Bourez, Michel

Well-muscled, soft-spoken Tahitian pro surfer; world-ranked #5 in 2014. "They're aren't many guys out there as strong as Michel," Kelly Slater said of Bourez in 2013. "Put him on a right with an open face, watch him set his shoulders and pushes his legs—it's a thing of beauty."

Born (1985) and raised in Toahotu, Tahiti, Bourez began surfing with his brothers at age nine. After claiming the 2006 ASP European championship, Bourez grabbed the rest of the surf world’s attention the following year when, as a wildcard entrant into the Quiksilver Pro France, he knocked world champion Kelly Slater out of the competition. In 2008, Bourez, again a wildcard at the same event, took out top-ten competitors Bede Durbidge and Joel Parkinson, then went on later in the year to win the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa.

Bourez qualified for the World Championship Tour in 2009. He rode very much in the style of his Tahitian pro circuit predecessor Vetea David, with raw strengh, a raised chest, and a wide-planted stance. Bourez aerial game was average by world tour standards, but his haymaking frontside off the top was almost nuclear in power. He was soon being compared with the the sport's greatest power surfers. "Like Gary Elkerton before him," Lewis Sameuls noted in Surfline, "Michel's muscle surfing is raw, reckless and often disjointed. He overpowers his equipment, looking most composed at the apex of a rail turn." Having grown up surrounded by triple-black-diamond reef waves, Bourez was also the picture of calm in hair-raising tropical barrels.

2014 proved to be Bourez' breakout year on the WCT. In the second event of the season, Bourez, 27, picked up his first big league win, at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. Just a few weeks later he won again, at the Billabong Rio Pro, and that was enough to put the Tahitian at the top of the standings; unable to back up his results through the second half of the season, Bourez dropped to the #5 position at year's end. He closed 2014 on a high note, however, with a victory in the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach.

The 5’9” 168-pound regularfoot was nicknamed “the spartan” by his fellow tour competitors for his superhero-like physique. “He’s built like friggin Adonis,” said surf photographer Jason Kenworthy. “Don’t let him take his shirt off in front of your lady.”