Land of the Lost / Kosrae Words / Gavin McClurg Photos / Jody MacDonald
I put the satellite phone down and looked out the window of Discovery, our catamaran onto a very dark and bleary day, and said a little prayer to the sun, wind and swell Gods.
It had been an enormously risky call and we’d need a little divine intervention to pull it off. In less than three days Ben Wilson, Mauricio Abreu, Josh Mulcoy and two guests would now be flying into Kosrae, where we were currently anchored instead of Pohnpei as we had originally scheduled. Pohnpei is home to one of the world’s finest right-hand waves called “P-Pass”. Ben’s recent publicized trips there have put the island on every serious rider’s hit list. Josh and Mauricio had never been to Pohnpei but let me know in no uncertain terms they’d dreamed of getting there for years. We’d planned the trip for months and this was their chance. And less than 72 hours out I pulled the plug on the whole thing.
I hoped my reasoning was justified and only time would tell. I’d just spent 10 days getting double to triple overhead waves in perfect sideshore conditions on Kosrae without another soul around but those of us on board. I felt like if we rocked up at P-Pass with three pros, and two people shooting video and stills the lo-
cal surf crew might not share in our enthusiasm. Luckily the trio agreed and I promised again and again that the expensive flight change would be worth it. Which meant my ass was on the line. Kosrae The expression in the middle of nowhere is too oft used. But in the
case of Kosrae, Micronesia there is little other way to describe the location of what locals call “the jewel of the Pacific.” They call it a jewel though not for diamonds or pearls but for the lushness of the flora and the tranquility of the pace. The locals joke that when there are more than 6 tourists on the island the rare phenomenon is widely regarded as a stampede. Pohnpei is the second wettest spot on earth. But Kosrae, a mere 300 miles to the ESE cannot be far behind. Rain heaves down in great plumes and sheets nearly year-round. Ferns the size of Volkswagens and forests found nowhere else on earth thrive here because of the endless saturation. An appropriate gem then to compare this tiny wonderland can only be the Emerald as there are a million different colors to entertain the eye, but all of them
various shades of green. With just 7,000 inhabitants and a shrinking population (jobs are as rare as tourists) huddled sparsely in small, simple villages along the coast (only half of which has a paved road- the rest can only be reached by boat) most of the island is left undisturbed to the human touch. The few tourists who make the long, somewhat painful trek on the one airline (Continental) that services the island do so either via Honolulu or Guam; a many-stop affair that discourages all but the most-adventurous. Those who do come so for one of two things: the scuba, which is reputed as some of the best coral diving in the world, or for the second, which needs not be divulged. The clever reader will deduce the answer in due course.
Riding with the Pros By the time everyone arrived I felt I was almost at war with Kosrae. Swell, wind and sun had aligned just a week previously to create conditions for our sport that can’t even be imagined. I’d sent photos of these conditions and talked this place up so much that in retrospect I set us all up for disappointment. Our forecast was as bleak as the sky. No big lows up north to send down a fat swell, no big highs to the south to give us wind. But all was not lost. For the time being we had enough swell to warm up and hope for improved conditions. What’s it like to have 3 of the top 4 wave kiters on the planet (according to a recent ranking) together on our boat Discovery? Well humbling to begin with, especially as I paddled out for the first waves of the trip hoping I would find myself standing on my board and not being ground into mincemeat over the razor-sharp reef. I’m a lot more comfortable in waves having the third hand of a kite, but for the time being we only had head-high waves and no wind so surfing it would be. Only Josh had made a name for himself prior to kitesurfing as a sponsored surfer. But Mauricio (aka “Morris”) and Ben have become notorious wave gurus because of their aptitude and dedication to surfing before kiting came along and are highly respected in the board sans kite arena.
