It's iffy. The whole "pro surfing" thing with Leif.
Is Engstrom a pro surfer? He's not really sponsored anymore. He's not competing. So can an unsponsored freesurfer still be considered pro? He surfs like it. Travels to Indo like it. Lives at home like it. Everything but the logos on his board suggest Leif is just like any other top freesurf talent. So, hey, why not. They're only stickers.
So Leif came to Indo. Was his trip full on amateur hour or all pro epic? He got mugged by the cops. Stomach parasites. A motorbike accident. A monkey incident. Airport adventures. Epic clips. All the ingredients of classic Indo -- pro or not.
Iffy or not, it's fun to watch. Both Leif's surfing and carefree semi-pro tango through this surfing life.
Leif and I have never met, but we've emailed often via the Innersection project. So, coming to Bali, we thought we'd finally get together for a surf. Maybe an interview. That's where our story -- well, his story -- begins.
The following are the text messages I received from Leif during his month-long stay in Bali. The title of the text thread was "Superman."
LEIF: What's up, Nathan. Hope you're good. Sorry about all the drama on the music for my Innersection. I just got to Indo five days ago. We went to Deserts in a taxi and the guy screwed us over. (Long story.) We got one little session and it went to shit. Where do you live? Let's meet up for a session.
LEIF: Haha, yea we thought that taxi driver was gonna rob us like five times. Then he dropped us at the base of the Desert trail at 3 am. Had to hike in in the dark. It sucked. Let's meet up for a beer. Hopefully there's some swell coming. I surfed Ulus this morning and it was too small.
LEIF: Hey Nathan, any waves over there? We just scored some place I can't pronounce. We got some insane shots. So many good clips. I got an insane Superman about 5-feet out. There's a good land angle and my friend Huge rode behind me with a GoPro. So stoked.
LEIF: Hopefully GoPro is amped!!!
LEIF: I'll come out in a few days when there's swell. We got so many sick GoPro clips today. I had one in my mouth and my buddy went behind me almost every wave. I was out in Kuta 'til dawn last night and that was the key to the session.
LEIF: We're about to jump in a car to Lakeys for this swell. Is that a good idea? All the flights are booked. It's going to be a long drive.
LEIF: Yeah, you're probably right. I don't want to sit in a car for 16 hours. I'm too hung over for that. Went to Sky Garden last night for my birthday. We were dancing on top of the bar with the GoPro. Might have been the funniest night of my life. I can see how people get stuck in there. I'm getting so many good clips for Innersection 2013.
LEIF: Just my luck, the swell is firing and my boards didn't make the flight to Lakey. And on top of that, my friend stopped his bike too fast and I crashed into him. My knee is banged up so I'm not surfing for a few days. It's all fun and games on those bikes till you take a spill. It looks like surf is gonna be all time the next two days too. I can't wait. I'll come see you when we get back to Bali. By the way, did you hear that story about a bunch of guys holding everyone up at gun point at Deserts a few days ago? I hear they robbed the whole village. Maybe it's just a rumor to keep people away for this swell.
LEIF: Just got back to Bali. Had some good ones in Sumbawa, then my buddy made us go to Deserts for last two days and we got skunked again. What are you doing?
LEIF: I can't believe I was here a month and never hooked up with you. Sorry man. I've been having the worst week. I went to doctor and found out I have parasites in my stomcach. Then the cops took everything I had today for not having money on me at the time. I'm heading to the airport now, but I'll be back in two months. Are you guys doing Innersection next year? People keep coming up to me and going, "Hey are you that kid who got coins thrown in his face? Dude, I love that movie?" It's classic. I just keep telling everyone to wait for the new one. I'm jumping on a plane now, but I'll be back. And we'll definitely connect for a beer then.
LEIF: I just had an 8-hour lay over in Singapore. I thought I was going to be bored, but there was so much to do there. I went to the gym, swam in a pool, saw Iron Man 3 at a movie theater, went to a few bars and had the nicest shower I’ve had in a month. I could live in that airport. Eight hours wasn't even long enough.
LEIF: I just started putting the footage together of this trip, I’m not too sure on what to do with it I really want to save it for a new Innersection part, but I fully understand there might not be another comp this year. How's the new movie coming? Could I maybe throw you a few waves for that if you wanted to make my part more interesting?
LEIF: You don’t know how stoked I am to hear you say that!!!!!!! I woke up at 4 this morning just to get started on it. Ill have it for you tonight or tomorrow no problem. I think you will find this one way better then the last few edits. Thanks again, you don’t understand how amped I am on this you just made my day.
LEIF: Haha, I’m stoked you like it. I had a bunch of other clips that I wanted to throw in there, but I couldn’t fit them. As for the GoPro superman clip, the kid that shot it won’t let me get it I asked him about it like 10 times now. He’s trying to sell it to GoPro or some shit. I’m kind of bummed it would of been sick to slomo it and throw the two angles back to back. But whatever, just glad to sneak these new clips into the final film. I’m sending over some bloopers now.
[Here's that GoPro clip from Hugo. By the way... as for the new Innersection clips, they'll be out on iTunes next month.