Logan In Lombok
The long, hollow, reeling lefts of Desert Point are on a lot of surfers’ bucket lists, whichever foot they put at the front of their surfboard. This spring, C-Skins team rider Logan Nicol travelled to Indonesia to spend twelve days on a friend’s stag do on a boat trip surfing himself stupid around the Mentawais. Since it’s a long way to go, Logan stayed on in Indo for another few weeks and based himself at Keramas, on the East coast of Bali. But then a swell appeared on the charts that looked like it might light up Desert Point, and Logan took the opportunity.
We caught up with him to get the low-down on his Lombok strike mission.
“Desert Point’s been on my bucket list ever since I was a kid and first saw a clip of Andy Irons surfing it. There are so many classic clips of the place, and then even more recently seeing photos and clips from friends who have been there. I remember seeing Chris Ward getting the longest tube and since then I’ve really wanted to surf it.”
“I hired a moped from a guy in Keramas, but he didn’t have a clue that I was going to go over to Lombok, and I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to go myself.
But it looked like there might be a really good swell for Lombok. I was messaging Luke Cromwell, who was the guide on the boat trip that I’d been on, and he was the one who really pushed me to go so I really have to thank him! I kept an eye on the chart and only made the decision the day before. It was a 50/50 chart though, it could have been really pumping but it could also have been a slightly off swell direction. I thought I’d give it a shot, though.
I did the 30 minute ride up the road from Keramas to the port, then it was a four hour ferry ride on the slow boat. It ended up taking more like six hours in the end with all of the waiting around. It was a bit hectic but a good experience.
Lombok is totally different to Bali, there’s a lot less there. I tried to find a restaurant when I arrived but couldn’t find anywhere to eat so I thought I’d ride the 50km straight to Desert Point. I’d heard stories about the road there, but for the first 50 minutes of the ride it wasn’t too bad – the roads were really nicely tarmacked and I thought it was all going ok. Like, if it’s like this the whole way there then it’ll be fine. But then the last bit, which on maps says it’ll take six minutes, took about half an hour to get over this horrendous dirt track. It’s like mountain biking but on a moped, with your boards hanging off the side and a big heavy bag on your back. I was on my own, too. I was really hoping that I wouldn’t pop a tyre or write this bike off because the guy would kill me."
"I got through that ordeal and made it there ok though, and rocked up to the first homestay that I came to and asked if they had a room. The waves were small that first day and I arrived in the evening so I knew I wasn’t going to surf. I just asked these Brazilian guys who were staying there already. It was £10 a night, which was pretty good, but the room was super basic – just a mattress on the floor and a pillow. Not even a door, just a sheet hanging over it. There was no sheet to put over me so that night I slept under my towel. I was a bit overwhelmed to be honest – I didn’t know anybody there and was totally on my own. I woke up the next day and Deserts looked ok but was a little bit wonky. I just gave it a bit of time. What I learned was that Desert Point’s really, really, fickle. You just have to keep an eye on it and go in when it looks good. I gave it a couple of hours and it started to look better and better, so I took my chance and got in. I walked over the reef, which was pretty sharp and shallow, scurried over that and got out. My first wave I tucked into although I didn’t come out of the barrel – it was a small Desert Point wave but as soon as I caught that first wave the whole journey the day before was totally worth it.”
“I rode over thinking I’d stay for a couple of nights but that first morning when I woke up and there was a bit of morning sickness on the reef I thought “oh my God, I’m not going to stay if it’s like this!” The swell was pumping, but it looked more Uluwatu-esque, rather than perfect Desert Point. I got friendly with a few guys there and was saying to them that I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay, but one of them who had been there before said “Trust me, this place has five moods in a day and looks different every hour.” So I stayed and throughout the day it just got better and better. By the afternoon it was unrecognisable from what I’d been watching in the morning. By the evening I realised there was no way I was going to leave! It was absolutely firing. The wave itself took a bit of getting used to. It’s really fast and it speeds up in certain sections so getting the hang of riding the barrel there on my backhand was really good for me. That was what I went there for really, to surf the wave itself but I was also enjoying working on my backhand barrel riding. I was concentrating on slowing myself down and then speeding myself up at the right time, working on my pig-dog stance, and just learning and developing. Learning which waves to take was really important as well. Speaking to some of the local guys and regulars there about watching the sets swing in and which shape wave you want to go for, and where to sit, was super interesting. It’s an amazing wave.”
