I woke early to prepare. A short drive from my house and I was on the beach. Men were running around, shouting things I didn’t understand. Approaching the shore I started photographing the junkungs. I was quickly told to move so four men could lift the junkung next to me and transfere it to where I was standing. The next moment a third junkung crashed into the stones. Quickly the four men rushed to its aid and pulled it up the beach.
It was the day of the annual junkung race in Amed, Bali. Bunutan beach was filling up with the traditional fishing boats. The race was due to start at 8am, but at 7:30 someone told me the race would not start until 10.
Before the Race
Therefore I found my friends and passed on the message that race was starting late. We decided to stay around for a bit and photograph the people arriving.
Participating in the race were 24 traditonal junkungs and one junkung that had been transformed into a sailing boat. 80 local businesses had sponsored the event and many had provided the fishermen with new sails that displayed the businesses name in bright colours.
Although many of the fisherman now add motors to their junkungs for everyday use, motors were prohibited for the race. Many fisherman were busy removing their motors on the beach. The lighter the boat, the better chance they had.
We were soon hungry so decided to head up to the restaurant on the view point above the beach for breakfast and to watch the start of the race from there. Although we were not in the midst of the activities we had a great advantage of seeing all of the junkungs at once.
The original plan for the race was to travel south down the coast to the Japanese shipwreck 5km away, and return to Bunutan Beach. In the restaurant we met some more friends who said that due to there being no wind the race had been shorted to blue rocks resort, 1km closer.
Just as we finished our breakfast, the line of 25 boats started to edge their way forward. The Junkungs furthest from us left the beach first. Soon they were all in the water and fireworks sounded to announce the start.
I looked up from my camera to see one of the junkungs had started going backwards. Observing through my 200mm lens I saw someone swimming towards the boat. The men in the boat leaned down as he approached and passed them an oar. They had obviously dropped it. This was a catastrophic mistake, and as a result they were now a long way behind.
As the group of sails rounded the corner we jumped on our bikes to follow them down the coast. On the next corner we stopped to check on them, only to find they were sailing out to sea. “Maybe they will do a triangle, go out to get some wind, come back to blue rocks and then back along the coast.” Someone suggested. This sounded like a good idea so we drove to blue rocks, ordered some drinks and waited.
By the time our drinks had arrived we had lost sight of the junkungs in the hazy horizon. Ten minutes later I spotted some shapes appearing in the mist. “They’re coming back,” I shouted.
Watching them for five minutes I started to get worried, they were not coming towards us. After alerting the rest of the group we stood watching for a few minutes and they soon agreed with me. Immediately we paid the bill, jumped on our bikes and raced back towards Bunutan.
Running into the view point restaurant again, I pulled my camera out just in time to catch the winners pull up onto the beach.