Surfing Doctors Conference 2023 – Jawa Jiwa – G-Land

. Surfing Doctors Conference 2023

Jawa Jiwa – G-Land


Afternoon high tides, decent to solid swell on the horizon, good times to be in the jungle.

by Craig Jarvis

It’s hard to justify all the ‘best ever’ comments about the Surfing Doctors Conference 2023, as I had never attended a conference before. Still it surpassed my expectations by a very long way. There were waves, lectures, workshops, socialising, new friendships being made, old friendships rekindled and some barrels. There were head, foot and leg injuries, scraped skin, broken boards, and loads of laughs. Here’s a very late version of an unpack.

Exit Bali

A motley crew assembled on the beach at Jimbaran, ready for the three-hour speed boat ride to Java. Some of us were more ready than others, but more later. So we split into two random groups, divided amongst the two speedboats in commission for the crossing.

A slow cruise out past Airport Rights and we are soon heading out into the deep. A glassy sea making the journey as pleasant as hoped. Some old friendships were quickly rekindled, some good yarns were about the last time some people had seen each other, and some solid catch-ups were made with old friends. There were also a few slightly anxious faces around. Non-stop chatter on the boats.

After about an hour, the ocean surface started moving around a bit. Some of the rookies started going very quiet, yawning a lot. The colours of their faces began changing ever so slightly from the fresh, pinkish complexions to a lighter shade of grass green that soon darkened. Konrad was the first to admit defeat, and hung his head over the rail to lose some breakfast. It was pretty funny for all except for Jack, who grabbed onto a bucket and did the same.
They both recovered though, and the rest of the trip was mellow.

Jawa Jiwa

Our base camp for the entire trip was the Jawa Jiwa camp, nestled between the Jungle Camp and Bobby’s. It’s an amazing place with excellent accommodation, top-class food and friendly and attentive staff. The meals were fresh and delicious. And when we needed anything extra – the set up for the lectures, projector, screen and anything else – it was service with a smile. We also had two families with us – Jon Cohen and Ant Buddle brought their families with some little members – and extra attention was needed here and there. All done with a smile.
The tents or the bungalows’ setup was nice and smart and made it very easy to get comfortable.

Opening night

As a first-timer, I knew no one at the Conference except Dr Phillip Chapman, the Surfing Doctors Founder and Dr Jon Cohen, whom I had spoken to on the phone several times. Otherwise everyone was a stranger here at the Surfing Doctors Conference 2023.

There was the established crew of Simon Nothling and Ant Brown, John Scott and Jon Cohen who there from the start, with Ant Buddle, Scott Stirling and Nick Maister part of the old guard. Apologies if I left you out, but the rest of the assembled crew were fresh cannon fodder.

Dr Chapman briefed everyone on what the Conference was about and what the vibe needed to be. In a nutshell, everybody needed to relax, do some work, get a decent wave count and make new connections. “If you learn three things during this time, I’m going to be stoked,’ he finished, before insisting on an introductory round of greetings from every surfer present. As we went around the room and everyone got the opportunity to introduce themselves, Only Rory van der Linde was forced to stand up as Phillip wanted everyone to admire his long blonde hair.

It took a little while for some crew to realise the full extent of the relaxed vibe and the quirky, off-beat sense of humour of people like Phillip, Dr Scott Stirling and others.

The Attachments

There were a rag-tag bunch of surfers with various rides, varied skill levels, and various attachments. The seasoned G-Land travellers had all the necessary gear, including wetsuits with pockets, thin reef booties that go into your pockets, helmets, hats, rash vests with pockets, the best sun protection and the best leashes. Their boards were finely tuned for barrels, steep takeoffs and big drops. Some rookies had small boards, standard small wave shooters, a few mid-lengths, and the go-to shooters you would use daily.

Then there were a few older crew from other camps and other eras, who had 7’8″, four-inch thick epoxies, impact vests, helmets, water, lunch, Apple watches so that they could take calls, and they were covered so thick in a white paste that they were going to actually get untanned while in Indonesia and would only be able to scrape that stuff off at the end of their trip with a spatula and a butter knife.
Some of the rookies, however, had no boots, no helmets, no sun hats, and instead had all-over body lycra. In fact, Tait might even have had leopard-skin lycra pants.

First Session

Just paddle out at the keyhole.

What fucking keyhole? After 40 hours of blithering around Addis Ababa and spending 17 hours on two flights from Joburg to Singapore, I was a bit of a mess when I finally got to the top of the point.
There was no keyhole. Six-foot sets were just grinding down the point and it was going to be pure potluck as to who got out with dry hair and who got hammered.

I went far up the point. Further than usual. I hadn’t been in G-land for over a decade and couldn’t remember my old jump spots. Others went further but might have been looking for the mythical G-Land rights. I walked out, threw my trusted 6’8 Firewire down and started paddling slowly. As most will attest to, the start of the paddle out at G-land is slow, but then something takes over and you start getting sucked out fast, especially on a solid day. As I started feeling the pull, I waited until I eventually took a chance and swung to the right, hoping to find a gap.

“Was that your paddle out?” asked Dr Ant Brown that evening. He witnessed me getting a growing reef-hugger six-foot-plus impact directly on my head. I bailed, brushed the bottom, and got stick there for a while before I shot up and broke surface to face a second beast. Bailed again and felt the current swirling underwater. As I surfaced I grabbed my board and this massive surge of current washed me down the point and out and I was suddenly calmly sitting with everyone else in the lineup. “I’m only looking for the big ones,” said some unknown soldier who paddled straight up to me out of the blue with dead eyes. “That’s fine,” I said, “I’m looking for the other ones.”

