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Style beyond his years, Koldo in a moment of bliss.

True Life: My Dad Is A Mentawai Boat Captain

16-year-old Koldo Illumbe portrays an enviable life in ‘Zurdas’

cinema // Aug 22, 2022
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Some people lead extraordinary lives. Whether by the grace of some Balinese god, or just through sheer luck, Koldo Illumbe is one of those people.  

Born into dual citizenship, with an Indonesian mother and a Spanish-born, Mentawai pioneer as a father, Koldo has always had a treasure trove of wave riding opportunities at his fingertips.

And, as the clip above shows, he hasn’t squandered any of it. Filmed during the fabled Coronavirus lockdowns, the edit is a brief depiction of some tube-riding brilliance from Bali’s newest prince.

In a bamboo-thatched cafe, nestled into the cliff above Padang Padang, I had the chance to sit down with Koldo and chat about his journey. Over mango smoothies with mushy paper straws — while his father made phone calls about a lost anchor at Lance’s Right — I asked him about his latest edit, the boards he rides, and where he sees himself in the future.

Meet Koldo.

Stab: Hey Koldo! Congrats on the clip, it’s pretty mental. How old are you?

Koldo Illumbe: Thanks! I’m 16 years old.

And you live in Bali with your parents?

Yeah, my dad is Spanish and my mom is from Java. I was born here in Bali though.

Do you visit Spain much?

Yeah, I usually go every year in the winter, around Christmas, to see my Grandparents. We surf around the Basque country when we’re there.

So, you probably speak a few languages?

I speak Spanish, Bahasa, and English.  

What does Zurdas mean?

In Spanish, Zurdas means “always left” because the clip is all lefts (laughs). We didn’t really go film at Keramas or HT’s or any of those zones. We filmed it with Killian Castells, the Vans filmer.

You must have spent a lot of time in the Ments if your dad runs a surf charter.

Yeah, I’ve been spending a lot of time out there. Usually I go about two times a year, but lately I haven’t been because of school. Last trip was a couple weeks before the clip was put together.

What were you doing at 16 years old? Probably not this.

Lucky duck. Looks like Greenbush was insane.

Yeah, it was the only spot we properly scored on that trip. We surfed Maccas and Roxy’s and some other waves but Greenbush was insane. That was definitely the highlight.

So tell me about the boards you ride. There’s a bunch of different crafts in the clip.

Yeah, basically I ride for two companies. Chilli and Peta Surfboards. Peta makes me more classic boards; single fins, twins fins and longboards, while Chili makes the sick high-performance boards. 

Peta has been really good friends with my dad for a long time, they went to school together, and then came to Indo and the Ments probably 20 years ago. He lives in the Basque country, so he ships boards out here. He’s basically my uncle, and every time I go to Spain he shapes me something new to try. My first surfboard was actually a Peta surfboard.

My first surfboard was a thruster, but then he started making me twin fins and boards with channels, and I was getting into it. And then I’d get bored of those boards and go back to high-performance boards. It’s a nice balance, being able to jump back and forth.

Blade.

Do you surf competitions?

Not really, I’m not into competitions too much, except for ones like the Padang Cup. It would be a dream to surf in that. I just want to surf good waves. If they did a competition in Desert Point, I’d definitely wanna join (laughs).  

I just don’t like surfing bad waves or hassling with the other surfers.  It’s eggy.

Which surfers really inspire you?

Mason Ho! Fuck dude he’s so sick. My dad met him once surfing here in Bali and said he’s the coolest guy.

Bit of Mason Ho energy on that first wave of the clip huh? Two hands on the deck of the board in the tube at Deserts.

(laughs) In that session I was full-on surfing for 8 hours, and that was my last wave. I was super tired, and I decided to pretty much sit down. I was fucking exhausted.

Where do you want to take your surfing in the next few years?

I’m thinking I wanna just travel around the world and make friends. I really want to go to Morocco, and Hawaii, and around America. I want to keep surfing slabby waves too.

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