Aritz Aranburu spent last year taking the pressure off his contest performance and taking the time to just enjoy surfing … and life. We chatted with him about what he’s been up to on day one of the Quiksilver Pro.
QS: It seemed you flipped the script on your priorities last year and the competitions were peppered in between your free surf trips, instead of the other way around. Is that what happened?
It’s kind of a 50/50 for me. The last few years I was getting a little bit upset on how the qualification was working, it was really hard. I was just taking care of my contest but feeling a little bit empty. So, it was a great time to visit different breaks. There was way less contest than before so I had a lot of free time to do whatever I wanted. It made me feel really positive.
I was always wanting to come back on tour one day and I was just waiting for it to happen. Last year I took all the pressure off myself and was enjoying it so much that all the positive things came together.
QS: When you’re home you spend a lot of time surfing the Wavegarden. Did it help you in your small waves game?
I’m an ambassador for the Wavegarden so I’m always testing the wave; it’s really fun. At home, if the waves are flat it’s great to mess around and try the wave. It’s a robotic wave so never going to be the same feeling as the ocean, but it’s the next best thing.
QS: So, on the more personal side – has dating a very famous Spanish supermodel, Almudena Fernandez, changed your life in Spain?
Ha! Not really. My girlfriend has had an amazing career since she was young and I respect that a lot. She’s super hardworking and she inspires me to be the best I can. I’m really lucky.
QS: Do you mean like through surfing – she likes surfing a lot doesn’t she?
Yeah, she started surfing about four or five years ago. Now she has a non-profit organization called Kind Surf helping kids with a lot of physical problems. We take them in the water and do a lot of different workshops. The experience has been amazing and the kids have taught me so much. Sometimes you think you’re giving the kids a lot but the payback is always bigger. It’s been such an inspiration for me and I think it’s why I qualified – so much good energy through the whole year from the trips and the workshops. It’s been an amazing year.
QS: Does it help you put things in perspective when you lose a heat?
Of course. I think the problems I have are always good problems. I’m growing as a person and am definitely going to keep on working with the kids.