Illegal U-Turn

Peter Mendia runs from the law at a Taiwanese reefbreak

Peter Mendia, on a crime spree in Taiwan. Photo: Gilley
Peter Mendia, on a crime spree in Taiwan. Photo: Gilley

Sometimes what looks like your standard surf shot is actually anything but. Take this image for example: a Peter Mendia speed gouge, the signature hook turn he’s done thousands of times at thousands of breaks.

This particular turn was a little different, though. It was different because it broke the law.

That’s what the Taiwanese official on the beach was trying to say anyway. The official had walked to the water’s edge in a bright orange jump suit and a matching helmet and was blowing a whistle while shaking his finger at Peter and Dan Malloy.

Apparently when a typhoon gets anywhere near the coast and the surf comes up, they “close” the ocean in Taiwan. Everybody has to get out. It’s against the law to be in the water.

But that’s right where the boys wanted to be, and that’s where they were going to stay. They had just found a firing, untouched lefthand reefbreak and they weren’t about to leave a virgin lineup that was just starting to turn on.

Plus, what was the guy going to do? Swim out and arrest them?

Seeing the futility of his efforts, the Taiwanese man went back for reinforcements and eventually returned with a full-on Devo parade—ten more jump suits all walking towards the ocean, shaking their fingers and blowing whistles.

Things were getting a little serious, but Peter and Dan didn’t look too concerned. Even though the officials were starting to spread out along the beach to intercept them when they paddled-in, Peter and Dan still looked relaxed. They were relaxed because they now had a bunch of waves under their belts, but also because they had done the math: A ten-knot, typhoon current plus a long left equaled a way-down-the-beach ride to an easy, unreachable escape.

Exit, Stage Left.

So, with a bunch of perturbed Asian men staked out and waiting to arrest them, Peter hooked into one last left to wave goodbye.