I sit slumped, fatigued from air travel, gazing aimlessly at my phone screen. I am flicking through images to pass time while I wait for my guests to arrive. A little nervous, a tad excited and quite unsure of what awaits on-board the Aileoita. My legs stick to the faux leather seat in the hotel lobby. Foreign exotic smells waft through the air, circulated by air conditioning that is tricking my body into thinking I am back home and not in a smoke engulfed tropical Sumatra, that I am not. Although we share the Indian Ocean with our Indonesian neighbours I am a far cry from my Western Australian desert shores. A day’s travel from Perth to Padang I find myself pensively waiting to board the boat to set sail on my first Mentawai surf trip as a coach and guide.
I have chosen a special group of girls for my maiden voyage accompanied with my new job title. No longer a competitive surfer, I have found another calling in the form of a Surfing Personal Trainer. This flexible line of employment as a freelance coach aligns well with my lack of enthusiasm for repetition and routine. The objective is to discover and challenge my ability to host and watch over 10 wild women, keep them safe and deliver a trip to remember.
It all began as just a simple idea while sipping on coconuts at a cafe in Bali with a friend of mine; co pilot, brother from another mother, trip organiser, photographer and boss man, Iuri Borba. We thought it would be a great idea for me to take a diverse combination of students to the Mentawais. We would coach them in the water, document it and send them home feeling one hundred per cent more confident having greatly improved their surfing. These hand-selected females from across the globe were now arriving from all directions and the vision of our endeavour was coming to life. I could not have had a more exuberant mix of nationalities, ocean capabilities, age and culture amongst the group to make for a delightful experience. Beauties from Europe, Asia, North America, South America and a New Zealander graced us with their presence.
That was the point of this trip.
Traveling with surfers at all different levels guaranteed there was no competitive tension and everyone was enabled to specifically focus on their own personal growth and journey. The combination of no pressure or expectation coupled with the diverse choice of Mentawai Island waves allowed for both idealistic and immaculate training grounds to do so.
After a short taxi through boisterous and dirty streets, which thoroughly lacked any sense of order, we arrived at the port.
I was pleased to see a beautiful new white boat with a small crew of local sailors on board to take care of our every need. At this stage my nerves had dissipated and been replaced with a sense of contentment. The swell forecast looked promising. Bedrooms allocated and so the chef filled us with a nourishing meal and into the darkness we sailed.
In the morning we anchored at a small left that broke over a sharp shallow coral reef set in front of a dainty, quaint and petit island. It was an unblemished wave ideal to warm the girls up and familiarise them with Indonesian surfing conditions.
There are a few things I swear by for successful surf trips. At the top of my priorities for achieving this is the maintenance of my health and wellbeing. Good health proves for strong immunity, which provides me with adequate energy further encouraging better decision-making. Through this emphasis I would find greater performance and results both in and out of the water. Thankfully our boat, the Aileoita, was the base we needed to encourage and set such an elevated standard of life at sea.
Every morning we would indulge in fresh fruits, home made cereals, eggs, toast and a strong brew of coffee to supply us with the fuel and sustenance required for the day. Surfing until lunch was simplified with our convenient tender zipping back and forth from the designated wave for the day, assuring our hydration and protection from the sun. It is near to impossible to stay out of the surf when you’re living at sea. The water sits at that found inside a bathtub. We avoid crowds and the waves are consistently fun and inviting. As night fell we were filled with a hearty meal and memories of another day in paradise .We run through the footage that our cameraman has captured. Analysing the video and pictures, we learn and laugh and is not taken too seriously because we are simply having too much fun.
At the end of the day the queen beds would provide the slumber for those who the name seems so suitably fit. The need to recover was vital so as to repeat the laborious activities again the next day. When we are surfed out and salty eyed there is still plenty to do to occupy time. A spacious boat provides areas to stretch, read, watch movies or even simply lay and do nothing for a little ‘time-out’.
I find it hard to keep still in general and the warm water enticed me to find pleasure again in swimming, snorkelling and exploring the odd island.
Believe it or not, ten days out to see goes really fast. Particularly when you’re having the time of your life whilst being treated like surfing royalty by a kind and caring crew, further backed up by a group of enthusiastic female surfers.
I like to think with my experience as a surf guide that I bring a calculated approach to taking each individual surfer out of their comfort zones yet still safely assisting them push their limits to help reach the next level in their ability and potential. A few reef cuts and bruises make for good stories when arriving home. There is no reward without some risk and all my girls had been giving it their all making the most of their current situation.
I would recommend a trip like this to any surfer no matter what the circumstance. It is guaranteed to be a trip that will forever go down as on of your greatest experiences accompanied with cumbersome amounts of tell tales destined to be shared. Surfing perfect consistent uncrowded waves all day every day with your friends is guaranteed to make you stronger in and out of the water.
Words: Claire Bevilacqua
Photos: IURI Borba
Join our next “GIRLS ONLY Boat trip to the Mentawai” – October 25th to November 6th on Aileoita (aileoita.com) – Enquires: firstname.lastname@example.org