Spartan Speaks—The Michel Bourez Interview

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Michel Bourez, note the new sponsors and Nike's 2009 presence on the WCT. Photo: Josh Humbert

Twenty-three year old Tahitian powerhouse Michel Bourez is taking on the world’s best as a rookie this year on the ASP World Tour—commonly referred to as the Dream Tour for it’s idyllic venues. Hailing from a small town 15-minutes away from the thunderous waves of Teahupoo, Bourez has been pegged by many—including 9-Time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater—as one to watch this year. His skills aren’t news to us—we featured him in our annual Who’s Now/Next feature in the March 2008 issue of TransWorld SURF along with the likes of Mitch Coleburn, Sebastian Zietz, Tonio Benson, and Owen Wright to name a few. And guess what? Out of that stacked crew, Bourez is the one who’s gone the furthest. If that’s not enough to make you a believer, Slater recently told the ASP “I think Michel Bourez will be the biggest standout of the rookies.”

We caught up with Bourez a week before was to head to Australia for the 2009 ASP World Tour opening event…

Michel Bourez

Michel Bourez Quick Hits
Age: 23
Height: 5’ 9”
Weight: 170lbs.
Hometown: Toahotu, Tahiti, French Polynesia
2008 WQS Final Ranking: 3rd
Nickname: Spartan
Favorite Spot: Teahupoo
Favorite Surfer: Andy Irons
Sponsors: Nike 6.0, Red Bull, Futures Fins, Kelly Surfboards

TransWorld SURF: After a long time with Quiksilver you recently signed with Nike 6.0. How did that deal come about?

Michel Bourez: They just offered me a really good deal. It was also a chance to be the only one on the WCT sponsored head to toe Nike, so I’m really stoked about that.

Why do they call you “Spartan”?

[Laughs] That’s weird, man! I don’t know, they say I got the, how do you say, the ribs?

The ribs? You mean you’re ripped!

We used to always watch that movie, 300, but I don’t know how it got to be my name…

Don’t sweat it. There could be a lot worse nicknames—like Barney for example. As you look ahead to the tour, what stops are you really looking forward to?

Teahupoo. I can’t wait to surf in that contest.

Where else?

I don’t know, just Pipe I guess. I think I can get a good result at one of those places.

You love those big, hollow lefts huh?

Yeah, I like rights too, but I feel confident in waves like Pipeline and Teahupoo.

Youtube clip of Michel taking home first place at the 2009 Reef Hawaiian Pro which was held in perfect, barreling surf at Haleiwa.

Which stops do you think will present a challenge to you?

I think Trestles will be tough—everybody can surf good in those waves. I think I’ll have to boost some airs to do good there.

Even though the tour is a lot different than back in the day, have you spoken to the last Tahitian to make the tour—Vetea “Poto” David—about being on it and what to expect?

No I haven’t. I see him around and say “Hi” but I don’t really know him too well.

What does Michel translate into English?

Michael.

How many languages to do you speak?

Three—Tahitian, French, and English. That’s pretty much it…

No habla espanol?

No, I don’t speak Spanish. Maybe a little bit…

A lot of people have been saying, “Watch out for this kid, Bourez!” on the tour this year. Do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform well?

No. I don’t put pressure on myself. I just want to go out and o my best and do my job and learn on the WCT. I don’t think about the pressure, I just want to stay focused.

Do you have any goals set for yourself; as far as how you do on tour this first year?

I’d like to finish in the top 15, we’ll see if I can do it. If not, I just want to stay on the World Tour after the first year and improve after that to the top 10 or top 5.

Who’s you favorite surfer on the ASP World Tour?

It’s Andy but he retired so I don’t know…maybe Kelly Slater or…Tim Boal!

Tim Boal? (Fellow 2009 WCT rookie)

Tim Boal. Yeah he’s a good friend of mine but I have to be careful of him [laughs].

Who are some younger Tahitians we should keep our eye on?

My little brother, Kevin. You will hear of him soon.

Spartan Junior! As one of the few surfers to beat Kelly Slater in the last few years, what’s the secret to it?

I don ‘t know—I was just lucky to get a few good waves. Everyone knows if you have one good score he’s just going to get a 10 or 9.9 or something. I was happy to beat him, but it wasn’t the best day of my life or anything. I would like to surf against him in better conditions—big Teahupoo or Pipe—where we both surf our best and see who would win. But Kelly’s Kelly you know? He’s almost invincible.

I can’t wait to watch you surf your heat at the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, I’ll sit on the reef and have a Hinano for you!

[Laughs] I’ll be next to you after!

Michel Bourez