Bonne Gea was born on the Indonesian island of Nias. An island which has changed a hell of a lot, since the perfect right hand point break in front of her house was discovered by surfers in the 1970s. Indonesian men didn’t surf never mind the women, who were meant to purely work the home, but Bonne Gea tossed that stereotype into the frothing whitewash and got fully involved in the shred. She’s now a pro based in Bali, having become Indonesian Women’s Champ five times and Asian Women’s Surfing Tour Champ once in the process. Go Bonne!
The filmmaker Rebecca Coley would like to tell Bonne’s unique story and through her the narrative of Nias, an island changed beyond recognition by the fate of a surfing break. Read Rebecca’s interview with Bonne below and watch a short clip about the planned project Nias Point of Change below that.
How did you get into surfing?
It all started because of my brothers. I have four and two were surfers and also my house is right in front of the beach break at Sorake Beach on Nias Island. Everyday as kids we had a swim and we’d slowly hop on a board and catch some small waves in the white wash. Part of it was also the influence of growing numbers of tourists coming to visit Nias all the time. Some of them were staying at my place, a small shack for surfers on the beach.
How did the boys in Nias react to you surfing, were they always nice and encouraging?
The boys were fine and they always supported me all the time. We had a great small community of Nias boys who are now living here in Bali. So those boys, who were the same age as me or a bit older, were always proud of me being a professional surfer girl.
Did you surf broken boards left by tourists when you were a kid?
Yes I did. The boards were very old but at that time I didn’t care as long as it floated hahaha.
What made you move to Bali? Were you scared?
I came to Bali for the first time with my friends for a holiday, there was five of us from Nias, and I was the only girl amongst them. There were a few of the Nias boys who already lived here in Bali and they knew all the surf spots, so during our holiday they took me to surf to a few different places. So I was sort of not scared to start with because they always there with me, and we did things together as a group.
How did the sponsorship with Billabong happen?
It all started when I was surfing one day with a Billabong rash shirt on and one of the photographers here in Bali took a photo of me. Then my friend went to talk to Magic Wave magazine and told them that there’s a girl from Nias that surfs very good. Back then there weren’t many girls surfing. So they called me in for an interview just for a small article to go with that photo in the magazine. So then Billabong read that article and straight away searched for me, and I met up with their team and they gave me some clothing to thank me for wearing a Billabong shirt in the photo.
Then they offered to send me to a contest in Cimaja for the first time all paid for by Billabong, then off I went and made it to the contest and came 2nd. Billabong was so happy with the result that they keep sending me to do more and more contests around Indonesia.
Then they started to offer me a yearly contract. Then that yearly contract turned into a term of every 3 years now. So I’ve been with Billabong for 8 years now. I’m really loving it and enjoy it so much. Thanks to Billabong who’s been very generous to me for the last 8 years!