Lance's Right: one of the most perfect barreling right-handers on the planet | Photo: Creative Commons

It's one of the best breaks in the surfing paradise of the Mentawai Islands. Welcome to Lance's Right, one of Indonesia's most perfect waves.

Each surf spot has its history, secrets, and evolution. Lance's Right is no different.

The magical Indo wave comes to life in Pulau Sipura off the coast of Sumatra, the most developed and second-smallest of the four Mentawai Islands.

For many surfers who had the privilege to enjoy it, it's their favorite wave, and if you're a regular footer, it's an unforgettable dreamy playground.

Lance's Right breaks off the southern end of the island.

It's a fast and perfect barreling blue cylinder that will wait for no one, similar to world-renowned gems like Sunset Beach and Margaret River.

Lance's Right: a fast and shallow wave that is best ridden at six-to-eight feet | Photo: WSL

The Discovery of Lance's Right

Lance Knight was the first person to surf Lance's Right in March 1991, when charter boats and internet connections were a mirage.

An Australian skipper, Lance, was in the Mentawai Islands in 1991, searching for a new vessel for Lord Howe Island residents and scouting for new waves.

During a surf trip to Lord Howe Island, Lance Knight met Peter Troy, a legendary explorer from the 1970s. Inspired by Troy's adventures, Lance set out to find his own version of Nias.

In early 1991, he arrived in the Sumatran port town of Padang.

Unable to secure a boat to cross the Strait, he eventually hitched a ride on a medical flight to Sipora Island with Dr. Manoo/Manir (?), an Iranian doctor he met in Padang.

Lance carried only a single surfboard, a bottle of water, and a bag of rice.

Upon arriving in Sipora, he was surrounded by children. A tall Indonesian gentleman also approached.

"I shook hands with Pak Hosein, and because I couldn't speak much Bahasa, all I could do was tap my chest and say, 'Nama saya Lance,' (my name is Lance) and pointed to the surf," Knight once recalled.

"Before I knew anything else, Pak had organized my backpack, supplies, and surfboard being carried off up the beach to his house, where I was introduced to his wife and surrounded by what appeared to be the whole village."

"After evicting their children from their room, I was shown a very tiny bed."

Lance eventually persuaded a local man with a canoe and an outboard motor to take him around the island in search of waves.

They fueled their journey with water bottles filled with petrol and made stops to surf along the way.

They first discovered a left-hand wave at the southwest tip of Sipora, which Lance named Lance's Left.

As storm winds picked up, they sought shelter in Katiet village.

From there, Lance spotted massive swells breaking on the reef off the village at the island's southeast tip.

Pak Hosein: walking back after Knight surfed Lance's Lefts for the first time | Photo: Knight Archive

Hollow Trees and Captain Daly

After spending two weeks in Katiet, where he surfed and entertained the villagers who watched from the trees, Lance encountered a group of surfers aboard the Indies Trader.

Martin Daly, the boat's captain, had anchored near the break.

Lance paddled out to meet them, sharing waves and beers with Daly and his crew.

Eventually, Daly gave Lance a ride back to Java and named the break Lance's Right in recognition of Lance being the first to surf it.

The wave is also called HTs, short for Hollow Trees.

It is named after the distinctive hollow trees that used to stand at the point but have since been washed away.

Many charter boat operators find the name HTs disrespectful to the wave's historical significance and the story of its discovery.

The discovery of this heavenly-shaped wave proved that the Mentawai Islands had a right-hander that could compete in quality with Lagundri Bay in Nias.

Lance's Right: the shot Knight took on the first time he paddled out at the Mentawai right-hander | Photo: Knight Archive

Consistent and Beautiful

The mechanics of Lance's Right are pretty interesting.

The surf break roars to life when SW swells wrap Pulau Sipura and feel the east-facing reef bay where the famous starts to peel.

Lance's Right has a coral-covered lava slab that slopes gradually into the sea.

With light NW winds and right-angle swell, the place lits up, offering three-to-eight-foot walls that will take you on a 100-yard ride.

Surfers have three take-off zones.

The most famous is "The Office," a challenging drop that leads into a heavy and shallow express train barrel.

Then's there the dangerous reef's flat section, "The Surgeon's Table," followed by "The Cage," where you can get really nice shots of the surfers inside the tube.

When the waves reach six feet (1.8 meters), you've got to get your take-off right. Otherwise, a wipeout could result in injuries and stitches.

One of the greatest characteristics of Lance's Right is its consistency and, if you will, its beauty.

The stunning round, light-blue barrels attract local and foreign wave-riders eager to find cover under this perfect Indo diamond tube.

But our eyes can deceive us. It's really important to stress that, like many other similar waves, the shallow reef is too close to be ignored.

Wearing a helmet could be a wise decision, especially in should-high-plus conditions.

The best wave of the Mentawai chain works best in mid-to-high tide from April to November.

There is no need for wetsuits. The air and water temperatures are always stable year-round at around 85 °F (29 °C).

Lance's Right was the venue chosen for the 2016 Rip Curl Mentawai Pro.

Lance's Right, Pulau Sipura, Indonesia: the perfect surfer's lineup | Photo: WSL

Lance's Right, Indonesia | ID and X-Ray

Location: Pulau Sipura, Mentawai Islands
Type of Wave: Right-Hand Reef Break
Length: 50-100 yards (50-100 meters)
Best Swell Direction: W-WE-S
Best Wave Size: 3-10 Feet
Best Wind Direction: Light NW
Best Tide: Mid-High
Best Time to Surf: Dry Season (November-May)
Skill Level: Intermediate and Advanced
Best Board: Shortboard
Crowd: Moderate
Water Quality: Good
Hazards: Shallow Inside Section
Bottom: Reef
Water Temperature: 85 °F (29 °C)
Getting There: Charter Boat

Words by Luís MP | Founder of

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