Michel Bourez on experiencing the joy of post-lockdown waves
© Ben Thouard
After months confined to within metres of his pounding home break, Bourez returned to the waves in style during a huge first day back session at Tahiti's famed Teahupo’o.
"It was wonderful!" Three months after taking his surfboard out of confinement for the epic return to the waves and Michel Bourez is loving being out on the water again.
It must be said that Bourez, who'd not spent more than six months in Tahiti during the last 18 years, was coming out of a complicated stay at home. "I felt like I was imprisoned," he said. "I know everyone felt this, but I live by the water and seeing waves without being allowed to surf them is hard."
Hard, certainly, but not unprecedented for him: "Two or three years ago, I was injured during a session at Teahupo’o and I wasn't able to surf for three months, so I know the feeling."
So, following the rules of the local lockdown, Bourez waited patiently for the green light to begin surfing again. "From the very first swell after the quarantine, we decided to make this video. The conditions were great – although there were a lot of people in the water – and I had a lot of fun. I regained the feeling quite quickly. I travel a lot and miss a lot of sessions at Teahupo'o, so, for me, going back and surfing cold is pretty normal."
As well as Teahupo'o, Bourez also managed to squeeze in a small session at a second, lesser-known spot. "It's a straight line that doesn't often work, a difficult spot to surf, because you've to get out of the wave very quickly, otherwise you end up on the reef and hurt yourself. To go there, all the conditions have to be right – and they were," he recalls.
Boxing, the Olympics and a shark attack
The 2020 Championship Tour season has been postponed – for the moment – until December, but that doesn't mean Bourez has been taking things easy after filming the video. "I've done boxing, a bit of MMA in a club not far from home and a minimum of two hours of surfing per day," he says. "The idea is to keep the pace."
But that's not all. The Rurutu native also took a foil ride at the beginning of July between Tahiti and sister island Moorea – a 12km crossing. Not all went to plan, however.
I was attacked by a hammerhead shark
"I was attacked by a hammerhead shark!" Bourez recounts. "It came from behind and tore off a piece of my foil before leaving. I fell in the water and just as I got back, he came back! He attacked my foil, but I was able to get on the following boat. This is the first time that this has happened to me, but the foil's wing looks like a stingray and it makes noise, so I understand why."
Whatever happens, it's not a shark that will prevent the Tahitian from fulfilling his mission to become world champion and go to the 2024 Olympics: "The Olympics will be in Tahiti for the surf contest and that will be my last big goal. Everything is doable as long as you're in shape and want it."