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Rio Waida’s qualification for the 2023 CT represents a giant leap forward for Indonesian surfing. The Indo archipelago’s population is nudging towards three hundred million and Waida is set to become one of the biggest names in the island nation. However, long before Rio’s lethal whips were taking down competitors on the Challenger Series, two iconic Balinese surfers were travelling the world in search of a professional career. In the interview below, from the March 1981 issue of Tracks, Paul Holmes catches up with Balinese juniors Made Kasim and Ketut Menda. With welcome honesty they discuss the hassled Australian lineups, getting lost in big cities and the challenge of finding flowers in Bondi for their daily Hindu ceremonies. These days Kasim is a Hindu priest and prominent businessman while Menda went on to have a successful career in the surf industry. However, back then they were just a couple of teenagers travelling through Australia, surfing new waves and figuring out a different culture.
MADE AND KETUT
Interview by Paul Holmes: From the Pages of Tracks, March 1981
Ketut Menda and Made Kasim are 17 and 16 years old respectively and are the two hottest properties in Balinese junior surfing. Out in Australia for three months (Ketut
on a sponsored trip from Om Clothing as a result of winning the Bali Surf Club junior title and Made under sponsorship from Peter McCabe’s “Trade Winds Surfboards”) the two are intending to surf in as many contests as possible (except Bells which they say is too cold). Although lack of experience in Sydney’s beach breaks meant that neither of them got further than the second round in the Cue Pro Junior, their natural raw ability and enthusiasm suggests that, as Balinese surfing reaches maturity, they could well be Indonesia’s first two surfing professionals.
How are you both enjoying your visit to Australia?
MK: Yeah, enjoying it! The waves are the problem for me though. I’m not used to this kind of waves. In Bali we used to bigger waves.
Where do you surf mainly when you’re at home?
MK: Yeah, Ulu, everywhere, you know.
KM: We prefer reef surf. I need bigger wave. When I try to be radical here, I cannot do!
How long have you been surfing?
KM: Four years.
MK: Me, three years. We surfing every day together. We work together at Trade Winds Surf Shop, Kuta Beach, Bali. After working, surfing. We both work for Peter McCabe there.
How did you start surfing? What made you become interested?
KM: I met Australian friend Paul on the beach. He was surfing in Bali and let me go on his board. Then, when he leave Bali he give me his board.
MK: The first surfer I met was Peter McCabe. He lent me his board and taught me to surf.
Ketut, you’ve been to Australia once before. You must feel you know the place pretty well by now?
KM: Oh no! This place too big. I don’t remember! Last time I was here I got lost in Surfer’s Paradise..
MK: Everything’s different here. It’s much faster. It’s good. I hope I can come again.
How have you found it, going surfing here?
MK and KM: Hassle! (Laughter)
KM: Too many surfers here! I’ve been surfing North Narrabeen, Bondi, Bronte. I’m not local here so .. I don’t mind. I’m learning a lot.
MK: Yeah, I don’t mind, just take it easy and go for it! It’s OK
I’ve heard you’ve been keeping up the custom of making flower offerings while you’ve been here?
KM: Yeah, that’s true. I tried to find flowers to do it like we do in Bali everyday before we go surfing but we staying Bondi and there aren’t any flowers to find and no trees. Not like home. So we been making flowers out of paper.
MK: We have to do it – we Hindu.
People here don’t make flower offerings. Do you think that’s bad?
MK: No, it doesn’t matter. They have different religion they not Hindu.
Did you know that many people in Australia have no religion at all?
KM: Yeah, we know. Just one big party eh? Like in Bali too. But my god go with me anywhere. In Bali, in Bondi too.
Do you think that people who have no religion are missing out on something in life?
KM: Yeah, I think so. If I feeling unhappy I tell my god and I feel happy again. It make better.
What do you think of the Cue Pro Junior competition?
MK: Very hard. Very hot. Not so many hot surfers in Bali. Good contest though.
Which are the best surfers you’ve ever seen in Bali?
KM: Australian surfers. Australia very good surfing country. Better than Hawaiian. Peter McCabe, Terry Fitzgerald, Terry Richardson, very good surfer.
MK: Peter McCabe. Peter and Lopez. But Peter do more than just riding tube.
Before young Balinese surfers started people over there were afraid of the ocean. Is that changing now?
KM: Yeah, since tourists come and Balinese start surfing.
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
KM: I hope to be professional surfer. Like Cheyne Horan. Travel IPS circuit. I hope so.
MK: Yeah, I hope so too.