Aussie body-surfers on their trip to Indonesia

Once in a life time experience with Garage Hand planes.

This is a story, about a body surfing trip to Indonesia, organized by Dave Archer, founder of the Garage Hand planes, located in Avalon on Sydney’s North Shore.

The expedition consisted of 10 Australian bodysurfers, destined for Pitstop Hill, a place known to offer access to some of the most perfect surf breaks in the world.

Garage Hand planes: Decades of experience and years of testing , producing truly stunning, high performance hand-planes.

The team was packed with experience and some great quality characters, which set the scene for an unforgettable journey.

We were curious as to how this magnificent trip came to life, and Dave was more than happy to share his experiences.

In 2015, I joined a bunch of mates on a surf trip to both the Telos and Mentawai Islands.  I was the only body-surfer on the trip, and didn’t know much about whether the reef breaks could be surfed in these regions. I ended up having a ball!  I found most waves could be body-surfed, with only the faster, more critical breaks being an issue. After returning from this trip, I was determined to organise a body-surf tour.  Fate played a part when I started a conversation with Paul Clark.  Paul owns and runs a surf resort in the Mentawai’s called Pitstop Hill, and was an avid body surfer.  When I suggested a body surfing trip, he was stoked. When I first started canvasing potential fellow travelers, I filled the 10 person trip in 30 minutes

In order to get to their accommodation, the crew had to fly to Kuala Lumpur, followed by Padang. After that a bus ride to the harbor and a 4 hour speedboat ride, across a 120km stretch of sea, from Padang to Pitstop.

It was long and a demanding trip, with 10 body-surfers who traveled together for the first time, which got us thinking what was the daily routine like and how did the group dynamic work ?

The daily routine started around 6am, with the age old custom of checking surf reports, checking the winds, and staring out at the local break (Pitstop Hill) to see what the day may bring.  Unfortunately, we had trade winds blowing the whole trip, which limited the breaks we could surf.  This tended to concentrate all the surfers in the region, however Paul managed to find us a couple of awesome breaks that we had all to ourselves.”

Having a body surfer only trip was awesome.  Having everyone with aligned interests meant making decisions was easier.  We tended to split the group each day as the boats comfortably fit 5 surfers.  This also meant we could split the group to make sure we had even less competition for waves.  Halfway through the trip, a swell pulse arrived. This meant some of the breaks were way too critical for body surfing. That didn’t stop us sightseeing! Watching famous breaks like Kandui light up with triple overhead waves, and watching only 1 in 10 elite level surfers make the wave was such an awe-inspiring sight!

One of the crew on the trip, was Jake Rosenbrock (@barrel_pig) who is a member of East Sydney body surfing crew.

Jake is also a big wave charger, a reef and a slab specialist, well known in the body-surfing community for his ability to make the most difficult of barrels, leaving many bodysurfers speechless and in disbelief. He is also known for providing the highest quality body surfing point of view videos, in the world.

We got in touch with Jake, and while he has had an amazing time with the crew he also pointed out that the winds due to an ‘El Nino’ season were not favorable and thus limiting their options. Apparently this video, sums up his trip perfectly.

Jake’s signature POV video at Pitstop Hill using his ‘Cosmic Transporter’ hand plane

On top of Pitstop Hill, Jake also charged a trickier E-bay break. As John Watson explained:

Jake, with his unique Ben Wei Cosmic transporter, absolutely owned the break“.

Jake on a beautiful Indonesian gem. Photo by :John Archer

We were fortunate to get in to the deeper conversation with John Watson (@whomper_stomper), a passionate body surfer, hand-plane shaper, collector and a DMC fin athlete:

For me, the trip to Pitstop Hill was a chance of a lifetime. Spending 10 days in a wave paradise with 9 other like minded blokes, was always going to be an awesome journey and it turned out to be just that. Our host Paul and Megan and their staff looked after us exceptionally and made the whole experience a lot better, with the knowledge of their ‘backyard’. Warm water, shallow reefs and some great waves were had and while the winds weren’t kind to us at times, there were enough waves to keep us frothing and itching for more.”

John Watson & Jake Rosenbrock in Indonesia

Overall it seemed that the Aussies had a great time abroad, and the winds did little to damage the crew’s overall mentality. Jake also kindly recommended to all water men travelling to Indonesia to take any unwanted clothes, as the local Australian guys, distribute them fairly to the local community, who appreciate it very much.

All body-surfers who got in touch with us, were unanimous that another trip like this needs to be done again, soon.

To finish, the owner of Garage Hand Planes, gave us an insight into some must haves, when it comes to packing for body surfing trip over seas.

Our recommendation: Masterfully crafted Riva Classic MKII. The unique fin, gives the hand plane extra speed and hold on critical parts of the wave.
Check it out at : Riva Classic MkII Handplane

What gear did I pack by David Archer

  • I took all 3 Garage Hand-planes – The Garbo, The Riva Onyx, and the Go Kart Onyx.
  • For this trip, I took 2 pairs of DaFiN’s.  Normally I use a variety of fins, however I settled on one style so that if I lost a fin, I had a like replacement.
  • I used a Hurly Windskin top for both sun and coral protection.  These tops work really well in Indonesia as that are only 0.5mm thick so you don’t overheat, yet the tops offer both sun and coral protection, and are tight fitting so don’t parachute when you bodysurf larger waves.
  • Good quality zinc (SurfMud) and sunscreen.  You really don’t want to get sun burnt.
  • Waterproof band-aids and Elastoplast strapping.  I find that the skin on my toes gets soft given so much water time, and you don’t want the skin to rub on the fins and get sore.  I was strapping my feet and toes to make sure I didn’t get any rub spots.
  • Wet bag
  • GoPro Hero 7 with wrist strap, and Mavic Pro drone
  • Eye drops, Surf Ears and Ear drops to make sure no infections set in
  • Booties (although we didn’t end up wearing these much)
  • Keel Garbo Jammers – These worked a treat!