Passion Comes in Waves


Inspired by the success of Mick Fanning, Joel, Taj and Kelly, all surfers reaching middle age, Chris Ward, at 36 years old, wants a second chance at the world tour. And now, currently in training and deadly serious, boosting airs as high as anyone, he is good enough to do it. Scary hand-grab air, Secret spot. Lombok, 2015. He made it. Photographed by Pete Frieden

Wives are odd creatures.
But then, so are husbands.

Especially pro surfer husbands. And that goes double for pro surfers who travel with their wives. Those long suffering wives who get to go to the most beautiful places on earth with nothing really to do other than be a part of their husband’s trip. So, in honor of these long suffering wives, and to gain insight into their thoughts, we offer to you the following pages from Michelle Ward’s Indonesian journal. Michelle Ward’s un-edited impressions from she and her husband Chris’s recent strike into the wilds of Lombok.

Despite its simplicity and grammatical disasters, it’s a lot deeper than it may seem. It reflects the supreme patience of these traveling women and their incredible capacity for tolerance. As witnessed in this piece of revisionist history about a trip with the great Chris Ward. Because as anybody that has been within ten meters of Chris Ward knows, nothing he does or thinks even remotely resembles a romantic vacation. The man can be as sweet as any of us, but is mostly, and in a strange way lovingly, a walking powder keg.

But that’s just not how wives and Mother’s see things… is it?

No one has a better surf partnership with his wife. Photographed by Pete Frieden

Our Trip To Bali, March 2015
By Michelle Ward

(NOTE: All Surftime comments are published in red and may or may not be the same opinion as the writer of this article. It is simply an attempt to read between the lines).

We arrived in Bali. (Oh my God).
First time without our baby CJ, besides before he was born of course. (Of course).
It was 2 nights in a villa catching up on sleep, and indulging in our favorite Balinese food and drink. (That’s splendid). Then we got the massages to shake off the jet lag. (Two days later?).
“To Lombok…lets go. It’s going to be firing” said Pete Matthews of Rip Curl Bali. (There also happened to be a Rip Curl Gromsearch going on at the time on Lombok and Pete Matthews was court ordered to attend). So I had no choice, but to pack a smaller bag, shower, then to the ferry we go. Not without a few Bintangs of course. (We personally shared 32 of them with Chris Ward).

We arrived in Kuta Lombok early, maybe 5:30 am. I needed coffee. (Christ, We all did). So we went. (Great!). Then straight into the ocean. (With the coffee?). I needed to rinse the ferry off of me and jump into the Indian Waters. (Which Indians?). After 4 days in Kuta Lombok, finding the most beautiful bays that looked like Thailand. Water and mountains like something out of a dream. I knew. (Huh?).

Chris Ward’s relationship with Desert Point is as intimate as Gerry Lopez’s once was with Pipeline. Surfing for up to six hours at a time, good friends with the locals, putting in his hours with intensity and deep respect, it is said that Chris is never happier than when he takes off at Desert Point. And from age 16 to now, he still has the best backside off the lip in the world. Photographed by Mick Curley

It was time. Chris knew it too. Chris saw the swell. “I’m not worried about what we have to do in Bali, we are going to Desert Point!, pack your shit!” (Ah…the romance of it all). I Skyped my son who was with my father, John Kenney, long time lifeguard in Hawaii and old longboarding legend, and told him we were going to Desert Point. That I would have no Wi-Fi for a few days and he replied, “It’s your husbands favorite wave in the world, I’ll talk to you in a few.” (God willing).

So we went. (As said, you had no choice). May I mention the reason I didn’t bring baby CJ Ward who is the first white baby at age 8 weeks, to travel to Desert Point Lombok, and has been there 8 times, is because it’s the wet season. (Hang on, let us catch our breath after that sentence). As a mother I couldn’t bear the thought of my son getting Dengue or anything worse. (Like getting drunk with Chris Ward?). Protection was my goal. (Thanks be to the Gods).

So it was myself, Michele Ward, my husband Chris Ward of course, (We were wondering who was on this trip) photographer Pete Frieden and his Indonesian girlfriend (That we don’t wonder about at all) are loaded in a van. Off to Desert Point…lets go! (Indeed, a recipe for pure joy, at least for Pete Frieden).

