Aired on 2021, Mar 03rd  in Legends and much more! / Podcast / Surfers

Interview with Carlos Burle

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Welcome to the 20th episode of the second series of our podcast!

We are so happy because today with us from Brazil is the legendary big wave surfer Carlos Burle.

It has been amazing discussing with him about big wave riding, coaching, surfboards and much more!

You can find the episode in all major podcast platforms or read the transcribed version here below (please forgive us of spelling mistakes)


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TTOS: Aloha Carlos, welcome to the show! Where are you today? 

I'm here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

TTOS: First question that I have for you is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing? 

The most important thing in surfing for me to be connected with nature, to be present, to understand the situation, to have the best reading about it and to be grateful. 

You are also going to be able to learn more out of your experience by being humble, if you do that, every session comes from your heart and it's going to be amazing experience 

TTOS: is that thing that brings the smile on your face, right? You forget everything that happens in your life, being alone with with the nature, that is so powerful, right? 

It is, especially, when you use surf as a tool to evolve yourself, to get better and to understand life in better ways. 

If you stop to think about how we cope with surfing, it is a very pleasant situation and, if you have an open mind and an open heart, you will be willing to understand and learn from the experience.

In surf, we can't control our arena, we can only understand how our environment it's drawing anything on us when you go out there.

It is different in other sports,  if you want to build up a place where you can skate or a place where you can play football or tennis, different kind of arenas…. There you can control the environment and it's much easier for you to cope with and to understand. 

When it comes to surf, you're not controlling anything, you're not dominating the sea, it's out of your hands. 

Comparing with the situation that we are living right now in our lives, wherever we are dealing with this situation, we don't know where is it going to take us….we can't control anything. 

Today’s situation, has a lot of similarities with surfing. 

We can't control it, we have to be flexible, we have to have resilience because we fall a lot, we have to be humble because nature is much more powerful than us. 

Sometimes, if you create a lot of expectations, you're going to get frustrated because things don't happen the way you think all the time when you go surf. 

I really like that in the environment because, you know, trains you as a human being, not to be spoiled,  to be able to sometimes to change your plans, to adapt yourself…we have to be creative. 

Those things are very important for our lives, especially if you put everything that I just said to you in what is going on in our community, in our society nowadays, everybody has a lot of plans, everybody was kind of secured about daylight, everybody was on control, but now nobody's in control. 

TTOS: What you're saying about being humble is definitely applicable to what we are living today and definitely, I guess, when you have such a companion like the ocean that you cannot control, then you can be whoever champion in the world or just a beginner, but you cannot do it by yourself, right?

Yeah, that's very important, because as human beings, we are used to create things on our own way,  changing nature, just to serve us all the time…..we want to control, we want to dominate, we want to evolve….

There is nothing wrong on evolving, but life is not only about that, life is not giving us what we all own from her, life is always giving us what we need to evolve. 

I believe surf gives us a very important way of dealing with life, it's a mindset that I like to take in my personal experience as human being.

For me it's a matter of understanding how I'm going to cope with it and how I'm going to take out those experiences mentally and spiritually.

When it comes to physically, it's sometimes easier, it is more like going to the gym or do some sports that you can control much often, but when it comes to your mind and your spirit, you need something else to understand how to evolve, it's not as easy as a physical thing. 

We need to understand how our mind works and how we going to cope with our emotion and how are we going to cope with those energies that we are not seeing and energies that are not tangible, that are very strong and present everywhere. 

Especially, when it comes to surf, in my point of view, we need to be present all the time, you cannot choose the waves that you're going to surf next, it's all about nature and we have to deal with those emotions all the time, I found that very beautiful and very profound, it's a treasure, that you cannot find anywhere. 

That's why I love surfing, that's why I keep surfing and that's why I wanted to be a professional surfer because when I first started getting related with surfing, I started because I really liked the lifestyle. 

You know, I didn't want to be a professional surfer at the beginning, I just wanted to have a nice excuse to be surrounded by those elements that I love so much. 

I ended up learning a lot and now I want it to give it back to people, being able to share my experience, with others, I believe it's unique, it's amazing. 

There are so many elements in surfing that can help us to understand life in a better way.

TTOS: I agree with you, it put things in a perspective, and, as you said, it's not only about the sport, it's about being a human being and knowing our limits as we all face life in different ways….there is a lot to learn in surfing even for non-surfer, right? I hope even with this conversation, with this podcast, we are going to be able to reach more people…

Today you also coach for a lot of young surfers, what is the first thing that you say to them?

Today you are coaching a lot of young surfers, what is the first thing that you say to them?

