In life, it is not so much about the destination than it is about the journey. Think about all the voyages you have taken in your life. Recall that 2 a.m. stoned 7-Eleven munchie run or even this four-year journey through college ending with graduation. In all these instances I am pretty sure the journey trumped the destination. However, surfer and eternal wave seeker Travis Potter, and his crew of surf searchers, may beg to differ. I had the privilege of viewing Potter in the world premiere of the surf documentary “The Forgotten Coast,” during the 2007 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Director Justin LePera follows an elite group of surfers on their quest to discover untapped waves. Potter is joined by world-class surfers Micah Byrne, Brian Conley, Brett Schwartz, Brandon Tipton, Daniel Thomson and Ben Knight, as they venture to the tiny islands of Indonesia on their search of the unknown. Equipped with boards, malaria medicine and Potter’s solid knowledge of the Indonesian language, the boys headed out, without any prior planning to the uninhabited outer islands. Along the way the weary, yet amped, travelers faced a few unexpected situations, from Tipton’s infected toe, to Potter snapping at the boat captain in Indonesian for leaving him behind.
Real and candid situations such as these set this documentary apart from other surf movies. That and the fact that these guys set out with the most minimal planning and supplies on a treasure hunt in search of the priceless. Not only were these A-frame waves pristine in every possible way – a fortune in and of itself – but these were waves that had never before been surfed. As I watched these fortunate fellows pull fat floaters, connect fluid turns and hit sharp cutbacks, I was awed at how the quality of their surfing was enhanced by the fact that no one had come before them. While this film slightly reminded me of the feral notion behind the Timmy Turner flick, “Second Thoughts,” it brought much more to the table with its high caliber of surfing and the boys’ simple interactions with the native culture. One of my favorite non-surfing scenes was when two of the guys stopped to patch a wound on a little girl, whose family didn’t have the means to take her to a doctor. Not only could they survive in the undomesticated and rip hard, but they also gave back to the people that shared their ocean with them.
I had the pleasure of chatting with these fine – yes, ladies, they were HOT – specimen on the red carpet just before the curtain pulled. I spoke with Potter about how he came upon this mission: “In the beginning it was just a matter of a lifestyle based on not having any money. Doing it on the cheapest budget we could possibly do it. It kind of turned into a thing, you know. It’s interesting cause not too many professional surfers travel like that. But at the same time I have grown to like it that way because there’s more memories involved. Ultimately, it’s always about the destination. But in the end the memories that last are the ones based on the journey.”
So, then which wins out? Here the low-budget travel through the stunning Indonesian islands is unmatched. That is, until reaching the destination, a surfer’s dream – perfect uninhabited surf – all just for you and your closest friends. I mean, who says it can’t be about both? Maybe that is the ultimate trip.