"I Got 10 Tubes in 20 Minutes. I Went In Because I Was Bored"
This is what happens to your brain when you surf empty Lance's for three months straight.
You've heard all about Anthony Fillingim's delirious run of surf over Kandui's three-month lockdown. Today we introduce you to Nathan Monchet, a 22-year-old Bali resident who had a similar experience at one the Ments' most mystical reefs: Lance's Right.
Nathan is a striking and exuberant kid who speaks with an indiscernible accent. He surfs pretty well, but is no way flashy, as he seems to value aesthetic over performance.
One of the things that stood out most about Nathan's story was the session where he departed perfect waves after 20 minutes because he was essentially bored. This is an experience that no surfer could imagine having under normal circumstances. Alas, our past six months have been anything but typical. I encourage you to read more about this incident below, as his experience offers great insight into the mind of a wave-spoiled surfer.
Watch Nathan's video from the trip above, then relive his experiences below.
Stab: Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself. How old are you and where are you from?
Nathan Monchet: I'm 22. My dad is French-Spanish and my mom's French-Armenian. I actually grew up in between France and Bali. When I was 12 years old, I moved to Bali full-time.
Okay. Interesting. I thought I sensed some sort of Caribbean in your accent.
Oh really? Well, as a kid growing up in Bali, everybody's from all over the world, so then you end up picking up different accents. There'd be words that I would say that would sound more Australian, and some words would be more American. I also grew up in France and have French parents. So I guess I just ended up with this weird accent that’s neither here nor there.
Makes sense. So you've been living on and off in Bali for most of your life. What do you do over there?
Well, I used to skate kind of pro when I was younger, and I was supported by a couple of brands in Europe. That's why I was back and forth. Then when I was 12, we decided to move here, and that's when I really got into surfing. I ended up picking up a couple of sponsors and then just kept going with it.
Currently, I'm renovating a skate part that we're gonna make here. I'm really busy on that. Other than that I just surf every day around home in Canggu and have fun.
Got it. So let’s talk coronavirus. You were in Bali when you heard that they were going to be closing down the airports. What happened next?
Well, my buddy knows someone who works for the airlines, and he was like, ‘Oh, the airport is going to close on the 21st of March—it's going to go into lockdown because of this virus coming.’ And we thought that it was a small virus, like a flu or something, and it was going to last like 10 days. So we were like, ‘Oh, what if we just skip that and just go on a holiday for like seven days, you know?’ I only brought one pair of walkshorts and one pair of boardshorts. I don’t even think I remembered a toothbrush [llaughs].
How’d you decide on the Ments?
I’d actually never been to the Ments before, but we knew a guy who’d just opened a resort at Lance’s so we worked out a deal with him and ended up going there. Once we got there, after a couple of days, we found out that the lockdown was legit and was gonna last way longer than 10 days. So we thought, okay, we'll be here for three weeks. Actually, maybe a month and a half. And it ended up being like three months at the end.
In the film, you talk about a session that was so perfect that you actually got bored after 20 minutes and left. Can you expand on that a little more? I’m certain none of us can relate.
Well, I ended up surfing alone a lot while I was there. And it just wasn’t that...fun. Like, the waves could be perfect and everything, and I’d be getting these amazing barrels, but then getting back out to the lineup and not having anyone to share those emotions with—it all felt a little empty. Boring even.
I’m sure this sounds crazy and spoiled. Most people spent their quarantine dreaming of sessions like this. But having lived the same experience every day for three months, your whole worldview gets shifted.
I guess that makes sense. We tend only to value things that we have to work hard to achieve. That’s why a little head dip at Pipeline might feel better than a proper tube at the local beachie. It’s all contextual and relative. So anyway, what did you do when you weren’t surfing?
The first month or so we didn’t really have wifi. We had a cinema room in the house, so we watched movies all the time. And then we just kind of found things to do. Like climbing trees for coconuts or hermit crab racing. Surprisingly, we never really get bored.
What about sex? Were there any suitable partners on the island?
Man, there were literally no girls there. Well there was one, but she was the resort owner’s girlfriend. Sometimes when she would paddle out, I would get so distracted that I had to go in. It was crazy.
There was also this local girl who worked around the resort. And not to be rude or anything, but she really wasn’t pretty. But after like a month and a half, my friend was like, ‘Man, she’s starting to look more and more attractive every day,’ [laughs].
So your wave standard and female standard were inversely proportional. Funny how that works. Did you end up getting hurt at all? I can’t imagine surfing a shallow reef pass everyday comes without its pound of flesh.
You know, this is pretty crazy, but I never hit the reef too bad the whole time. Actually, I did, but it was at Lance’s Left. Just a few scrapes though, and luckily they healed up quick.
What's your takeaway from this whole experience? Is surfing ruined for you?
You know, I definitely haven’t felt that much need to surf since I’ve gotten back. Obviously, Canggu is a totally different type of wave to HT's, and I’m actually happy to have a fun beach break to play around on. But yeah, I think the surfing part of my brain will be corrupted for a long time after this.