Any single person that you approach in life, if you want to help them, it doesn't matter who you are for them, you can be a friend, a coach or having any kind of relationship.

It is all about understanding the other, it's not only about you, what you want to transmit to them. And that's how I like to work as a coach, now I totally understood that they (the persons I coached) had all of them different kind of way of thinking and different behaviors and personalities. 

As a coach, you have to be able to understand how are they going to understand you on the best way possible, how are you going to transmit your experience, how are you going to be able to help them evolve as a professional surfer or as an human being in the best way possible because, at the end, you don't want that they become person only succesful in the water or as a professional athlete, you want them to be successful as human beings. 

That's what I do a lot, I try to understand every single person in they own way of approaching life and by giving them all my experience back and be able to understand that sometimes things are down and we must be ready to cope with them. 

I give a lot of respect to them, I totally understand that most of the guys that I work with, they're much younger than me and they don't understand life as I do. What I try to do is to give them a good example as an athlete, like being by having a lot of discipline and having a lot of focus on my life and put a lot of effort on thing that I want to accomplish.

For me, it's very important for them to understand how they gonna be able to be successful in life, not only in the water, as a professional surfer, but also as a human beings, how they will be able to cope well with their emotion and whatever comes to daylight, to be able to be balanced, to be in tune and to have a good life 

That worry is more important for me, it's more about the human being aspect than being the super champion.

Of course, t's good for you, you get some sponsors, you make some money, you can make a living out of that, but then, if you have all those people looking after you, because you became a reference, as you became a champion or someone that people are realluy looking after, if you don't have a good mind or good examples to share with the new generations, then, defitely, I don't think it's a good scene. 

It is all connected, life is connected, you can't talk about being a professional surfer or successful in anything you're doing in your life and forget about your emotions, forget about your spirituality. 

It's a combination of factors that I can't leave behind, but I totally respect everybody that I work with. 

I don't want them to be just like me, I want them to be whatever they want to be, I want them to be happy, I want them to be successful. I'm just someone that works with them and I'm learning a lot, probably learning more than you want to, as I'm open all the time.

I don't know if you're a father, but as a father, as a parent, you learn more from being a parent than you teach…That's my point of view. 

The same thing happens when you are a coach, you teach a lot of things that were good for you because you had to deal with those situations in life a lot.

I know how to build up a strategy to become a successful professional surfer, how to compete, how to deal with the media, how to deal with my sponsors, but there are a lot of things that are more important than that for me, those are the simple things that I can deal with, those are the most easy for me to deal with.

You know, there is something that I can share with them that I have a lot and that is my knowledge, especially when it comes to my environment, which is big wave surfing and having to do with all, you know, sponsorship and surf forecasts media, revamping myself in anything,

All of that it's related to being successful and to have this kind of longevity that I have in my career, I have a lot to give back to them, to help them to understand much better the elements, but for me, that's not the most important part.

The most important part is “Your Head”, how you are evolving emotionally, how are you prepared to be a human being that is gonna give back something to the world….that is very important and not only trophies and accomplishment and money and maybe winning competitions or greed….

We all need people, there are more connect then apart.

TTOS: I see what you mean, it's like the difference between being a trainer and coach and also, between a coach and a mentor… 

I think, being a coach, it embodies the fact that you really want the other person to change by itself, not because of you as a mentor would do.

You want that the persons you coach will become aware of themselves.

I also agree with you when you said about fatherhood and how powerful it is, as a father, you start to put things in a different perspective and priorities completely change.

In the first episode of the first series of this podcast, I had the opportunity to talk with Rob Machado, he told me something very interesting, as a father you need to learn how to be less selfish or selfless, then everything comes together….when you learn that you have to put everything else before you,then you achieve something I think it is a very, very powerful message. 

What is in the brain is so powerful. 

I agree with you a hundred percent, you know, you're on the right spot, the more you try to control life, the worst is for you; it is better for us to understand that anything that life brings to us is important. It's a matter of adapting ourselves to it and get the best out of it, instead of trying to create something that we are looking for, but it's not what we need, you know? 

The universe and life knows much more than we do, we have to be humbled to understand, being a parent, what you just said, it's amazing because you want them to understand what you say, but they have limits, you know, and they are here not only to be your son or your daughter, but they're here to teach you lessons too.

Any kind of relationship, any kind of interaction that we have in our lives, doesn't matter if it's only a human interaction, a family interaction, a friend interaction, a community, or whatever else

All of those relationships we have in life are very important as an experience for us to understand life much better and to teach us how to live in a way where we can respect, we try and support to evolve together and not separate

Surf is so precious like I said, from the start of our interview, we are in an element that we can't control. 

