Loose Limbs, Long Lines And Ryan Burch
The best session I’ve seen? Too easy! It was Burch at Deserts, hands down. This was 2013, and we rode to Deserts from Bali. I’d only met Burch a couple of days before at an Irish bar in Bali while some big football match was going on. I don’t really like football but we had a Guiness or two and that’s how it all started. Next thing I knew we were on the bikes.
I didn’t really know much about Ryan at that point. I’d never even seen him stand up and had no idea he was of that calibre. He’s his own calibre in my opinion, on a surfing and shaping scale. The realisation of how gnarly he actually is was quite overwhelming for me. We rocked up and the swell was only just starting to trickle in, around head high but long and running. I was supposed to be setting up my tent so I could get out there myself, but I ended up planting myself on the grass and watched Burch surf for close to two hours. Seeing someone ride an asymmetrical shape for the first time was such a surreal experience. It was the bottom of the tide, and he was making the most mind boggling sections. Most guys out there were just getting blown up on these things, but Burch was flying around them with ease. I was completely floored, to the point that I paddled out to him and said, “Man, that was the fucking gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen!”
The next day the waves started to insurmountably build. It got absolutely ridiculous; I had no business being there. It was some kind of fucked up Armageddon swell and I just remember being scared out of my wits. I got eight waves on the head and was basically scared in. That afternoon Joel Fitz and Ryan surfed it, I just sank tins and watched it all unfold. I think maybe the swell wasn’t the right direction; it was just a big foamball that would turn inside out and eat itself. Fitzy blew out his ear drum that surf, came in and had someone tape his head back up with an earplug in and he went straight back out. I remember thinking, “Woah! Fitzy is so gnarly! He’s an animal.”
The funny thing is that I was more blown away by a wave not much bigger than overhead. I remember Burch high-lining into the section and covering more ground than I’ve ever seen anyone cover in the flats of a wave. He was literally flying, hit the bottom and he was just cooking, then drove past this huge section and jammed a clean angular carve. Seeing someone cover that much distance then find the hook was a real eye opener to me.
I remember some classic sessions from my grommie days, like watching Taylor Knox out the point when I was only little… the first time I’d ever seen a proper power gaff, but Burch at Deserts tops them all. I’d never seen anyone surf like that. Look at all the guys from my Dad’s era – Burch has that same frame of mind. Shaping your own boards and riding them how you want was the cornerstone of our sport and I think Ryan is this boardbuilder of our generation. I think Ryan’s hit his pinnacle, being able to shape something that’s all ‘you’. He was riding a 5’7’’ asym twinny, just going to fucking town, til he got compounded on the bottom and broke it in four pieces. Twinnies have always had that common misconception of being washy and slidey without any hold but in fact a traditional twinny is the driviest, craziest holding board you could ever imagine. I feel like you can surf Ryan’s boards as big as you want. He’s the gnarliest boardbuilder in the world in my opinion. That trip was the start of a very good friendship and he ended up coming back to the farm at Angourie, straight after. – Bryce Young