In Craig’s words: “The ocean is heaving beneath me. I’m sitting out in 10 ft Uluwatu at low tide wondering how I ever decided this was a good idea. Somehow I had managed to convince myself that having travelled half way across the globe, I would forever regret not taking the opportunity to surf the famous break of Uluwatu. That voice of persuasion had long since vanished and had been replaced with another voice of reason pointing out that it was my first day at Uluwatu and the swell was predicted to drop to a more manageable size over the coming days. What could have been wasn’t and the fact of the matter was that I was out at backline and way out my comfort zone paddling over the faces of some of the largest waves I had ever been out in, while a moderate offshore wind was blowing up plumes of white spray over the back of each wave and dropping them like large heavy drops in a monsoon onto me stinging my back. I’ve been out for quite some time before the the horizon draws up a wall of water about 8 ft tall. There is nobody on my inside and I hear a whoop of approval from an advancing surfer who’s noticed that I’m sitting pretty for what is gearing up to be a sensational wave. Suddenly that voice is inside my head again. I’ve been called onto the wave and need to step up accordingly. This is afterall what I’m here for, so I obligingly turn around and start paddling into the advancing wave. As the wave reaches me I stroke a little harder and feel myself getting pulled along as the wind whips up spray from the face of the wave into mine. Suddenly I can’t see anything. I hesitate, not long but long enough. I err on the side of caution and subseqently find myself perched on the top of the wave as its about to pitch into the shallow reef below. Although I still can’t see much I know this isn’t going to end well. As I go over I kick my board away. Negotiating the reef is going to be tricky enough without having to worry about my board slamming into me. I get slammed into the water below and after several seconds become aware of two things; I haven’t hit the reef too hard and I’m running out of air fast. It’s a bitter sweet moment as I realise I’m going to have to push off the bottom at some point to stop getting washed along into more shallow waters. Reaching the surface is also of paramount importance. Thankfully I had booties on and managed to gingerly absorb some of the rough and tumble before pushing off and scrambling for the surface. Upon breaking the surface I was fully expecting to have another body of water to come dropping down on me. Thankfully I had washed down sufficiently enough that I was no longer in the danger zone. I checked myself and everything seemed to be where I had left them. No blood and seemingly no broken bones. I jump onto my board and immediately notice that something is wrong. There is a definite bend in my board. I run my hands underneath her and feel the uncomfortable feeling of broken fibreglass. I reluctantly turn her around and her underbelly exposes a crease running the width of her through the middle. Once again that little voice was nowhere to be heard. Sheepishly skulking away upon seeing the results of its suggestions.
Being in Uluwatu a board repair shop was never going to be far away. I would endevour to contribute towards a substansial amount of monthly income for who I assume was the owner of one such shop. He seemed to have quite a thriving business fixing boards in Uluwatu. The shop seemed forever busy and they managed to do quite a good job on my board…several times During my stay I managed to crease my board three times and finally managed to snap it in two whereupon I decided that it would be best served by one of the locals if they could repair it. Thankfully this finally happened on my last day, so not too much surfing was lost. I sincerely hope he manages to fix it and continues have great waves with her, because during my time in Bali I was served up a treat as far as waves are concerned.
What struck me immediatly was the clarity of the water. Being able to view the reef from above with colourful fish darting about was something to behold within itself. What also became clear was the perfect formation of the waves being offered up on a regular basis. They say only a surfer knows the feeling, and the reason for this is that it’s impossible to put into words the sensation of paddling into a moving wall of crystal clear water and being dragged into her bosom as the wave pitches in front of you and manages to pull the reflection of the reef below up and over your head as time slows down. You feel alive because the ocean is alive. Everything around you is alive. It’s that moment of absolute clarity which becomes addictive for all surfers. How do you explain euphoria? They say a picture says a thousand words, but euphoria is something which needs to be experienced. Although a moment in time has been captured, time stands still for no man and you will therefore always get surfers who will be pushing the envelope to get into that zone where they feel most alive. No matter how many times boards and even bodies are broken, no matter how many times you’re held under and feel you’re out your comfort zone, the promise of something greater than yourself is alluring enough to have you going back for more and more because the reward at the end of the day is far greater than you could have ever imagined.”
All photographs here taken by the local surf photographers in Bali.