Michel Bourez tells us his journey, his motivation, his joy at having grown up on the island of Tahiti where he learned to love the ocean and the waves. Today, he made a career of it. He is a professional surfer.
For five years, Tahitian surfer Michel Bourez has passionately represented Tahiti, and more generally, francophone surfing on the world circuit alongside Jeremy Florès from the Reunion. He has yet to win an event, but he is one of the top 10 best surfers in the world surfing championships organized by ASP, the Association of Surfing Professionals.
From March through December, and out of 10 competitions, the 34 best surfers in the world compete at different locations around the globe. Michel finished 6th overall in 2011, then 15th in 2012, which was a pivotal year during which he became the father of little Kaoriki. In 2013, he is focused on accomplishing his mission to the best of his ability. His goal is to obtain the highest possible results, such as his excellent 3rd place in Australia this March in the first round of the pro tour.
With a force akin to Polynesian waves, Michel shows impressive extremism with his moves, and he has the reputation as one of the most powerful surfers on the tour. He is a risk taker, fully engaged in his solid surfing style that is rapid and flamboyant. He is a surfer who is also tremendously appreciated on the tour for his kindness and approachability. Born in 1985 on the island of Rurutu in the Austral Archipelago to a French father and Polynesian mother, at 27 years old he is a good ambassador who represents the human qualities of French Polynesian residents.
“I grew up in Mataeia in front of a pass, and as soon as the sea was rough, it would produce enough swell to come to shore and break on the beach. This generated waves, and this is how I started surfing with friends from the neighborhood. We’d go swimming and see the older kids go surfing, and it made me want to do it, too. I started at around seven or eight years old with a boogie board just for fun.”
“This spot doesn’t always have waves, so once the sport bites you, you start moving around. My big brother and I asked our mother to take us all the way to Papara to the ‘beach break” just to surf near the opening, then gradually we ventured farther and farther out in order to progress and take the waves everyone else was surfing. I was ten.”
“Boogie boarding was okay, but I realized people had more sensations while surfing and this is how I wanted to surf, through commanding the board from left to right, to see if I could do it. I started like that.”
“The first reef wave I took was in front of my place at Mataiea. I’d go with Teva Zavéroni, whom I grew up with, and his little brother Heimoana. Teva created the Rautirare Surf Club in which we were the first members. It is with him that we started to go surfing in the deep. I was around twelve years old.”
« We went surfing at Rautirare Pass, other spots at Mataeia, toward Toahotu at the peninsula… Sometimes there were good waves at the small pass at Vairao or at the large pass…I surfed Teahupo’o for the first time when I was around fourteen. Of course it wasn’t a huge wave, but big enough for me to go to the water.”
“This is how I got to know pro surfing. Since the owners were friends of my parents, we’d go to the Bonjouir guest cottages and stay a few weeks. We’d watch the pro surfers take off when there were huge swells. Through observing them surf, you start to understand how differently they approach reef waves, which is quite unlike beach break waves. It is then that you tell yourself that you really have a future in surfing. They arrive with new boards, enough money to travel, and the chance to get to know waves all over the world.”
“Teahupo’o was already renowned the world over when I was young. It was THE scariest wave. We didn’t have enough boards, and if you busted the only board you had, then you couldn’t surf for months. This is why we avoided the waves there because we clung to our boards! We couldn’t afford to replace them. Teahupo’o is a terrifying wave. When you’re young, you already need to be at a certain level before even attempting it.”
“I also played soccer, which was my first passion. I stopped because I prefer surfing, and I was about fifteen when I committed myself fully to surfing. I was also into canoeing, but I couldn’t do it all. Every Wednesday I wanted to be in the water, so I dropped all the other sports to focus on surfing.”
“I didn’t like school. It just wasn’t my thing. I could have gone further, but all I could think about was surfing. My senior year I made a deal with my father. If I passed the Baccalaureate, then I could do whatever I wanted. My friend Alain Riou had been junior champion of Europe twice, and if he made it, then why couldn’t I? My idea was then to graduate and try my luck with surfing.”
“My parents have always supported me with difficult decisions. To let their child leave by himself to travel far away to do what he loves was a difficult choice for them. They knew that I was happy and that I knew how to take care of myself. I always manage to figure things out no matter what the case. I had already spent time in Australia with a friend. I had competed in the junior pros over there. Then I spent three months in Europe. This is how my professional career started at seventeen years old.”
“I was raised like all children here, to put family before everything, to have respect for others, and to respect your island. That is all that was in my head as well as to be someone who will succeed at whatever he sets his mind to do.”
“I had goals very early on. I told myself I had to put my nose to the grindstone, because the only role model I had was Poto (Vetea David), who had succeeded, but once I started, he had already finished his career. I told myself that I was going to learn on the fly, and that is what happened.”
“The past December holidays did me some good. It was a good time to decompress and reflect, for it is still very hard to go away and leave my wife and child here alone even though I committed to being a father and taking care of them. It is a choice many surfers have to make. I have spoken with many people on the tour, but it is what it is, since surfing is how we earn a living. To be able to provide diapers for my son, I must do my part, and now it has become even more vital. When I leave to compete, I am even more focused than before.”
“My biggest fan is my wife Vaimiti. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I would have gotten to the point I am now. It is especially thanks to her. She has always been there, in the hard times and good, but it is during the difficult moments that you need your loved ones, and she has always been there for me. She is truly an exceptional human being. She has done so much for me, and I thank her 100%.”
“Nat Young is a pro surfer who told me, ‘competitive surfing is not a speed race, it is a marathon.’ From March through December, you have to have endurance. You can’t be rushed. It is important to take your time and to enjoy each moment.”
“I can leave Tahiti for one or two years, but I always know where I come from. I will never forget where I come from, nor will I ever forget the people who have helped me get to this point. I have my culture, my way of thinking, and I have this opportunity to travel and see what is going on elsewhere, which will of course shift my perspectives, because it is true that traveling opens up a world of new cultures.”