considering it’s Oney’s talent in the water that helped build the modest home. A low cobblestone wall lines the perimeter of the property and fishing nets hang from the shade trees in the front yard. A crew of workers is busy building an extension to the house and construction materials are splayed out under the trees. Oney’s mother, Janu, greets us and apologizes for the construction. Things are good, she says. Between his school and contest schedule, Oney doesn’t get home often (Rip Curl agreed to pay for at least two trips home per year), so it’s a treat to have her youngest son sleeping in his old bed. Living in Australia to finish high school and improve his surfing is what’s best for both Oney and the family, she says. “Oney and Gazalin are the only ones who help,” says Janu. “We depend on them.” The youngest of 12 children – nine brothers and two sisters – Oney packs for more than just himself when he visits home. This time he’s brought a bulky suitcase filled with clothes and shoes of various sizes for his family. He’s also brought a little kangaroo stuffed animal for his baby nephew, some aboriginal crafts for his mother, and of course, surfboards: one for his brother, one for his uncle and one for his nine-year-old nephew, Andre, the family’s next surfing phenom. “I like my family to be surfers,” says Oney. The first thing you see when you step inside the Anwar household are Oney’s trophies. A slew of awards – everything from the Lakey Boardriders Comp to the Rip Curl GromSearch – are displayed on a small bookshelf and spill onto the floor. Most are for First Place. Tacked to the wall above the trophies are a few faded photographs of Oney surfing and a tattered page torn from a Surfing magazine, circa 2007. The spread is from an article in the annual Bali issue featuring “five Indonesian youths on the rise,” as selected by Rizal Tanjung. Of the five groms profiled, Oney is the only one
from outside Bali. The opening spread shows him flashing a shy smile next to four of Bali’s brightest young surf stars: Garut Widiarta, Mega Semadhi, Mustafa Jeksen, and Raditya Rondi. All four of the Bali boys grew up with a booming surf industry in their backyard. In contrast, Oney’s primary link to the world beyond Lakey was visiting surfers. He would hang out at the warungs all evening, his mother tells us, fetching food and beers for the sunburned men, and listening to their stories of faraway places.
stumble along the sidewalk. Women, smelling of vanilla and jasmine, strut up and down the street in high heels and short dresses, displaying sunkissed skin. Everywhere people are selling things – watches, shoes, laser pointers, a wallet that breathes fire when opened. Oney is transfixed by the frenetic energy all around him. This island is strange; a little scary. While he doesn’t know it now, this place will become Oney’s second home. //
It’s two in the morning on his first night in Bali and Oney Anwar is standing in front of Kuta’s Bounty nightclub. He’s sipping a Sprite, waiting for his new friends Cory and Beau to return from the club. His chaperones bought him the soda and told him to wait outside before disappearing into the thumping darkness. Jalan Legian is bustling with people, but Oney is the only fifth grader among them. Cory and Beau are surfers from Santa Cruz. During their stay in Lakey, the two men took such a liking to Oney that they offered to bring him to Bali. Although he didn’t admit it, Oney was scared on the flight over. It was his first time on a plane and Cory and Beau let him sit in the window seat. Looking down on Sumbawa from above the clouds, Oney felt like he was in a dream. Then they arrived in Bali and it felt like he had landed on another planet. In Lakey everything shuts down after dinner time. But Kuta never goes to bed. Chickens and goats have been replaced by lines of cars and beeping motor bikes. Small warungs of warped wood are now gleaming white malls full of bright lights and shiny windows. Oney has never seen so many people in one place. A river of faces, rolling by in endless shapes and colors. Young men, sweating and red in the face,
Oney isn’t the first surfer to make it out of Lakey. There were others before him: Joey Barrel; Dedi Gun; his older brother, Gazalin. But Oney’s always had a special quality that hints of big things to come – beyond Lakey, beyond Bali. “When I first met Oney, I knew he was going to come to Bali,” says Kuta kingpin Made “Bol” Adi Putra, who first noticed Oney in Lakey when he was 12 years old. “He was so small, but had such a big personality. He reminded me of the kid in that movie Slumdog Millionaire.” After observing the charismatic grom in and out of the water during a oneweek trip to Lakey, Bol told Oney he would hook him up with Volcom if he came to Bali. Oney came to Kuta and stayed with Bol for four months. Volcom stickered up his board, saddled him with new clothes, and gave him 50,000 rupes per day spending money (about $5 US). Three meals a day, no bottle collecting required. Tagging along with Bol, Oney was quickly adopted by the Bali locals. From Kuta to Keramas, Sanur to Ulus, everyone knew Oney. He continued to visit Bali for months at a time, competing in all the grom contests and crashing wherever there was an open couch. Bali-based photographer Nate Lawrence was one of several people who Oney stayed with over the years. “I would get busy, go on a trip