Indonesian pro surfer described as “sexiest man on archipelago” shuns rock star life on Bali to become de facto mayor of remote surfing outpost!

Come and melt over Dedi Gun, saviour of the wretched at Lakey Peak!

Every morning not long after sunrise his captain’s hat bobs past the walls of the beachfront hamlet, followed by a throng of bare-chested local groms, surfboards in hand.

The Pied Piper of Lakey Peak is checking the surf.

After years abroad chasing a pro surfing career with Rip Curl, Dedi Gun, who is thirty-six, has returned to Sumbawa’s south coast with a clear goal – to help shape the future of his home.

Despite its potential, Sumbawa, one of the West Nusa Tenggara provinces, has been overlooked by Indonesia’s renewed tourism push. While Flores and the Komodo national park to the west are on top of the priority list of tourism destinations, the economical drawcard on the southern side of Sumbawa is a gold and copper mine just a five-minute scooter ride from the world-class breaks.

But few locals have the necessary education to get a job there. There are stories of angry mobs stopping the trucks to the mine, demanding jobs. A tough life making a living off fishing and farming corn is the outlook for the future generation at Hu’u, the district surrounding the surf spot.

Behind the main road, the stubbly remains of barren corn fields slope towards shrub-covered hills, lacking the tropical abundance of Indonesia’s more picturesque surf destinations.

A rocky mud trail leading to the beach is guarded by a crumbling, eerie looking gyprock surfer, one of the few reminders of Lakey’s time being featured on the world qualifying circuit in the late nineties. Two judging towers of questionable integrity still stand tall on the reef in front of the Peak, Lakey’s premier wave. Built with little consideration, a clumsy concrete toilet lump blocks the view of beachfront accommodation.

It ain’t the Brandenburg Gate but cute in a kitschy sorta way.

On the way to Nunggas, a long lefthander good for big swells, the mosaic beach path has in large parts been gnawed away by the tide.

Easy access from Bali has plenty of surfers flocking to Lakey, but few locals have a share of the tourism pie.

Dedi, who now runs surf coaching in Lakey Peak, shakes his head after getting off the phone to one of the groms who’s running late.

“You may not get another opportunity,” he mumbles, a group of surf students eagerly waiting to paddle out.

Surfing a metaphor for life

“When there is a chance coming to you, you got to take it,” Dedi says to me as we bob in the water at Lakey Pipe.

Besides his notorious captain’s hat, Dedi wears many others. For a while he’s been leading the local Boardriders, The Lakey Peak Boys, he manages surf lodgings, sells honey and organises BBQs besides just welcoming his second child.

Ol Dedi Gun has shed his rock-star life on Bali for a new role as de facto mayor at Lakey Peak.

But opportunity didn’t come easy. At eight years old, having been sent to live with relatives to work on their farm, he left for the lure of surfing at the seaside enclave. He lived on the beach, sleeping on the tables of the beachside restaurants, doing odd jobs to get fed.

“My first board was piece of wood,” he says, flashing his noted smile.

“I was living happy …some of my friends had to find empty bottles, Coca Cola or beer, to sell, to survive. [But] we weren’t that hungry, because we have a lot of trees, we just climb.”

When he was 12 he moved to Bali under the wing of surf photographer Dustin Humphrey and at 17 he started to live on his own. He said surfing gave him the opportunity to travel the world. But his surfing career didn’t go as planned. He says he lacked the hunger to be a professional competitor, spending many years in Bali, living “like a rock star”.

“Surfing, partying … I didn’t really have a future thinking. More having fun every day.  But I’m glad I learned early,” he says.

After the pandemic he returned to Lakey, keen to encourage the new generation to strive for more.

“In my generation, we never got taught nothing – zero. We had to make it our own,” he says.

“I [made myself] a promise … when I got out of Lakey Peak the first time. I had a burger on a nice plate on a nice table, I want all my friends to feel what I feel, sleeping in a nice bed.”

Surfing also gave him the opportunity to learn and have a vision of his future, something missing in Lakey.

But for him it’s more than that.

“[It] is more than just surf, it’s more than just a sport. It all comes together. Mindset, mentality, psychology. It’s meditation. Appreciation. And it teaches you to be patient. You always want to get a good wave, and there is a chance, and when there is a chance coming for you, you got to take it. There is no next. But you have to choose the right one. If that’s the chance for you, you got to follow.

