Herbie went on a boat trip to the Mentawai Islands this past fall. It was all-time. With a crew that consisted of Nathan Fletcher, Bruce Irons, John John Florence and Danny Fuller, how could it not be?
When Herbie came back to San Clemente, he came back in typical form: with lots of great tales of near-perfect surf and good times. He also took a bunch of photos for definitive proof of all of this. Always stoked, always amped. So Herbie.
Here Herbie takes us back to last October and how it all went down. Read it through and check out the pics while you’re at it. To say the least, Herbie and the guys were going mental at the Mentawai Islands! This is Part 1 in the series, with more to follow in upcoming blogs.
I was sitting at my desk at Astrodeck, working on some new traction pads when Nathan called me and asked if I would like to go on a boat trip that he was putting together. I hesitated for a moment because I wanted to go, but knew that something like this was going to be a big commitment. I was thinking about all those waves I had seen from photos and about being on a boat for two weeks. If the waves were going to be good, it would be such a great trip.
Nathan told me that Archy (Matt Archbold), Bruce Irons, Danny Fuller, and John John Florence were the surfers he had picked to go, with Art Brewer taking photos and Joel Guy as the videographer. Such a core group of guys. Hard to pass up.
It was a perfect time of the year for surf and the winds…well, it’s an island, you know? No matter what the wind does, somewhere it’s offshore. At work, things were slow. Business usually is during Mid-Fall. And at the islands during this same time, there are hardly any boats because the season is coming to an end. So that also means no crowds. Not that that really matters, I guess, because I always get my quota. So, keep in mind, all these things factored into my head real quick about whether or not I should go. Then when Nathan said that it would only be the six of us on that boat, I was so stoked. Just us at that break. And I couldn’t think of a better group to go with.
I mean, I’ve known these guys since they were groms. Archy, Nathan and I used to surf all the time together. California, Hawaii, Mexico, etc. Archy would come by just before sunrise and get the coffee going. It was a trip to see him now with a fat ass gun, laughing and joking. “Fuck Herb!” he’d yell. And Nathan would be right there chomping at the bit, so excited to surf with Arch, knowing that he was going to have a good day.
To watch Arch surf was the best because Archy is the man. Archy surfed fucking great. Always doing new and innovating things. His surfing has always been radical and he put himself in critical positions, and pulled it off, frontside and backside. There are only a few great surfers that push the limit every five years. Kids have always been coming up, changing and pushing the old guys, and Archy was one of those kids.
Bruce Irons is another one of those surfers who has always been gnarly. He’s been blowing minds from a young age. Bruce and Andy would come by Astrodeck first thing in the summer on their way to the NSSA Nationals at Trestles. They’d stock up on Astrodeck for the contests so they’d have more control with their boards and be able to push the limits in the air and on edge. As they grew-up, they’d stop by my house at Pipeline on the North Shore. Bruce and Andy would hang out with the best surfers of the time. This was the Wave Warriors house that I owned with Gerry Lopez. The Pipe house. We’d lock the gate to keep the posers out. To get through the gate was a big deal, and I knew that Bruce and Andy were going to be part of surf history somewhere down the line. Coming from a big surf family based out of Haina, Kauai, they just had the “It” factor, and I got to watch them develop their talent. Lucky me.
Danny Fuller also came from Kauai and surfed the North Shore ripping Pipeline. He’s so casual and smooth, with lots of style. He’s part of the current gang dominating the Pipeline line-up. He’s very versatile; from hot-dogging small waves to tow-in’s at Teahupo’o. He’s also one of the most friendly and happy-go-along guys I’ve ever known. Always smiling and laughing.
John John. The tow-headed North Shore grom. I’ve watched John John surf since he was eight-years-old and now he’s suddenly turned into “da man” at places like Pipe and Backdoor. Here he was on this trip, still only 16-years-old, but hanging with all the older guys. But the kid surfs like you can’t even imagine. He’s the future. Being raised on the North Shore among surfing’s powerful elite, and learning from them, watching them, surfing with the best of the best, has all contributed in allowing John John to take it to the next level. His surfing is what the other kids are going to try to live up to. He tows-in when big wave riders won’t even paddle out. He walks right by them and says, “See you out there!”
Nathan has always surfed…since he could hold on to a boogie board. I think even before he could walk! I’d play with him, float around with him in the water. He always rode the big waves. In Hawaii, I would have to pull him up from under water by his leash. Nathan is a true daredevil. From motorcycles to snowboarding to skateboarding to big wave surfing. He’s a master of it all and with respect. When he was younger, Nathan always had to keep up with Christian and the other older guys, and so that would just push him. And then some. Everyone has always loved Nathan because of his talent and his mellow vibe. He just does what he does, hanging out and loving it. Surfing, traveling, making movies, doing magazine articles, designing and shaping surfboards, painting, taking photos, etc. He’s a real artist-in-motion.
Art Brewer. I’ve known Art since I was seventeen. He’s always had a camera around his neck. I really got to know him when he and Spider Wells moved in next door to me in ‘69 at Pipeline. It’s been a long road. He’s been on the cutting edge of surf photography for over forty years and still has the stoke to go on surf trips. He’s paid his dues and got his rewards. Art taught me how to work a manual camera back in the mid-seventies, and he’s still teaching me.
So this was our little group. No tourists allowed. This was a trip that only Nathan could put together. No maggazine or clothing company could come up with something like this, with these group of guys. From 16 to 60. And what an adventure it was.
It began when we flew into Singapore and found out that there had been an earthquake in Padang. Padang is where the rest of us were to meet up with Bruce and John John at the boat. There was no chance of us getting a flight into Padang after the quake. So we hung in Singapore for awhile, some of us just prowling through the city of lights, some of just trying to get some rest while we had to wait around.
Finally, after about two days, we were able to head for Padang, where we met up immediately with Bruce and John John at the boat. And right off the bat, we went to Lance’s Right for sunrise services. It was head high and overhead for a few days. The goofy-footers wanted to go to Macaronis.
Check out our blog on Part 2 as the journey continues…
Tags: Andy Irons, archy, art brewer, artist-in-motion, Astrodeck, boogie board, bruce irons, california, Christian Fletcher, danny fuller, earthquake, gerry lopez, goofyfoot, haina, hawaii, Herbie Fletcher, hot dogging, joel guy, John John Florence, kauai, lance's right, macaronis, matt archbold, mental, mentawai islands, mentawai's, mexico, Nathan Fletcher, nationals, north shore, padang, pipe house, Pipeline, San Clemente, singapore, teahupo'o, tow in, Trestles, wave warriors