Best Ever Swell for Mentawais: 7 Days of Insanity

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 15d ago

Indo has just seen some of the best surf in history. And almost nobody’s there. At least not in the Mentawais. Seven days of swell filled in to the islands, delivering back-to-back sessions for the handful of people who are there right now.

Justis St John has been shooting every day of the past week, rifling off shots of flawless, empty perfection on one of the most consistent session out of the Mentawais of all time.

Forecast: Kandui

© 2020 - Justis St John

“None of us are going to look at surfing the same after this year,” he says. “I pay super close attention to the storms and this one looked like it stretched from almost Antarctica to Indonesia.  Typically out here, a swell lasts three to maybe four days max.

“The Century Swell in 2015 lasted five days but this one lasted seven days straight and then to have a new swell within two days of Rifles and possibly the next day being bigger is just unprecedented out here.”

A couple days before the swell hit, you could already tell this was going to be something special. You can see our Southern Indian Ocean Chart, HERE.

A couple days before the swell hit, you could already tell this was going to be something special. You can see our Southern Indian Ocean Chart, HERE.

Given just how much came out of this run of swell, here, Ray Wilcoxen, manager of the Kandui Resort, lays out the playbook of what happened, where and when, with the vids and pics to back it up. Starting with...

July 10

© 2020 - Justis St John

First signs of the 27 second period swell start trickling into Hideaways.  Long waits, but a couple incredible waves before dark. Great session with just the three of us.

Day one of this historic run looked a little something like this.

Day one of this historic run looked a little something like this.

© 2020 - Justis St John

July 11

© 2020 - Justis St John

A bit bigger than yesterday but lulls were twice as long.  Great session at nearby Bank Vault and once the wind shifted to SE, we headed to Kandui.  Kandui was about as fun as it gets with double overhead sets and long waits. Another great session with just the three of us.

July 12

© 2020 - Justis St John

At 7am the wind kicked up to the south and the ocean had a good amount of morning sickness, but the swell hit.

Solid 8-10 foot, very long period swell but coupled with a cross shore wind. By 9am, a local storm switched the wind to east and I checked Kandui left on our ski and saw, hands down, the best set of waves I've seen out here in almost two decades.  12 foot plus, perfect offshores and the calmest ocean we've seen.

Rushed back to the resort, loaded up the boat and came back over to watch a perfect 10 foot set.  It was heartbreaking though, we made it into the lineup, caught one wave and another storm turned the wind north and tore the ocean apart.

An eerie beauty. No one here, firing waves, sinister sky.

An eerie beauty. No one here, firing waves, sinister sky.

© 2020 - Justis St John

We stayed to watch a couple more 10 foot sets but overall, one of the most heartbreaking days of my life on this island.  Tide and winds never cooperated for the remainder of the day.

That's some of the most scary surf I've seen out here.  It may look doable on video (and there are probably some crazies that would attempt it) but way bigger and heavier than it looks. 

July 13

It's 7am, still massive, 8 -10 foot but low tide and rife with morning sickness. The tide filled in by 9am and the ocean cleaned up.  Super long period 8 foot plus, very shallow and very dangerous since the tides were super close together and the swell period was massive.

I went down super hard on the first wave and hit the reef twice as hard as any other wipeout I've seen out here. Massive hematoma on my ass, covered in reef rash and out for the swell after one wave.

Super scary since if that was my head, there would be nothing anyone could do.  Sets started growing and wind improved and Anthony Fillingim had a great session.

Anthony Fillingam was locked down at Kandui with Justis and Ray. He says: “I’ve been putting a lot of time out there the past months and getting a lot good knowledge tips from Justis, and the last few days has just been something special and magical. Overall it’s been a trip of a lifetime, never had this much barrel time in my life so grateful for the opportunity that's been given to me at Kandui Resort.”

Anthony Fillingam was locked down at Kandui with Justis and Ray. He says: “I’ve been putting a lot of time out there the past months and getting a lot good knowledge tips from Justis, and the last few days has just been something special and magical. Overall it’s been a trip of a lifetime, never had this much barrel time in my life so grateful for the opportunity that's been given to me at Kandui Resort.”

© 2020 - Justis St John

He also had a shocker towards the end after straightening out and getting his leash wrapped around a coral head and treading water for two waves.

Good thing we had our ski and I almost jumped off the ski to get his leash untangled.  So much water moving on the inside, it really never felt like it was anything but low tide all day.  

July 14

© 2020 - Justis St John

At 8am it's 6-8 foot and glassy - as good as we have seen Kandui Left.  The direction of the swell was super west (220) which makes it a bit faster and heavier, but also the direction that makes it the best wave in the world if you can keep up with it.

With the two other people in the area that live for Kandui Left, injured, Anthony Filliingim scored it alone for five hours straight.  Mind blowing to watch someone of Anthony's ability make almost every wave and surf it alone.

Flawless, wrapping around the reef.

Flawless, wrapping around the reef.

© 2020 - Justis St John

Strange feeling watching something you know you will never see again in your life.  This was the day we have been waiting for the last five months and really since we've been open.  Perfect barrels, perfect conditions and not even one boat checked it all day.

July 15

© 2020 - Justis St John

Swell dropped a bit but pretty mind blowing this was the sixth day of swell from the same storm.  Nearby hideaways turned on and it was nice to surf something a bit more tame.

Perfect 4-6 foot barrels and just the three of us, a couple more and one lucky resort guest that stayed on for the swell.  Seven hours straight of perfect surf and again, not one boat drove by.

If you're wondering why the plethora of Anthony Fillingim images, it's because he was one of the only surfers out there. Wild.

If you're wondering why the plethora of Anthony Fillingim images, it's because he was one of the only surfers out there. Wild.

© 2020 - Justis St John

July 16

© 2020 - Justis St John

Swell dropped a bit but the winds shifted to the opposite side of the island where 4Bobs is located. Everyone was cashed out except the animal Anthony.

He surfed 4Bobs alone and the drone footage of that session really captures what is going on out here the last 5 months. Another massive swell hits tomorrow with an angle that is good for Rifles.

Anthony...again.

Anthony...again.

© 2020 - Justis St John