Behind the Lens

Zak Noyle takes us deep inside Indonesia for the Photo Annual

| posted on November 15, 2012

After flights, layovers, car rides, and boat trips, things got serious somewhere in Indonesia. Photo: Noyle

The reason for putting out a Photo Annual every year is obvious. We have the best surf photographers on earth, and our office is flooded with more incredible images than we could ever cram into 12 issues. It’s a great problem to have. For the 2012 edition, our photogs went from the frigid waters of the Norway to the scorching heat of Mainland Mexico, and everywhere in between. In the second installment of a four-part series by our staff photographers, Zak Noyle breaks down the waves, people, and moments that made his sojourn deep into the heart of Indo unforgettable. Check out the story behind some of the most apocalyptic images of the Photo Annual.

Bede Durbidge, threading the emerald slab. Photo: Noyle

“Despite having been on the surf world’s radar for more than three decades, Indo still always amazes me with the different waves, points, and lineups. It’s pretty baffling if you think about it. For this particular trip, Mikala Jones, Bede Durbidge, Luke Davis and a few other guys went way off the beaten path to find this elusive wave that Mikala knew about. Mikala lives in Bali now and he’s really dialed in, to not only the waves in Bali, but exploring Indo as a whole. Having him with us was crucial. The wave we were looking for was basically in no man’s land off of Sumatra. I can’t say where it is, but even if I did you’d have a hard time finding it. We had all been hearing stories of what this wave was capable of and the forecast looked like it would have some serious potential, so we went for it.”

Local Indonesian ripper, Dede Suryana, dodging a hefty lip and the unfortunate byproduct of human beings. Photo: Noyle

“When we first pulled up to the lineup it was in the late afternoon and the projected swell hadn’t yet filled in. So we went to bed and the by morning the wave had really turned on. It was just as menacing and perfect as I thought it would be. For two hours, it was all-time. And then an onshore wind came on and it was basically rendered unsurfable, so we went back to our boat and waited. For three days we sat on that boat and it never happened. And I’ve got to make a little disclaimer here: The boat was small. Really small. I think from bow to stern it couldn’t have been more than 30 feet and we had eight people sleeping on it—cramped quarters to say the least.”

Home sweet home. Photo: Noyle

“Since the boat was so ridiculously small, we were lucky that everyone on the trip was so mellow that it didn’t get awkward. It was Bede, Mikala, Luke Davis and some other local Indonesians on the boat, and we all got along really well. Mikala’s so mellow that it’s hard not to be stoked when you’re around him and having someone with as much experience in the country was really invaluable. Bede’s just a workhorse and you can see why he’s been so successful on Tour over the years. He’s just a rad guy. Luke Davis really surprised me on that trip. He’s not really known for being a full-on charger, but when the wave was firing, Luke wasn’t holding anything back and I think he impressed every one of us. All in all, it was a great crew, and a great trip can’t happen without a great crew.”

Bede Durbide, all style in the tube. Photo: Noyle

“There was a whole lot of down time on that boat since we really only surfed for about two hours the whole trip. That being said, a lot of great trips aren’t defined by what happens in the water as much as what happens along the way. Getting to that wave for me was one of the most intense things of my life. I flew from Hawaii to LA; LA to Taiwan; Taiwan to Jakarta; and from Jakarta it took an eight-hour car ride followed by a nine-hour boat trip to get to the lineup. And then we finally got there, we had two hours of surfable waves. A lot of people might look at that and say we got skunked, but in that two-hour session, I think we scored some gems and that’s what makes it all worth it. If someone sees those photos and it pulls them in and inspires them to travel or surf, then I’m doing my job. And as far as I’m concerned, I have the best job in the world.”

Click here for Part I with Todd Glaser in Puerto Escondido, or click here to pick up a copy of the 2012 Photo Annual.

  • Trae R.

    Fuckin’ A. Respect on so many levels.

  • Benny S.

    Awsome in so many ways. I live in Florida and can relate to your travels. Some times I drive up to eight hours up the coast looking for waves to photograph. Its nice read this and feel connected in your job.

  • Matt T.

    I guess you can look at those photos as a pessimist or optimist. Waves filled with trash – bad, or trash recycled into perfect barrels – good.

  • Neal Miyake

    Those shots with all the trash are surreal. Perfect waves filled with human detritus. I thought the trash was P-shopped in. Really conveys a whole different story. Good job Zak.

  • Mitxel andreu

    stunning perfection!

  • Zoey M.

    Those are some beautiful shots, but all of that trash is just unbelievable. Smh.

  • digum USA

    well, so much for the America is the great polluter notion…get a clue, folks…you visit a 3rd world country and then return to the USA, and you’ll swear you could eat off the roads. It’s the truth, deal with it.

  • muckraker

    To digum: Where do you think the trash floating in the ocean comes from? Just 3rd World countries? No, it comes from rich countries too, probably most of it does (we produce the most trash per capita). No matter where it enters, it can end up washing up on a beach anywhere in the world. That’s why its so sad seeing so much trash in a spot that is probably very isolated.

  • John Brown

    Apocolypse is a crazy wicked wave, pitty all the trash way out there now.

  • Rick

    Apocalypse: A wave in Indo, or all the trash in the lip?

  • jbinsb

    Come on, stop romanticizing extravagant use of fossil fuels for a two-hour session. Ridiculous. Does anyone ever stop to say, “It might be good, but maybe we need to cut carbon on a warming globe, not emit a few more tons for one surf.” It amazes me how uneducated surfers seem to be about climate change. Same as Kelly helicoptering in to Fiji or wherever to catch one session.

  • Alice Tamani

    great story

  • DANL

    nice shots

  • B

    One of your pictures seems to have found their way