Interview with Aritz Aranburu

Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK), 23, the first ever Basque and Spanish surfer to become a member of the prestigious ASP World Tour, sat down with us at the ASP house in Waimea Bay to discuss about his rookie year on tour.

Aritz Aranburu.  Copyright: ASP Kirstin / Covered Images1. Tell us about the testing year you have been through?
It has been a difficult year overall with both positive and negative parts, the tough thing being there was nothing I could do about my injuries. Getting injured at the first event of the year on such a demanding tour, and try to catch up the rhythm without even being at my best was very difficult I must say. The ASP World Tour requires 200% of each of us to reach the top and this is one of many things I learnt this year. As a rookie, you want to learn all the time and don’t want to miss any of what is going on, but I was not able to do so which was frustrating.

2. You had a big comeback with a semifinal in the ASP WQS 5-Star event at Zarautz, your home spot. How good did it feel?
It is pretty weird actually because that big result did not really make me happy... I was just not happy with how I was surfing and I knew I was far from how I wanted to surf so eventhough it was good, it did not satisfy me. The truth is I did not even want to watch any video of my heats because I knew it looked bad. But with a bit of experience, good tactics and a huge support from the local crowd, you can manage to do well. Surfing at home always makes it special and how people supported me during that event was amazing. So this is pretty much where I restarted to compete full time.

3. Can you tell us about the life on tour. How does a surfer find his rhythm when constantly travelling around the world? Are there any hard times?
Everything in life has good and bad aspects but it is such a great life you know. It is nothing like going to the factory and doing a hard work, so as long as you keep the dream going, it is all about pleasure. I think my work as a professional surfer has very few negative aspects and I feel very lucky with my life. It doesn’t mean I am always happy, don’t get me wrong, because I have tough moments like any other person, but whenever I feel a bit down I can think of many worse things easily. This is how I take it, and I believe it is really about keeping the good attitude going and not letting yourself forget how lucky you are.

4. What is your game plan for next year? And how do you expect to come back to your best?
The heat I won in Brazil was very important for me because I felt like I was on the right track and probably getting things together. What I need now is to wrap up the year, as good as possible, then go home and just put this 2008 season behind me and start from scratch towards next year. I have small experience of the ASP World Tour because of all the events I missed but I am definitely very happy to start training for ext year and move to a new year. I applied for an injury wildcard so I have to wait the end of the last event to find out wether or not I will get it. If I don’t get it I am going to be bummed a little because I haven’t had a real opportunity to show my best on the World Tour but whatever happens I’ll be focused and ready to compete on the WQS if I have to.

I qualified in 2007 so if I am back on the WQS next year, my small experience will definitely help me find my way back to the top. I will do whatever it takes anyway. My coach and I have been working hard together to make it once so we do have a game plan for sure. We will see how it goes.

5. What about European surfing on the global stage?
European surfers took more time to reach the top but the figures are there to show how fast things are changing. If someone told me there would be more Europeans than Brazilians on the ASP World Tour three years ago, eventhough I have always believed, I would have laughed. But the hard work is definitely paying off and Europeans have learnt a lot from all other nations on tour, and we can thank these nations as well for helping us get there. Since 2006, the evolution has been so fast and to see each of us do well has been a great help to keep up the work. The strenght of a group is so much better compared to one individual leading a region; the more Europeans will qualify, the better it will be for the upcoming surfers and the sport in general I believe.

6. Do you feel like Spain and the Basque Country are paying more attention to the sport of surfing through you?
Surfing is so big in the Basque Country and in Spain I think we don’t realize how people are passionate about the sport and there has been a big change for sure since I qualified for the Dream Tour. It is funny because until it has not been done, people do not really think there is chance of seeing one of their national surfer make it to the top. But when I qualified last year, there was a radical change and I suddenly saw great interest from all over Spain and it is a great feeling to see people supporting you and being happy when you get a result. It is a probably one of the greatest things when people get to know you. Even in Madrid (the capital of Spain), people were recognizing me in the street. But it is not a goal as a professional athlete. You want to perform and once you make it to the elite, you want to remain in that elite and go for even bigger goals. Qualifying is a great achievment in a surfer’s career but it is just the beginning of something new where you want to go for more.

7. Anything you want to finish with?
At this stage, I think European surfing has a great potential with so many young surfers already cutting their teeth on the WQS and surfing very well. France is probably the country with most upcoming great surfers at the moment with Marc Lacomare (FRA), Maxime Huscenot (REU) or Chary Martin (GLP) already showing great potential. There are kids from my home town as well Mario Azurza and Marcos San Segundo who have had some good results and have good potential. As a junior, I voted to open our ASP European Pro Junior events to international surfers because I really thought it would help us improve and equal the world’s best nations in surfing. It probably cost me a regional junior crown but in the end, all these heats as a junior took me to an ASP European title and a qualification for the ASP World Tour. So I think it was a good thing.

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