Gone With The (Unpredictable) Wind
Ryan Callinan, Asher Pacey, Otis Carey and more putter and sail in the Fijian Archipelago aboard the Vonu vessel.
Exploration is nearly an exhausted pursuit in 2018. Digital maps dictate where we go, pre-planned arrangements decide when, and our phones fill in the gaps where spontaneity may have once existed.
Today, when we – surfers – partake in our chosen hobby, it’s not often we’re diving nose-first into something entirely unknown. And while we’re not going to outright lie and claim Vonu beer’s boat trip was a return to completely unguided (read:misguided) adventure, it was a far cry from a pre-determined trip.
Yes there was a vessel booked, dates selected, and surfers invited, but the rest was up for momentary debate.
The above clip is a significantly condensed version of their trip. And if you’re strictly looking to watch surfing, then you can do so by skipping to 2:15 and 6:20 part for each section. If however, you’re not averse to added backstory, then just watch the full sub-10 minute clip above and some of the backstory below.
Asher Pacey slicing a playful right that didn’t leave the cutting room floor.
Their Fijian trip kicked off back in August – straight after spending a week cruising in New Caledonia.
Asher Pacey, Ryan Callinan, Otis Carey, Jarrah Tutton, Lewie Buddons, plus the boat crew, camera men and a few of the Vonu boys were all aboard. A solid crew considering they were confined to a single vessel breaching its recommended capacity. It was an old catamaran design and while the size was up to standard, horsepower was hardly considered. Turns out the two undergunned outboard engines (with a whopping top-speed of 3-knots) weren’t quite up to par.
Wood and tarpaulin are the essentials to a sea-worthy vessel.
While you might imagine the Fijian archipelago to be wave rich, the waves there are geographically sparse. Hefty nautical miles between each wave where checking a single spot was a whole day’s affair. And trust us, a number of surf days were wasted punching it to a spot on a flukey weather pattern and instinct. Occasionally it would pay off, but rocking up to one-foot shit wasn’t out of the equation.
While there was more than the two surfs that are included in this clip, the best is by far the Cloudbreak session – although even that nearly didn’t happen.
Ryan Callinan clocking up his lefthand tunnel time before he’s back on the uni-directional CT.
Off the back of their first proper surf, they realised a swell was lining up for Cloudbreak within the next 48 hours. If you were back on land in Australia 48 hours isn’t a big ask. But when you’re floundering at the mercy of a few outboard motors and a volatile weather pattern it’s much larger.
While no one would want to miss head-high and user friendly Cloudbreak a hundred or so miles away, the boys had another agenda on their minds – footage. The bosses wouldn’t be stoked if they returned home with nothing but a few slow-mo tubes at an unknown wave.
Of course they made the call to punch it there as quick as possible, but their shitty motors and calm skies had the captain predicting eta at sunset on the last day of the swell.
Then, like a Gabby Medina buzzer beater, an unforseen wind picked up. It was 6pm and to make the most of the conditions they needed to arrive on sunrise the next morning. They set up sail, then the light wind gradually increased to 20 knots with the vessel cruising steadily at a full 15.
‘Off the backs’ are acceptable in surfing, right?
The makeshift crew of surfers, filmers, and actual sailers took turns on the mast well into lightless hours. The boat’s captain called it quits at 10pm and insisted the remainder do the same, but in fear of missing swell (and likely a paycheck due to a near footageless adventure) a handful of them decided to stay up throughout the night.
By 2am there was only the crew’s filmer, Andy (coincidentally an experienced sailor), left as the rest resigned themselves to a few hours rest. Miraculously, as the sun rose and the slumbering emerged, they crept updeck to witness overhead Cloudbreak groomed with a light offshore under a golden sky.
The rest you can see from 6:20 up above – filmed by none other than the all night sailer himself.
The deck ain’t bad for beers, or sleeping if your bed had been commandeered for the night.
There’s added tales to be told (and some witheld) from the trip including Asher on his death bed, killing a pig by hand and the inevitable all-consuming sea sickness. But we’ll leave you with the clip for the meantime.
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