Fred Van Dyke's profile on Joey Buran ran in the June 1979 issue of SURFER. This version has been slightly edited.

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Joey is 17, from Carlsbad, California. He’s surfed since 1973, and created quite a sensation this last winter when he placed in the finals of the Pipeline Masters, no mean feat. One of California’s fastest rising young stars and at the forefront of the new breed of surfers, he’s been to the Islands three times. The second trip was quite an experience, and one he likes to laugh about as he looks back now.

Joey says, “Yeah, I was 15 and I had these savings bonds. They were for my future. I figured my future was now. So I go to these banks, trying to be cool, you know. I’m trying to cash enough out to make it to Hawaii. I get the money. My friend tells me the whole idea is insane, as I board the airplane to Hawaii. It was far out—like, I surfed Pipeline and Sunset and met neat guys like Dane Kealoha, and they were so friendly. Dane really helped, he sort of pushed me to ride Sunset. But then I had to face the parents: 'Hi Mom, I'd like you to guess where I am.' A pause. 'Yep, that’s right, Hawaii.' It was all too much, but I did go back and straighten up the school trip.”

Joey did take care of things. He returned to school, was a swimming champion, and graduated. He told me his mother is now totally behind him, giving unrelenting support to his quest to be a champion surfer. When he was cheated out of $3,000 in prize money, his mom managed to scrape up enough cash for Buran to continue competing. But it was a learning experience for both of them. He had won the California Pro contest in Oceanside. He received a neat check, and confidently went to the bank to cash it. It bounced, as did all the other surfers' checks. Presently, Buran and his mother are trying to settle the ripoff with the help of a lawyer. “It was a real eye-opener,” Joey noted. “Here’s this guy who charges all the surfers an entry fee, and then the checks|all bounce. I figure he took in around $10,800. A hard lesson.”

Encyclopedia of Surfing

One of the other lessons Joey learned from that meet was that the established surfers don’t like getting beat by an unknown. He told me that one of the famous Pipeline surfers said, “Wait till the kid comes to Pipeline. We’ll see what he’s got then.”

Joey came to Pipeline and placed in the finals of the Masters. In his trial heat, in fact, he beat out the guy who had bad-mouthed him after the Oceanside contest. Buran later said, "It made me feel good, stoked all over, because I’d really proven that I could do it.”

I asked Joey what was next, and he didn’t hesitate in answering. “I took fifth this time. I’m pleased. I did better than I expected. My goal is to win at Pipeline. I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of time. Maybe next year, or the year after, who knows, but I’m going to keep on coming until I win.”

"You know, Joe," I replied, "some of the top men out there are doing it with help. You know what I mean?”

He answered immediately. “Yes, I know there’s guys whiffin' coke and taking uppers. But that just means they're missing most of it. When I’m out in the water, I want a clear head so I can experience the waves totally, you know?”

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Since arriving in Hawaii, Buran has come in contact with the powers to be at Pipeline—the Lightning Bolt crew. They have in many respects created a "closed-shop" attitude, but Joey nonetheless has high respect for Gerry Lopez, Rory Russell, and the rest of the Pipeline specialists. It was "the honor of his life," to have surfed in the same contest with Rory and Gerry, he told me.

I asked Joey if he ever felt pressure to paddle out on big days just to maintain status. “No," he answered. "I look out there, and if it looks wrong, or it's too big, or I’m not ready, I pass. However, if there was a contest, and it was my heat, I'd go no matter.”

Did he ever feel scared or like he might not be able to survive? "I guess I've been scared. Like at Sunset, when it is a hairy west swell and you gotta scratch for the horizon. And once at Pipe when my board broke into three pieces and I was on the bottom and couldn’t get up—sure, I was scared. But I figure my swimming background really helps in those tight spots.”

I asked Joey if the place he surfed in California helped him to ride Pipeline. He talked about of a great left on a year-round sandbar which isn’t as big as Pipeline, but breaks the same. He wouldn’t tell me its location.

Joey now realizes that he’s the only Californian to gain the pro surfing honors he has. He resents the clean sweep made by the Aussies on the world tour. Joe has a fervent purpose to change that. Hopefully, the example he is setting will turn other Californians onto competing. Joey wants the trophies coming to his home state.

Joey wants to travel and see what is happening in the world firsthand. He thinks higher education can wait until he burns out on competition. He mentioned how so many young Californians never come out of their shell, that they just surf and drug out each day. He wants none of it. At the moment, he is thinking about little else but surfing. “If I eventually get enough of the circuit and burn out on contests, maybe there will be a lady who will turn my head to settling down. Until then, nothing serious."

Encyclopedia of Surfing

In closing, I asked Joey which surfers he most admired. “Shaun’s really the hottest, yet he’s a really mellow guy. Terry Richardson is great, and Lopez is the master. In all, though, I really am taken by the go-for-it attitude of Dane Kealoha. He’s done a lot for me.”

Any advice, Joey?

"Be cool. Take care of your brother. Drop the localism scene, expand! After all, when it all boils down, surfing is supposed to be fun. That's it.”

[Photos: Tom Hutson, Steve Wilkings, Dan Devine]