FOLLOW THE WAY JOEL FITZGERALD AND HARRISON ROACH HIT THE ROAD IN SEARCH OF MORE THAN JUST A NEW WAVE IN INDO. Words by Nathan Myers • Photos by Anthony Dodds
The road is not smooth. It’s ripped with craters and ragged with intentions. Terrorized by motorbikes and cattle. Chickens and time. It’s going nowhere. Out here. On the edge of it all. Indonesia. Joel and Harrison’s guts ache from hours on their motorbikes. They ride on. Sore arms and itchy eyeballs. Further. This is how it gets done. Inch by inch. They set out from a sprout of a Javanese surf town. Chasing the rumor of another new wave and an incoming big swell. No one knew for sure if the two fit together. What size, what direction, what wind, how to get there, where to paddle out, how to film, where to sleep and what the hell, just go go go. Another shallow and peeling rumor on the world’s most unexplored stretch of shredable jungle. The road is not smooth. The petrol pours from vodka bottles. A week earlier they’d both been shaping boards back in Bali. Single-fins with careful resin tints and templates borrowed from 1970s time machines. That was part of the plan here: to charge some proper Indo waves on legitimate old-school craft. Hand-made. Heartfelt. Modern classics. It’s only surfing. Joel is the son of Terry Fitzgerald, legendary shaper of Hot Buttered and Morning of the Earth pioneer. “The Sultan of Speed” they called him. Joel gave up on the WQS merry-go-round a few years back and picked up his father’s planer. He and his brother Kye had been borrowing (and breaking) their father’s single fins for years now and had a longstanding love affair with them. They were harder to surf, of course, but that was part of it. The boards forced different lines, moved more water, and when they got up to speed, nothing could match them. Harrison is a logger. Hates being called that. A born
and bred Noosa boy who just won all the Duct Tape Invitational events. If there was a Logger World Champ, he’d be it. But there isn’t. And he isn’t. And doesn’t want to be seen as that. Doesn’t want to be pigeonholed or stereotyped. He just wants to surf. He rides whatever suits the waves, from logs to thrusters to hand-planes, and he’s keen to prove himself in some big, solid barrels. He closed the door on the shaping bay and set forth mowing a board – his fifth ever selfie, though more would surely follow. Fitzy popped in and asked if he needed help, and Harrison declined. Best to figure it out for himself. Joel appreciated that. No one showed him what to do either. That was the way. Find the way. There is no way. The swell maps turn purple and the road stretches out before them. Long and rutted. Calling. Taunting. There’s no Internet or frozen cappuccinos where they are headed. No way to see the storm grow bigger than mother-Oz. Massive, bruised and bloody, it was the biggest early season storm anyone had seen in years. Another storm is born inside it. Bodhi and his gang rob banks. Everyone else books a ticket to Indo. Somewhere. A swell like this always raises the same question: where to surf? The same dozen options arise every time: Scars. Supers. G-Land. Deserts. Etc. Check the guidebook. Book the surf camp. Grab a flyer at the airport. Dudes are on their way. Only a rare few searches head off in hopes of something new. Something uncharted. It’s a roll of the dice. But the rewards are an empty lineup and an unforgettable adventure. Insert travel cliché here…then smash it with a rock. The road is not smooth. That’s why they’re on it.
Bali Belly is an independent youth culture magazine based in Bali, Indonesia.