Come back King Joshua B Kirkman
This years APB is very special and important to this weeks featured rider, a young rider who fell out of love with a sport that gave him such success growing up.
After along stint away, Josh is back and hungrier than ever.
Name: Joshua Burguete-Kirkman
"I am originally from Tuncurry Beach, NSW Australia. These days I live mostly in Lund, Sweden.
I started bodyboarding when I was very young, I remember the first time I ever completed a 360, in fact I was probably 6 or 7 years old and riding the white wash at Forster Main Beach.
I had been getting stuck on the rotation and just riding backwards till I fell off or caught a rail. Eventually I realised if I just tapped my flipper on the water as I was going backwards I would bring myself around. I did it and felt pretty awesome about it.
Bodyboarding reached its fever pitch when I was about 8 or 9. It was the early 90s and the legends of the sport like Mike, Ben Severson, Eppo etc were all pretty much mainstream identities in the surfing world at least.
I was just hooked then, particularly due to many of the older guys in Forster being bodyboarders, there was a solid community to join as a result of choosing that over riding a surfboard. As bodyboarding went through its decline in the mid to late nineties, I was passionate enough to stick with it, plus I was getting a lot of strong competitive results, winning an Australian title and a number of other things.
Having my dad in the water too probably helped keep me going back. He was game to join us and that provided a certain safety as a young guy. It also ensured that my brother and I always had a ride to the beach!
In the very, very beginning, I would say that Eppo and Ben Holland were my biggest influences. I wasn’t a guy focused on style like others, but instead more interested in explosive airs and competitive brilliance. As I got older I did begin to realise that style mattered, particularly if I wanted to get photos in a magazine, so I think I subconsciously gravitated towards looking up to Kingy mostly. The fact that he was from a town nearby and an exceptional competitor helped.
At the same time, I definitely enjoyed and was inspired by Adam Keegan’s approach to bodyboarding, and Lester too, for his exceptional competitiveness.
My local break was and always will be Tuncurry Beach
I think Shark Island is pretty special. It is one of the toughest crowds, but when you get that one ride that holds open for you, or when you have been lucky enough to compete in the Shark Island Challenge, there really is no other wave like it. A very special place for me, and the spot where I had one of my best ever results as a ‘professional’.
Where is your favourite break in the world?
If there was only a few guys out, Pipeline. But failing that, I actually really enjoyed surfing Arica, Chile. But absolute favourite wave would have to be Teahupoo. There is no other wave quite like it, and to make it out of a wave there is a memory that never ever fades.
My dad brought home a Mach 20-RS from a garage sale one day and I was so stoked. It was too big for me at the time, but I loved it. The smell, putting the wax on it, the retractable skegs. It was wonderful.
When I was 10 or 11 though, I think I got my first ‘real bodyboard’ for my size and height, which was a Turbo GX. It was in a similar colourway to the old Turbo 3 (sort of) and with a board that was now the right size, I was unstoppable.
When I was first bodyboarding, it was my dad and brother Dan, plus some of his mates like Drew Cockeram (who was a really solid competitor when he was younger and someone who I think could have performed really well on the world tour if he had given it a go), Daniel Smith and a guy a bit older than us named Simon Moss.
Forster Tuncurry had a great generation of riders like Shane Chalker, Dirk Anderson and Todd French who were much older. Troy Kneeves too. They all ripped, and in many ways, you didn’t have to really watch a bodyboarding video to be inspired and be pushed to perform. They were in the water with you. I competed above all else:
1997 - NSW State Champion (Grommets)
1997 - Runner-up Australian Titles. Grommet division (Brad Hughes was the winner)
1998 - 3rd place Australian Titles. Grommet division
1999 - Australian Champion. Cadets division
1999 - 3rd place Morey Pro South Australia (Ryan Hardy winner, Joel Taylor 2nd, Ben Player 4th)
2000 - 3rd place Australian Titles. Junior Division
2003 - Australian Pro-Junior Champion
2004 - 4th place Shark Island Challenge
2004 - Number 7 in the world
2006 - 2nd place Pipeline Pro GQS (Johnno Bruce winner, Jeff Hubbard 3rd, Dave Winchester 4th)
2007 - retired (age 23)
2017 - 9th place Arica Chilean Challenge
2017 - 13th place Fronton King
2017 - APB World Ranking 24th
I don’t see myself as a ‘pro rider’ at all, but definitely see myself as a competitive rider. I don’t make any money from bodyboarding other than the prize money that I win. My ‘day job’ is Communications Director for a company called Loudspring, which invests in and grows clean technology companies that have a positive impact on the environment and save natural resources.
As far as equipment: I ride Found Boards. They are simply the best craft I have ever ridden. I wear Found wetsuits, but also use Patagonia too as I am a big fan of their environmental approach to production.
Not that I am actively chasing a paying sponsor at all, but I would be happy to ride for and work with any company that takes environmental impact seriously and makes products that seek to do no harm and are of high quality. This is why I love Patagonia as a brand and wear their clothing and use their wetsuits. This is also why I really like Found Boards, because they are of such a high quality that they will last a long time.
Having said this, I can share that Found Boards is right on the verge of releasing an environmental initiative that will be the start of a new era in the way we use, reuse, and recycle bodyboards, because the impact of producing them is large, and they impact the environment tremendously through carbon emissions in manufacturing, logistics and lack of adequate recycling.
I don’t really try and buy bodyboarding clothing. I did when I was younger and was sponsored by some. These days I care more about supporting brands that make products that are environmentally responsible, if I buy anything new at all. I actually mostly shop secondhand if I need something.
During the Arica Chilean Challenge Iast year, I listened to Michael Kiwanuka ‘Cold Little Heart’ on repeat, and I credit this song with getting me in the right mood to surf the best I had surfed in over 10 years, in waves larger than I had ridden in over 10 years. It is a pretty special song that I will never forget.
Sunburnt skin. Winning comps. Pissing off my idols. Being too pushy for success. Sacrificing everything for my sport. Realising there was more to life and that financial reality IS reality. Loving the thrill of bodyboarding.
When I was in my early 20’s and competing against my heroes for bodyboarding glory, I was arrogant, jealous and wanting more than bodyboarding was ever going to give me. I wanted it to provide me with an income and security so that I could have glory and a financial future.
A pretty tragic moment in my life was when I missed my Quarter Final heat at the Honolua Bay IBA event. I was in 6th place on the world title race and in contention for the world title if I had a good result. This was before Facebook and Instagram, so to check the status of the event you had to call a hotline that was supposed to be updated each morning.
Due to the cost of accommodation close to the event site (nestled amongst golf resorts etc for the rich and famous) I stayed on the ‘poorer’ southern side of the island of Maui, which was an hour’s drive away. On what was to be the final day of the competition I called in the morning to check if the event was on. The voice recording said that it was not on. I felt like it wasn’t right, so I waited another 30 minutes and called it again. Still not on.
It was on. And by the time I found this out later that night, my chance at a world title was over. It broke me.