Interview Gule Akman
Name: Gule Akman
Born/living: Born in Nusaybin, Kurdistan. Lived in Sweden since the age of 6 and moved to Bali, Indonesia in 2012.
Started surfing: 2011
Surfboards: A 6.1 fish by Jim Banks, I´ve had this one for a while and it’s an absolute favorite! About to expand to a proper collection soon with a single fin and a solid one for bigger waves
Favorite music: Hmm, well anything that makes my soul and body move, all rounder.
Favorite food: Mamas Kurdish food (of course 😉
Favorite surf spot: There are a lot of good spots in Bali. Bingin wave is a favorite, such perfection, though with perfection comes the crowds, so I don’t go there too often. Uluwatu is another one I like surfing at. Was up at Keramas first time this year (lazy to drive around but definitely worth it), and I can see myself up there more often this coming season. As for other islands and spots, Lakeys is one I really like, and the favorite wave there is the pipe. Love that place, tranquil area, great waves, nice people and no driving around to check the waves. You wake up, walk to see what the ocean is doing and either jump in or decide to jump in later. Doesn’t get any better than that!
Tell us how did you discover surfing for you:
So… It was late November in Sweden and all was gray, cold and dark, with other words, I was in Big need of a vacation, sun, and joy. I managed to rearrange my work schedule and get a week of work. While searching on the net on where to go I stumbled across a page for a surf camp in Morocco, I started to look more into it and got more excited to try it. Since I always have been really scared of the water, I was little hesitant, there was the one side saying “ but but you are still scared of the water” and then the other sensible one “ well try it out and if you don’t like it or too scared, you still get a vacation and the sun”.
So off I went to Morocco for a week and I instantly understood why I have always wanted to try surfing. I was in love, completely hooked! So the day after I returned from Morocco I decided that I wanted to do more surfing so I changed my original plans for the coming year and push them ahead (5 year teaching degree which I was about to start) and instead decided that the year would be all about working up the bank account and go surfing. I was away in spring for a couple of months and then later again in autumn and during the second trip, I just couldn’t see myself living without the surf in my daily life.
What does surfing mean to you:
Everything, as long as I have the choice and possibility I always want surf and the ocean in my life. It is just such an all round giver, you use your mind, your body, you’re as close as one can come with nature and yeah, the joy and lessons received from it are humbling and strengthening. Surfing is so much more than just scoring waves, I could go on a try to explain it forever but it still wouldn’t come close to what I get out of it. So what I can say is, try it and you’ll see.
How do you see woman surfing worldwide:
We see more and more of women in the sport which I think is really positive, and pro- surfers as Stephanie Gilmore and Bethany Hamilton has shown that girls are ripping out there. Bethany Hamilton, what a star, surfing with one arm and still shredding it, beyond amazing! As the sport is growing so will the females within surf, no doubts and already through my few years of surfing I see more and more girls and women out in the water, some shredding it, other playing around and just enjoying the fun of it. I do believe that with surfing growing for females, it will also mean that this coming generation will show us new levels of surfing, pushing new boundaries. One thing I hope is that the industry walks away from the narrow-minded idea of how women should be portrayed in surfing to a more proper one. As for now I find it quite sexist and tiering with the industry that portrays female surfers as a “bikini “ bodies. I have never understood that open a magazine and you’ll see the male surfers in the act of surfing (like it should be!), and female surfers are dressed up in a bikini on the beach rather than in the act of it. They are surfers, right..!? So show us them surfing, ripping, doing some wicked tricks that we can be inspired by.
Why did you choose Indonesia as a home for you:
It came very naturally after the first year of surfing. At first, when I decided to spend the year surfing, I had planned the first couple of months to head back to Morocco to surf and also I always wanted to learn Arabic, perfect combination, right? But (there is always a but ;), a friend of mine was heading to Bali and suggested that I joined there instead, plenty of waves there and we could travel together. So said and done.
Then back in Sweden and planning for the trip in autumn I was set on going to Morocco, like really, that was the plan but..end of the summer came and I found myself again with a ticket to Denpasar, Bali. During that trip, I traveled around Indonesia and really felt for the variety and beauty of the islands. So when I had made my mind that I wanted to live close to the waves, Indonesia was a natural choice. I had now already been there for several months, loved the waves there, meet a lot of people,
saw a lot of possibilities on what to be able to do there and yeah, love that it is so many different islands in Indonesia. Easy to travel and discover new places.
What was or still is the most challenging in surfing for you:
The biggest challenge has been to overcome the fear of the water, to be in deep water and ok with it, with the waves but mostly just being under water, not panicking when being tumbled around after a wipe-out. And it has been a process of work with that.
It went pretty well then about 2 years ago I had a pretty scarring accident where my leash got caught in the rocks under water, I was pretty lucky I can say, if it wasn’t for a course I had done some weeks earlier, “ a breathing course for surfers”, that focused just on breathing technique under water adjusted to surfing, how to handle hold downs etc. well I don’t know how it would have gone, to be honest. So pretty humbled by that experience but it also meant that I felt I had to start all over from the beginning, slowly to get comfortable again. And I am now.
When I look back on where I started and where I’m at, I’m beyond stoked and happy about it. It is so worth it, to change a fear into a joy and respect instead, to draw smiles and strength from it instead as before scared and always hesitating.
The other thing that I now find challenging is people, I think all surfers have problems with the crowds, and especially when there are people who have no idea what they are doing nor what the ocean is doing and they and their boards end up being all over the place, in danger for them self’s and others. That will always be a tough one (until I get my own little island with magical waves 😉
People, Take classes! Learn the code of discipline in the water and do your time and practice in it, you will do your self and others a favor!
Can you give any advice to the surfer girls out there:
Have fun! That goes to everyone, have fun, like Fun, laugh and remember to enjoy the ocean, the salt, sun all about it!
Challenge your self. I love the feeling of doing something I before haven’t been able to do, that stoke…priceless! So go for it, put up goals for yourself adjusted to your level, no comparison with others. Especially when you think you can’t make it,
Surf with friends, it´s nice to share the stoke with each other, share a laugh and one of the best ways to hang with friends both pre, during and post surf. Friends are awesome to surf with, for their company and also I know many times when there were waves that I have hesitated some, but then you hear a friend that says, “ go”, and yeah, that little support, boom you go and end up having a fab ride. So support and push each other.
Respect, needless to say, to respect the ocean, it is a mighty force. Learn about it, what the ocean is doing, swell currents etc. The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you will be. In respect that also means, respect other people, respect the “rules” in the water and if you don’t know them, ask those who have more experience than you.
Ask and/or take lessons; use the people around you, to get tips and advice in your surfing, the ocean, waves etc. Just by asking friends that are more experienced I have been getting heaps of tips that have helped me in my surfing and also just knowledge of the ocean.
And yeah did I mention Have Fun!!!!