Joey Buran’s surf career was not yet revealed in his early years as he grew up in the mid-west (Cleveland). At the age of 11 he moved to Carlsbad in Southern California. He quickly took an interest in surfing at the age of 12. His brother remembers that as soon as Joey picked up a surf board there was no turning back. His love for the surf had begun. By the time Joey was 14 in 1975 he was ranked as the top amateur surfer in California.
Three years later in 1978, at the age of 17, Joey turned pro when he defeated the world champion, Rabbit Bartholomew, in his inaugural man-on-man event, won his first pro title in Oceanside and reached the finals of the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii defeating, among others, two-time reigning champion Rory Russell.
Joey became California’s top pro that year by finishing 27th in the world and received his famed nickname, “California Kid” from ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
During Buran’s first pro season he was California’s first full-time surfer on tour, was voted the “Most Inspirational Surfer” on the IPS World Tour and became the first Californian to win an IPS world event in 1980 by finishing first in Brazil.
Surfing upwards, Joey entered the elite Top 16 in 1980, competed in the finals of the Pipeline Masters and remained the only significant representative from the Golden State until 1983.
In the 1981 Buran won the presitigous California Stubbies contest.
In 1983 Joey won the Hang Ten Grand Prix placed and placed second in the OP Pro Final that year.
1984 was highlighted with a win at the Katin Team Challenge, a win at the Tropix Grand Prix, and culminating in winning surfing’s most prestigious contest, the Pipeline Masters – in 20′ surf. His ranking of 7th in the world that year made him the first Californian to ever make the top 10 in the world. Joey was voted “Most Improved Surfer” in the world that year by the ASP World Tour.
Until he left the Pro Surfing Tour in 1985, Joey was recognized as California’s top pro surfer and its trailblazer and ambassador in the world.
In 1985 he founded and directed the US Pro Tour of Surfing. The PSAA would go on to give young pros including Kelly Slater, Taylor Knox and Rob Machado an opportunity he never had: to make some money and gain experience before joining the big leagues. For two years Joey served as Executive Director.
In 1987 Joey Committed his life to Jesus Christ and shortly thereafter felt a calling to serve in the ministry. From 1988 to 1990 he served as an assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel of Vista. There are over 1000 Calvary Chapels in the United States, many of which are in Southern California. Calvary Chapels are non-denominational and evangelical churches that are well known for their outreach to any and all, and are embraced by the youth culture, and all ages as faithfully preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In these years he also was a guest speaker in many locations and was involved and starred in the evangelical surf movies, “Son Riders” and “A Wave Of Life”. In 1991 Joey moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia to start and oversee a Calvary Chapel. He served as senior pastor there for 4 years and during the growth of that church, also helped establish 2 other churches, 1 in Newport News, Virginia and 1 in Manahawkin, New Jersey. During this time Joey was featured on a number of different CBN specials including co-hosting “Fun In The Son” a summer special that targeted the youth culture. The next move was to Burlington, Vermont to start and pastor a church there which he did until returning to California in 1996.
Upon returning to California Joey became involved in numerous guest speaking and ministry opportunities as an itinerant pastor/evangelist. He re-entered the surfing community as a manager and coach of the Surf Ride Board Shops Amateur Surf Team. 1998 marked his return to professional surfing which culminated in winning the Oxbow World Championship in Puerto Escondido, Mexico in 1998, becoming World Champion in the over 35 class, with the unique distinction of being World Champ and an ordained Calvary Chapel Pastor!
He returned to compete in the Pipeline Masters that year as well as competing in other events. 1999 brought a position at Billabong as national coach for the US Junior Surf Team and competing in his final pro event, the Pipeline Masters again.
Being called by GOD to return to full-time ministry, he resigned his position at Billabong in December and in January of 2000 returned to guest speaking and full-time ministry focusing on youth outreach, public school Christian clubs, youth retreats and camps.
The summer of 2000 found Joey being a full-time assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Of Costa Mesa, the largest of the Calvary Churches, serving under pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Movement. Beginning in the spring of 2000, Joey began teaching at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa a weekly bible study in the main sanctuary on Thursday nights, targeting youth which came to be known as Worship Generation. Along with all these ministry commitments Joey continued his involvement in the surf industry when he served as the contest director of the WCT Billabong Pro in September of 2000.
After serving at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for five years Joey stepped out to start a brand new Church in coastal, Central Orange County using the established name of Worship Generation. In June of 2005 Worship Generation Orange County held its first service in the city of Fountain Valley . During this time Joey focused on the priorities of the new Church but continued his involvement with the surfing community. This included his attendance at the 35th Pipe Masters anniversary celebration as well as his ongoing personal coaching of two of the NSSA’s top young surfers, Jared and Taylor Thorne. In early August 2007 Joey was approached by Surfing America (the governing body of both amateur and potential Olympic surfing in the United States) to become head coach of the PacSun USA National Team. On August 8th he accepted the position and went on to hold the distinction of being the pastor of a church and head coach of the USA National Team!
On Friday, July 24th 2009 the “California Kid” joined Jeff Hakman, Bruce Brown and Pat O’Connell as the 2009 inductees into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in front of Huntington Surf & Sport. Being a former Pipeline Masters Champion and the first California surfer to win a World Tour event, Joey Buran’s concrete foot and hand-prints join surfing’s greatest heroes and pioneers there on the PCH walk-way.
The Surfers’ Hall of Fame Founder Aaron Pai said, “Wow! We just received confirmation that Joey Buran will be here for this year’s Surfers’ Hall of Fame Ceremony and everyone is so stoked including me. Joey Buran is ‘The California Kid’ and he showed us how to surf Pipe back in the day. Joey has done so much for our Sport of Surfing in the past and is still contributing to our sport today as the Coach of the USA Surf Team! We are very much honored to be able to induct Joey Buran into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame!”
In the summer of 2009 Buran resigned the position of US Head Coach to premier and promote the movie on his story, “Beyond the Dream” through International tours. Since that time, Joey has done tours in the Hawaiian Islands, Great Britain and South Africa. These tours have also provided opportunities to oversee coaching clinics with surfers of all range of abilities in these regions.
As a result of his travels in Great Britain, Joey was asked to become coach of the Junior National Team. He worked with top British junior surfers over the last few years and served as head coach of the British team at the 2011 ISA World Junior Championships in Puenta Hermosa, Peru. Joey resigned as the coach of the team in the Spring of 2012 due to the geographical constraints of the position. He continues to be involved with the sport of surfing in a variety of ways.
Joey and his wife Jennifer along with their children, Timmy and Luke continue to reside in Huntington Beach, California. Their oldest daughter Hannah now lives in Vero Beach, Florida, while their younger daughter Leah and her husband, Jakeh Bradley, live in Newport Beach, California. Joey’s primary ministry continues to be the oversight of the Worship Generation church in Fountain Valley. Going forward in 2013, Joey and the church continue to be involved in numerous domestic and global outreach opportunities with a growing emphasis on helping the Calvary Chapel movement in South America.