a gnarly wedge called The Hole—a short left that peaked up on the outside, barreled across the reef, and quickly closed out over dry reef. Most normal people would take off, stall for the tube, and pull out directly after, but these freaks were going vertical and doing lipslides over dry reef. Andy was hitting the lip six times on a wave reserved for one maybe two turns. I’ve witnessed a lot of surfing in my life, but to see these guys doing this shit in real life was wild. They surfed the place like it was Lowers or something. Andy buckled a board in three places on one wave, an amazing feat in itself. I straightened off after a weak head-dip and almost killed future World Champ Mick Fanning. That’s a great feeling, almost cutting both Achilles tendons of one of the world’s best surfers. The sky was still a lighter shade of gray at this point—not the hot Indo sun we’d prepared for.

[IMAGE 4]

Lance’s Right

As the days went by, the surfing started getting ridiculous. All five guys threw their boards and bodies into incredible situations. We had surfed mostly lefts in the beginning of the trip, so when we got to Lance’s Rights, it was on. The photographers were dying to start shooting on the first really sunny day of the trip, so the boys got busy.

Shane turned up the heat at Lance’s and threw some seriously radical-looking turns right in the pocket. Shane’s style is so smooth—like Tom Curren meets Mickey Dora. His arms are always in the perfect position. His aura glows cool, like James Dean or something. There’s an air of mystery around him that chicks must just freak on. He was kind of like the guru of the trip. Not only for his surfing style but also for his knowledge of women. I won’t get into it too deep, but Shane’s seen and done things that none of us will ever know—Hollywood-type shit. He’s a legend. Everyone would sit around and try to gather hints and tips on how he does it. He’s been married for a while now and has since settled down, but that just makes him more willing to divulge his secrets.

Out in the lineup it was fun central for the surfers, but the video and film documentarians had just another day on the job. Dave Emge and Cory Hartung were serious troopers. They’d get dropped off 50 yards from the beach, swim all their gear in, hike for 30 minutes, set up, and film all day. Sunburns and dehydration usually followed. Meanwhile, I sat in the dingy with Captain Oliver and Brian Bielmann. Brian’s would be shooting away while the captain and I drank ice-cold Bintangs and blasted an airhorn for the moves we liked—you rip a wave, you get the horn.

Winding Down

The next few days the waves dropped off a bit, and we moved to the northern part of the Mentawais to surf Macaronis and Pit Stops. The weather passed in and out, and the sunny hours of the day were followed by rain and clouds. For any goofy-footer in the world, Macaronis is Mecca. A long left that’s a true machine. Every section is almost identical, and the possibilities are endless, making three airs on one wave fully possible. It’s the most rippable left on the planet, hands down. Dane blew minds once again with a flip, or as Blair called it, a “Reynolds Wrap.”

[IMAGE 5]

Burgerworld Butt Widgets

We surfed the last couple of sessions on the trip at a place called Burgerworld. It’s a fun wave, but these sessions usually turned into screw-off free-for-alls, where butt widgets and pooh-mans replaced tailsides and carving 360s. Andy invented a cool new move called a “roadblock.” He’d paddle up the face of the wave, and just as you start to pass him, he’d bail his board and throw it right in front of you, hence the name roadblock. I dodged Andy’s roadblock a few times, but he got me once. I flew over the roadblock, and three of my fins flew into the foam of his board.

As our time on the boat drew to a close, and I realized how special this trip was and how lucky we all were to be blessed with a lifestyle like this.

Reflections

For Taylor, the trip proved to be a recharge. He stayed so amped the whole trip and positive. He’s had some turmoil in his personal life and on tour, but he seems to be ready for the next chapter. He’s ripping harder than ever, and he proved it at the Lowers contest a week after getting home, where he destroyed Slater in the quarterfinals!

For Mick, this trip offered him a way to stretch out and take a breather from being the most wanted man in Australia. There was no pressure to be the crazy party-animal Mick Fanning that everyone has come to expect. He could just be himself, and as everyone on the trip found out, he’s one of the funniest, most smartass guys around—a legend.

