Exclusive Feature: Tipi Jabrik

CALL OF THE SEA. The winner of the Japan CHP International Challenge, one of Indonesia’s top surfers and the CEO of ISC (Indonesian Surfing Championships), Tipi Jabrik talks about life amongst the waves and cleaning up the beach. By Petricia Yuvita

 

 

The first time Indonesian surf champion Tipi Jabrik stepped into the sea was back in 1982, when he was just 5 years old. Thinking about it now, he says, “I can still remember it. There is a photograph of me when I was like 5 years old, standing on a boogie board in Blue Ocean Beach, Legian.”

Since that day, Tipi has always had at least one foot in the ocean. He has been one of Indonesia’s most prominent professional surfers for the last 17 years and in that time he has won many prestigious surf competitions such as the Japan CHP International Challenge and served as the CEO of the Indonesia Surfing Championship (ISC) association. Many consider him instrumental in defining and promoting Indonesia’s burgeoning surf industry.

When the ISC was first founded, it received a lot of support from big name international surfers and friend of Tipi such as Paul Anderson, Jeff Anderson, Kane Faint, Stephen Palmer and Charlie Kushner, which immediately helped establish the organization’s credibility. One of Tipi’s primary responsibilities with ISC is making sure that surfing competitions in Indonesia meet international standards, which has helped legitimize the sport here immensely.

Having been in the business of getting barreled for so long already, one might think that Tipi might have lost some of his enthusiasm. But you would be wrong. Tipi says, “I think what keeps me going in this sport is that I still love the feeling of riding the waves and exploring new beaches. It give me happiness.”

Tipi says he doesn’t consider himself a competitive surfer anymore, “I was, but not now. I just love free surfing, going to new places and exploring. My competitive highlights maybe came when I was younger. But I do still travel around the world competing on the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Qualifying Series tour.” Besides surfer competitions, Tipi is also active as the ambassador for brands that are trying to raising awareness about coastal environmental protection in Bali, “I’m the Coca-Cola Ambassador for the beach clean-up program. I’m also working with my sponsor Quiksilver on the same program. My job is to increase awareness that this is everyone’s responsibility, not only one or two people or groups.” “Currently we clean up five beaches in Bali (Legian, Seminyak, Kuta, Kedonganan and Jimbaran) and we have collected thousands of tons of rubbish in the last four years of this project,” Tipi says.

To further raise awareness, Tipi has helped brand the latest Indonesian Surfing Championship Tour the “Green Tour.” It’s not just a name either—every ISC surf competition will be held in conjunction with clean-up programs aimed at teaching Indonesians the importance of clean beaches. Tipi laments the fact that one of the beaches most badly in need of cleanup is the one closest to his home. “The worst is surfing in my home break, Legian beach, which has oceans of plastic rubbish. It’s really that bad! This is a major problem in Indonesia—everyone just throws their trash into the river and it all ends up on the coastlines.”

 

 

According to Tipi, the surfing industry in Indonesia is getting better, but government support is still needed. “[Indonesian surfers] can be successful, but it will be hard. They need to get visas for competitions, but the ministry of youth and sports does not really recognize us, so we need to handle everything on our own.” Speaking about his itinerary for the rest of the year, Tipi says, “Our plan is to finish the ISC tour and the Asian Tour. We still have to travel to Phuket, Malaysia, Taiwan and a couple more events in Indonesia. And my personal job is working with Quiksilver and Coke on our ‘Beach clean-up’ programs. We will go to beaches, clean them up and educate people on how to take care of our own environment. Other than that, I will be running my restaurant and Mantra bar in Seminyak.”

Indonesia is considered by some to be the country with the best waves in the world and Tipi couldn’t agree more. When asked what his favorite surf spot in the country was, he answers, “The best place to surf is all over Indonesia. From Aceh to Rote Islands on the Indian Ocean and from Papua to Maluku for the Pacific ocean. My personal favorite is the Mentawai Islands and, of course, Bali.” You would think fifteen years in the world of competitive surfing would lead to some upsetting losses or injuries But Tipi said, “Actually I haven’t really had any major setbacks in my career. I always see things as an experience. Everything is a learning process towards success.” Tipi, who is a brand ambassador for Quiksilver sportswear, may take on another title soon – fashion designer. “So far my partnership with Quiksilver has been really good. They’ve got lots of artistic collaboration products, which is very cool. I hope that someday they can use my designs,” he said.

The surf champion who just happens to be the brother of famed actress Luna Maya, has also tried his hand at acting on the big screen. He appeared in the Indonesian thriller Kala in 2007, a critical hit helmed by Joko Anwar. Tipi said he enjoyed making the movie and other side projects, but he said his main focus remained on his surfing career and protecting the environment. When asked how he would describe the feeling of surfing who has never tried the sport before, he ponders the question for a moment before saying, “You really have to try it first to understand it, but I might tell you that it feels like riding a magic carpet,” he says with a laugh. Tipi says that wherever the waves take him, Bali will always be his home. And as he and his wife are expecting another child soon, it will soon be the place where he teaches his own kids how to ride the waves.

 

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