A Look at The History of Lances Right (HTs)

by | Nov 28, 2023 | Surf Spots

As a surfer, you would have to have been trying pretty hard to get this far without ever seeing a magazine cover of a perfect front-lit barrel at HTs, or a video of Slater, the Florences, or Koa Smith scoring the biggest swells here.

Nestled at the south end of Sipora Island, in the pristine waters of the Mentawai Islands, Lances Right, whether you call it that, Hollow Trees, or HT’s, is a legend in the world of surfing. Ranked as one of the world’s best waves, it’s a super consistent, fast, barreling right-hander, breaking right in our front yard at Villa Onu.

 So how did Lances Right become one of the world’s most iconic surf spots?

The discovery of Lances Right

Lances Right has a storied past that dates back to the late 1980s and the specifics of it vary depending on who you ask.

In the 80s, Martin Daley and his tight-knit crew aboard MV Indies Trader embarked on an exploration of the undiscovered waves of Mentawai. They were the pioneers of the original Mentawai Surf Charter, living the dream life, uncovering perfect waves and essentially having the entire Mentawai surf scene to themselves.

That was until they pulled up to HT’s on the 12th of March 1991, where they discovered a single Australian guy, Lance Knight who had beat them to it and had been surfing perfect right-handers to himself.

By Keels666 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99218647

They named the wave Lances Right, in honor of him, and to this day, Lance is acknowledged by locals to be the very first person to surf the wave in Katiet bay. For several years they kept Lances Right and other Mentawai spots, completely secret.

The secret was eventually blown when photos of the wave surfaced in surf magazines, leaked from a trip with legendary surfers Tom Caroll and Ross Clarke Jones in the 90s. This exposure catapulted the Mentawais, with HT’s leading the charge, to the top of every surfer’s dream destination and into every magazine and surf film. 

Kelly Slater sometime in the early 2000s at Lances Right, Surfers of Fortune, Quiksilver

Today, HT’s is widely acclaimed as one of the top 5 waves globally, known by any of its names — HT’s, Hollow Trees, or Lances Right. Its journey from secret to a renowned surf spot epitomizes the allure and perfection that have solidified HT’s as a true icon in the surfing world.

Where did the name Hollow Trees come from?

This is a good question and again depends on who you ask.

One version is that at some point shortly after the visit by the MV Indies Trader, a huge hollowed-out tree, washed onto the reef, and wedged itself upright, the locals began to call it Hollow Trees. The tree was eventually washed away by the swell, but the name Hollow Trees had well and truly stuck.

Another that Hollow Trees referenced the trees that used to line the shore, and the wave is hollow. Magazines and movies all referred to it as Hollow Trees in the 2000s, and so it became widely known as that.