Interview by Nathan Myers
She is the Kelly Slater of Asian Women’s Surfing. If that says anything.
It doesn’t. Since there aren’t really that many Asian women competitive surfers out there.
But this is how it starts. One pioneer forging the way for others. And when it comes to Asian women’s surfing (in case you were worried), Yasnyiar “Bonne” Gea is that pioneer.
The 31-year-old surfer from the village of Nias, off Sumatra has won every single Indonesian Women’s Championship (five in a row) and the Asian Women’s Surfing title as well. To list her contest wins is basically to list the all the contests that have ever been.
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
She got 2nd, like, once.
SURFING: Is it lonely being an Indonesian woman surfer?
GEA: Yes! In Nias, where I grew up, there aren’t any other girls brave enough to surf. I started with a friend, but she moved to Australia. But I have lot of guy friends to surf with.
Why don’t more Indonesian women surf?
Because they are scared of getting a tan. They think they will never find a husband if their skin is too black.
Have you seen an increase since you started?
It has grown a bit in the last few years. Some just hang out at the beach, which is surprising too. I guess these ones realize that black is beautiful.
Where would they get that idea?
Western influence. TV and other media. I guess because it’s the 21st century and people are opening their minds to new things and respecting our culture at the same time. Women’s surfing could still use some better representation in Indonesia, like maybe a Miss Indonesia going surfing or a female president. I think if they had more prize money for the women people might see it as a real goal. Women here are still traditional.
Do you get respect from the men on tour here?
The guys are good and treat me with respect when we travel. I like traveling with the Billabong team because I trust them and know they’ve got my back in unknown areas.
What are you future plans for surfing?
To win more contests. [Laughs] I really enjoy traveling, and the competition gets better every year, so I need to stay in shape to keep up with the upcoming stars.
Hopeful thinking. Be careful what you wish for. And Salamat Natal.