There he is. Mikey Bruneau. Listed at Number 180 in the official Men's WQS Rankings ("After Event #5, Santinho Pro, Florianopolis, Brazil.")
Mikey Bruneau, age 23, is lying on a wooden bench sitting in an office at No Fear in Carlsbad, California. He's wearing a big gray sweatshirt and a black baseball hat. He's bored and there's nothing to do but wait around for a knee surgery appointment on Monday morning with Dr. Murphy, the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers NFL football franchise.
Friendly and well spoken, Hawaiian-born Bruneau is over on the Mainland not only to get the problematic torn meniscus in his knee patched up, but to get his career aspirations back on the rails, as well. If Bruneau can get his house in order, his ultimate goal is to scratch and claw his way into the ASP Top 44—and to not have to return to his day job.
"I have not had to work a day job the last three years, which is real nice," says Bruneau, taking a long hit off a bottle of water.
And what was his last day job?
"Waiting tables at Jameson's in Haleiwa," he sighs.
The WQS Rankings stop at Number 596. Slotted in at 180, Bruneau has some ground to cover if he wants to make it into the globetrotting Top 44, and he's well aware of it.
"The highest I've gotten to is 125, so I have a long ways to go," he explains of the arduous climb ahead. "I mean it's usually a three-year deal to get into the Top 44, so I want to take it one year at a time and improve my seed each year."
But perhaps unlike many of the other 595 surfers attempting to make a living at the sport, Bruneau is competition-proven and in possession of the talent and desire commanded to break through and become a member of the elite fraternity of 44. In 2004, he blew doors on a heavily stacked field of 40 Pipeline locals to win the Pipe Masters Trials. And once in the Pipe Masters, he made it up into the quarterfinals.
But before he can do anything, Bruneau must get his knee dialed-in. "I hurt my knee in October at a contest in the Canary Islands. I tweaked it in an early round, but kept surfing. Each round it hurt more and more."
From that very point forward, Bruneau's race up the steep WQS hill slipped into neutral. "I've made no progress since my knee injury," he says.
After an already mapped-out five-week rehabilitation process, Bruneau plans to be in the water and fighting for WQS points come April 25 at the Lower's 4-Star WQS event in San Clemente, California. By the season-ending Sunset Beach 6-Star event in late November, Bruneau hopes to be in the WQS Top 100. Then, come 2007, he'll pick it up and go from there.
"I want to climb into the top 75. It's a long process. Some of my friends have been at it for five years now and they're still slowly climbing. It's so tough because everyone who surfs in the WQS is good and the contests are held in shitty-ass waves most of the time. It's tough. So many of us are on the same path that it's all really up in the air.
"Everyone is capable of making it, but you have to have the drive to put up with the grind of the tour," he continues. "You have to surf in shitty waves a lot of the time and live out of a suitcase, which sucks."
But if he waits it out, Bruneau believes he can achieve his manifest destiny and call himself anything under the number 44.
"I think I can do it, eventually," says Bruneau. "[Kelly] Slater is 34 and he's unstoppable. It seems like people hit their prime much later these days. I've got plenty of time."