The swell of the decade in Mentawaii... inside with Jérôme Sahyoun

19 August 2015 | Asia

Remember, on June 28th, while you were quietly waiting at the line-up of the Landes coast, others were going to the Indian Ocean for XXXL barrels. A few weeks ago we found the Moroccan surfer Jérôme Sahyoun surfing the "swell of the decade" at Kandui, in the Mentawai Islands.

After Puerto Escondido in Mexico and Tahiti, it's in Indonesia that the big swell hunter scored an anthology bomb. In the midst of his rehabilitation from a knee sprain, the free surfer was kind enough to answer a few questions for 360° Surf.

360° Surf : A few weeks ago, we heard a lot about you ;) You were in Indo a few weeks ago, can you tell us about that memorable day ?

Jérôme Sahyoun : First of all, thank you for your message and the interest you have shown in me! Indeed I am in Bali since the end of June like every year! When I arrived, I contacted my friend Poti and we decided that it was the Kandui wave at Mentawai that we should go surfing. The swell lasted for 3 days and it wasn't until the second day that I was able to catch "The Wave!"

On the first day I hurt my knee and had to take care of it and rest between sessions. On the second day, I got a shock and had to go back on the boat to heal myself, I saw the other surfers putting on incredible tubes and I decided to get back in the water. As the Hawaiians were holding the peak, I put myself more inside and waited an hour before taking "The Wave"!

How did you deal with this bomb?

I didn't feel anything at all. It's only at the end of the session that you can say about a wave, and especially about the way it was surfed: this is the wave of the session.

There are much more impressive tubes, deeper than mine but they weren't wrinkled like mine. I was lucky enough to have a wave that kept the same rhythm from start to finish. This wave is called No Kandui ("no can't do it"), it's aptly named because it's very fast and it has sections that close and you never know which sections close!

Have you been to other spots? Which ones?

During this swell I stayed on Kandui it was so amazing, it was the swell of the last 15 years! However I sent my brother Sebastien to surf Riffles and baby Kandu (Kandui's little sister) and 3 or 4 other waves around.

How did you prepare this trip? How long did you stay there?

To prepare this surf trip it took me 3 days to decide on the spot. Poti, my friend, who has a boat in Mentawai, offered me to come on board the next day. I called my cameraman, Fred Berho and my photographer, Bastien Bonnarme, who flew the same day to meet us at the port of Padang for the departure. We (my brother, Mattéo, Marvin, Poti and I) rushed to prepare the board covers and all the gear. We stayed on Kandui for 5 days, the time of the swell and back home to the family who was waiting for us impatiently because on Kandui there is no phone network and no 3G!

What are your good plans in Indonesia (spots, to see, to do, where to eat)? In short, life there?

Bali is an incredible island! There are so many things to visit, lots of waves and the food is delicious! The Bukit (Padang Padang and Bingin and Uluwatu) is all lefts! Uluwatu is the place where there are always waves even when it's flat!

The place to be is the Single Fin on Sunday night. Desert Point in Lombok is a once in a lifetime wave! It might be the longest tube of your life! The accommodation is cheap. The dream for every surfer is the Mentawai ! The best guide is Poti. He used to go surfing in Mentawai in the 70's and 80's, which makes him an experienced and above all great guide! In Bali you can eat very well and very healthy! There is no lack of good restaurants! For me the best are: the Watercress in Canggu, Le Made Warrung and Zula in Seminyak, El bazar Cafe in Kuta Lombok.

And to buy great surfboards at top prices it's Dylan Longbottom (Free Flow, Mexicana and Cosmic Demon) they are the top models for Morocco and easy to surf!

What is your physical and mental preparation for big surfing?

I prepare myself like all sportsmen. I train physically and in apnea for a long period of the year. I eat healthily even if I have a sweet tooth!

This year we saw you charging around the globe, what was your best experience?

This year I've loaded Morocco, Galicia, the Caribbean, Puerto Escondido, Teahupoo, the Mentawai. For me, each trip is a new experience with its ups and downs that make me learn every day.

What will be your next trip?

My next trip! That is the question? With the waves you never know where you're going. I usually make decisions at 72 hours of the day ;)

What is the best lesson you have learned in life?

Life has taught me so much, especially in the last few years, but I keep it in my secret garden!

In one word, how would you sum up your experience ? What advice would you give to a future globetrotter?

I learned a lot in surfing thanks to friends like Axi Munian, Greg Rabjac, Kamel Hakboula, Fred Berho, Bastien Bonnarme... who advised me at the beginning and still today. All these surftrips have made me the surfer I am today, with my successes and failures but I never give up!

If I have to give advice be humble, respectful, generous, grateful but don't be a hypocrite and enjoy every moment that life offers you!

Thank you Jérôme for this interview. See you soon.

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