Forster Tuncurry bodyboarder Joshua Burguete-Kirkman is now ranked ninth on the Association of Professional Bodyboarding (APB) World Tour after a strong performance at the first stop of the World Grand Slam tour in Arica, Chile.
It was at this same event last year when Joshua returned to world tour competition after a decade out of the sport.
Speaking from Chile, Joshua was thrilled with the result.
“To come back to Chile and repeat the same result as last year was the minimum I hoped to achieve. I knew it was going to be tough to even do that given my time out of the water.”
Living in Sweden these days, access to waves good enough to practice and prepare for competition is tough, with Joshua relying on cross training and visualization to prepare.
“I literally had only two hours of ‘in the water’ preparation for this event out of the last four months.
“I was fortunate enough to go on a surf trip arranged by Patagonia Europe to test out their new eco-wetsuits and write about them for Nordic Surfers Mag about a week before the event in Chile.
“The waves were pumping one evening and I had a chance to practice. If that swell had not come up I wouldn’t have had any practice at all before going to Chile,” Joshua said.
This year’s event saw the APB trial a new competition format that rewarded higher risk manouvers.
Riders had three 30 minute heats to score three rides.
The top 16 riders with the highest combined totals out of 30 would progress to the man-on-man rounds to the finals.
Joshua was able to finish 11th on the leaderboard after finding some strong scores for two long barrels on the lefthander at the wave ‘El Flopos’.
“My first round was a bit of a write-off, only scoring some small rides that had me well down the leaderboard.
“In round two I found one really long barrel that got me a 7.75 and then I managed to repeat that and get another great ride in the round three heat when the swell had increased considerably that earned me 7.9,” Joshua said.
Joshua finished the leaderboard rounds with 20.65 in total and was then matched up with Jared Houston from South Africa in the round four man-on-man elimination heat.
He had matched up with Houston in his final event of 2017 in the Canary Islands and was defeated in a close heat then.
He was hoping to get a win back off the 2015 World Champion but it was not to be.
“Jared absolutely destroyed me in the round four heat,” Joshua said.
“He managed to score two almost perfect rides in the opening 10 minutes of the heat and I simply had no real opportunities to get near him.”
The loss to Houston saw Josh finish ninth. A result that he had hoped for at the least despite his lack of surf preparation.
“It is my goal to finish in the top ten this year and this result is a step in the right direction towards that goal.
“What I realised in that heat with Jared is that I definitely need more practice if I am going to beat guys like him and make it to podiums.
“Hopefully I will be able to rely on what I have and get to 10 th , but next year I will need a different strategy if I intend on improving further,” Joshua said.
The next stop on the APB Tour is in Brazil, which Josh will miss due to work commitments.
“I’m not like many of the other guys on tour. I have a full-time job that I work with mostly remotely, but I do need to turn up to the office in Helsinki too from time to time,” Joshua said.
“I have to thank my colleagues at Loudspring for giving me the leeway to compete and work simultaneously. Without that support none of this would be able to happen.”
Joshua will be back in action in Kiama for the first stop of the tour in Australia for many years.
This stop is something that he is quite excited about.
“Kiama was the place where I won one of my first ever major competitions as a teenager, the State titles back in 1997.
“To be competing there again is going to be really cool, and my family and hopefully some friends will be there to watch too, which hasn’t happened in a long time,” Joshua said.
With any luck, Josh will be able to repeat the good form from 20 years ago in Kiama and have another win.