Yeah, Bry can do the big boy turns. Photo: Duncan Macfarlane
How Out-Surfing The Billabong Team Led To A Sponsor Contract For This Salvadoran Hammer
Introducing Bryan Perez.
Every notable surf spot has its stickerless maestro.
The type of guy or gal who maxes out the performance threshold of a particular wave, despite having little to no recognition from the wider surfing world. However few can transfer this level of dominance from their native watering hole to the global surf scene, which is why they remain legends at their local but never much more.
Nevertheless, Billabong just hedged its bets on an unknown Salvadorian talent.
While on a team trip to Central America, Griffin Colapinto, Seth Moniz, Eithan Osborne, Kai Hing, and Josh Moniz were enjoying classic pointbreak conditions when out of nowhere came the lead-footed, tail-hucking local kid Bryan Perez, who kept up with and arguably surpassed Billabong’s CT and freesurf riders.
Luckily for Bryan, the Billabong crew responded not with jealousy but support, encouraging the local to join them for daily excursions and to introduce them to his vibrant homeland. Best of all, after watching Bryan's performances over the week, the Billabong team was so damn impressed with the 19-year-old that they offered him a spot on the team.
Stickers were granted. A contract was signed. Beers (probably) ensued.
It’s the best underdog story since Hush Puppies.
Wanting to meet this recently-made man, we got Bryan on the phone to chat about all things surf.
Stab: Forgive our ignorance, but prior to this video we knew nothing about you. So let’s start from the beginning: who are you, and where are you from?
Bryan Perez: My name is Bryan Perez and I'm from La Libertad, El Salvador, specifically Punta Roca beach.
How old are you?
Do you compete?
Yes, I started competing this year on the QS. I’m stoked to have a lot of competitions lined up for this year. I can’t wait to see where this year takes me.
You just spent some time surfing with the Billabong guys at your local spot. Which guys on the trip were the sickest to surf with?
Seth Moniz, Griffin Colapinto, Eithan Osborne – they are all sick surfers and so fun to hang out with, but my favorite surfer is Griffin. He’s such a nice guy and he rips!
Who’s surfing are you most inspired by right now?
My favorite surfer is Joel Parko by far.
Did you ever think you’d pick up a sponsor by tagging along on the trip?
No! I was so stoked when it happened. I just wanted to surf with those guys because they are so rad. And I felt the good vibes from everyone.
What does that feel like?
It’s a dream come true! Since I was a kid I always wanted to be sponsored by Billabong and be a part of something so big. It’s an amazing family to be a part of.
How hard is it to get noticed in El Salvador?
It’s so hard because the country does not support surfing, which is a bummer because the waves are so good – it’s paradise here. There are only a couple of little surf shops in the whole country. I have traveled to surf other places just to try to be noticed because In El Salvador it's really hard.
How many other guys from your area rip as hard as you?
There are little kids coming up that rip so hard! But they need support. With Puro Surf we are trying to help little groms to train and stay focused because for sure if they do they have a future .
What are your plans for the year?
The plan this year is to compete on the QS and not only learn how to compete better, but also to have fun with every competition doing what I love. I want to surf as many different waves as I can. I want to make as many videos as I can and get more exposure so more people know about my surfing.
What’s your involvement with Puro Surf?
First of all, I would like to thank Puro Surf for all the opportunities they have given me. I have been training with them for five years already. I’m sponsored by Puro Surf Academy, and now we are training hard, focusing on making a lot of points on the QS. Puro Surf is like a family to me.
What QS events are you doing?
I just came back from a 3, 000 in Peru Copa. It was a really good experience – I made it to the fourth round and it was my first event ever on the QS.
I have lots of options regarding what events I could go to. Right now I’m going to Argentina to a 1500. I want to go to Chile to El Gringo and Iquique competitions which are in the same month.
Has the sponsorship given you the ability to get out of El Salvador?
Yes, I’m very thankful with all of my sponsors. Thanks to them I have been able to travel and surf places like Hawaii. It was a dream come true to surf Pipeline.