The Mentawais are a chain of islands, in the Indonesian archipelago, that sit approximately one hundred kilometers due west of Sumatra. It remained off the radar for many years, until eventually the general over-crowding of Nias in the north -
Before the Mentawais were discovered however, there were a few other discoveries along the way that kept the islands hidden from general surfing populace.
In the process the left-hander of Asu was also discovered, and there were suddenly a bunch of reasons to go surfing in the extended area. The Tom Curren and the Rip Curl Search team discovered Bawa, a big and perfect right-hander with a big inside bowl that was a perfect showcase for Tom's free surfing performances, and his experimentation with his Fish surfboards.The Telos island chain was first, and some great waves emerged from this group of islands, that helped the Lagundri Bay crowds to thin a little.
Then there was the discovery of the Mentawais. While there had been a few surfers in the area, including a surfer called Lance Knight, it only hit the information highway after a group of pro surfers, including Tom Carroll, Ross Clarke-Jones, Martin Potter and Stuart Cadden headed out and scored. A c-grade VHS found it's way out of that trip, along with a few photographs in the magazines, and the word was out.
In the background, a surfer from Australia called Lance Knight had discovered the wave that was names Lance's Right. Lance kept it to himself, and lived in the Indonesian village in front of the wave.
From New South Wales, lance had no idea that his discovery of this perfect, right-hand barrel over dangerously shallow coral would start the surf charter business, that would see thousands of surfers visit here, and would see the local Mentawaian communities be able to make some money off the surfer - more than they would have ever made off coconut or copra.
Lance surfed the wave for months. Along the journey of his first visit, one boat - The Indies Trader - popped in to have a look, and Lance met the skipper Martin Daley. The Indies Trader soon became a fleet, and Martin was on the forefront of the discovery of many more waves in the Mentawais.
While Lance was hanging out in the village, with village elder Hosin, he soon discovered that there was a left around the corner. He set out to find it, and thus discovered Lance's Left, and a pretty good beach break further down the track.
Now in his sixties, Lance revisited his old stomping ground more than twenty years after the discovery. The place had changed. The village is still there, but a garish surf resort sits in front of it, with guests paying large to stay on the shoreline. In the water, up to twelve boats, each containing up to 10 surfers, can be found whenever the swell is good and the wind swings offshore. The stillness that he remembered so well is gone, with diesel engines, music, voices, and the sound of construction perpetuating every day. The vegetation has receded to make space for the construction, and there are so many more people in the village. Some of the children surf now, and many others sell hand carved woodwork items to the surfers to take home to their wives.
While Lance's Right might still be the marquee wave in the Mentawais, with even Kelly Slater lauding it's appeal, it has the ability to turn a tiny little village on a little island into a surf ghetto like Nias or Uluwatu.