He’s roped the local teens into his coaching, teaching them how to muscle in on the tourism business. He wants them to develop discipline, accountability and teach them how to make money.

Dedi says Lakey’s big problem is a lack of education.

“Not a lot of kids are going to school. From here to Nangadoro [a village 5km up from Lakey], the schools are not really active. When they go to school, they say ‘oh, the teacher is not there’”.

They are simply not getting paid enough to support their families on a teacher’s wage, he says.

The bleak outlook for the children of Lakey, many of which swap school uniforms for gruelling farm work to help their families, has drawn the attention of those visiting the wave paradise.

Rundown classroom at Nangadoro.

For almost fifteen years now the Harapan Project, set up by Spanish lawyer Carlos Ferrandiz, helps with educating local children, donating sports and health equipment. A short stroll up the hill from the main road at the entrance of the village, past cow paddies and corn stubbles, a state-of-the art skate park unravels, crowd-founded by a 13-year young Japanese girl after being in Lakey during the pandemic.

But it’s got a skatepark!

The captain’s surf team

“When I came back here since [since the pandemic] I was leading the Boardriders, trying to put [the kids] on the right path, educate them about tolerance, communication, environment, teamwork … [being] a community,” says Dedi. “I got all these ideas from travelling. When I was young, I got zero motivation. So, we tried to set up this because there is no real education in school.”

With only the national TV station on twenty-four hour hum in households and international channels reserved for those with money, he says the local kids lack input and ideas.

“It’s sort of brainwash. Put us down. There is no support to educate them to grow their own smart. Keep the small people low.”

As we walk back up the beach after our lesson his face shrouds, kicking at one of the many plastic rubbish nests made of single-sip plastic water cups, snack bags and wrappers lining the edge of the shore.

“I need to wake these people up, I don’t get how they don’t see this … It is really sad.”

It’s something that robs Dedi of his sleep, turning ideas in his head on how to instil awareness of the environment.

Him and his grom squad used to clean up the beach every week, but he says the kids are getting tired of seeing the rubbish return just days later. Despite setting up trash cans, the rubbish would still end up strewn around the picnic spots and fireplaces they leave behind.

“They are so lazy …they bring the water cup … they could bring the gallon.”

He says he has lobbied local authorities to issue hefty fines for littering but has yet to get any support for his plight.

“Many international surfers who come here they will think we don’t care. But we deeply care. It is our home.”

The thing with tourism dollars

Dedi wants to bring attention to Lakey and thinks having international surf contests back in Lakey could inspire the local kids. But government attention on its tourism is a double-edged sword.

“The government is not looking at Sumbawa as tourism priority, it’s more of a mining destination,” says Krystyna Krassowska, who runs a sustainable trail tourism business across Indonesia and has been working as team leader for the tourism master plan in Labuan Bajo (Flores). “The minute they get some sort of recognition as a potential tourism object, then it comes down to what is there – and the government’s understanding of this… Take Uluwatu for example, which was natural and amazing, which is now being destroyed by the different perception the government has of what nature-based sports tourists seek. It’s not to be able to drive mega buses up there. They make it ‘more valuable’ by infrastructure development which is not what the surf community wants. This is where the great conflict emerges – so is it a good thing or a bad thing that [Lakey Peak] is not on the priority list?”

She says it’s due to Indonesia’s decentralisation that districts, such as Hu’u, are responsible themselves of how they distribute the profits from their assets – may it be tourism or mining – back to the people.

Investment into clean water, waste management, schools, and training are up to the district leadership.

Despite his hope to give locals something to aspire to, Dedi is firm that he does not want to see his Lakey Peak descend into a new Bali.

“Imagine everyone loves Lakey Peak, all these investors out there … bang, five-star hotels, clubs,” he says.

Krystyna says to keep the integrity of the place it needs sustainable investment from individuals.

“Local communities and villages are then able to recognise their eco-tourism assets, like surfing, which is also in line what the surfing community wants. This would empower local village leaders to align district-led investment with what they actually need.”

As the sun sets, Dedi and the groms kick around a soccer ball at the lawn in front of The Peak.

