Trisha Sertori -
Brave and independent, strong and supple, with brilliant white teeth, flawless caramel skin and sun-bleached locks, the wave princesses of Bali are pin-ups of health and natural beauty.
On Bali’s surf beaches these girls, ranging in age from under 10 to their late 30s, glisten in the sun as they race laughing to the sea; there is no fear of dark tanning, of bucking the advertised trend for white skin.
“Surfing is fun, don’t be scared of getting dark, because hitam [black] is sexy and sweet — white skin is boring,” says 39-year-old Stella Hermina, founder of Indonesia’s first female surf club, Putri Ombak.
The club, this week celebrating its fifth birthday, numbers around 30 members, and most are Indonesian and at least a third are champion surfers.
Jakarta-born Stella started the club to encourage more girls and women to take up a sport long dominated by men after discovering for herself the buzz of the waves, a discovery made not long after the first Bali bombing that crushed her furniture business and left her looking for an alternative income and a hobby that would reignite her natural exuberance for life.
As a non-swimmer, surfing in deep and dangerous swells was not initially on her list of possible hobbies.