While Korea is far from being a surfing powerhouse, the sport has seen a small but passionate group of Korean and expat surfers slowly build the sport more and more each year. One sign of the growing interest in surfing is Busan’s hosting of the 6th Annual Mayor’s Cup International Surfing Championship, which will run June 28 and 29 on Haeundae Beach.
On June 23rd, Australian surfer, Brett Burcher arrives in Busan and will spend the week promoting surfing in Korea. The day after he arrives, at 4:30pm on Tuesday June 24, the Ocean and Earth sponsored pro rider will host surf clinics at Gwangalli/Kai Surf School for their youth members. He will also host similar surf schools for adults on Thursday, the 26th at 4:30pm.
Along with the clinics, Burcher is scheduled to hold autograph sessions at Haeundae Beach from June 27 through 29, between 9am and 4pm, as well as competing in the 2014 Busan Mayors International Surfing Competition.
Haps had a chance to talk with Burcher leading up to his arrival on the peninsula:
Is this going to be your first trip to Korea? What have you heard about Busan?
Yes this will be my first trip to Korea. My good friend Guy visited Busan last year and he speaks very highly of Busan. He mentioned the friendly people and their enthusiastic attitudes as well as the nice, although small wave, beaches. I will have to research the area and its surroundings more in depth before I arrive. Although I want it to be a bit of a secret to keep it exciting, so we will see what happens.
Has surfing always been your main passion?
It certainly has. When I was younger, from 7-14 years old I experimented with a range of sports. I played soccer, touch football, tennis, golf but they all took a back seat to surfing. I then got to a certain age where I stopped playing all those sports and just focused on surfing. If I was travelling on a Saturday to play soccer and the waves were good, I would be miserable thinking that I was missing out.
Surfing is currently not a very popular sport here in Korea, mainly due to its lack of exposure here. How do you hope to rectify this during your visit?
I hope to share my passion for the sport and share some of the opportunities that surfing has allowed me to partake in. I think the main thing I would like to highlight is the positive lifestyle that is attached to surfing. You are able to become a part of a community where you build friends who share common interests, immerse yourself in Mother Nature, maintain regular exercise and travel the world to sample different waves in different locations. Surfing sometimes carries a slightly negative stereotype; it can be overlooked due to its lack of exposure. Hopefully during my visit I am able to leave a lasting impression and create more interest in the public eye.
What has been the highlight of your surfing career so far?
I wouldn’t say I had one standout highlight. I would rate a few on par with each other. Winning the Red Bull Junior Surf Masters at Cronulla Beach in 2009/Scoring the cover of Tracks Magazine /Releasing the surf movie Carpark Stories. These are my three highlights to date so far.
Yes, I am currently studying Primary Education via correspondence at home in Australia. I study part time and have been doing so for the past three years. This suits my schedule, as it allows me to surf and travel, and catching up on study when possible. I definitely want to become a teacher in the future, I’m in no rush but once I knuckle down and completely commit to teaching as a career, it will be great.
I notice you like playing golf? What’s your handicap and who is your favorite golfer?
Yeah I do like playing golf. There is a huge difference between liking it and being good at it. I’m a shocker. I just play socially with some friends here and there. Where I live there are two really good courses. I don’t have a handicap; if i did it would be very high! Adam Scott or John Daly are my favorite golfers. Adam because he is an Aussie and John because, well, you know whyâ¦
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your surfing career?
I really looked up to Andy Irons and still do. I really loved the way he approached waves. I look up to a bunch of surfers from my home area, but who are still undiscovered. My friend Paul Morgan has been a big influence in the way I go about my surfing and attitude. We used to travel a lot together and he was a few years older so I always watched him closely.
Tell us about ‘Carpark Stories’?
Carpark Stories is a surf movie that Toby Cregan (producer) and I worked on and produced last year. We spent a year travelling to a range of locations in Australia and Indonesia which resulted in a 30 minute feature film. The theme of the movie was to show what goes on during surf trips; it has a short commentary spiel before each section, highlighting what we got up to and interesting points for the audience. We wanted to tell a bit of a story instead of just mixing music and surfing. We travelled to Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Indonesia. Surfers in the movie included Elliot Marshall, Scott Dennis, Creed Mctaggart, Matt King, and Kelly Slater. It can be viewed on Vimeo.
What is your favorite place to surf?
My favorite place to surf is all the breaks close to home on the South Coast of NSW. Nothing beats surfing at home with your mates and in waves that you are familiar with and feel comfortable surfing.
What about the Intense Challenge competition. What was that experience like?
It was a great experience. It featured 15 of the best big wave surfers in Australia so it was an honor to be chosen. We were able to showcase our talent by releasing six short clips over as many months. The public then voted on their favorite clip with the winner taking home $30,000. Every surfer was pushing the limits and it was great to watch everyone’s clips throughout the competition. It received a great response in Australia and it was the first competition of its kind.
If you are interested in attending the surf competition, it will take place on Haeundae Beach in front of the Paradise Hotel June 28 and 29. Also attending this year’s competition will be Japanese Surfer Kazunori Suzuki, Canada’s Melvin Palmiano and Dan Mitch from New Zealand.
If you want to know more about surfing in Busan visit Kai Surf shop: www.kaisurf.co.kr
Photos courtesy of Brett Burcher.