The Neverending Swell and the Problems with the Charts

These days the swell charts are so accurate, that you can plan your session to coincide with the peak of a swell. Back home, where I live, is so dependent on swell direction. An extra couple of degrees means you’re either looking at a flat lineup or at 6-foot waves. With a headland and strong winds, sometimes the waves just don’t get around the corner, so a 2,7-meter swell in my neighbourhood is ordinary, smallish. Should have some fun out there. In fact, those in the know only head for JBay when the magical fives happen – 5 metres, 15 seconds, etc.

Yet here we were with a 2,7-meter swell bearing down on us that had the regular crew starting to get a bit edgy, checking out their bigger boards, changing fins and leashes. I had yet to learn why. It looked fun, and the idiot version of the swell charts showed 4 to 5 feet at 16 seconds, “Could be some nice shoulders,” I thought. Yeah right.

So, 2.7 meters at 16 seconds at whatever degree of south it was, translated to Gnarly with a capital G. Pads to Speedies turned into a heroic zone where only the brave would be rewarded. While many went to Kongs and Moneys, the good stuff happened further down, but I eventually figured out the charts.

The battle with the Bintangs

There is nothing quite like sucking on an ice-cold Bintang after a long day in the waves. The Jawa Jiwa Beers were always ice cold; beers usually arrived about 30 seconds after your order. After a dehydrating day in the water, they go down quickly, and the first three don’t touch sides. Which is awesome, but they eventually make you want to go and lie down and remember the day’s waves instead of hanging out, listening to lectures and workshops and being more social. Or maybe it was just me.

Still, I discovered the rejuvenating effect of Spiced Bacardi and Coke. It made me feel alive, talkative, and in good spirits despite the scraps I got in the G-Land lineup most days. But the boys and girls all had waves daily, as the photos can attest to, and everyone gave it some serious stick out there.

Here There Be Tigers

When G-Land gets too gnarly there is always the option of Tiger Tracks, there are many waves down the inside of the bay, with good rights and lefts on the higher tides. There’s also the option of 20-/20’s. Still, the surfers amongst the Doctors crew looking for a slightly more sedate session opted for Tigers. On top of that, there was suddenly an alarming trend of doctors jogging down to Tigers in the evening to get a bit of a sweat on. When you’re in the jungle, it’s been raining, and the sun is now out, a bit of a sweat is an understatement of the year. It is 6 kilometres there and another 6 back. The crew got their sweat on alright, all in the name of fitness.

G-Land miscellanea. Kit, outfits, wetsuits, monkeys, leopards.

The week before we arrived, there had been random sightings of a leopard on the loose, catching and eating monkeys at the Tiger camp, so we were all on the lookout. On top of that, there were a few frisky monkeys around. Still, none of those big alpha male pack leaders have terrorised surfers and almost brutalised Dr David Hateley on a previous trip (Dave wasn’t with us).

Many of us walked with monkey sticks and used loud noises when accosted on the pathway. There was no drama, but apart from the leopard from the week before, there were troops of wild pigs, bucks, snakes, monkeys, peacocks, rats and mice and a horde of other wild animals all cohabitating with us in the jungle. It is a wild experience, but you must keep your wits about you. A few baby wild pigs got caught on the wrong side of the path and were inadvertently cut off from their parents by some surfers walking. The dads and moms started snorting and pawing the ground, and everyone got out of there as fast as they could, allowing the pig children easy access to their parents.

The swell was non-stop from the moment we arrived. There were broken boards aplenty, and the board repair person at The Jungle Camp was doing good trade. Tait and Nick Meister quickly broke boards, followed by Sam Duffy and Chester. Sam went on to break a second board, and crease someone elses, so it was a good result all around.

Educationals and Talks

Some of the lectures and talks included the following topics:
Procedural sedation, optimising subxiphoid views in Basic ECHO, postcardiac arrest cares, MSK injuries and how management differs when in the jungle, talks on posterior knee dislocation and hip dislocation procedures, stop the bleed compressible haemorrhage talks, and an epic talk on urchins and urchin removal and I cannot remember who did that talk, but the slides for this talk were award-winning in their grossness.

Closing function

Just like that, we started wrapping up the Conference. The closing function was all in! It was a blast, with traditional dancers and priests putting on such a performance that the other camps heard about the party and heard the music, no doubt, and pulled into Jawa Jiwa for a last-night bash. The Bintangs were flowing. Doctors, visitors, and girls were on the dance floor with the traditional dancers, all adorned with traditional red scarves, and the music pumped all night.

Some took it easy, knowing about that pesky 2,7 meter south swell, while others threw caution to the trade winds and went as hard as they would anywhere. By this stage I had converted quite a few conference attendees to the therapeutic and regenerative properties of Spiced Bacardi and Coke, and they were flowing everywhere. There were some old friends from other camps who came up and hung out, and all in, a raucous and fitting end to a massively successful conference. Those in attendance have all expressed serious intent to return next year, and I’ll be there to hang out with them. Again.

Getting the F out of dodge

The morning after the closing party was solid, as the charts had forecast. It looked like 10-foot sets grinding down the reef and focusing on the bottom sections. Quite a few of us were booked on the speedboat and drove past the lineup as sets poured through. Surfed out and sated, it was a fitting end to one of the best trips ever.

Despite hitting the trade winds about halfway back, everyone managed to stave off the nausea of mal de mer and alighted safely back in Jimbaran, straight into 8-foot Ulus and some bombs at Padang. It never ends, does it?

If you want to learn more about the Jawa Jiwa camp in G-Land – Jawa Jiwa website.

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Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023
Surfing Doctors Conference 2023