BRETT BURCHER ON Whippy

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“HE SOME­HOW SEES SOME­THING AT­TRAC­TIVE AND PEACE­FUL WHEN LOOK­ING AT WAVES THAT ARE UN­DE­NI­ABLY UGLY AND AN­GRY. ”

"I guess the thing that stands out to me is just his un­con­di­tional froth for get­ting bar­relled. Not just your stan­dard, dreamy bar­rel ei­ther – prefer­ably big, round ones with next to no wa­ter on them and very lit­tle chance of ac­tu­ally rid­ing out suc­cess­fully. He is com­pletely ded­i­cated to chas­ing swells wher­ever they dare to ap­pear, even if it means 48 hours of straight driv­ing while cart­ing our stinky car­casses across the coun­try in his beloved Hilux. If he had ded­i­cated as much time to com­pet­i­tive surf­ing as he did to chas­ing slabs, he would be world champ.

When­ever a swell shows up at home, what­ever plan you have mus­tered up, you can guar­an­tee he's al­ready three steps ahead of you. I’ve al­ways thought, ‘If a wave slabs on the south coast and Whip wasn’t on it, did it ac­tu­ally break?’

I gave him my long-range surf-fore­cast­ing pass­word one time so he could keep a close eye on a de­vel­op­ing swell. I think at the time I had saved about seven favourite lo­ca­tions that I would con­sis­tently check. When I logged back on a week later an­other 20 lo­ca­tions had mys­te­ri­ously ap­peared, most be­ing in the cra­zi­est, re­motest ar­eas you could think of. You only have to look at his per­for­mances in shal­low, heavy waves to re­alise how com­fort­able he is in in­tense sit­u­a­tions. He some­how sees some­thing at­trac­tive and peace­ful when look­ing at waves that are un­de­ni­ably ugly and an­gry. When you’re on a trip with him and the waves are gnarly, he has a knack for mak­ing you feel like a wet blan­ket. You will be closely analysing ev­ery wave, cri­tiquing ev­ery pos­si­ble flaw that wave served up, and all the while Whip will al­ready be waxing up and throw­ing the tow-rope out."

You have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing able to make very ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tions about when a par­tic­u­lar place will be good? With­out giv­ing away the game what are some of the specifics you look at? Yeah I’ve found my­self be­ing pretty good with the charts now. I know what to look for, like the an­gle, winds, de­gree for most of the spots. I use Buoy Weather, which is amaz­ing for swell and di­rec­tion, and wind guru is the pick for the weather and the wind. These charts are the best in my eyes. It’s the ul­ti­mate buzz when you’ve called it, driven days and days to get a lo­ca­tion, when it’s fir­ing, it makes it all worth­while. It’s good to back your­self and take risks and just go for it. You are also known for often be­ing on the best waves. Is it some­thing you re­ally think about? Yeah, I def­i­nitely study the waves and the ocean when I am out there, but a lot of the ses­sion’s suc­cess is down to the driver if we are towing. I know a lot of the waves and which will hit the reef right, I guess that comes from time and ex­pe­ri­ence and just lov­ing the mo­ments. I reckon Benny Ser­rano AL­WAYS gets the wave of the day! But … he’s the worst ski driver outta all of us ha ha ha ha. You have plenty of the waves around home di­alled in but you’re not op­posed to driv­ing across the con­ti­nent to score waves in South Aus? Yeah, I have got most of the waves di­alled around home but I love South Aus' as it pro­duces some of the best waves in Aus­tralia, po­ten­tially even the world. I love go­ing there and I want to keep go­ing there, it’s a magic place. There have been heaps of trips I’ve done that I’ve driven two days straight and surfed the next day. Which is stupid, you’re so fried from the drive and you start mak­ing bad de­ci­sions, and you don’t have the ses­sion you could have. If we’re on a two-day mis­sion, I try to give my­self a day to re­coup be­fore we get out there. How do the waves there com­pare to the ones on the East Coast in terms of power, punch and per­fec­tion? The power, it re­minds me of Hawaii, the Antarc­tic lows just push straight in to the Bite giv­ing the waves a lot of punch and there’s def­i­nitely so many per­fect set ups down there, I’ve not even seen half of them. There’d be so many per­fect days down there if you lived there. It’s pretty raw over there – heat, desert, sharks and ran­dom char­ac­ters. Do you feel more vul­ner­a­ble? Or is that part of the at­trac­tion? Know­ing you have han­dled a fierce en­vi­ron­ment? Any run-ins with any­one in that part of the world? Nah, no run-ins of yet. We are usu­ally trav­el­ling pretty west from where peo­ple are, so some­times we don’t even see any other surfers! Benny Ser­rano would kill most peo­ple in a fight so I al­ways feel much safer when he is around. (Benny Ser­rano is a vi­o­lin-play­ing ex-boxer turned big-wave surfer.) Does it drive you mad if you feel like you have missed a swell? Fuck … it’s the worst feel­ing miss­ing swells, some­thing I don’t wish upon any­one ha ha ha ha.

You What’s are thea self-em­ployedbest story you’ve builder. told What’sto get your out workof work sched­uleso that like?you could chase a swell? I am self em­ployed, run­ning a lit­tle car­pen­try busi­ness. The best story is… “We have started a new job this week, see you next week”… clients don’t know where you are! Do you ever worry about get­ting in­jured while surf­ing and jeop­ar­dis­ing your in­come? I try not to think about it. I’ve got in­sur­ance. You don’t have ma­jor spon­sor­ship at the mo­ment. Is that some­thing that irks you? Yeah, if I had a proper bud­get to travel the world, I’d be do­ing what Mathews and Hippo were do­ing and I guess when you’re pay­ing for your own trips and you score, it makes it more re­ward­ing. But yeah, it kind of shits me, there’s not much money out there for surf­ing big heavy waves, some­thing needs to change in the in­dus­try. Do you think it’s im­por­tant to work on your big wave pad­dle surf­ing also? Yep this is some­thing I’ve started chang­ing and fo­cus­ing on more and more as pad­dling is more of a chal­lenge. Hang­ing with Russ, that freak just pad­dles ev­ery­thing! We’ve started pad­dling waves we used to tow be­cause of that. Was this a par­tic­u­larly spe­cial year in terms of swell? For south swells no. But I did surf of the big­gest nor-east swells I’ve ever seen here and I’ve lived here for 25 years. I man­aged to get a few of the big­gest waves I’ve ever rid­den at home. I wish this was monthly, be­cause home can pro­duce some of the best waves in the world!

LEFT: (LEFT)JOIN AN­OTHER IM­POS­SI­BLE. WHIP­PY­BRETT PREPAR­ING­MIS­SION BURCHER­PHOTO:ON TO SI­MON OP­PO­SITE­HAV­ING PUNCH­FUN TOP: ON WHIP­PYTHE KIND MOST OF PEO­PLE MU­TANT WANT LEFT NO PART OF. OP­PO­SITE BOT­TOM: WHIPPY PRO­VID­ING THE FREEFALL EN­TER­TAIN­MENT FOR A...

ONE LIKES BIG FISH AND THE OTHER BIG WAVES. BOTH HAVE IN­SA­TIABLE AP­PETITES AND GREAT SMILES. PHOTO: SI­MON PUNCH

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