Say hello to the newest member of the surfing tribe, The Intrepid Kook.
The intrepid kook has arrived and he or she is here to stay. The intrepid kook might be from landlocked Germany, waist-high Italy, the Swiss Alps, mediterranean Spain, a waveless coast in Canada, England or Scandinavia. Tired of predictable old Europe, they thirst for adventure, excitement, beauty, nature, to get ‘off the beaten track,’ and prove to themselves and - more importantly - others, that they are not just another cog in the machine. They are different. They are unique. They are…an individual.
The intrepid kook risks death, travelling for days through abject poverty, across treacherous roads, dodging bandits and Islamic extremists, and suffering multiple bouts of dysentry to arrive at the most obscure surf destination they could find on Wannasurf.com. Only to sit on the shoulder and watch other people get barrelled.
In years gone by the intrepid kook went overland in Afghanistan, hiked the Himalayas, hitchhiked the Aussie outback, found enlightenment in Rishikesh, or trailblazed the Cambodian pancake trail. Then they saw a youtube clip of Joel Parkinson or Bruce Irons cruising through an endless green tunnel of joy. Nothing that looks that easy could be that difficult, they wrongly assumed, missing the fact Parko is a World Champ with decades of deeply honed muscle memory that allows him to effortlessly thread ten feet and 18 seconds worth of Indian Ocean juice over an incredibly shallow reef where one mistake will see your back or your face ripped off, around 20 hours transit from the nearest first world medical service. Did I mention that footage was slowed down to two-thirds its normal speed?
‘Surfing Indonesia’ has become an extension of the South-East Asian pancake trail, alongside tubing in Laos and the humble Cambodian brothel. On a fairly cooking and consequential day at Supersuck I counted around 50 people in the water though the same ten or 15 getting every set. The rest were mostly spectating. There was a chick from Switzerland, surfers from Germany, Sweden, Spain, France and all the usual suspects from Australia, Brazil, NZ and the US. My neighbours in West Sumbawa were a German, an Argentinian and a Canadian from a waveless island. When an English man moved in he complained Lombok was “mushy brown waves and German surfers. It was just like England.”
“Where are you from?” he then asked the German.
“Germany but I haven’t lived there for 20 years,” he replied, before giving the Englishmen a run down on all the surrounding spots, many of which were, I’d been told, fairly secret.
On a playful four foot morning at a nearby right wedge the Canadian suffered a suspected broken jaw after his board cracked him in the face (admittedly, this could happen to anyone) and the Englishmen returned with his board snapped in two. A local Sumbawan told me he’s seen a guy with his “face ripped off” after coming unstuck at Supersuck.
The flip side is the Intrepid Kook makes great company. If they’ve made it this far, chances are they’ve seen a thousand or more equally mind-blowing places around the world. Places which have broadened their minds, destroyed their ego, and made them one of the most real-world-educated people on the planet.
They also have none of the ego associated with the torturous, self-described ‘core’ types that dominate surfing. The ego that says because you got an equal or worse barrel than me, with poor bordering on ugly technique, you should sit at that table over there and not talk to me.
Fuck that guy. The Intrepid Kook is appreciative, humble, content, wide-eyed, and ready for adventure. Ritual humiliation has made their character strong. The nuances of this once tiny sub-culture, however, like keeping spots under your hat, or spending years building your skill set up on lesser waves before paddling out at the world class ones, is an issue we will need to confront at some point. Because the intrepid kook is not going anywhere. - Jed Smith