The Mentawai archipelago and its surfing mecca known as The Playgrounds have long been hailed as one of the best surfing locations across the globe, and Kandui Villas, widely recognized as one of its top surfing resorts, is at the heart of it all. Set on an idyllic island in the midst of West Sumatra with Kandui Left – arguably one of the best left-hand waves in the world – on its doorstep, with fast and easy access to Baby Kandui, 4 Bobs, A Frames, Hideaways, Nipussi, Beng Beng, Bankvault, E-Bay, and more, it’s a dream destination for many a surfer – and an even bigger one for any business or resort owner in the surf tourism industry.
This is exactly what members of the global surfing community are citing as a potential reason why Jordan Heuer, a 43-year-old American father of two and the founder of Kandui Villas, is currently imprisoned in a jail cell in Padang, Indonesia, with little word on when, how, or if he will ever be released. Jordan has, according to his friends and family, been wrongfully accused of a crime following an accidental drop-in that happened two-and-a-half years ago, and surfers and former guests of Jordan’s from Hawaii to Dubai believe that ulterior motives from corrupt competitors may be behind it.
Originally from Hawaii, Jordan has lived in the Mentawai Islands for more than 17 years and is revered as one of the most well-versed and experienced surf guides in the region – not to mention typically described as an upstanding and honest man. At Kandui Villas, Jordan has carved out a sanctuary for those seeking a little bit of luxury and comfort in an eco-friendly, sustainable environment, and has worked tirelessly to not only help regulate the surf tourism industry in the area, following every necessary government rule and regulation to do so, but he’s also worked hard to support the local economy by attracting visitors from far and wide, hiring and helping to grow Indonesian talent among his staff, and advocating the preservation of the local culture and customs. Jordan and his team at Kandui Villas have also created a community help project in partnership with Waves4Water, that aims to purchase and distribute clean drinking water filters to remote villages across the Mentawai Islands.
In May 2015, after an accidental drop-in at popular spot Rifles, Jordan was involved in a mid-ocean altercation with another surfer. Jordan says he was attacked and threatened by the other man, following which he acted in self defense and in an effort to stop the situation from escalating and avoid either party being seriously hurt. “He threatened that he was going to cut me up with a machete, and burn down Kandui Villas. He then tried to jab me one more time with his surfboard, which I blocked with my right arm and counter-[struck] with my left, punching only two to three times to end the fight,” Jordan says. According to Jordan, the altercation resulted in the other surfer sporting a black eye and a small cut below his eye, and that the man went hiking, then diving, and surfing around the island the “very next day.” Following the incident, Jordan says that he filed a police report, but now, he is the one being accused of having started the fight and attacking the other surfer, who has not yet been publicly named.
Over two years later, Jordan was sent a summons to meet with the prosecutors “to talk to them.” He was arrested and taken straight to prison upon his arrival, and was reportedly refused all formal requests not to be taken there.
Jordan, who is divorced but maintains an amicable relationship with his ex-wife, Raihana, has been raising his two children and is a loving and devoted father. To him, his daughters are “everything.” “He is a good man. I never want to see him hurted [sic] or harmed by anyone or anything,” Raihana said.
Jordan’s friends, family, and members of the wider surfing community around the world have claimed suspected foul play from his competitors, insisting that there must be something more behind the scenes for a man to be arrested over an incident that was not only seemingly resolved two-and-a-half years ago, but also one that resulted in a simple black eye and small cut – both of which are injuries that many surfers have been susceptible to during a bad wipe-out or surf session in rough conditions. The property is prized for its prime location for some of the world’s most sought-after waves, and insiders believe that Jordan’s removal could potentially open up lucrative opportunities for competitors. Indeed, Jordan suggested that an attempt at exploitation may be at hand, saying: “We also filed a separate report,” against the other surfer’s local partner. “[He] sent an extortion email to [Raihana] demanding $35,000 to make the problem go away,” he said.
Former guests, friends, and family from all over the world are rallying to support Jordan, having started crowdfunding campaigns on his behalf to help pay for his legal fees, and if he is ever granted the opportunity for it, bail – at time of press, he has been told that that isn’t an option. They have also created a hashtag for him, #FreeJordanHeuer, in the hopes of using social media to spread awareness and inspire action, while his friends and family have also reportedly contacted the US Embassy and organizations such as Amnesty International on his behalf.
“I have known [Jordan for] almost 20 years and have spent countless hours with him surfing in the Mentawais. I was actually there right after this incident occurred and am very familiar with what happened early on. This was a disrespectful person who got into a fight with Jordan. These things happen in the water everyday all around the world. This person assaulted Jordan by spearing his board at him. This is a very dangerous and cowardly way to attack somebody in the surf. Jordan did what any normal person would do and defended himself,” says Matt Grenfell, a friend of Jordan’s. “Most people have an enormous amount of respect for Jordan in the Mentawais. He was one of the original pioneers in the area,” Matt says, continuing: “He had never got into a fight like this before. Jordan is the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. As a matter of fact, my last trip to Kandui Villas was three weeks [ago]. Jordan did not charge me a dime for my stay. He has two gorgeous and amazing daughters who he has raised and they are the only victims here. This person who is forcing this court case was not a victim. He was a bully who got to Kandui and started pushing people around. This is a cowardly act and Jordan’s children will suffer the most.”
To date, Jordan remains in prison awaiting trial. In the meantime, his friends and family are trying to help reduce the financial and greater life impact this could have on both Jordan himself and his children, while hoping he is freed to be reunited with his daughters as soon as possible.
A friend of Heuer’s, Scott Chambers, has set up a YouCaring page to contribute toward Heuer’s legal fees. You can check it out here.