“I didn’t surf any other spots whilst I was on Lombok. This was purely a strike mission to surf Deserts. I probably wouldn’t have gone to Lombok otherwise. I was pretty comfortable over in Bali at Keramas – the waves were pumping, on my doorstep, and it was cheap. But Desert Point is a world-class wave and I really wanted to surf it. I’m not a very adventurous person but I knew that it would be worth the effort to get over there, and I’m so glad that I did.”
“I didn’t quite get the perfect swell but we still had pumping four foot Desert Point! I had been hoping for it to be a little bit bigger though. It’s a really tricky wave, really fickle, and a lot harder to score it good. I thought I’d just rock up and it’d be pumping all day but you actually have to keep a close eye on it. It’s quite tidal. I’d definitely like to go back and it’s for sure such a special wave. It’s one of the best lefts that I’ve ever surfed but it’s just hard to get a good one. The crowd can be pretty gnarly and it’s a shallow reef. I had a couple that were really memorable and it definitely lived up to what I had been hoping for.”
“There are so many memorable moments from the entire trip. Before Bali and Deserts, I went on a boat trip with friends on Joe Lewis’ [Llantwit surfer] stag do that I was lucky enough to be invited on. The boat was amazing. We had one really, really, special session with all the boys at this sick barrelling left-hander. For a while there were just four of us out just trading barrels. I got some of the best waves (and clips) I’ve ever had and learned loads. Surfing Keramas and being in Bali on my own for three and a half weeks was amazing but the trip to Desert Point was massive for me. To do something like that and travel on my own is pretty out of my comfort zone. Meeting new people and having new experiences was really special.”
“I went to Indo straight after being in Portugal for three weeks for the WQS. I had one week training in Portugal, then I did the WQS up in Caprica which didn’t really go to plan - although I had a few moments that were really positive there implementing some of the stuff I’ve been training for. I then came home for one night, literally just to change my bag over, and flew out to Indo and got straight on the boat. I think that being in powerful waves for that long has been really beneficial. I was away for just over two months, and it’s made a massive difference to my surfing. Going from Portugal over to Indo made the transition pretty easy – I’d been out of boots and had been in warmer and more powerful waves, which helped. It just reaffirmed to me that being in good waves is really good for your surfing!”
“Indo is a land of lefts (for the most part) so I spent a lot of time on my backhand and grabbing rail. I spent five weeks there in total, and it helped me loads. The boat trip when I first arrived was twelve days and we went left about 80% of the time on that, which is where I really honed my skills. I felt like I was getting better with every single session. My style was getting better, and my technique was improving. By the end I had clips from the start that if you’d shown me them before I’d left and told me I’d get footage like that, I’d have been frothing, but then by the end of the trip those waves that I was happy about on the first day, I didn’t want to look at again because my technique had got so much better and my style had improved. Learning to slow myself down, and things like that. I need to thank Luke Cromwell for the help, coaching, guidance and mentoring whilst I was out there. Luke was our guide – he’s a welsh guy who guides on boat trips in the Mentawai’s. He was taking all the photos and video and his advice was so good. Having all that video and those photos to analyse helped my surfing exponentially because I could come in, get instant feedback, and go straight back out. It was amazing. I’m really excited now to get myself into more backhand barrels and continue that improvement and see how surfing some of the waves that I know pretty well around home and around the UK, how my improvement will help me there as well. I’m super excited.”
“I took a 1.5mm wetsuit top with me [the Session 1:5 long-sleeve vest] that was really useful. In Bali we had the odd day that was a little bit chilly, so the wetsuit top was really good to keep the wind off but mainly I took it over to avoid rashes on my stomach and under my arms, and for protection against the reef. Having that wetsuit top gave me a bit of extra confidence because if I was going to touch the bottom then the wetsuit top would take the brunt of it. It was like a suit of armour for me! On the other days when it was warmer, I had a C-Skins UV Skins short-sleeve t-shirt that kept me rash-free and kept the sun off which is a massive thing. 50% of your time in Indo seems to be trying to keep yourself out of the sun and it was good to keep myself protected as much as I could. The other key thing that I would have really struggled without were the C-Skins Legend 2:2 undershorts. I’ve always worn undershorts under my boardies and these things are amazing. I wore them for every single surf – they kept me chafe-free and stopped my boardshorts from rubbing. And it’s just a lot comfier – I really prefer surfing with undershorts on. They’re almost like a pair of boxers for the sea.”