Ocean City, New Jersey might like to claim Ben Bourgeois as their own (he was born there), but it’s Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina where Bourgeois first made his mark in both East Coast and global surfing history. Much credit goes to Ben’s father, Chuck, who opened a surf shop in Wrightsville Beach, and his mother, Priscilla, who also had immense talent in the water as a platform diver and swim instructor. At the age of three, Bourgeois was surfing with the help of his mother, who caddied his board to the water.
Bourgeois quickly became an ESA star, winning two championships, then the world’s best amateur following wins at the 1995 Quiksilver Grom Invitational and the 1996 ISA World Junior Surfing Games. Despite beating out world-recognized amateur stars like Andy Irons, Taj Burrow, and the Hobgood brothers at the ISA Worlds, Bourgeois remained relatively unknown until his main sponsor, Quiksilver, upped the ante and sent Bourgeois off on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS). Within just a few years, Ben did what few East Coasters, and no North Carolinians, had done before — in 1999 he qualified for the ASP World Tour.
After a decade of traveling and competing around the world with friends and early rivals Irons, Burrow, and the Hobgoods, Bourgeois retired from full-time competition in 2008. Today, he lives close to his family back in Wrightsville Beach, where he surfs regularly and works closely with friend and fellow former pro surfer Jon Rose, whose no-profit, Waves4Water, provides clean water to needy communities around the world.