Hollow Trees and Surgeon Tables

October 06, 2014 0 Comments

Hollow Trees and Surgeon Tables

Lances Right or Hollow Trees (HTs) is one of the worlds best waves and a jewel in the crown of the wave rich area in Idonesia that’s the Mentawais island chain. Located at the tip of the Sumatera Berat it gets swell arcing around the point and across the inner reef section to form hollow rifling waves that exit across the deep channel. Failure would result in a horror session amongst the reef pinnacles on the inside with the exit guarded by the aptly named surgeons table.

My first flirtation with HTs was in 2010 at the back end of the first trip I had been to this area. We had already soaked up 10 days of amazing waves and were literally on our way home when we briefly stopped to get a last wave or two. Myself and my good friend Jeremy Pearlman were the only takers. The lack of crowd attributable to the lack of size and onshore wind rippling each set. The very reason, we had like everyone else spent the day at Lances Left on the opposite side of the island. Jezza got the first 2ft wave in a set, was a little deep and so ended on the reef plate afterwards. He then made the cardinal sin of paddling out directly instead of looping around to the back of the reef into the channel and was summarily punished by being dragged, upside down on his back across the reef. First cuts of the trip on his last wave. Typical. After two nervy waves I paddled back over to the boat and we left with Jezza wincing as the lime was being squeezed in.

In 2011 we arrived nervy to HTs, memories of last trips score of 2-1 sat fresh. We were lucky again with crowds as it was still smallish at 2-4ft. Waves were obviously more polished/larger elsewhere but we were alone and cashed in with great peaks and small rifling barrels. There was some more carnage for the goofy footers who were not enjoying the shallow water and steep takeoffs required to get the small barrels. After a long day and feeling reasonably smug at the rising comfort level we were all put to shame by the local kids. Surfing castoff boards that often resembled some sort of Frankenstein mismatch of fibreglass and fins they repeatedly locked into deep glassy barrels and rode across the sentinel surgeons table with impunity. Humbled, we moved on.

lances right barrel

2012 was the year. We arrived, first on the scene to a head high Lances Right. Drawing off the reef for small punchy waves with the harmony only broken by another boat and crew on the scene. A rapidly filling in tide, swallowed the barrel section and not long after, finished the final session for the other boat. The Brazilians and Spanish surfers retiring to pack their gear away under the blazing sun as we surfed the soft shoulder. Like a tamed tiger feeling a primal stir the lineup began to change. The tide began to recede and the hackles began to draw, coral teeth beginning to appear. A rising swell pulsating and writhing, the blue walls began to pulse and rifle down the front of the reef. Soft shoulders gave way to pitching peaks up the point with gasping air drops into glass cut pits.

For several hours a mere handful of us managed to get one of the premier waves in the world – all to ourselves. A simply amazing experience where the adrenalin may have worn off but the memories never will.



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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