Dozens of the boys have previously qualified for national surf contests in Bali, so far without any government support to help cover costs.

“I want to put them on the right path,” he says, envisioning a Boardriders club house for the kids, with some beds to sleep and a room for teaching.

“But,” he says, “the kids won’t walk out of the house without fixing their bed first.”

He wants to create a community garden where they would grow fruit and vegetables in exchange for donations, vehemently rejecting the idea of them going around ‘begging’.

“There is a life out there,” he says. “A lot of opportunity, a potential. You got to give it a shot. Don’t say you can’t. Give it a go. Don’t stay in the same place. Climb the rope to the top.”

(Editor’s note: The author Fran Rimrod was your ol pal DR’s sub-editor back when he was writing polemics for Fairfax Newspapers in Australia. She’s on a worldwide hunt for waves with her stud and two kids.)

Rumors boil that World Surf League may not run Finals Day at peak of new hurricane swell over worries it’ll be “too big”

"Rapidly intensifying" and "major hurricane" are certainly word combinations that the intrigue-averse World Surf League hates.

Students of professional surfing are growing increasingly excited for the upcoming World Surf League Finals Day. The top five men and top five women are, currently, at Lower Trestles where the window officially opens in just two days. Jack Robinson vs. Joao Chianca, winner takes Ethan Ewing, winner takes Griffin Colapinto, winner takes Filipe Toledo, for the men. Caitlin Simmers vs. Molly Picklum, winner takes Caroline Marks, winner takes Tyler Wright, winner takes Carissa Moore, for the women.

But swell?

Oh, there might be plenty.

But too many?

Tropical Cyclone Jova is currently spinning and twisting in the South Pacific, smoking on the waters, pushing a hurricane swell told Lowers that should peak this Sunday.

But too peak?

Inside rumors are boiling that the World Surf League may choose to skip the biggest day over fears that it might be overly big.

The National Weather Service is sharing satellite imagery that shows the aforementioned Tropical Cyclone Jova “rapidly intensifying” and turning into a “major hurricane” as early as tonight. Southern Californians, again, forced to horde and grumble at people who sail.

Oh, it’s not expected to make landfall but “Rapidly intensifying” and “major hurricane” are certainly word combinations that the intrigue-averse World Surf League hates.

Alongside current number one Filipe Toledo.

The Brazilian flyboy, who shunned his nation in favor of San Clemente, has a well-documented fear of larger lefts breaking on coral. Thankfully, Lowers is a smaller right breaking on cobbled stone but still. Spinelessness is not rational. So he’d be happy though everyone else sad. Especially, I’d imagine, Oahu’s Carissa Moore. The legend, still in prime, was utterly ripped off by the format last year. The same could be said this year if the World Surf League chooses to “siss the ‘riss.”

Scorecard thus far, Toledo happy, everyone else sad.

But what does the World Surf League’s official forecast partner Surfline have to say?

Unfortunately not as much, or interesting, as the National Weather Service. They have gotten out of the prognostic game and into the firing everyone to bolster bottom line one.


Though here we are.

Will Sunday be the day or won’t it?

You don’t care?


Bill Maher and kook (insert).
Bill Maher and kook (insert).

Comedian Bill Maher tars Hollywood writers on strike with dirtiest surf insult, describes demands as “kooky”


For those unaware, Hollywood is an absolute mess right now. Oh, not the typical myopic silliness, gender blah blah, Kevin Spacey getting handsy but a proper disaster with both writers and actors on strike. The issue at hand is the changing environment. “Streamers,” such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple etc. were not even a glimmer on the horizon when the last labor contract was signed and, thus, those who make and star in the entertainments are toiling under a weird, outdated yoke.

While most are publicly aligned with the worker, comedian and talk show host Bill Maher has broken with the pack and tarred the writers’ demands with the worst insult in our world.


In a devastating interview will fellow comedian Jim Gaffigan, Maher said, “They’re asking for a lot of things that are, like, kooky. What I find objectionable about the philosophy of the strike [is] it seems to be, they have really morphed a long way from 2007’s strike, where they kind of believe that you’re owed a living as a writer, and you’re not. This is show business. This is the make-or-miss league.”

Much like the World Surf League’s much-ballyhooed mid-season cut, I suppose.