And that's amazing, you know, you go out and you have to cope with those elements and you have to be able to find a pleasure, doesn't matter what kind of situation you were dealing with… I love it. 

TTOS: Let’s then talk for a moment about Tokyo 2021 Olympics, there's like a huge debate of people saying, you know, in Tokyo, they should have created a wave pool because like this, you would have had a better show and better wave, but they decided to do it in the sea, where basically they don't know, even if there's going to be wave, because Japan is not that consistent in waves .

If I follow what you were just saying then definitely Olympics must always happen in the sea, never on a wave pool because on the wave pool, you can control elements, in a certain way…. 

What would you say….

Well, how can we deny technology in our lives? We cannot, we can't leave technology out of our lives. We gonna have to use technology for the rest of our lives. 

The question here is how are we going to use technology? How are we going use technology in our favor, but not being dependable and not forgetting our major feelings and emotions in life where we can really get connected to our essential things and to the universe and to nature. 

For example, why not creating a wave that can be broadcasted to the whole world and by doing that, we get more people connected….I think it's sport, but also business. 

Well, but business, it's not what I’m expecting from life, I do business because I want to have a good quality life, but business is not my main thing in life….business is something that I do to be able to survive and have the life that I'm looking for. 

Some people, they think businesses is everything, while I don't think business is everything….

I do love technology, technology is very important, it's something that we create that can solve a lot of problems and we can deal with both without forget and be able to deny any of them.

I think it's a smart way to do it.

TTOS: I agree, It's like two different  set of objectives, each one of them coexist , as long as we don't go, or just one…….

We always say that our environment is so special that we have this weight relationship with nature and  that we learn a lot from it. 

We are looking for a life that is sustainable while respecting each other and , because we travel a lot, we have to deal with all different kinds of culture, religions, values. 

We are proud of our environment, we are proud of our sport, but to get people connected to our sports is not easy because only few places have waves especially If you want to go out in a place where it's comfortable, you're looking for the tropical places where the weather is more friendly…

If we create places, artificial waves and places where you can take surfing to countries and places we were never taught before, then we can also take that environment with us, we can take our surf culture and go through and share with more people. 

By doing that, we can probably help the world to be more sustainable, be more friendly. 

In my view, we shall utilize in every challenge, in every obstacle there is an opportunity…

I think the organizers want us, they want us to be part of their league games because they want to change, they want to be closer to the youth, they want to bring something different.

Why not to use that opportunity to take our bodies into their games and not only thinking about performance, all the waves that not so great, if there are no waves I don’t care….

In my life, surfing is important, but it's not more important than talking to you or talking to my beloved family and friends, It is not more important than my relationships, is not more important than my life….

I ever seen that goes on nowadays in our lives and it's going to be changing forever, nowadays it's all about social media. 

You know, I think I found social media. It's a cool thing, but you know, you can have two types of relationship with social media. One, you can use social media and the other one's social media can use you.

Olympic games are very cool, it is a competition, everyone wants to win, but there is a message that you want to send to the world that is more important than winning, more than a gold medal, that's how I like to approach life.

Anything that I stepped into in life is to able to reconnect with myself or to share my experience or to change the environment and elements in a better way, not only because I want something out of that, then it's going to be cool for me….

TTOS:  I think it is going back to be human…right. 

Sometimes we complicate our life because we want more, we want to different things, we're not going to be able to deny that. 

That's why we got here, because we were always asking for something else, something new, something better….

How we're going to create balance between the two, if we are always in the rat wheel, if we never stop? 

We are connected to things that we can touch, for us to be successful nowadays is to collect a lot of material things….that's how we are viewed by our society……you know, if you're successful, you have money and you have a lot of material things…

Little by little, we going to start to change that, we're not gonna do it quick, but definitely we are going there.It's going to be totally different than what it is today. 

In my view, having good time, being healthy, have friends that we can trust and being in peace with yourself, that's how we should measure how successful people will be in the future, not how we measure it today. 

TTOS: You need to be successful first for yourself rather than for the others, if you accomplish that, then you can be happy….

Following you your way of thinking, how can we change the world in a better place if you are not balanced. 

You know, that's the most important thing, you have to be able to really go deep on yourself and understand your feelings and pure yourselves and then you're going to do your part for the world. 

You know, it's “you and you”kind of thing…

Some people, nowadays, are very successful, and they want to have some kind of project that would be social property like give back to society ,they start to donate money, they start to do a lot of things to help people, which I think is really nice. 

