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Where are you from? I’m from Kaliningrad, a western city in Russia. How are the waves there in Kaliningrad? We do surf there, but it’s not like the ocean waves in Bali. We are on the Baltic Sea so it’s only small wind-waves. After I discovered surfing in Spain I realized it is actually possible to surf in Kaliningrad. It’s not very good waves, but it’s possible. How long have you been surfing? I started six years ago, more or less. But I started working as surf instructor around four years ago. So I surf every day for four years now.

boring, but every day you have to explain the real basics to people. And after a while, you can get bored if you don’t like people and if you don’t like teaching. So you have to love surfing and you have to love teaching. Otherwise you would get bored very quickly.

talking to the waitress in the restaurant in Russian. And then they get angry when they don’t understand them.

Could I become a surf instructor?

Well, I can identify Russians because of the style. We don’t have any good style because we are too young.

Yeah, sure. Actually, in Europe for example, to be a surf instructor you need a qualification. You have to pass an exam. But here in Bali or in Dominican Republic you don’t have to. So I don’t have any paper which confirms that I have surf instructing qualification. In Europe you couldn’t work without it. But I think I could pass the exam. Are there any surf schools in Russia? No.

How do you become a surf instructor? Well it was pretty easy for me. After my first time surfing in Spain, I had a dream to be close to the ocean and surf all the time. At the time I had a normal job working in finance as a consultant. Then we had the crisis in 2008 and my firm didn’t have any contracts and I didn’t have any work. So I decided to take off for three months and try to go surfing. I wrote some emails to different surf schools, and one of them replied to me. It was Russian school in Dominican Republic. At that time I couldn’t actually surf well. But because I was into it and I could explain to people how to surf, the guys hired me as a surf instructor. How did you wind up in Bali? I came to Bali two years later for Russian surf competition. Every year we have in Bali a competition for Russians. And so from Dominican Republic I came here to compete, and I got a good result. I took third place and the guys from the school where I’m working now offered me a job. Where is the Russian surfing contest held? At Balangan beach, maybe you have heard about this beach? I don’t actually like it. It’s reef break, so it’s more dangerous there. But the wave is still ok. You couldn’t do a lot of tricks because the wave is really fast and kind of hollow. So it’s just about going straight, doing nothing. What qualifications do you need to be a surf instructor? Well, you have to like surfing first of all. Also, I wouldn’t say that sometimes it’s

Why do so many Russians want to come to Bali to learn to surf? Surfing is a trend in Russia now. I remember maybe five years ago I didn’t even know anything about surfing in Russia. Nowadays we have advertising with surfing for mobile phones and so on. There is more and more people interested in surfing in Russia. They see movies with Keanu Reeves learning to surf and they say, I want to try that! Do other surfers give you a hard time about the surf school? The good part about Kuta Beach is it’s a really long beach, so you can always find some space for the students. But the crowd is a really big issue here. The basics is that one wave is for one person. So if you have 40 people, you have to wait at least 40 waves before it will be your turn. I guess there is also a problem with Russians. Some locals don’t like Russians in particular. Why do you think that is? Russians are a bit closed-off. They are not that open-minded. When we had the Soviet Union we were cut off from the rest of the world and only between ourselves. Now we have the open borders and we can go anywhere, but still the mentality is the same – a bit closed. We don’t smile that much. We don’t communicate much. We don’t come into the store and say, hello, how are you? Not because we don’t like it, but because that’s just the way we are. And I think that’s why some of the locals consider the Russians to be rude. And also the big problem is we don’t speak other languages. All the time I see Russians coming here and

Can you identify a Russian surfer just by looking at them?

Who is Russia’s greatest surfer? Is there a Kelly Slater of Russia? No, no, no. For example, last year I was the Russian champion in longboarding. But if I will compare myself to the biggest names in longboarding in the world, I’m just a beginner. You have to understand that in Russia the history of surfing is only five or six years maybe. So we don’t have any big names right now. Where did you win the Russian longboarding title? It was in Vladivostok, on the east coast of Russia. The waves were not good. Actually, the waves weren’t big enough for the shortboard event, so we only had longboard. But it still feels good to win. Even though I’m surfing for only for four years, I have the title of Russian champion. But I never tell it to the Australian or Americans who can surf well because they would laugh at me. As long as you can tell Russian girls about it and they don’t laugh at you. Do you sleep with a lot of your students? Well (pauses). I don’t have to say this (more pause). It’s not considered a good thing at the school. Ok, have you dated many of your students? Well, yes. You have really close contact with your students, so it’s really easy. The first step is already done. You get introduced to each other; she knows that you’re a surf instructor, you know that she’s a student and she’s here for a while and she wants to surf and so on. And starting with surfing then you can get involved in some conversation, and then you can just ask her out. Or sometimes they ask me out. I wouldn’t say that I’m bored of it, but lately I’m beginning to think I need to stop and find just one woman. I’m not old, but I’m not getting any younger. I should become a surf instructor. Yes, it’s good.

Bali Belly Issue 001