PULSE - BANYAKS
Pulse was custom designed and built after 16 years of surf charter operations around the Banyak Islands and North Sumatra, Indonesia.
“It was a long way out of our Kuta comfort zone. To venture out into the unknown, into Muslim territory, somewhere up near Banda Aceh to discover paradise. No one was really drawing a map for us to tell us how to get there.” Timing their run to coincide with a full moon and a rising swell, the duo flew to Medan and then bussed overland to south Sumatra, relying heavily on Thornton’s language skills to navigate through a new world. “Thornton was really the driving force and his Indonesian was even better than mine,” remembers Dick.
Despite handling the first part of the journey well when it came time to make the final crossing by boat they ran into trouble with the captain they’d commissioned to ferry them to paradise. Faced with big tides and rising swell he refused to continue the mission shortly after leaving port and made his feelings clear in blunt fashion.
“The captain of the boat got violent and produced a gun because we were demanding that he keep going, but he was saying ‘no it’s too rough’. We eventually had to sit behind this little island and sat out the swell that we’d gone all that way to get.”
Finally arriving at the port near Nias, it was soon apparent to Dick that they were not the only surfers who’d snuffed out the location of Lagundri.
“We eventually got to Teluk Dalam. We obviously weren’t the first ones because even the beamo drivers know who you are and find some way of bleeding some money out of you and taking you to the holy-grail.”
When they eventually made it to Lagundri, the setting lived up to the expectations. “It was pretty unique. There are very few places on the planet like Nias,” offers Dick. “It was the natural footer’s tropical paradise. It is one of those rare jewels in the surfing universe that sparkles extremely brightly.”
However, not surprisingly, the half a dozen guys already there, who were convinced they’d found heaven, weren’t exactly ecstatic to see Dick Hoole roll up, lugging his heavyweight camera gear.
"To the few hard-core surfers that were there when I arrived with the camera I was known as ‘Dick Hole, the biggest cunt in the universe’ because I’m the guy that fucked Nias for everyone,” admits Dick.
Despite the coarse reception, Fallander tore the point apart and Dick ducked and weaved around the cantankerous surfers to capture the action. On film Nias was a knockout – all those sheer blue faces shimmering against a palm tree backdrop were irresistibly seductive. Once Hoole checked the footage and showed it to his partners he knew they had something special in the can, and he returned with Thornton and Joe Engel in 1981 to finish shooting Storm Riders.
The rapturous footage of the two natural footers threading the sparkling almond barrels would ultimately become the most celebrated section to StormRiders. The film premiered at the Opera House in 1982 and although both the movie and the Nias section featured several incredible moments, it was one wave of Thornton Fallander’s that had the crowd screaming the loudest.
“That was pretty iconic,” recalls Dick. “Particularly that shot of Thornton, that one wave where he does the complete manoeuvres and the cutback… When we went back there later they had named it the Thornton Fallander memorial cut-back section in honour of him.”
After the Opera House premiere, Storm Riders toured the cinemas around the globe and went on to become an instant classic. The Nias section established a new benchmark for the ultimate fantasy wave. After seeing the film, many fell under the spell of Lagundri, abandoning everything to travel to the shimmering, Sumatran right.
As for the disgruntled journeyman who had enjoyed a fleeting and innocent romance with the wave minus the crowds, Dick Hoole accepts his role in destroying their dream.
“I’m guilty. No one had blown the lid it on before me and that was the code of conduct back then. But we had a commercial agenda and a lot on the line so it seemed like a justifiable idea at the time.”
Under pressure to leverage the commercial appeal of the film, Hoole and McCoy had even convinced the film’s Australian narrator, Marcus Hale, to use an American accent to make it more popular with the bigger US audiences.
However, while Dick wears the flack he received from a sorry few, he takes solace in the fact that there are many others who are generous with their gratitude.
“There’s probably a few people that would still like to whack me if the opportunity came up but when the movie came out it was so successful that for every one of the guys that wants to whack me I found out I’ve got 100 new friends I didn’t know that I had that saw the movie, went to Nias; it changed their life and they fell for a dusty maiden and they think I’m great and they want to buy me a beer.”