For Andy, this trip provided a much-needed vacation away from all the bullshit that follows a reigning world champ. His spirits were up, and his attitude remained positive. Judging from what I saw on this thing, Andy Irons is the best surfer in the world.

For Dane Reynolds, this trip introduced him to the world he’ll live in for the rest of his life. Good-bye, NSSA—hello, World Tour. Needless to say, these guys welcomed him in with open arms, and he deserves a spot—the kid is a prodigy.

For Shane Dorian, this trip marked the beginning of his new life away from the World Tour. His calm, confident demeanor has reached a new level. By bowing out in his prime, he’s got years of amazing surfing left in him. Surf fans everywhere can be sure they’re about to see some of the best surfing ever, performed by one of our sport’s true gentlemen. Shane is about to rewrite the book.

I realize that being a magazine guy has put me in the position to experience this trip. I can only say that being part of this has really changed my perception of surfing. Being around this kind of talent rearranged my whole outlook of our art. The sheer skill that these five guys possess is remarkable. They deserve the five-star treatment because they are all five-star surfers, and the five best surfers in the world at this moment. Can we do it again next year, boys?Call outs

But, instead of Jay-Z and booty dancers, you get five of the world’s best surfers.

Each person was strategically plucked from opposite ends of the world and brought together for a mission to rip the Mentawais and sit on the platinum sea rims of the most decadent boat in the region.

Somehow he traveled about twelve feet over a crumbling whitewash section. Every witness’ jaw dropped, and Dorian summed it up best by simply saying, “F—k. That was crazy.”

A feral boat that looked like it was sinking chugged by us as we ate pancakes with chocolate syrup, freshly baked bread, fruit plates, bacon, and made-to-order omelets.

That’s a great feeling, almost cutting both Achilles tendons of one of the world’s best surfers.rned up the heat at Lance’s and threw some seriously radical-looking turns right in the pocket. Shane’s style is so smooth—like Tom Curren meets Mickey Dora. His arms are always in the perfect position. His aura glows cool, like James Dean or something. There’s an air of mystery around him that chicks must just freak on. He was kind of like the guru of the trip. Not only for his surfing style but also for his knowledge of women. I won’t get into it too deep, but Shane’s seen and done things that none of us will ever know—Hollywood-type shit. He’s a legend. Everyone would sit around and try to gather hints and tips on how he does it. He’s been married for a while now and has since settled down, but that just makes him more willing to divulge his secrets.

Out in the lineup it was fun central for the surfers, but the video and film documentarians had just another day on the job. Dave Emge and Cory Hartung were serious troopers. They’d get dropped off 50 yards from the beach, swim all their gear in, hike for 30 minutes, set up, and film all day. Sunburns and dehydration usually followed. Meanwhile, I sat in the dingy with Captain Oliver and Brian Bielmann. Brian’s would be shooting away while the captain and I drank ice-cold Bintangs and blasted an airhorn for the moves we liked—you rip a wave, you get the horn.

Winding Down

The next few days the waves dropped off a bit, and we moved to the northern part of the Mentawais to surf Macaronis and Pit Stops. The weather passed in and out, and the sunny hours of the day were followed by rain and clouds. For any goofy-footer in the world, Macaronis is Mecca. A long left that’s a true machine. Every section is almost identical, and the possibilities are endless, making three airs on one wave fully possible. It’s the most rippable left on the planet, hands down. Dane blew minds once again with a flip, or as Blair called it, a “Reynolds Wrap.”

[IMAGE 5]

Burgerworld Butt Widgets

We surfed the last couple of sessions on the trip at a place called Burgerworld. It’s a fun wave, but these sessions usually turned into screw-off free-for-alls, where butt widgets and pooh-mans replaced tailsides and carving 360s. Andy invented a cool new move called a “roadblock.” He’d paddle up the face of the wave, and just as you start to pass him, he’d bail his board and throw it right in front of you, hence the name roadblock. I dodged Andy’s roadblock a few times, but he got me once. I flew over the roadblock, and three of my fins flew into the foam of his board.

