Interview with Michel Bourez
From his beginnings to his new elite ASP Top 45 status, Bourez talks about his successes, weaknesses, people around him and his look back on a young but already great career.
1. Let's stop a while on your "path to glory". When did your surfing story start? Where and how did it get started?
I started surfing at 8 years old in French Polynesia with an old board my brother and I were sharing. Like many other teenagers, I am from a middle class family and I just had fun free surfing a lot everytime I could. The first thing that made a big difference came from my neighbour who opened a surf club right next door and that neighbour took us to the contests around Tahiti. I surfed my first event at 14 and got a few results here and there before it became clear I wanted to try and travel to compete. My dad told me that once i graduated from high school, I could do whatever I wanted so during that last year at school, I focused very hard to make it and did not even look for any other option: I wanted to become a pro surfer and my only sponsor Kelly Surfboards helped me to go to Australia and do a few events. Then Quiksilver saw me Down Under and accepted to help me. I went to do the ASP European Junior Tour and finished No. 4 which made a difference.
2. So from 18 to 23 (Michel will turn 23 end of the month), you have got through the Juniors and the WQS tours. How do you look back on those five years? Who were the people who helped you during that year?
I have a few regrets because you know you can never go backwards and try something you missed again. For example, I wish I could have won when I was in the final of the ASP WQS 4-Star Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach in 2006 because you never know if you will ever get a second chance. But I am definitely happy with these few years I have been through until today. I must say it was pretty hard when I started travelling alone because eventhough you have made the choice, you are still young and when you are out there travelling alone around the world when you cannot even speak english, you face a few tricky situations. But little by little, you get used to it and it is a cool life.
3. What about next year now? Is it like a new start for you? Have you been thinking of that?
Well, I must say I haven't thought of anything yet... That's another weird thing. When you are so much focused on qualifying, you just want to make it to the WQS Top 15 and you don't have the time to think of what you are going to do if you make it! It was my dream to make it to the Dream Tour and it would be even bigger because I was going to be the second Tahitian only after Vetea David (PYF, a former ASP World Tour surfer) to make it. But apart from that, now it is done, I don't have any plan and I just want to try and requalify through the World Tour before anything. Then 2010 will be the time for proper objectives. Next year will be about learning all I can, gaining experience and maybe focus more on my boards.
4. Looking at next year's schedule, what are the events you are looking forward to? What about the others?
There is one thing you learn while on the WQS: you can never know what you are going to get and you have to be prepared for any situation. You cannot have in mind you are going to do good at this or that event because everytime you expect something, it ends up differently and it is definitely a tricky point. And you get the waves you expected, your opponent will get the better waves and you can still end up losing no matter how good you are or how confident you feel. That's why I plan on focusing more on my boards and be prepared for any unexpected conditions. I like surfing Snapper Rocks in Australia, I really don't like Bell's Beach but there is definitely Teahupoo at home I am looking forward to.
5. You are the second Tahitian surfer ever to qualify for the ASP World Tour. It must a special feeling. Who has been influencing you at home?
I am so stoked to represent Tahiti and be the second surfer to qualify. It means a lot to me off course and it shows the rest of the Tahitian surfers it is possible. To fly the flag is definitely special and I will have it in mind next year. Looking at the people who have influenced me, I was too young when Vetea was on tour and eventhough I know him we have never talked about the tour together. Hira Teriinatoofa was my example and I really looked up to him; Heifara Tahutini is the other big influence I got from Tahiti; he made a big difference, he is probably the one person who has influenced me more than anyone.
6. You were an ASP European Champion in 2006, you spend most of your time with the Euro crew, do you feel part of the growing European group? Part of this new era of European surfers?
I definitely feel European and I hang with the French surfers most of my time so there is no chance I can feel anything else. It is a great group and I have good friends withing the crew, Tim Boal (FRA), Joan Duru (FRA), Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Hodei Collazo (EUK)... I am happy to represent Europe and I feel part of the team. I am following all of the top guys including Miky (Picon) and Jeremy (Flores) and they are the examples I have and I feel close to. More and more of us are getting to the top and I am sure it is not over. Joan (Duru) has all the skills and talent to make it, it is just a matter of him really wanting to make it or not. He has the level to qualify and I am sure he can make it soon, maybe next year. Charly Martin (GLP), Marc Lacomare (FRA) will soon be knocking on the door as well.
7. To finish, any weaknesses you have to work on for next year's start against te best?
There is always something to learn, always things to improve on your surfing and the tricky thing is to identify your weaknesses and work on them. For example when you are behind in a heat, to find the way to come back and score the maneuvers that will get you there is a tricky thing. So this is what I will have to focus on next year, my skills to analyze and step back to think more and find solutions while in the water. I know Xavier (Huard) will still be with us to help us in our training so we should have all we need to do well.
8. Anything you want to add?
Well, I would like to see surfing up there next to tennis or football and I really believe it is a beautiful sport that has potential to reach more people. It is a unique sport, beautiful images, and no other sport brings such exceptional footage. I hope surfing can reach that spot one day.
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