BRETT BURCHER ON Whippy
“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