As our time on the boat drew to a close, and I realized how special this trip was and how lucky we all were to be blessed with a lifestyle like this.

Reflections

For Taylor, the trip proved to be a recharge. He stayed so amped the whole trip and positive. He’s had some turmoil in his personal life and on tour, but he seems to be ready for the next chapter. He’s ripping harder than ever, and he proved it at the Lowers contest a week after getting home, where he destroyed Slater in the quarterfinals!

For Mick, this trip offered him a way to stretch out and take a breather from being the most wanted man in Australia. There was no pressure to be the crazy party-animal Mick Fanning that everyone has come to expect. He could just be himself, and as everyone on the trip found out, he’s one of the funniest, most smartass guys around—a legend.

For Andy, this trip provided a much-needed vacation away from all the bullshit that follows a reigning world champ. His spirits were up, and his attitude remained positive. Judging from what I saw on this thing, Andy Irons is the best surfer in the world.

For Dane Reynolds, this trip introduced him to the world he’ll live in for the rest of his life. Good-bye, NSSA—hello, World Tour. Needless to say, these guys welcomed him in with open arms, and he deserves a spot—the kid is a prodigy.

For Shane Dorian, this trip marked the beginning of his new life away from the World Tour. His calm, confident demeanor has reached a new level. By bowing out in his prime, he’s got years of amazing surfing left in him. Surf fans everywhere can be sure they’re about to see some of the best surfing ever, performed by one of our sport’s true gentlemen. Shane is about to rewrite the book.

I realize that being a magazine guy has put me in the position to experience this trip. I can only say that being part of this has really changed my perception of surfing. Being around this kind of talent rearranged my whole outlook of our art. The sheer skill that these five guys possess is remarkable. They deserve the five-star treatment because they are all five-star surfers, and the five best surfers in the world at this moment. Can we do it again next year, boys?Call outs

But, instead of Jay-Z and booty dancers, you get five of the world’s best surfers.

Each person was strategically plucked from opposite ends of the world and brought together for a mission to rip the Mentawais and sit on the platinum sea rims of the most decadent boat in the region.

Somehow he traveled about twelve feet over a crumbling whitewash section. Every witness’ jaw dropped, and Dorian summed it up best by simply saying, “F—k. That was crazy.”

A feral boat that looked like it was sinking chugged by us as we ate pancakes with chocolate syrup, freshly baked bread, fruit plates, bacon, and made-to-order omelets.

That’s a great feeling, almost cutting both Achilles tendons of one of the world’s best surfers.fe away from the World Tour. His calm, confident demeanor has reached a new level. By bowing out in his prime, he’s got years of amazing surfing left in him. Surf fans everywhere can be sure they’re about to see some of the best surfing ever, performed by one of our sport’s true gentlemen. Shane is about to rewrite the book.

I realize that being a magazine guy has put me in the position to experience this trip. I can only say that being part of this has really changed my perception of surfing. Being around this kind of talent rearranged my whole outlook of our art. The sheer skill that these five guys possess is remarkable. They deserve the five-star treatment because they are all five-star surfers, and the five best surfers in the world at this moment. Can we do it again next year, boys?Call outs

But, instead of Jay-Z and booty dancers, you get five of the world’s best surfers.

Each person was strategically plucked from opposite ends of the world and brought together for a mission to rip the Mentawais and sit on the platinum sea rims of the most decadent boat in the region.

Somehow he traveled about twelve feet over a crumbling whitewash section. Every witness’ jaw dropped, and Dorian summed it up best by simply saying, “F—k. That was crazy.”

A feral boat that looked like it was sinking chugged by us as we ate pancakes with chocolate syrup, freshly baked bread, fruit plates, bacon, and made-to-order omelets.

That’s a great feeling, almost cutting both Achilles tendons of one of the world’s best surfers.