WE MANAGED TO SLIP
AWAY TO THE FAR EAST
WHILE NO ONE WAS LOOKING.
AND WELL, WE KINDA SCORED.
How interesting has surfing been lately? Between the lunacy that went down at Teahupo'o, a million-dollar prize purse in New York, someone beating The Slater, another round of ever-entertaining Bobby Martinez/ASP antics, hurricanes, typhoons, psycho tow-ins, new airs, that thing Kelly pulled in Long Beach — hell, even the US Open of Surfing in Huntington was pretty sick — it's just been excitement on the high seas this month. And hot damn, have those seas been high, too! There was some point this month when every ocean had a storm that was producing epic waves somewhere, and while most eyes were on Tahiti, or the East Coast of the US, we managed to slip away to the Far East while no one was looking. And well, we kinda scored too.
The trip was a last-minute circus-turned-typhoon-chase with Dane Reynolds, Kolohe Andino, Yadin Nicol and Conner Coffin. A trip that reminded me that it is still possible — in this often packaged and branded professional surfin' world — to hit the road with some people you call friends and surf and run around a new country and enjoy everything from the local convenience store to new waves without any negativity. We all agreed never to return without each other because it would never be as much fun. But during a trip to Indo a week after our trip, Dane saw some more swell headed for Japan and, having fewer obligations than normal at the moment, decided to try again, this time meeting up with Yadin, John John Florence and Dillon Perillo.
And boy, are we glad they went back.
"The best Japan in 40 years" was what they found. A perfect storm of swell, conditions and sand gave the boys four days of the funnest surf ever, in a land that's so much more than just another surf destination. And while Dane and Yadin had to leave a day before the biggest waves thanks to injuries (Yadin's broken ankle and Dane's bruised ribs), they nonetheless managed to put on quite a show for the Japanese surfing community. And Dane found a new favorite surfer after watching John John for a few days. In an email following the trip he told me, "John John is for sure my favorite surfer. He's so f–king sick. You have to send me a shot of those waves they got, I'm tripping out!"
Despite Dane and Yadin's disappointment at missing the best day on trip No. 2, what took place over those few weeks in Japan did more than perfect barrels ever could: it revived a surfing culture that was shell-shocked by the tragedy of March's major earthquake. Shuji Kasuya, our host in Japan, said earnestly, "This is so good for the kids and the next generation of Japanese surfers, to see these guys come surf their waves in a time like this." And we couldn't be happier to visit them, either. I want to personally thank the Japanese surfers we met along the way for all their hospitality and knowledge. Both trips, regardless of waves, were ones for the record books, as well as the memory bank. —Travis Ferré