One of the best parts about being based on the shores of Indonesia, is the fact that there is no shortage of options when it comes to waves. From big and hollow to small and mellow we have them all at our fingertips, making it an easy choice when it came to picking a testing ground for the thoughts and musings of Harrison Roach and Thomas Bexon, a place to put foam in the water per se, and see what worked and what didn’t.
For a few months earlier this year in Australia, Thomas and Harry had been playing around with some ideas for a couple of new boards, A longboard and A Keel fin Fish. Important meetings were held over beers on the weekends and diagrams were drawn on napkins. After much deliberation, they reckoned they had it. So the duo flew over to Bali and suggested a trip across the pond to a sleepy little fishing village we all knew pretty well. Wanting to make the most of their time in the tropics, the idea was thrown out that instead of shaping the boards here at the Temple in Bali, why not bring all the stuff needed over with us and get it done on location. Boards shaped on the shores of where they were to be ridden? Sure, why not?
Thomas hit the ground running, after a coffee and quick morning surf to wash the plane ride off, he set up his makeshift shaping bay next to a lumber yard and proceeded to sculpt foam. Meanwhile in the lineup, Harry had met with local legends and friends, Husni and Deni, and the guys were trading off waist high peelers in-between catching each other up on life events. After a few visits from the boys to have a look and generally just chat shit, Thomas powered through and worked his magic into the night. Watching Doc shape is somewhat meditative, every pass with the planer is so deliberate, he knows the board he wants is in there, he’s just taking away foam until he finds it.
As he methodically cut into the blanks I asked Doc what his plans for the boards were - “For the Fish, I guess what I want is to take the best elements from the traditional keel fin fish that has been around for ever and bastardised by every shaper in the world and put our own take on it, improve it’s usability in not so great daily waves, make it a little more friendly for pushing harder in turns, better off and in the lip than the traditional keel fin fish, while not taking away from the speed, trim and down the line characteristic of the fish that make them so special. A more modern shortboard rail blended to a reasonably flat deck, low but just enough rocker, a single concave to slight vee double out the back from the fins, a slight hip or bump in the rail at the trailing edge of the fins to bring in the width of the swallow and allow it to release more for tighter top turns etc. Nothing to drastic just the right mix of subtle curves. As for the long board, it’s going to be heavily based on 1965-66 Australian old mals. Plenty of bottom roll, hips right back with the wide point being 8 inches behind centre. The Nose and tail widths are going to be the same at 16 3/4 with a square tail to allow for super smooth rolling transitions and beautiful rolling feel through turns, I think by keeping plenty of width back there it will allow it to still nose ride extremely well…but I guess we’ll have to see!”
It was a few days later a couple hours after breakfast, as we sipped our gritty local coffees and waited for the tide to drop, that Doc rolled up on his jalopy scooter, ciggy between his lips and told us to follow him back to the lumber yard. There they were in all their glory, a pair of freshly glassed and sanded vessels ready for a lick of wax and some waves to test their dimensions. Right off the bat Harry grabbed the longboard, ran his hands up and down the rails, winked at Thomas and headed for Second Point, the tide was just hitting that sweet spot and there wasn’t a puff of wind. Perched on a fishing boat waxing up and watching perfect knee high peelers roll through, Harry was out there as fast as his feet would let him and straight away was stroking into a dreamy little wave that broke so close to the beach you could see his reflection in the wet sand. He came in after that session with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. “The thing works hey?”
After a few days of pretty much perfect waves and conditions, and with everybody getting their fair share of test time on the new vessels, a bump of more sizeable swell hit our sleepy fishing village locale. Now, we know that the rule is ‘Never leave pumping waves’ but we were convinced that something better was out there, we had flown this coastline by small plane a couple times in the past and knew there were headlands that this wind would be favouring, just no roads to get there, so we decided to roll the dice and organise a boat to take us along the coast.
Dawns light hadn’t broken when our alarms woke us for the commute down the way to a few villages over. Sleepy eyed we loaded camera gear, food for the day and Harry’s brand new Fish into the boat we had commandeered, it wasn’t really built for passengers, but we made-do and set off along the coast. The first few coves we checked were definitely picking up the swell, which was a relief, but didn’t really have any ledges or reefs to turn that kinetic energy into something surf-able so we decided to just keep going. We had just finished our lunch of some left over rice from last night and coffee that was way too sweet when we first saw it. The boat putted around the next head land and without missing a beat everybody let out a collective ‘What the Fuuuck!’ as this cavern of a wave stood up and spat its guts out across the bay. Nestled between some rocks and a cliff face, it wasn’t the friendliest looking thing but that didn’t stop us from telling the Captain of our fine vessel to punch it, and with the sound of a 10HP engine working as hard as it could, we B-lined towards it for a closer look.
The next set hadn’t even come round the corner but Harry wasn’t wasting anytime, he was wolfing down the rest of his leftovers and before we knew it, was paddling like man possessed into what we can only guess was the correct position. Just as I setup my camera, three bumps headed towards the cliff had Harry scrambling, he was too wide for the first two and looked like the same for the third but swung around anyway, I pressed the shutter and fired of as many shots as I could as he airdropped the little 5’1 Fish down the face of this perfect looking green cave. To be honest I thought he was going over the falls, but those twin Keel fins engaged and with a hard bottom turn he just stood tall as spray from the belly of the beast engulfed him. Everyone, including our fisherman captain, let out a hoot and with arms stretched above his head Harry pulled off the back of the wave and headed back into the line up.
We only had an hour or so until we had to turn around and head back before it got dark, but we all knew we were coming back here tomorrow, so with smiles on our faces we putted back to port and made arrangements to do it all again the following morning. To our dismay we were greeted by dark skies and sporadic rain when we woke the next day. We discussed our options over some instant coffee and decided to make the journey back to yesterdays spot just in case the conditions mellowed out…and boy were we glad we did. After a pretty unenjoyable boat ride in the rain and wind, we arrived back at spot X to see a darker and angrier version of what we saw the day previous but it was still pretty much perfect. Harry opted for a wetsuit top this time and spent the rest of the day dodging rain squalls and picking off perfect barrels with not another surfer in sight.
After it was all said and done and we were looking through photos of the days events over a freshly caught fish dinner, we were all still a little in awe of what had just happened. We had come on this trip in search of perfect long-boarding waves to test some new boards, of which we definitely found, but also proved that taking a gamble and rolling the dice can pay off in a big way! Harry was stoked with the way both boards had performed in the conditions, so once back in Bali and within the Temples Wall’s Thomas got busy and busted out 20 of each. Available in a number of different lengths and with a matte sanded finish with a selection of colours chosen by Harrison, these boards are now available on the Retail floor at the Temple of Enthusiasm, so if you happened to be in the area come check them out!