Wrightsville Beach got its first entry into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in January when Ben Bourgeois joined with a collection of idols, mentors, colleagues and friends.
“I’m pretty young to be getting in there, so it’s kind of a shock,” said Bourgeois in a telephone call from the Dominican Republic. “I still feel like I have a lot to do and a lot to prove.”
As the only North Carolina surfer to ever make the ASP World Tour, Bourgeois said that East Coast surfers who make the tour generally find their way into the hall of fame.
Bourgeois was inducted during the Jan. 25-27 Surf Expo show in Orlando, Fla.
The 2018 class includes surf professionals who helped mold Bourgeois’ career, including his former coach for the World Surfing Games, Kevin Grondin of New Hampshire, and board shaper Bill Johnson of Florida, who built many of Bourgeois’ competition boards.
All the guys that I got inducted with that night have helped me throughout my career,” Bourgeois said. “A lot of the people I look up to have already been inducted. The list is way too long to name them all.”
By entering the hall of fame, Bourgeois joins surfers he has idolized throughout his career, namely Kelly Slater, as well as the Lopez and Hobgood brothers.
“Those are guys I grew up competing with,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois flew to Orlando from the Dominican Republic, where he is spending the winter both surfing and distributing clean water filtration systems donated by a the charity Waves for Water, an organization founded by fellow surfer Jon Rose.
Bourgeois delivered the simple water filtration system to many areas in the Caribbean hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in the fall of 2017. While the disaster relief effort has passed, Bourgeois said there’s always a need for clean water in the area and he works on distributing the systems in between surf sessions.
“There’s always a need for it, the water here is dirty out of the faucet and many don’t have the means to buy clean water,” Bourgeois said. “You don’t have to jump into a disaster zone to make a difference. You can have a vacation doing what you love and help people along the way.”