Interview – Made Switra – Surfing Artist: Past, Present and Future of Bali

One of the best athletes of his time, Switra surfed in many places around the world, including nine Hawaiian seasons.
Today Switra is a soul surfer, surfing for himself and only when the waves are good.
Coming from a traditional family of fisherman, Switra loves the sea and is always near it, whether through his paintings, fishing or surfing.

How old were you when you started surfing? How old are you now?
I started when I was 8 years old. Now I’m 37.

Tell us a bit about your surfing history.
I come from a family of fishermen. As a child I used to go to Kuta Beach with my mother to pick up the fresh fish that just arrived. I always loved the ocean and when I was 8 years old I started surfing with a very old board that someone left in the village. It was a very big board, we could stand up on it with two people!  After that, when I was about 11 years old I met Ketut Menda and started to hang around Bali Barrel (Menda`s Surf Shop). A short while after that I met Made Kasim and Wayan Ganti and they took me to surf other places, like my first time at Padang-Padang when I was 14 or 15 years old.

Do you still surf? How often?
When it`s good I go surfing, but not so often nowadays. Today I surf to enjoy myself, no stress.


What are your favorite waves? When was the last time you surfed there?
Padang-Padang and Sanur Reef, last time I surfed there was 2 years ago.

How was your career as a competitor?
I won many contests in Bali, I also got 5th Place in the ISA world amateur championship in Japan, I think it was in 1990. I finished in second place twice at the Quicksilver Grommet comp and 3rd once. I used to compete against guys like Rob Machado and Ross Williams.

What`s your advice for the new generation of Indonesian surfers?
Be yourself. If you really want to be a surfer be one hundred percent into it and push your limits.

Switra is the one sitting on the car`s roof.

Tell us about this picture, what do you remember from it?
This is my brotherhood(looking the pic nostalgically), this is forever for me, I was so into surfing in those days.

Do you still have contact with the guys from the picture?
Yes, I feel sorry for Jarut (he is the one with the cap on) passing away. As to the others, sometimes we meet up and when it happens we talk a lot about the old times. We sit together and enjoy ourselves and one day we will be one again.

What do you miss the most about the old times?
I miss empty 6-8ft Padang Padang at a medium tide with a SW swell. And 6ft Sanur Reef early in the morning with a big high tide.

What do you think about all the development in Bali?
I really don`t mind. Whether it`s busy and noisy or empty and quiet, it’s all the same. I just want to be myself. It`s also a cultural shock but it`s ok, growing and developing are a part of life.

What do you do for a living now days?
I have a surf shop TRAS (Jl. Tegal Wangi), a restaurant with an art gallery together Laut Kute (Jl.Kubu Anyar) and a boat for surfing or fishing trips.

Is fishing a profession or hobby?
It`s a hobby but I go fishing almost everyday especially this time of the year, it`s Spanish Mackerel season.


When did you start painting?
Seriously 5 years ago but I have loved art since I was a child. Before when my wife had a shop in Kuta, I had to go to Ubud very often for work and I don`t know how or why but I always found myself inside the galleries there!

Where did you learn your technique?
A painter from East Java lived in my house for 2 years, I learnt from watching him painting.

Do you have kids? Do they surf?
I have two daughters 12 and 13 years old who live in Japan and they don`t surf.


Thanks for the Interview and the Teh Botol.


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