Red Bull Minor Threat pairs four veteran surfers with four juniors on remote surf breaks in the Mentawai Islands. Based on the Indies Trader 4 boat, both young and old push one another to progress their skill level in surfing – masterly documented by photographer Brian Bielmann.
While on the Red Bull Minor Threat project, four junior surfers learned from the four veterans about life on the road, professional contests, staying afloat in the industry and more. But the veterans will also learn from the juniors how to stay cutting edge and progressive and at the top of their game.
Who is who: The eight riders constituting the Red Bull Minor Threat team are Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith, Jamie O'Brien, Bruce Irons, Evan Geiselman, Conner Coffin, Kolohe Andino and Cristobal de Col.
The Mentawais (pronounced men-TAH-wee) lie off the western coastline of the Indonesian island of Sumatra -- 150 nautical miles southeast of Nias. They consist of four large islands and numerous smaller ones, some charted and some not, strung out along a line from 3.3S/100.5E to 2S/99.5E.
A bit of Mentawais history: as with most remote surf locations worldwide, we'll probably never know who first surfed the Mentawai chain. One story has a Californian shaper, name unknown, surfing the area in 1944 while stationed on a US patrol boat.
A group of Australian surfers claim to have visited Macaronis in 1980, after a ferry trip across from Padang. Strangely, they never went back -- which perhaps says more about the rigours of overland travel in Sumatra than it does about the wave.
The islands were -- and still are, in places -- home to extraordinary bands of Sumatran-origin tribesmen, who lived high in the rain forest areas of the larger islands. Indonesia's governing authorities have shown somewhat conflicting attitudes to the islands.
They sometimes appear to be concerned with preserving their natural state and, at other times, open the door to giant tropical hardwood logging corporations and relocating thousands of mainland Javanese people to the area's small port towns.
The Mentawai Islands remain a source of intrigue to waveriders worldwide. They are geographically dynamic, some sinking into the ocean, some rising and all of it happening much too quickly for the formation of South Pacific-style coral-limestone atolls.
As a result, most good Mentawai waves break close into the islands along shoreline-based, coral-encrusted limestone/sedimentary reefs, with swells being refracted into these reefs by deepwater offshore trenches.
Refractions are so extreme that some of the better breaks in the region face almost directly opposite the open-ocean swell angles, with waves wrapping halfway around islands to strike the reefs on the lee side. That’s what makes surfing in the Mentawais so special.
Rider Titlephoto: Adriano De Souza
Photos: Brian Bielmann
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