Photographer Scott Sinton is a gambling man. Even when the odds are stacked against him, he will undoubtedly play the hand he is dealt. Word on the street is, Sinton bet his life savings, his house and its occupants on fellow Kiwi, surfer Ricardo Christie, to make the 2015 WSL tour. Lo and behold, Christie made the tour and Mr.Sinton walked away with a undisclosed sum and a big fat grin. This may or may not be true, but I do know that Scott took a gamble on meeting up with Javanese logger Husni Ridhwan, and boarding a plane to an Island off the East Coast of New Zealand in hope of scoring some waves. Scott rolled the dice and exceeded expectations. Want to see the full photo series? Head on over to Corona Extra Australia.
When board bags find their way to the airport it’s always a winning formula. No matter how the waves are looking, the levels of excitement beforehand can sometimes outdo the trip itself. But it’s when the moment of anticipation arrives and exceeds those expectations. That the smiles you hoped for, remain long after you return. Which way this trip would go, was quite literally up in the air. The swell report was dodgy at best.
Before this trip I had never met Javanese logger Husni Ridhwan. I had heard he was in the country through a mutual friend and began following his trip. Thankfully online stalking is widely accepted in this day and age. I desperately needed to film some content for a local tv show and the waves had been pretty bad for the last few weeks. With deadlines looming and rubbish reports on both coasts I was running out of time. It wasn’t till I saw an Instagram post by Husni that I realised the East Coast wasn’t quite as flat a reported. With the swell fading fast, a remote island was the only spot that might pay off.
After a quick phone call to my middleman Husni’s details were exchanged. Moments later he received a call from a random photographer wanting him to board an aircraft. With only 2 days left in New Zealand, he was slightly hesitant at first. But luckily my excitement quickly rubbed off and he was onboard. After a handshake and a (hopefully) nostalgic Indonesian feed at the local food court, Husni had the best spot on the couch.
Going to bed that night, I knew Husni was excited but I also knew I was really rolling the dice on this one. With less that 24 hours before our return flight and fading swell we couldn’t mess around.
Early the following morning we were on route to the airport. Assuring Husni it would be a little over 2 foot at best, he opted to take just the one longboard. After some precise measuring by airline staff and some sweet talking by us, his 9’4 Thomas Bexton Custom was safely stowed aboard. After the mandatory but mellow safety briefing we were off. The flight over was beautiful. Even if we got skunked by the waves I was happy that Husni had that experience. As we left the city and the rain behind, small islands quickly gave way to open ocean. In the distance a large island grew closer.
Our first glimpse revealed sheltered turquoise coves and mountainous green peaks, but with no waves in sight. Pointing ahead over the hills I signalled to where the surf should be. As we neared we both rose in altitude out of our seats, desperately trying to confirm if the small swell was breaking. With a synchronised hoot of stoke and relief we watched a perfect peak fold and crumble neatly both ways. Success, or at least so we thought.
As the wheels touched town on the single lane runway anticipation once again set in. After grabbing our bags we were greeted by a friend of mine and local, Charles. The island has a size of over 100 square miles so knowing someone there is a big help. With less that 24 hours before our return flight and fading swell we couldn’t mess around. The first spot we checked was the same one we scouted from the air. Perfect white sand and 2 foot a frame peaks welcomed us with one catch, offshore wind and lots of it. Luckily the tide high bought us some time before the prime break was on so Husni decided to give it a nudge. Alone with the stiff offshore Husni clocked up some impressive time on the nose, and his stylish transitions were as smooth as the bumpy faces would allow. It was a joy to watch him surf for the first time. Watching him battle with his board in the wind all the way back to the car park was a close second.
Over two dusk and dawn sessions Husni danced his dance. Silky smooth and all alone, he walked his board along the top of the ruler edged peelers for over a hundred metres.
Back on the road, the island vibes were present. Every person you passed on the road acknowledged you with a raised finger or two from the steering wheel. This was only a total of half a dozen cars or so, but the friendly wave vs city aggro ratio was high. The winding narrow roads took us through farmland and past multiple empty beach breaks. Each had no one out, but the shelter of the holy grail of the island was calling us.
Upon arriving it was clear we were in the right spot. The tide was still a little high but the right hander was already starting to show its true form. After quickly pitching the tent and having a bite to eat we made the long dash out to the lineup and the rest is history. Over two dusk and dawn sessions Husni danced his dance. Silky smooth and all alone, he walked his board along the top of the ruler edged peelers for over a hundred metres. Of course I did sneak out for a quick one after Husni’s energy was spent, it would have been rude not to.
The trip was really on a knife edge, it could have been flat or not happened at all. I was so close to putting it in the too hard basket, so when it all comes together it really makes you appreciate it more so. Numerous cliches spring to mind, and it is true what they say. You never know until you go. And the classic, its about the journey not the destination. But of course, its always nice when the destination is pumping with no one out.
Words & Photo: Scott Sinton I.G: @scottysinton