somewhere, and I wouldn’t see him for a couple months,” recalls Nate. “Then I would see him in Bali with a group of surfers or some bule lady. Any time someone was coming back from Lakey they would buy him a ticket and he would come over with them. He was always making friends like that. You have to have that quality to get out of Lakey.”
Northern Beaches, Sydney, 2010
Oney Anwar looks out on the crowd gathered on the beach and raises the silver trophy high above his head. He’s just become the first-ever Indonesian surfer to win an ASP Pro Junior event. Oney came from behind to win a four-man final at the Dripping Wet Pro Junior, held in unremarkable twofoot beachbreak. Indonesian surfers aren’t supposed to excel in shitty beachbreaks. They aren’t supposed to travel well or enjoy surfing in cold water. Oney, who has spent the past three years living on the Gold Coast and sports a distinct wetsuit tan, begs to differ. “This is why I moved to Australia,” he tells the Australian press after his historic win, “to take my surfing to the next level.” There are tents, flags, and large speakers set up along the beach. There is prize money and cameras and many girls smiling at him. News of the feat will air on the local news tonight. Within hours, photos and a press release will be uploaded all over the internet. Oney’s Australian detour is beginning to bear fruit.
Lakey Peak, 2010
There’s no webcast of the Lakey Board Riders contest. There isn’t even a horn to signal the start of heats. All the locals gathered in the tower on the reef just scream in unison when it’s time for the surfers to paddle in. The winner receives a grand prize of 100,000 IDR, or about $10 USD. To
no one’s surprise, this year’s winner is Oney Anwar. His nephew, Andre, finishes fourth in the grom division. “You’re kidding me!” says Oney, watching the grom heats. “I can’t believe how good these kids are surfing.” Before the awards party, Oney takes his 100,000 rupiah bill to the local money changer and swaps it for a stack of 5,000 Rp bills. That evening at Fatma’s, he tosses the loose stack into the air, along with a fist-full of shiny Rip Curl stickers, sending all the groms in the room into a frenzy.
Oney Anwar is dwarfed by the massive red Rip Curl logo adorning the brand’s Asia headquarters on Sunset Road. He’s here for an important meeting with his sponsor. It’s become plainly obvious that Rip Curl has a prodigy on its hands. Oney has won nearly every major grom contest in Indo. But in order to groom him into a champion on an international scale, Oney must leave the comforts of home behind. Inside the office, at a long table beneath a large framed photo of Padang Padang, the Rip Curl brass present 15-yearold Oney with a proposition: move to Australia to finish high school and train with some of the best coaches in the sport. Instead of nasi goreng and perfect reef breaks, it’ll be a steady diet of meat pies and sand-bottom points. Instead of hanging at the Lakey warungs in the evenings with the latest surf dogs blown into town, it’ll be running sprints and mock heats with coach Phil McNamara (who also instructs Mick Fanning) on the beaches of the Goldie. Oney will live in Palm Beach with a homestay family, relatives of an Australian friend of his who stays in Lakey most of the year. He will study English for six months in an ESL program, then transfer to Palm Beach Currumbin High School. He will be one of only a handful of students to earn a
spot on the school’s surf team. He will make new friends, win the prestigious Queensland surfing title, and meet an Australian girlfriend. Of the more than 2,000 students at PBC, Oney will be the only one from Indonesia and the only Muslim. He’ll have to get used to wearing a wetsuit for part of the year. He’ll have to adjust to a new diet. He will miss the waves back home and the smell of his family’s house in the late afternoon when his mom is cooking curry.
Lakey Peak, 2012
Thirteen-year-old Andre Anwar is sitting on the back of the motorbike, chugging south of town. His uncle Oney is driving. Andre holds their boards, one under each of his skinny arms. Andre’s new Rip Curl hat is slanted sideways, “gangsta style,” as he calls it. Oney has found a brief window free from responsibilities. The film crew is busy interviewing Oney’s Aussie homestay family back in town. The journalist and photographers are escaping the midday heat at their hotel. Oney sewed up the last of the paperwork for his land deal this morning. It’s time to go surfing with Andre. It’s been six months, and Oney is curious to see how his young nephew is progressing. Andre is eager to show him. They pull up in front of Oney’s house at Cobbles and check the waves from under the shade of a tree. “Wait here,” Oney says, and disappears into the house. A few minutes later Oney reemerges into the front yard holding a brand new 4’9” thruster. He had it custom-made for Andre by his shaper in Australia. Oney can’t help grinning, anticipating his nephew’s fevered grom excitement. He calls Andre over, but gets no response. Oney walks down to the cobblestone beach and squints out at the water. Andre is already past the shorebreak, paddling intently out to the waves.