WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE WORLD'S MOST ADORED LEFT?
Macaronis – it's the wave that makes you a better surfing version of yourself. It's so perfect you can't help but surf out of your skin. Running at faultless speed, Maccas dishes up its trademark perfect round tube on takeoff, followed by a second course of the tastiest skate-ramp curves you've ever had the good fortune of transitioning. Bog rail on the first turn? Don't worry you'll get another four attempts on replica sections down the line. It's surfing heroin, and when the wave became accessible to the general public through boat charters many years ago, everyone wanted a taste.
But has the dream turned into something of a nightmare? That's the question I've been asking myself since I found myself sitting in the bay that houses the wave earlier this year.
2010 saw the introduction of the "two-mooring" system at Macaronis, an attempt at limiting the crowds in which only two boats are supposed to moor at the wave each day, the money paid to do so going to the local village in return for managing the bookings and the boats. It is also employed in an effort to keep an equal balance of surfers in the lineup from charter boats and those staying at the land camp.
You can imagine that since its introduction, tensions have typically run high between charter boats [especially those who miss out on a mooring when it's good], the land camp and the local villagers who run the moorings.
It was on the second last day of our trip, our choices limited by strong winds and swell direction, we thought we'd sail in and check it out. We didn't have a mooring booked but apparently neither did numerous other boats anchored without moorings in the channel.
Surfers from the camp and surfers from the moored boats obviously, and probably rightfully, felt that the session was theirs, while the parties from the other "illegally" anchored vessels just wanted a taste of Maccas having shelled just as much for their Mentawai experience as those from the camp and the moored boats. It was a recipe for disaster.
One of the correctly moored boats, obviously a Brazilian charter, given away by the multiple Brazilian flags flying prominently from different parts of the boat, didn't seem to take kindly to the interlopers, who I have to admit contained a few from our own boat, and proceeded to drop-in on those they felt had no right to be there, their boat erupting in applause and whistles with each toasting. This was not what I came to the Mentawai for. Isn't this trouble and strife what we're all attempting to escape out here?
At either end of the season I can see how the system could work, but under the strain of peak season crowds and good conditions at the wave it seemed the system had gone to pot, and potentially created more tension than the gentleman's rules that governed the break pre-moorings.
Finding a solution to the problem it seems is not going to be easy. Common ground will have to be found between the Boat Charter Association, the local village, government and the land camp – a delicate dance indeed.
We have heard on the coconut wireless that meetings to work on a solution are under way; let's just hope the end result is the best for all involved.