THE COAST STUDIO: What’s up Dave! Welcome back to Aus. What brings you back?
DAVE CRUCES: It's always great to be back in Aus! This trip was planned so I could be here for the premiere of a surf flick called "Don't You Even Worry About It", which was shot on my boat, Nyata. The film premiered at the Noosa Surf Film Festival, an awesome new event celebrating Aussie surf culture through film. It was an epic night, so much fun to catch up with all the boys who came up to the Mentawais to shoot the movie. I do try to get back to Aus fairly regularly, most of our charter guests on Nyata are Aussies, and we've got some new projects in the works with some partners on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
TCS: So tell our readers about Nyata Co., how did it all get started?
DC: My business partner and lifelong friend Ben Haigh passed away earlier this year, he is the reason we are where we are and can give such great cheap trips to the Ments. We were on a beach in Thailand one year and looking at fishing boats in the bay. Both of us being avid mariners, we sat there with a cold beer and said, “ Wouldn’t it be great to get one of those boats and just cruise around the world looking for surf!” Well Ben ended up working for Quicksilver as a cook on the Crossing and travelled around the world doing exactly that on someone else’s boat. It didn’t take long till he found the right boat (Nyata) on his travels and gave me a call and said, “Dave, I’ve found it!”
From there it’s been a long and hard road to get Nyata to what she is today, and looking back on it, I’m very proud at what has been achieved. Now with Ben gone, this year has been full of emotion. Ben’s wife Babi is now in Sumatra with the rest of the Nyata crew, both of us pursuing to keep the dream alive, and giving our guests the best possible surf trip for the best price.
TCS: What does Nyata mean?
DC: The word "Nyata" means "real" in Indonesian. It sums up what we're all about – delivering surf charters at a real price that more surfers can afford, and just giving you all the essentials you need on a surf trip. We find the waves, the fish when they're biting, we cook up awesome food, and we keep the Bintangs icy cold. All the things that make an epic trip for a bunch of mates, without the frills that you don't really need. Coming from a blue-collar background and spending years on the tools, we're just trying to keep it real and keep things affordable for more surfers to be able to come and have a dream trip, with a whole boat to yourselves.
TCS: The Mentawais were once a hard-to-reach surf destination but it's pretty busy now with so many boats and resorts. Is the Mentawais still a bucket-list type surf trip for Aussies nowadays?
DC: Yeah for sure. The Ments have definitely gotten more busy over the last few years. Nyata prides itself on getting you uncrowded waves and we do that most for the 10 days you’re out there. Apart from the famous waves that everyone wants to see and surf, you soon find yourself wanting the seclusion, and with only 5 guests onboard, it’s not very hard at all for us to deliver that. Those are the best moments on a surf charter. The waves in the Ments are still some of the best in the world and we have plenty of guests who come back every year on Nyata.
TCS: What’s the most important aspect of your service to your customers? What do you want them to get out of spending time on the Nyata?
DC: We're really about making it affordable so everyone can do it, but it's also about giving our guests a real Indonesia experience. Our boat, is a traditional cargo vessel that we've customised and re-built into a charter boat. We serve a mix of western food and local Indonesian dishes, and our guests will meet plenty of locals on their trip; our own crew as well as people in the towns and villages. We love Indonesia and its people. They're some of the friendliest you'll ever meet.
TCS: I hear you're getting into surfboard collaborations now? Tell us more about the film the Nyata featured in.
DC: Yep we're working on a collaboration with Clay Crafts surfboards from the Gold Coast to create our own range of Nyata boards that we'll have available for purchase online and up in our concept store in Padang really soon. Brendan Clay Leckie is one of the most talented young board shapers in Aus right now and his boards are starting to be seen up and down the east coast of Aus. We're stoked to be working with him. He knows the Ments, so our range is designed specifically for the conditions. It’s pretty cool to be able to offer our guests the chance to buy a new Nyata board to bring out on their trip and they can pick it up when they arrive.
Having The Nyata feature in a short film was epic, we wanted to create a movie that really gave the viewer the feeling of being on a surf charter with a group of mates, and capture some of the amazing surfing these guys are doing. Clay Crafts shaped 40 new boards for the trip for 6 surfers and we used every one of them.
TCS: What's the hardest thing about life in Sumatra and what's been your biggest challenge getting Nyata Co. up and running?
DC: Indonesia is the wild west at times. Anything is possible, but it’s hard work getting there. Every day you never know what you’re going to wake up to when you open the door, and at times you find yourself wondering why you’re there. It’s hot, dusty, unsafe working conditions and a constant struggle with the local language to get exactly what you want, but you get through it eventually. When you wake up on the boat out at the first break at sunrise and it’s peeling perfect, you forget about all the heartache and remind yourself why you're there.
TCS: Describe an average day in the life of Dave Cruces?
DC: As I mentioned earlier, you never know what you are going to get when you open that front door, but my days are mostly made up of creating new things for our headquarters situated on the edge of the Sumatran Jungle. It’s great to finally have our own place and our boat moored right out the front. I’m also working on our custom motorbike range for the Nyata Moto shop in Padang, which we are in the process of taking to Australia next year. We’re also collaborating with different artists to release our own clothing line that encompasses the Nyata brand. I’m constantly updating our website with new content and our social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram so our guests can keep track of what they can expect on there charter. And of course the boat itself – I’m always working on it, keeping it looking the goods. There is always something to do.
TCS: Here at TCS, our coastlines and the ocean are what fuel our motivation. I imagine you must have a similar outlook. How do you think the ocean inspires you?
DC: Growing up back in Manly in the good old days, the ocean was everything to us. It’s the reason we have our boat. It inspired us, as most surfers or mariners know, it invokes freedom, or the idea of it. Any day is a good day to be out on the water.
TCS: What’s next for you? Where do you see Nyata taking you?
DC: We love our little boat Nyata, she may be the smallest in the fleet, but she inspires our guests and most of all where we want to head. It’s all about making things we love affordable for everyone. It’s the blue collar workers who create this world we live in, and we want to give back to those who dream of things they think they can’t have. Our motorbike range is going to be at a price you love…cheap. Our boards, clothing and apparel will be the same. Good solid products that last and that you don’t have to save for. The surf industry has lost touch with the culture that created it. It’s not about the money for us, it’s about setting up our Nyata guests with what we all want - great waves, epic boards, cool bikes and clothes to boot!