Unknown to most, Chris ward is actually half Thai. Perhaps it is his Asian blood that allows him such good relations with the Indonesian locals wherever he goes. Also an inspiration, here Chris, paddling out at a Lombok secret spot, pushes Awan to reach for the stars. Something that Chris Ward is once again doing himself. Photographed by Pete Frieden

We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get to the water. To get down to my favorite beach and say hello to all the beautiful children there that had befriended my baby boy 6 months prior. “Where is Cj?” Everyone there wanted to know. They had missed him. (So do we at this point).
The children there are the most beautiful creatures you have ever seen. (Don’t tell CJ that). They wear the same clothes everyday, (That must be lovely) surf naked on broken boards with one fin, (Ouch) and have these smiles that just melt you.

Of course we had to deal with Pete Frieden’s mood swings that give me whiplash (The most accurate sentence ever written in this magazine), scorching heat, Chris and his continuous Bintang flow, (We’ve all been there) but this is Deserts. This is a second home for us. We don’t mind. (We?).

The next morning Chris told me it was time to learn to shortboard. I have longboarded since age 4, but never short boarded. I got caught by 10 solid waves that day. “Ok babe,your done, time to film” said Chris. (There is that romance again) So out of the water and to the camera I went as Chris paddled back out. (Paradise, population two).

One thing that a lot of people around the world don’t know is Chris’ amazing connection with this place and the locals there. Maybe because he is half Thai. (Has to be). All day in the water with Budi, Usman, Awan, Sol, the boys. Chris will tell me how they are his brothers, and in all the world traveling we do, I never see my husband more joyful then he is at Desert Point. More there then anywhere on this globe. (Peace, at last).

I spend 90 percent of my time while there behind the camera. It’s hot, like scorching hot all day. (Wait a minute, did we speak too soon?). But if a set comes and I miss the clip, well let’s just say I’m in the dog house for the evening. (Sound’s reasonable). I love being Chris’ filmer/photographer, yet it does get challenging in the temperatures there. (We can only imagine).

Ahhh. I almost forgot. The biggest challenge of all. Getting Chris Ward to LEAVE this place. It’s always “One more Bintang with the boys”. (Again, Sounds reasonable). We wait until sundown. (If the beer’s cold, why not?). But Pete Frieden’s Indonesian girlfriend did not understand. Alright, here we go). She wanted to go back to Bali. (Well, you did say it was damned hot). So I decided to nap (A good defense) and when I woke up, she was gone. (Any wonder?). Budi replied, “She took off down the trail. She left. Many girl cannot handle Desert.” (No shit). Pete was pissed! (Sounds reasonable) Chris got out of the water reassuring him we would find her. (That’s a good mate). We found her at the end of the rocky trail, got her safely in the car and tried to assure her, we were going back to Bali now. (Did it work?).

The ferry. Oh Lord. Chris must get at least fully buzzed to get on that thing, (Watch out!) and we usually sleep in the car to pass the time. Or so we asked. See, Pete Frieden drove and he was making the calls. (Did he get to pick the music too?). Chris was furious! (Has anyone out there been around Chris Ward while he has been drinking? It’s not furious, it’s a f*cking typhoon). “We are f*cking sleeping in the car in the AC or I’m going to slash your f*cking tires!” Said Chris (Politely?) Boy, it sure got heated on that windy road back to the ferry. (Sounds like it).
Pete finally gave in (Shrewd) and in the car we slept. (All four of you?)

We woke up in Kuta the next day, (Woke up or came to?) and it all seemed like a dream. (With a few nightmares?). We started going over the photos and footage and were already ready to go back. (You have GOT to be kidding).

There’s something mystical about that spot. (And Chris, apparently). That gorgeous wave. Something you can feel in your heart. The smiles. The smiles. You can’t have a bad day at Desert Point with all those beautiful smiles. (Unless your Indonesian Girlfriend bails on you down a rocky trail). The people there have have everything. They have the purest life. (Until we show up, apparently). It’s mesmerizing.

Don’t get me wrong, (Oh don’t worry, we haven’t) for a woman, as a filmer, it’s a mission. But it’s my home. It’s our home. Pieces of our soul dwell in those waters, on that sand, and with those fantastic people.

And of course with those smiles. (And we pray that you realize our comments have all been in fun, surfing fun. Surftime loves you both and look forward to your next adventure here in Indonesia).