“Josh Mulcoy is why our sport is getting credibility in the surf industry, he is a good guy, and incredible surfer/kiter and just lets his surfing and kiting do the talking, he is not in search of fame, just to do what he loves and to push it in the right direction and I have so much respect for that.” Ben Wilson
But I needn’t have worried about my ego being tarnished while in the periphery of the limelight. And that’s because when it comes down to it regardless of where these guys stand in the rankings, they are as passionate about sharing the stoke they have for the wind and waves between themselves as they are for anyone giving it a try. Again and again the amateurs in the pack, me and guests Scott and Chris were given valuable pointers to help us improve and graciously given waves that should have gone their way. Between the three I never once witnessed any competitiveness but rather a humble desire to help one another achieve even more greatness. They each somehow find the perfect balance between working incredibly hard for their sponsors and having a blast. Their zest for life is unavoidably infectious and grew in each of us with every passing day.
Ben, Mauricio and Josh made me realize that regardless of the conditions just being here is precious, to be coddled and enjoyed like a fine wine or a treasured friend. Anything on top of that is just a bonus. Whether we’re kiting pearly waves or eating sashimi; surfing or just sitting watching the world go by we are living a life that warrants devoted thanks and appreciation. As the trip came to a close I looked up again at the familiar bleary sky and realized my wish for great conditions had been answered. They just came in another form. To find out more about The Best Odyssey and see a short movie clip of the trip filmed and edited by John Bilderback, please visit www.offshoreodysseys.com. The expedition would like to thank Continental Airlines for their support.
“For me this trip was a long time in the making, I have been kicking myself for not getting on the BEST ODESSEY earlier everyday since our trip ended. I compare every surf/kite trip that I go on worldwide with my trips to Namotu Island in Fiji, because for me it is simply the best setup I have ever seen, but now having experienced the Odyssey and what an incredible setup Gavin and Jody have turned it into I would have no hesitations in saying it is on Par with Namotu and it will be what I now judge all boat trips by. And to combine that with enjoying the experience with Josh and Morris made it on every level one of the most incredible trips I have ever done.” Ben Wilson
“I think the best thing about traveling with Ben and Josh is that they share the same vision as me. We not going somewhere to get the shoot only, we all go to a place to have fun and make good memories. Don’t get me wrong, we there to do a job too, but we know that it is important to have fun and enjoy whatever the situation may bring. A big part of all this is that Ben, Josh and myself all come from a surfing back ground, and we know if you start to worried about getting skunked you will start to hesitate on going on your next trip and they also know that getting mad with the condition’s will not make them any better”
“As far as on the water, Josh is always inspiring to watch surf, it’s amazing that a guy that sleeps so much can look so alive in the water (DRE is the same way!) It doesn’t matter what the conditions, as soon as the waves start to show, Josh is up for a surf! I think that the sound of waves is his biological alarm clock! Josh is a insane kiteboarder but I still think that he hasn’t transferred his full potential from surfing to kiting, once that starts to happened more it will be a new era for our sport from sure!”
“Now Ben on the other hand is never restless, he always up to something, if it is planning his next trip, checking the maps for new waves, fishing (I heard he is really good at it, but I haven’t see it yet?!!), surfing, exploring.. He will come up with something to do and if there’s a bit of wind, he’s the first one out there, sometimes it’s not a good thing, you will see him ripping the waves and you rush to go out, then you realize that there’s not enough wind or something, but Ben is making it work somehow, amazing how he does it! A lot of his success in kiteboarding come from that, he never stops and he never look’s back, and doesn’t matter what comes his way, he will make the best of it!” Mauricio Abreu
“Morris is the pioneer of what I do, he had a huge part in helping me see the light in riding the waves with a surfboard and over the years we have had some great trips together pushing our vision, I have to say though it does frustrate the hell out of me how good he surfs small waves, the guy gets going and rips in anything with effortless style, he also translates this same style to the kite and that is what impresses me most about his riding, especially on his backhand, he makes it look like a piece of art.” “Traveling with Morris and Mulcoy is pretty much the funniest thing ever, if you have ever heard anyone talk as much as Morris or eat as much sugar as Mulcoy you know what I mean, but the best thing for sure, for me anyways is that whenever I travel with Morris we score epic rights and for me that is a rare treat as I swear I only ever get to go left!” Ben Wilson