Bay of the Wizard

At a family compound in Java, Rizal Tandjung and crew revel in ancient myths and heavy slabs.

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Rizal Tandjung

Desa Limasan is special to my family. There’s not much there. It’s just our property near a small fishing village and a slabby left and right. The first time I visited was in 2009. I saw the three bays and the reefs and I knew I needed to make it a home base. I bought about 16 acres and built the first house on the property, way up on the hillside. When it was finished, my father-in-law helped build a couple more. We have nine houses there now. The compound has everything you could need: fresh water, fresh fish, vegetables from the gardens, coconuts, and waves. The swell comes out of such deep water. The waves have no backs, and it’s so shallow over the shelf. They hit the ledge and just pour over it like a machine, with the whole ocean behind them. Sometimes on the inside you’re over dry reef. No mistakes on those. I’m from Bali, and we’re always busy at home with our work and our lives. Going to Desa Limasan has become like meditation for us. We’ve been visiting for a long time: my brother-in-law, Marlon Gerber; our wives; my sons, Varun and Sinar Tandjung; and my adopted stepson, Bronson Meydi. Recently, I also invited photographer Chris Klopf from the US, Arnau Riera from the Canary Islands, and Richard Schmidt Jr. from California. We made some memories.

Arnau Riera

Chris Klopf

The left is longer and the inside bowl is dry reef—elkhorn coral. The inside section is scary and the outside hugs the cliff and throws heavy, grinding tubes. There’s a chip-shot entry on the left. The right has no chip shot—just an airdrop. Both waves have no back. The zone picks up the swell easily, but it can be finicky, and it’ll wash through if it exceeds 8 feet. The channel, cut from a freshwater river, enters the bay at the center of the beach. It’s a heavy channel because the left and the right aren’t far apart. There’s lots of lava and coral, and lots of current and wash. It’s a heavy setup in general and our crew was heavy, with incredible lineage. Marlon is half Javanese, half Swiss, and a very stylish surfer and a charger.Rizal is obviously a legend—the first Indonesian pro to really put his country on the map. His sons, Varun and Sinar, come from that background, which shows in their surfing. They’re strong kids in the water and total jokers on land—nonstop antics and laughter. His adopted stepson, Bronson, is originally from Sumbawa, and his surfing is highly spontaneous. His reflexes are off the charts and it’s impossible to tell what he might see or do when he stands up on a wave. Arnaud Riera grew up charging slabs in the Canary Islands and is a very powerful surfer. Richard Schmidt Jr. lives up to his lineage and namesake: stylish, low-key, humble like his father. We did two separate trips to the compound and got several runs of some of the best swell Rizal has seen in Desa Limasan in years. He called the forecasts perfectly. Between the waves, the geography, the light, and the myths, it was mesmerizing for all of us.

Marlon Gerber

According to myth, the beach was once a solid formation of rock. Then it was split by Orang Sakti Di Jaman Purba, the ancient wizard and fisherman.He opened the volcanic cliff with a boat paddle, split it down the middle—whacked one section to the right and one to the left. They say he did it for the future of the people, so they could fish and have a place to reach the ocean. All the rocks have individual names: Wayang, Kledek, Aluran, Jantur, Sirah Towo. The rock to the left of the channel is named Gelatik. The rock to the right is Sirondo. The crest of the hill, way back from the beach where we have our compound, used to be at sea level. There are numerous fossils up there of crabs and other sea life. Then, millions of years ago, a massive shift in the volcanic hillsides changed the landscape and helped to create a deep trench just offshore. Now it’s all volcanic reef mixed with razor-sharp coral, submarine mountain ranges, and fault lines.

Marlon Gerber

[Feature Image Caption: Bronson Meydi]