Bodysurfing the Mentawais

August 08, 2016 0 Comments

Bodysurfing the Mentawais

When you think of the Mentawais, you think of its fast and hollow mechanical precision being the perfect canvas for performance surfing. Throw in a wave hungry crowd, some very shallow coral reefs and you probably, definitely wouldn’t be thinking of bodysurfing. After all – those very features all add up to quite the ‘challenge’ for the bodysurfer. So to go on a 12 day surfing trip to the Mentawais with 9 other surfers and only packing your bodysurfing gear - you really have to back yourself. Then again, Vic Ivec is no stranger to commitment (Read Here) I caught up with Vic for a post trip debrief beer and yarn.

BWG: So an insane trip but firstly, what made you take the plunge and decide to head to the Ments on a bodysurfing trip?

Vic: Basically it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to challenge myself that I just couldn't resist!

BWG: So you are packing your bag, what equipment does a bodysurfer take to the Mentawais?


  • 2 x DaFiNs
  • Fin savers
  • Good rashie for sun protection
  • Neoprene top for reef protection
  • Litres and litres of sun cream
  • Slyde Bula handboard
  • Slyde Wedge handboard
  • Stingglide handplane
  • Garage Go-Kart handplane
  • Sluggos - too much drag wearing anything else
  • Fishing gear for when the waves aren't ideal for bodysurfing. (not that there were many!)


dafin indonesia bodysurfing
Stories of the reef


BWG: Now that you have been and with the benefit of hindsight what would you change?

Vic: I would take gloves and I would also take larger handplanes for more speed. Which sounds counter the idea of only needing a smaller handplane in powerful wave but if you think about it – its no different to taking a step-up surfboard to get that down the line speed. So yeah, gloves and probably only 2 handplanes, 1 big and 1 small.

BWG: So if you are taking booties for your hands (gloves) next time -  how did you find the coral factor?

Vic: Easily and frequently! As a first trip in the tropics, it was intimidating but by the end of the trip I was feeling a lot more confident in the condition. It also helped to use the handplane as a shield between me and the reef! Thats why I would take the gloves next time, so I could bodysurf without one and use my hands if needed.

It also helped using the handplane as a shield
bodysurfing mentawais
Low tide at Thunders

BWG: What was the most challenging part of catching waves in the Ments?

Vic: Getting the positioning right. The small inside ones have less water on them. Then you sit wide and are directly competing with the surfers. So finding that middle ground where you can get waves without ending up on the reef.

bodysurfing mentawais
Managing the inside

BWG: No matter where you go, its generally tough in the lineup as a bodysurfer. How did you deal with the crowd in the Mentawais?

Vic: Feel like I managed ok in all spots bar Macaronis. There was simply too much competition for waves and with the inside rip running like a river it made it really hard to get an opportunity there. Overall though, it was a learning experience and being my first trip I bided my time so the surfers could get used to me in the water. Next time I will be far more assertive in putting my hand up when its my turn.


bodysurfing mentawais
Vic "easing" into it

BWG:  So what were your favourite waves?

Vic: Firstly The Hole. This was a really nice, glassy, barrelling wave which wasn’t overly fast. Perfect for bodysurfing and my overall favourite.

bodysurfing mentawais
Finding the hole at The Hole
  • Thunders Lefts. Challenging but rewarding, powerful wave that pitches up out of deep and offers big, bouncy drops. Had some issue with spray here which meant I was swimming into them blind most the time. The end section also knocks the snot out of you.
bodysurfing mentawais
Thunders Lefts
  • Thunders Right. Similar to the Lefts but with shorter and punchier barrel that then fades into deeper water. Had an epic session with Vic here!!
  • Crocodiles. Chilled slow sloping right hander that just kept going and going! Great fun for bodysurfing.
bodysurfing mentawais

BWG: Least favourite waves?


  • HTs – Fast wave with shallow, meat grinder of an inside reef to which all things are drawn to like a magnet. Maybe at a medium size but we got it very small and then very big.
  • Rags Right & Left – Ridiculously fast and ridiculously shallow.
  • Discos left - A wave that would come in fat and be hard to catch before it then just raced away from you.

BWG: So would you do it again? Go back to the Ments?

Vic: I definitely would!

bodysurfing mentawais
Who wouldnt want more of these?

Russel P
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.

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