If you look inside those personalities, they don’t have balance in life….., that’s the most important thing… how do you want to teach in life? “By Example”, all the best teaching are done by showing exemplarity!

How you can be a good father if you don’t show exemplarity to your son or daughter?

What I'm trying to say here, the most important change you can do in the world is inside yourself, change yourself and being balanced, that's how we going to touch people's lives in a good way. 

Not only by creating an image that everybody loves in the social media or, a perfect life, the best family, adopt a lot of people and kids all over the world, donate a lot of money to people that are suffering. That's good, that's really nice, but that can be something that is just there on the surface, but what it's underneath? 

TTOS: it is the façade, not the core….

Right. we live out of image while we are alive and well, and that's dangerous, really dangerous, because you are creating people that are suffering a lot because they wanted to be accepted. They wanted to be part of something that they don't understand very well….

TTOS: We need more people that people to understand what really matters is not what you see, it's more deep, but unfortunately this society is built around that as you said. 

Yeah, definetly….. do you really think that we have balance in our lives when we still go out and fight, we do go out and create wars and suffering?  No, if everybody was balanced then everybody was happy. 

We didn't had to go through all the suffering that we are going through….

I'm not judging and say, “okay, let's stop doing this”, if you want to help people, do it….it's better than not doing it, but before you start to help people try to help yourself 

TTOS: to know actually to close on the, on the wave pool subject,  I was talking one week ago with Shane Beschen and basically he was telling me that in term of sustainability, wave pools today, they consume a much less water than two holes in a golf course…

Technology is improving more and more and I’m saying that because we were talking about bringing surfing in the desert, if you can create surf pools in the desert then you can attract a lot of people into the surf and, if you do it right with the spirit, with the right positiveness, then you can really make a change. 

In a certain way, it links to what you're saying it has to be very meaningful, but also sustainable 

TTOS: Do you agree when people define you as a surf legend?

Well, maybe because I have been around for a long time, because I did a lot of things already, because I reinvented myself, because I became the first Big Wave World Champion when they did the event that total Santos at nine eight and then, I broke the world record by surfing the biggest wave with my team partner at Mavericks. And then, you know, my community started to create the big wave world tour, at the first year I became the champion and all other projects that I have done in my whole life by being a professional surfer and trying to survive and be surrounded by these elements, 

You know what, I think it's funny, Alessandro, my life, it hasn't been easy, we always looking for something that is going to suite us in the best way possible and I thought, surf would be that tool that I was looking for, and of course I think that it was right, I'm sure I was right….

Look where I am now, I'm very successful and I have everything I want, I have the kind of lifestyle that I look for, but I had to deal with a lot of things that I wasn't expect at all, especially because I choose big waves surfing

It's very stressful, you go through a lot of things that you didn't want to go through, it's hard on the body, you have a lot of injuries, it's hard on a personal life because you have to travel last minute and leave behind a family,  it's stressful, it's very stressful physically and mentally, but somehow at the middle off this whole path than I have been walking through as a surfer, I learned how to be grateful and how to cope with all these challenges and how to give my best.

And the result is that people are going to see me as a surf legend….that's my point of view because I'm a survivor and some people by doing things from their heart, they get connected to this situation in a point that is so strong that people will start to appreciate. 

I’m very happy that I can leave from a sport that I love so much that I learned how to cope with in the best way possible and that I still can give back a little bit and it doesn't matter where I'm going to be. years from now, if I have a chance I'm going still do it. I don't know if you want to be able to surf in the moon or are we going to be able to have a lot of wave pools around the world and you know, and a lot of tools over the internet, you know, as we know, as we're seeing is going to change, that's what I'm saying here, but I want to be part of it and not in, in a bad way, in a good way, 

TTOS: You're saying that you want to be able to give back a little bit, but the way it looks to me, you're giving back a lot….because if you are able to transmit what you just said to me in now 40 minutes to the people around you being professional surfers or just people that wants to meet you and shake your hand., If you're able to do that, it's very powerful. 

So I think you're, you're giving back a lot, not a little bit..

TTOS: I read the one thing that you said about fear, you said “fear, lets you know the limits”, do you remember saying that?

Fear, I believe, it's very important for you to understand the sorroundings where you step into and prepare yourself to do it. 

When it comes to risk management, you cannot do things If you do not evaluate the situation and, if you are scared, if you are feeling something un-normal, if you are having a feeling of fear, that's an alert for you and you have to understand that you have to get ready for something that is coming on your way. Let's say that you're not dealing with fear or your just denying fear in your life, that's very risky because you are running away from something that came to you as an emotion to bring you awareness of a risk situation.

