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From Gerry to the WCT - Surf History

Posted on June 08 2018

"The first professional surf competition, the Om Bali Pro, was held in 1980. But what really accelerated the popularity of Bali as a surfing destination was the release of the greatest Australian surf film ever made, Morning of the Earth in 1972, revealing surf’s new frontier – the discovery by a few loners of Uluwatu’s demanding breaks at the end of a long arid dirt road, a time when monkeys not people watched from surrounding cliffs.

After that landmark film, the floodgates opened with the influx of 20,000 tourists by 1973, about 1000 of them surfers. The release of BBC’s film Balinese Surfer in 1976 only fed into the mythology and quickened the pace of arrivals. Kuta and environs became the lair of shady con artists, layabout heirs to fortunes, pseudo-surfer-fetishists, spiritual seekers, rock stars, itinerant yachtsmen, rag, silver and bead traders, dope dealers, career criminals, fugitives reinventing themselves and other infamous characters including naked skinny long-haired hippies who ingested mushrooms and smoked Sumatran weed on the beach and bought fake student IDs to buy discounted airline tickets." - Bill Dalton


Steve Cooney was the first person to ever surf Uluwatu, Bali in 1971 (for the film Morning Of The Earth at the age of 15) and he has a very personal attachment to the region.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Ulu was the abundance of seas life. At high tide a dugong would come over the reef with its calf and loll about in the shallow, going back outside the reef as the tide dropped. If we were surfing at low tide the same pair would surface near us. They were there the whole time and seemed to be as interested in us as we were in them. There were turtles, reef sharks, heaps of fish, sea birds and sea snakes and we never felt as if we were on our own in the water. Aside from surfing, we did a few trips around the place - up to the mountains, over Sanur, etc - and came to appreciate the people and the cultural history of one of the most unique places on earth.

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