By Nathan Myers
Oney Anwar is Indonesia's next great hope. But they've been down this road before. And it didn't go so well.
No Indonesian surfer has ever qualified for the elite world tour. This is weird because if you watch any heat of the local Indonesian Surfing Championship (ISC) tour, you'd see that the talent in this country is on par with anywhere in the world. A dozen world class surfers, raised on world class waves and guided by a generation of local and international mentors with quality sponsor support. So what's the problem?
Travel issues, mostly. It's hard for Indonesians to leave their home county; a mix of difficult visas, disparate costs and lack of nasi goreng.
So what makes Oney Anwar's plans to crack the tour in 2013 any different those before him? A few years ago, Oney was one of the most buzzed about up and comers – a talented grom from a wave-rich village in Sumbawa with solid aerials, loose carves and a good head on his shoulders and in the tube (just watch the clip). But then he just disappeared. Dropped off the map.
Photo: Mick Curley
So, where did he go? He went to Australia to do the last thing you'd expect from any up-n-coming pro: to go to school.
His sponsor Rip Curl (and other international friends) helped Oney attend Palm Beach Currumbin High School on the Gold Coast as part of an International Grommet Development Program (if you don't know Australia, just think of surfing Snapper Rocks with Mick, Parko and Dingo every morning). Over his four-year tour in Australia, the village boy from remote Indonesia learned to surf in colder, shittier waves; survive long periods without his mom's noodles; speak fluent Surf-stralian; and hold his booze with other under-age drinkers. Or, um…
Actually, let's just ask Oney what he learned:
SURFING: So what did attending school in Australia teach you that Indonesian schools couldn't?ONEY ANWAR: How not to be a smartass to the teacher.
I'm guessing you still need some work on that skill. Come on, what did you really learn there? Discipline is probably the biggest thing I learned. In Australia I had to go to school every day, otherwise I'd be kicked out. Back home, if the waves were pumping I'd be out surfing all day and not even worry about school.
How did it feel to finally come home to Sumbawa after you graduated?
It was weird coming home this last time, 'cause I kept thinking I had to get back to school and worrying about when I'd have to leave again. But there's no more school to worry about. It made me appreciate the lifestyle I had in Australia, but I also know if that surfing didn't work out I could come home and be a taxi driver. If anyone out there needs a driver, I give you cheap price.
What did you miss most while you were living in Oz?
Waking up in the morning to a glassy A-Frame breaking left and right and not having to worry about the crowd. But now that I'm home, I miss having a stubby with my mates around the Barbie. Bloody good, aye.
How did Bintang taste after all that good Aussie beer?
I hate Bintang now. But I love goons, yeah. [Aussie box wine]
Was it hard watching all your friends compete in the good ISC events back home?
Yeah, those events are the best 'cause I get to surf perfect waves with all my Indo mates. But I'm so grateful for the opportunity to travel the world and surf different waves. It was worth the sacrifice.
So you're gonna try the world tour next year?
Definitely. Now that I'm out of school, I'm putting 100% into my surfing and training as much as possible. Next year I'll be competing full time on the WQS. So many talented Indonesian surfers have tried, but they didn't have the money to support their career. It's really difficult being Indonesian and trying to get visas to travel to all the WQS events.
So your time in Australia is a big part of you trying to qualify?
I hope so. I have awesome trainers here in Australia and it's given me the chance to train and surf with guys like Mick [Fanning], which has shown me what it takes to qualify for the WCT.
I hear Rip Curl is trying to help you get residency?
Yeah, we're trying but it's difficult. If that doesn't work, I might just have to marry an Australian girl.
Good luck out there, mate.
[Keep your eye out for Oney Anwar on next year's WQS events. He's a really talented surfer… and Indonesia's next great hope.]