Back in 1991, the Mentawai islands in Sumatra were a whisper on the lips of only the most learned surf travellers. Why would anyone bother searching deeper into Indonesia when there was the most perfect left in the world (Grajagan in Java), the most perfect right (Nias just off northern Sumatra) and, between all that, the sublime treats of Bali that included Uluwatu and Padang Padang.
Australian surfer Lance Knight, who skippered a barge between Yamba in northern NSW and Lord Howe Island a few hundred nautical miles offshore, wanted more than the usual pitstops, however. He wanted to be a surf pioneer like Bill Boyum and Bob Laverty (G-Land) and Peter Troy (the discovery of Nias). He wanted to cut off his own slice of history. He wanted that feeling of surfing perfect waves alone.
And, so, armed with a map, he flew to Padang in Sumatra, grabbed a plane to the Mentawais and with the most rudimentary of hand gestures (he spoke no Bahasa), found himself shuttled by a local fisherman to the most perfect righthand wave he’d ever seen. When the wind shifted onshore, locals showed him how to get around the headland and access a mirror-image of the right.
In this instalment of the Ripple Effect, Lance Knight heads back to the remote village, to the waves, that changed his life, and like a pebble thrown into a pond, changed surfing.