Bali's home-grown surfers
Last week I posted about Diah Rahayu, Bali’s only female professional surfer. One of the things Diah said about being a female surfer in Indonesia was that her friends believed it was dangerous and therefore weren’t so likely to get in the water. The modern girls of Bali aren’t the only ones to feel this way. Apparently being wary of the sea is widespread and goes back far into the country’s past.
All things considered, a healthy fear of big waves isn’t a bad thing as far as survival goes. Throughout history and perhaps for most of the world even now, being safe has been and is more of a priority than having a bit of fun by doing something that can be quite risky. This cautiousness is even contained in the folk spiritualism of the country.
Indonesians believe that the ocean is very, very dangerous and the sea god is going to take you away.
—Legendary Indonesian surfer Rizal Tandjung
Many Indonesians can’t swim, what to speak of surf. Even some fishermen can’t swim. But thanks to local pioneer surfers who got turned onto the sport by watching foreigners, surfing has also become a home-grown industry that offers both economic opportunity and fun, despite still lingering cultural taboos.
40-year-old Rizal Tandjung is a professional surfer who has been riding the waves since the tender age of eight. He also owns a chain of surf shops and runs Hurley Indonesia/Bali. For people like Rizal and his son Varun, surfing has been an incredible and life-shaping opportunity. Coming from a place like Bali, where the waves are perfect for the sport, traditional barriers are simply not enough to stop a natural love of the sea, inspired by an imported lifestyle that seems to be tailored to suit many locals.
For a live view of some of those famous Bali waves, check out Surfline’s webcams direct from Uluwatu and Impossibles.