Maher continued, “You’re either for the strike like they’re f*cking Che Guevara out there, you know, like, this is Cesar Chavez’s lettuce picking strike — or you’re with Trump. There’s no difference — there’s only two camps. And it’s much more complicated than that.”

Much like the pitched surf camps “Filipe Toledo is a sissy” vs. “Filipe Toledo has every right to be a sissy.”

Except that whole argument is not any more complicated than that.

Wild times.

But where do you stand on the matter of Hollywood strikes?

Or have you failed to care?

More as the story develops.

Kooks (pictured).
Kooks (pictured).

With incidents of kook misbehavior on rise, left-leaning Los Angeles Times publishes shockingly snarling guide to surf lineup etiquette


The tide has, possibly, turned. The pandemic, now in the rearview, certainly did seem to spike surf participation. Our favorite pastime could be practiced outdoors, socially distanced, a thin sheen of “cool” spread panic. Those who took up the Sport of Kings, though, generally did it poorly. No knowledge of social mores, nor care. When the unwritten rules were flaunted and a local got angry, he or she was deemed as a “gatekeeper,” likely racist, or at the very least xenophobic.

Regulation on the verge of cancellation.

But yet, this morning’s edition of the Los Angeles Times includes a definitive guide to lineup etiquette that has a snarling side.

Off my wave, barn.

While written in the language that kooks understand, the rules are true and clear (except rule 5).

1. Don’t paddle if you suck.

2. Only surf soft beach break junk, at first.

3. When ready to move on, sit and observe like Rick Kane, giving wide berth to locals.

4. Surfer on peak calls shot. Don’t drop in.

5. Communicate by yelling “going left” or “going right.”

6. If given a slap, learn from it.

7. Never ditch board.

Surprising, no? And while some rules were omitted (8. If you see former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan, paddle away unless you want to be gently touched on the inner thigh), the aggressive tone is very welcome.

Speaking of the World Surf League, its official “Sports Performance and Counseling Psychologist,” Christian Glasgow, was quoted in the piece saying, “Lineups have become more crowded and more dangerous. Beginner surfers that do not know surfing etiquette were paddling out at places like Rincon and Trestles before learning the basics and becoming strong paddlers. This has caused a lot of frustration and injury for more experienced surfers. I have quite a few patients that have been injured in the last few years due to being hit by a surfboard, including significant brain injuries.”

Much to unpack here, including which professional surfer ELo brain damaged, but mostly that the World Surf League has an official Sports Performance and Counseling Psychologist.

Filipe Toledo with fewer and fewer excuses.

Going left.

Kelly Slater sends son of poor Brazilian fisherman the ultimate compliment, “One of the gnarliest things I’ve ever seen done on a wave!”

"Absurd," says Yago Dora.

It’s been four years, roughly, since I picked my way through a maze of serviced apartments in Margaret River, six o’clock of a cool May evening it was, for the honour of spending two days with Italo Ferreira. 

As clear as if it was yesterday, I recalled the way his mango-sized deltoids popped as he squeezed his hands together. I remember, also, Italo showing me the Instagram post from his then-girlfriend Mari which he’d examined prior to their first meeting and that made him fall in love with her.

Mari sits astride a chair in white bikini bottoms. Her yellow hair waterfalls over brown skin and a red brassiere. Both eyes are closed and Mari’s tongue laps at an imaginary milk bowl in the sky.

History, of course, tells us that Italo, the son of a penniless Brazilian fisherman, won the world title that year, putting Medina on the end of his boot at Pipeline. Two years later, he became surfing’s first gold medal Olympian although no longer with Mari at his hip.

A likeable man with good intentions and as flashing and as relentless as a rapier. But for a knee-injury at J-Bay it’s likely his volcanic energy would be all over Lower Trestles, doom for Filipe etc. 

Out of the game and with no contests for almost six months, Italo has been showering his almost three-million fans with posts, the latest a barrel to boogie-dodge to the gala performance of a frontside 540. 

Kelly Slater, fifty-one and a pioneer of aerial drama, describes it thus. 

“First off, this is one of the gnarliest things I’ve ever seen done on a wave. And I’m baffled that Italo Ferreira could do a year on Tour and not make the Top 5.”


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