In my point of view, the best way to do is “cope with fear by facing it and understand it”, it is just another emotion and emotions don't ask for permission to step in. If you are feeling, somehow your heart pumping because you were fearing something, there is a message there. 

How are you going to deny it? 

To wait is the wrong way to do it, evaluate, drain your mind, dominating emotion and understanding your fears, that’s the right way, so you can risk management your life, not only going for it because you feel you have a lot of courage because you have a lot of guts…

No! Prepare yourself, you have to be a little bit crazy, but just a little bit, the rest comes from preparation. You have to have respect.

It is funny, yesterday I was thinking about something that Kelly Slater said to me when we bump it at, I contest a contest at Pipeline. I was in the backstage and when he saw me, he said: “Oh, here's the man that pursuits death” and I thought: “Oh no, that's the way he likes to think about me?” and I said “no, I'm not” you know, I didn't have the right answer for him at that point. 

I just said something like “no, come on. I just like to live my life”

It's not that I pursue death, I’m not that kind of people that likes to risk their lives and they are looking for a way of dying in an element that they like….I don't want to die surfing, I want to die after leaving for so long, I want to leave as much as I can. 

It's just a matter of being able to cope with situations that most of people don't and being able to train as hard as you can, to get to a point where you can overcome your limits, because that's why we are doing as human beings all the time. 

Every new generation is trying to get a little bit further and if don't have those kind of people mindsets that are looking for something else then we're going to stop evolving. 

Well, some of them will have some bad injuries, accidents, some will end up dying, but some will be able to cope with everything and still survive and learning a lot.

 And that's how I like to look to myself, I don't like to look to myself and say, Oh, this guy is pursuing death, it is the other way around looking for beautiful sunrise, beautiful sunset. 

You know, whenever I'm able to be in the water, checking the sunset and the sun rising, I found that the most amazing feeling when you are a surfer, you know, we go out for surf session at the end of the day and you check the sunset and you see dolphins, it's so beautiful. 

In my life,  I looked for what I really wanted to, to get the most out of surfing and those special moments. 

TTOS: It's not about insanity, it's about the awareness, 

Yes, I mean, you need to be, you know, a little bit insane, but out of a hundred percent, I would say only 5%.

If you are a little bit insane, you have to have that courage to exposure yourself to situations you have never been before, especially because it's a new sport, big wave surfing.

It's something that we started to do not more than hundred years ago, you know?, it's young, it's very young and now we have technology and we can go in and further.

In my times, and even before my time, it was even harder, but now it's getting more professional, more surrounded by people that are very professional and it's easier for us to go out and break records and, and surf big waves and perform much harder and much better.

TTOS: it's a progression, as you were saying before, 

it's a progression, you need people to push the limits and technology to help us. And also it's out together combined in at the same time, you know, you have to have the mentality of a surfer that wants to push the limit. You have to have the mentality of the surfer then wants to train really hard, to be able to push the limits and exposure himself to points and situations that nobody else was doing before. And, you know, we have technology along in every scene combined, and then you're going to see a better performance. You're gonna see people surfing, bigger waves, performance, smarter, better, and you're gonna have more safety surrounded like life LifeVest jet-skis GPS, drones that can find you, there are more training in jet ski over the jet ski people working as the team on the clubs, on the ambulance, at the beach waiting for you.

This whole scenario, it's, it's very important for us to understand that, that everything that we are leaving now, it's not for granted. 

I'm saying that when the first surfer thought about going out and surfing big waves and they started to evolve as a community and then they started to build better equipments. They started to, to build better technology and methodology to approach big wave surfing. 

Now we have all those things combined and that we'd be doing for so long, but we still need the major element with human beings willing to overcome all the obstacles. 

It's just a matter of the movement, the natural movement of life…

That's how life works. You know, you put a, you put everything together and then you get a good result.

TTOS: That was fantastic, it has been very inspiring Carlos, really it's like I think one of the best interview that I've done so far. 

TTOS: We are going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind….

The best surfboard that you have ridden

Japanese surfboard that I used on the Todos Santos event in 1998, and I won that event

TTOS: your favorite shaper 

Claudio Hennek , from Brazil

TTOS: A personal question, your favorite song. 

I like Bob Marley. 

TTOS: Your favorite surf spot…


TTOS: Favorite big wave surfer today. 

I would say it's Kay Lenny because he is a  true water man. 

TTOS: last question, we want to know, your best relationship advice. 

Don't try to change your relationship. I mean, the person that you are relating with never tried to change that. Otherwise is not gonna work

Recorded in August 2020

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