A Kick In The Pants From Uncle Riz Not long ago a friend asked me what it felt like to be “semi-retired.” I responded by laughing in his face, which I think embarrassed him because we were in front of a big group of people. I couldn’t help myself. The idea of retirement just sounded funny to me. I know what he meant. I’m not waking up first thing in the morning and calling photographers and chasing waves the way I used to. I don’t have to get shots in the magazines or get the number one ranking on the ISC. My paycheck isn’t coming from there anymore. I have a family now. I have to get my kid ready for school in the morning and after that I have to go to the Hurley office and do my “real job” – meetings, budgets, deadlines. Surfing isn’t my first priority in life anymore. But I still love it. And I feel like now is the best time to be a surfer in Indonesia. When I started surfing in Kuta back in the day, I could never have imagined what surfing in Bali looks like today. Now we have state of the art surfboard factories operating in Bali and all the best shapers in the world come here to shape boards. The entire surf industry is here too. We have our own surf tour, we have our own media, we have our own filmers. Now my nine-year-old son Varun is surfing. When I was his age I was still going straight. He’s already doing grab-rail cutbacks and trying airs. Varun has his own custom surfboards. He’s growing up in a totally different world. As a grom I looked up to guys like Gerry Lopez and Peter McCabe. The best guys were just trying to get big barrels. Now the kids are watching Dane Reynolds, Julian Wilson and these guys doing all these crazy airs. I see the kids in Bali coming up like Garut, Tonjo, Marlon and Lee, and
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they’re pushing it with huge airs and riding big barrels. The level of the top guys in Indo is up there with the best anywhere in the world. They just need to get out there and chase their dreams. That’s my one criticism of the younger generation in Bali, they’re too comfortable just surfing at home. Don’t get me wrong, who wants to leave paradise? But home is always gonna be there, and you’re only young once. If you want to make your mark you have to get out there and travel and mix it up with the best. I did it for almost ten years. I wanted to see the world and I knew I only had one opportunity in life to do it. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. That chapter of my life is over, but my surfing is still progressing. That’s the beauty of surfing, it takes so long to become a master. Look at Kelly, he’s 40 years old and still winning titles. He’s the oldest surfer on tour and still the best at the game because the kids haven’t learned those Jedi tricks that you can only get from a lifetime in the water. I’ll be 37 this year and the way I see it I’m still young. I have no plans to give up my spot at Padang or start paddling an SUP around Nusa Dua any time soon. I might spend more time changing diapers and sitting in front of a desk these days, but when the waves get good I’m out there hunting for the wave of the day at the best spot on the island. If the waves are ever firing and I’m sitting on the couch watching ESPN, that’s when you can call me retired. – Rizal Tandjung
Bali Belly is an independent youth culture magazine based in Bali, Indonesia.