Surfing Mentawai | Videos from Season 2012

by Glenn Reeves

How hard is it to come by good video edits of Mentawai culture, trekking, or surfing? Hard.

If you define “good” here as attention-grabbing, entertaining, and having a well edited, cool sound track, oh and informative as well, then it’s not easy to find.

Seems like just about everyone who hits the high seas to the 3rd best wave zone (sure, you could argue your way through several cases of Bintang over that one…let’s leave it for then) on the planet after Hawaii and Tahiti gets some sort of video capture of their trip.

There’s a lotta crap around on Youtube and Vimeo no?

This first one by Alain Riou is pretty slick. Alain hails from Reunion where he learned to surf. And when his family moved to within spitting distance of Chopes … well, the rest is history.

The forehand attack is more imaginative than the backhand is the only comment I’d make. Whatever. Make sure you stay with this one until the kick-ass barrel right at the end. Surfing video you can stick with.

alain riou surfing mentawai from alain riou on Vimeo.

And he also features on the next one. It’s pretty prominent on the web so quite a few of you would have seen it already. Still, a quality edit is a quality edit.

Although I note that the guys appear to have infringed copyright with regard to the soundtrack. Check the comments for that. I know what that’s like after 10 years of having mentawai.org scraped of a wide variety of content by an even wider variety of shady characters. (It’s called “plagiarism” peeps!)

There’s an interesting history to the company supporting this trip. “Si Bangun”, one of the principles, was a character whom I came across on my last visit to the area. A Batak from North Sumatra he and his family had done pretty well for themselves in and around Muara Siberut.

I made a crossing from Tuapejat back to Padang on the Perintis one Christmas Eve with his younger brother, Si Poltak or “Laurentius” as per his Christian name, literally.

Poltak was overseeing the construction of the first “resort” at HTs and was getting all sorts of BS from the locals hehe and was bailing for a Christmas on the mainland. It was a row of half-finished huts and a long way from “resort” status I’d imagine, even when they were finished. The move into the surfing industry seems to have paid off in the end.

Oh, and if you ever needed any more proof that big Simon’s thruster design was a marked improvement on the transitional twin fin then you’ll find it here. Not that it matters; this particular twin spin rider is clearly stoked.

BenSanchis_Mentawai on the King Millenium 2 from Pietro l.Franca on Vimeo.

And speaking of HTs, the last vid has over 4 minutes. Is it just me or do I detect more than a bit of Greenough’s Crystal Voyager here? One difference of course was that CV was probably best viewed in an altered state of mind :-), the last half at any rate, allegedly lol. This one most definitely not:

Now if by any chance you are not acquainted with one of the greatest surfing movies of all time then get a taste of it below, although you may find it pretty tame. I’d forgotten the stuff about fins. Mick Pierce, Mr. Pumping Stations himself, was my shaper back in the day and used fins very much like these himself. I guess George Greenough was a distant influence. Anyhow, some nice technical discussion on design in the 1970s.


Knee boards and surf mats. We’ve come some way since then.

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