I told the boat driver to drop me off at the spot with two guys out. The wave was a bit bigger there, and the lineup nearly empty. Regardless, I’ve made a habit of chatting with people when I first entered the water to bring a relaxed vibe to the lineup. This has been especially crucial when traveling solo, because just by exchanging a few words, I’m not alone anymore.
The two guys I joined in the water were excellent surfers. They dropped in late and deep on translucent, solid six-foot set waves. Both their surfing and bodies displayed art and style, as they were adorned in colorful tattoos. I noticed that one of the guys had a series of numbers tattooed over his muscular abdomen, and the other had “Maroubra” tattooed over his shoulders. I told them I was from Cocoa Beach, Florida, and they said they were from a beach outside of Sydney. That statement cemented my suspicions; I was surfing with Bra Boys. I watched the documentary released in 2007 that gave the Bra Boys international attention as an Australian surf gang. Together since the 1990s, they were known for violent clashes with disrespectful surfers and the police. One of their mottos, “Blood is thicker than water,” was hardcore. In fact, when I surfed around the Sydney area I avoided the breaks in Maroubra for fear of the gang. Here in Bali we shared waves, and in between the sets we talked about different spots I surfed in OZ.
As we discussed the last ground swell there, after a longer lull than usual, I noticed a freak set approaching and shouted, “Outside!” We paddled hard for the horizon. I duck dived two waves, and the last one tore the board out from under me. I gripped the board tight and held it above my head. I knew never to let go of my board, because my board would float and eventually bring me to the surface. I felt something under me.
When I got air, I realized that I landed right on top of one of the guys, and I was straddling his back like he was a horse! He reached the surface and gasped for a breath. My first thought was that I was going to get beat – I had messed with a Bra Boy! I asked him if he was alright and if my board hit him. He was laughing and said he just felt something soft on top of him, and that he hoped to get to the surface soon. Then we both started laughing, and he joked, “Well, that is a different way to mount a man!”
We laughed and continued surf, and every time a set came, I yelled “Spread out!”