SW’s Indo Edition: The Birth Of The Apocalypse With Dylan Longbottom

“It makes Kirra look average”

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Alot of people thought we found it first, but I’m told a couple of old gurus beat us to it. It’s all hearsay but they reckon they named it Steel Vaginas.

My first trip to West Java was 1997 and I had no idea what to expect so I stuffed me old Nev 7’2’’ in the boardbag thinking, “fuck, what if it’s 12 foot?!” In those days Just Dreaming was the only boat that chartered the region, so myself, Drew Courtney, my brother and a bunch of mates from the South Coast jumped in.

The boat was only small but we didn’t care. We’d surf all day, come in to eat and surf again. Even today it’s tough to tee up big charters to this region of Indonesia because it is so far out from civilisation. It’s all national park, not another soul for miles. We’d always take all our own supplies like noodles and eggs. I even brought a tent on the original trip. We camped on deck and it was so filthy I ended up with boils all over my legs.

On that first trip, we were surfing a left called Napalm, and we could see this bombie breaking in the middle of this bay. It looked like it was copping heaps more swell so Drew and I paddled out and realised we could see clear to the other side of the bay. Nobody knew what was over that side, but we could see all this energy unloading on a reef that lined the island. Even from the back of the wave you could see it spurting showers. Next minute we’re screaming for the dinghy.

We had no idea how big it was so I jumped off the boat with a 6’6’’ and it turned out I needed every inch of it. The first set caught me off guard – three ultra glass ten footers. I was in a shit spot but went anyway and just barely got under the lip, then pulled up late into this giant infinity pit going “WHHHAAAAATTT!?! Somehow, I fell on my arse, like a safety jump, and kicked my board out. All the water drained away and I fell through the bottom of it like a trapdoor and missed the full brunt of the energy. I popped up tripping! My second wave was smaller, but still a solid eight footer and it just inhaled everything like a big lung with all this foamy phlegm from the set before it. I couldn’t see shit but ten seconds later it opened up into a proper 10-12 foot cave. I didn’t know anything about the end section so I just kept pumping through it and it kept getting bigger and faster and shallower. The thing clamped on me and I had so much speed I couldn’t actually penetrate the surface. I was just skipping on my belly through the barrel, and got blown the fuck up but the explosion was so powerful it actually spat me loose of the chaos. I didn’t even touch the bottom or break my board. It just spat me out the back like a big golly after ripping the skins off a pack of Gudangs. Everyone on the boat was freaking and I couldn’t believe it.

The day after that we got to know the place a whole lot better. It was ruler edge 6-10 foot, stiff offshore, and even more flawless than the first session. I didn’t know how lucky we were at the time, but that’s some of the best conditions I’ve scored in 20 years of surfing this wave. To have perfect wind and the exact right swell direction is such a rare combo. I snapped my 6’6’’ and ended up on the 7’2’’ Nev and it actually went even better because of how much speed and drive you could harness on the foamball. I was pulling into these big round ones and even made a couple through the death end section. I had my best barrel ever that day. Sheet glass, late afternoon and only Drew and I out. I made the drop and fucking backdoored this pit the whole way through and kicked out. It felt like being Curren at Backdoor or something, but ten times as long! I was in there the whole way.

Over time Apocalypse has become this myth. People call it a closeout, but trust me I’ve had so many good ones out there. I fell in love with the place and it’s been calling me back ever since. But we had no idea what to expect on that original trip, and to stumble across the most perfect and heaviest right in the land of the lefts totally blew my mind. How wide those barrels were, as wide as they were high. You dream of that shit. It makes Kirra look average on it’s best day. – Dylan Longbottom

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