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Video + Interview: The french in Indo Teiki Ballian – Teiki That

Teiki, I know you grew up on a boat, primarily around the Indian Ocean, but you also did trips around the world, is that right?

I was one week old when I came aboard my parents boat. They had already been living on the oceans for more than 20 years when they had me.

I was born in a small town next to Marseille, La Ciotat in France. Immediately after I was on the boat and a week later we where crossing the Atlantic. My parents bought the boat in 1980 after owning and working on numerous other yachts around the world, but they got ‘’Scame’’ because it is an amazing sailing boat and a bigger environment to start a family in. I never studied officially, never passed a test, I just took school books with me and with them and my parents we did it our way. I started surfing when I was 9 in Costa Rica, but only really got into the sport at 12. My parents have been away from France since the late 60’s and their only income is from the charters, sailing or surfing around Asia.

I know you speak French, English, Spanish and Indonesian, are there any other languages you speak, Creole perhaps? How did you learn all these languages?

I can also speak Thai. I can write and read in all of them as well. Since being a kid I used to love wandering off on my bike or skateboard wherever we would be in the world and just pick up the language like that in the street with all the people I would meet. My mom is from the Caribbean but I can’t speak Creole.

What were the good things and bad things about growing up on a boat, if there’s any bad points at all?

Everything has some down sides, but I have been pretty blessed with my life. I managed to go around the world twice only with the power of the wind, I grew up in an almost completely eco-friendly environment, saving energy,water. Learning from all the different cultures and styles that the world has to offer. I arrived in the Mentawai islands when I was 13 years old and working there with the boat for 12 years allowed me to  live from surfing, which has always been my dream. A downside is that a boat demands a lot of work and maintenance, the wood work, varnish, paint, the hull every year, the engine, the electricity, pumps, safety, etc…and all the money goes all into the boat; 95% of what we make is reinvested into the maintenance, it’s just all about the lifestyle.

As you said you’ve been around the world a few times; where would you live if not in Indonesia?

That’s a good question, I don’t really know. Nowhere I guess, just traveling, I need to move all the time, I can only stay in one place for 3 months max. and then I get itchy feet

Are you and your family still doing the charters? Where are you/they operating now?

Due to the new regulations for chartering in Indonesia, we are now operating in Thailand and Malaysia for sailing charters, and we also go to the Andaman islands for surfing in March and April. This year is the first year where I will not be helping my parents with the chartering, I will just be focused on my surfing.

Are you moving to “Terra Ferma” or will you be sharing your time between the boat and land?

The boat will always be my base, and I also do some yacht deliveries for extra cash but yes this year I will be on land more.

You are dedicating this year to Professional Surfing; who are supporting you for this new step in your life?

Bayok Creations is my main sponsor now. Their range of high end bags made out of marine charts and leather and my nomadic ocean-going lifestyle concord perfectly; 7shores and 69slam are putting a lot of effort into my project. Swop is always there for me for boards with new ideas and shapes.

So what are your goals as an athlete, for this year, in terms of contests and results?

This year I will be traveling a lot with Riddim production for surf documentaries that will be aired all around Europe, and also getting as many photos possible of all the different locations to make unique article . Even though I am more of a free surfer I will compete in some of the ASC events in Asia and 2 or 3 WQS contests in Europe. My main aim is to represent my sponsors in a professional, charismatic, ethical and ecological manner.

Dedicating your life to being a Pro Surfer and living in Indonesia, isn’t it a bit frustrating not to be able to run the Indonesian Tour? How does it work in France for foreigners who live in the country?

It’s is a bit frustrating but in the end I’m not Indonesian, and however much I wish I was I still don’t have any rights here. Maybe this year there might be some openings in contests, I think they are debating about it. Fingers crossed,what can I say: the ISC is the real dream tour.

You are almost a local here; from your point of view what is missing for Indonesia to have a surfer doing well on the QS and getting into the WT. And who, in your opinion, is a contender to achieve that?

Haha me a local! Nah! I’m just a buleh masuk kampung. The main problem for the locals is the visa situation, the Indonesia passport does not make it easy to travel. Dede is one of my top choices, Marlon, Lee, Oney, Jeren are going to be amazing. Indo is full of amazing surfers. The other thing is that Indonesia really is the surfers paradise and it takes lots of commitment and energy to go around the world to surf really crap waves when you can stay here where it’s pumping 80% of the time.

When are we going to see more videos like this one? And what can we expect for the next Teiki surf videos?

There’s more coming soon. The next videos will be more chilled and hopefully with some amazing footage.

Good luck for this new stage of your life. Thank you.

 

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