On the recent Tracks Goodfellas trip we scored two days of impossibly perfect funnels at a rarely shot Indo left. The Goodfellas’ original edit featured a more eclectic surfing mix, but this clip is a full-blown Ode to the tube. See story and photos from the session below.     

The promised swell is only just showing and the wave upon which all our expectations have been placed is not delivering. Doubt seeps in and there is a sense that perhaps it will be another fizzer, where hopes run too high and the disappointment hits hard. Seeking some consolation the crew paddle out at the left adjacent to where the Mangalui is parked in the channel. The wave looks fun for Joe average but is vocally judged a fat left by this crew.

The first few waves offer playful roll-ins to long, rippable walls, but pretty soon the tide drains out and the chubby faces undergo a major makeover. Suddenly it’s the sexiest wave on the planet, stripping down to reveal seductive below-sea level cylinders. Wade is the first to tune in to the nuances of the reef. It’s his maiden trip to the Mentawais and after one session at Greenbush his backside tube riding is already evolving.  Carmichael rides waves like a big guy is suppose to. He hunts the girthier sets, paddles deep, drops in late with confidence and fully commits, and for a heavily set guy he always looks like he has all the time in the world. As his confidence grows and the waves become ridiculously perfect he starts toying with a no-hands, backside approach. “I’ve never tried that before,” he comments in the lineup, obviously astounded by the scope the wave offer for experimentation. As the swell fills in Chapman paddles in to arguably the biggest wave of the afternoon, knifes the rail backside and disappears down the line. “That one was like Chopes!” he enthuses after he returns to the lineup. Meanwhile Connor O’leary can’t believe his luck. He’s on a boat with four natural footers and here he is sliding into overhead double barrels on his forehand. His completion rate is near immaculate and when behind the veil his style assumes an almost Lopez like quality.

Cooper Chapman putting on the breaks. Photo: Swilly

The barrels keep coming; longer, deeper, rounder barrels and every other kind in between. As conditions become more challenging , only a handful of other surfers can handle it and the boys have the run of the lineup – taking it in turns to let the ocean fold over them, pushing each other to go harder, laughing with pure joy at the serendipity of the surf they never saw coming.

Next morning it’s two feet bigger and six feet thicker at the wave they’ve dubbed ‘Condoms’– a mash up reference to the fact it suits Connnor so well and the filmer, Dom, almost fainted from dehydration after refusing to miss a wave the day before. The Mangalui is parked in full view of Condoms and the crew figure they’ll stall and wait for the tide to go out again, but when a silvery eight-footer yawns through the morning lineup it’s clear the high water will not stand in the way of the wave’s desire to make tunnels, and the boys decide it would be wasteful not to hit it straight away.  

Connor O'leary keeps his eyes on the prize. Photo: Swilly

The waves have crossed the threshold from fun to kind of serious when two random guys paddle out and sit a lot further inside than you want to be. When Wade drops into barrel number 153 he’s forced to alter his line to avoid clipping one of the guys who is now scrambling to get underneath a lip that’s full of menace. The deviation is enough to put Wade a fraction too deep and when the barrel swallows him he’s flung into the reef, where his back is butchered and a lumpy finger of coral lodges deep in his lumber region. Minutes later he’s up on the tender where Mark is forced to rip out the large piece of coral like a thick cork from a champagne bottle.

Undeterred by the violent back scouring, Wade the barbarian is ready for round two of the battle when the tide drains out and the barrels become more like gaping holes in the ocean. Captain Mark sums up the sentiment of the day when he muses. “It should be every surfers goal to forget how many barrels he’s had.”

You gotta pay to play. Photo: Swilly

As the boys make their way out for the second session a punter receives a standing ovation from the crew on his boat who have watched his brave rides all morning. Earlier a big Maori guy wearing a face smeared with white war paint had stated jokingly in the lineup, “Maybe it’s a good day to die, doing what you love.” Such anecdotes help give a little perspective to the waves the pros make look so easy.       

Around three PM the tide is bottoming out and one of the biggest waves of the day lurches through. Truth be told at this point Jacko Baker had been overshadowed by his four friends in the barrel riding stakes. They’d dubbed him ‘the grom’, sold him one too many lemons and been that little bit hungrier for the bombs, but when this set flexes on the reef they scream for Jacko to go. Perhaps against his better judgement Baker swings late, goes straight down the face where he should be heading sideways and by the time he hits the bottom he looks like a mouse being chased down by a giant wall of green cheese. Somehow the rail on his Channel Islands round tail bites and because he’s so late, his miracle bottom turn lands him square in the barrel, deeper than he’s ever been. As the wave throws way over Jacko’s shock of blonde hair he struggles for a line, lifts his hand off the rail and rides bolt upright for a full section. The foamball smothers his black-shirted frame only to release him from its clutches and bullet him out of the barrel with his hands on his face, overwhelmed by what he’s just experienced. It’s the wave of his life and also instantly delivers Jacko renewed status amongst his peers.

Jackson Baker inside the belly of a beast. Photo: Swilly

Pro surfers have a tendency to play down the quality of waves, but as the manic barrel frenzy unfolds for the second afternoon in a row, there is no such attempts to suppress the stoke. Everyone is aware that they are part of one of those special sessions where waves are only measured in degrees of perfection. Watching on it seems like a day when surfing’s purest of motivations are at play for the elite Aussie pack. Fame and glory are not the rewards, instead it’s about being at your best so you can experience places on the wave that few others ever do.  

Kalani Ball deep in the hole. Photo: Swilly

With their arms like concrete and their adrenal glands exhausted the surfers are eventually ferried in by the ever-vigilant run-about driver, Eto. While it’s the sort of day where the surfers never want to see the sun go down, for Eto it probably can’t set fast enough. As a Muslim in Ramadan he must fast between sun up and sun down and now he wants to enjoy his evening meal. However, as he dutifully returns the surfers to the main boat, waiting well after dark for the last one, he displays none of the hunger and fatigue he feels. Instead he just wears a humble smile and enjoys the infectious high the surfers resonate after a magic day of waves.

The high created by the day’s barrel bonanza lingers well into the night as Jacko relives his hero wave for a captive audience and Cooper Chapman calls it out loud “The best day of surfing of my life.” Without hesitation the statement is enthusiastically backed up by all the surfers.

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A huge thanks to Resort Latitude Zero for hooking us up