From the age of 6, local surfer Todd Bourke has been ripping in the surf. Inspired by our own local legends, Todd has just won the Men’s Open regional titles at the age of only 17.
When did you start surfing?
Dad first taught me to surf in Bali when I was around 6-years-old. It was the first time I had gotten on a surfboard, and I loved it. At about 9, we moved to Port, where I got my first surfboard – and I have been surfing ever since. Port is such a good place to start surfing.
Who have been your surfing inspirations?
Like many kids, I was always inspired by Kelly Slater. He was always in every magazine I read, or movie I watched, so I just loved him. He really is the best there ever has been and the best there ever will be.
Mick Campbell is also someone I have looked up to since I was a grommet. For someone who was once second in the world, he has shown people the talent Port Macquarie can produce. He is always so keen for a surf and just frothing in general. Ever since I have known him, he has been keen to help the kids from port with their surfing. Having a guy like him in the water is good, as he is always keeping it fun. He has also shown that with dedication and the right mindset, anything can be achieved. I think that’s what kids look up to.
Other guys like Donavon Frankinreiter inspire me, as he gets paid to write music and surf – which I think would be one of the best jobs in the world.
Wayne Morrison and Mitch Vanderveer are also 2 local guys whom I have always been inspired by. Everybody knows they rip, and being able to see them surf gets me hungry to keep improving. Wayne has always helped me and the local kids with surfing and training – and still does. If he sees you slacking in the surf or at training, he will make sure you work hard to improve.
You’ve had some great results in surfing comps. What one stands out for you?
Recently one that stands out for me would have to be winning the Men’s Open regional titles this year. It was my first year competing in the Opens, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a bit different surfing against grown men and people you have watched growing up, compared to surfing against a couple of grommets. Surfing against older guys, I think drives you to surf better, as you feel as though you have to step up to another level of surfing.
You’re lucky enough to have some great sponsors. What kind of support do they give you?
My main sponsor, Oakley, support and help me heaps! They make sure I have everything, from clothes to sunnies to bags or hats. Keeping them happy is something that I try and aim for, because you only get out what you put in, so I try my best to promote them. I’ll make sure I keep in contact with them every week! My most recent sponsor is Xcel, who support me with wetsuits. It’s definitely a bonus having a new wetsuit for winter. It gets you keener to get out there on those cold winter mornings. Ocean and Earth support me with surfing accessories, from legropes to boardcovers, to tailpads. Greg Masters, the area rep for Ocean and Earth, happens to live in Port, so it’s really good to see him in the surf and catch up!
Saltwater Wine Surf has been supporting me since I first stepped foot on a surfboard. Macca, Porky and the crew have been so good to me, and I’m lucky enough to have a job there as well. Having good boards is pretty much a must have. Hayden shapes surfboards; he sends me a new board every few months. It seems every board they make me is better then the last, and I haven’t snapped one yet! Bells Bakery happens to make the best food in town, and I’m lucky enough to have them supporting me also.
Do you have any surfing adventures planned for the future?
The Telos Islands is a place where I have always wanted to go. The climate is so tropical, and the waves look amazing. It’s crazy to think that they have built a 5-star resort there, and the locals still live in huts.
I would also love to travel to places which aren’t typical for surfers to go, somewhere cold or with a slim chance of waves. I think it would make it that much more rewarding if you did score some waves and more of an adventure, rather than knowing the waves you’re going to be surfing.
Where are you hoping your surfing will take you in the future?
I’m just hoping my surfing will take me to places where I am always enjoying myself. Whether it’s free surfing or surfing in a contest, I would like to think that I would be having fun. I hate how some people are so focused on competition, sometimes they forget how to just surf with their mates and hang out.
What was your all time best session in the surf?
I’d have to say the best waves I’ve ever surfed were in Bali at Uluwatu, when I was 15. It was the first time I’d ever really had the chance to experience some heavier waves outside of home. It took me a while to get used to it, as it was about 6 – 8 foot and so different to everything I’d ever experienced. My mate Matt Banting had to convince me to paddle into a few. After I got my first couple, I felt a bit more comfortable and started having a bit more fun.
In saying that, I don’t think anything can beat surfing pumping waves at home. Recently there have been a few sessions at home with just me and a few mates, perfect waves – sessions I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Ever had any close calls out in the surf in heavy conditions?
I had one close call about 6 months ago, surfing home at breakwall. I came off a wave and felt my leggie slip off. I was pretty much on the rocks, but I couldn’t touch the sand to push myself away. The tide was pulling me out, and I didn’t really have any control over myself. I ended up getting in after a while, but it definitely shook me up. That wave was just as heavy as any other waves I have surfed.
What else do you enjoy apart from surfing?
Other then surfing, I basically spend my time with my mates and just hang out and have fun. I enjoy photography and making movies, playing guitar, drawing on or spraying my boards, skating, shooting hoops, hanging with my girlfriend and bumming around at home with my family and dog!