Life as a Piha Boatie: Audrey Bourneville

Posted by BurgerFuel

BurgerFuel Presents Audrey Bourneville

Piha Boaties & HQ

Audrey not only works in the marketing team at BurgerFuel HQ, she is also a member of our sponsored Surf Boat Rowing crew, The Piha Boaties.  Working her way up to HQ after spending five and half years working in our Henderson and Ellerslie stores, Audrey is now the Marketing Assistant at BurgerFuel Worldwide. She helps produce our uniforms, runs our internal staff program, keeps the team in check and is a star member of our customer service team. Around her busy work schedule, she manages to fit in the early morning and lunchtime training sessions in the BurgerFuel Athletic Department to keep fit for her other passion – Surf Boat Rowing! We caught up with Audrey on boatie life, her gruelling training schedule and life as a BurgerFuel staff member.

What is Surf Boat Rowing?

Traditionally, Surf Boats were wooden boats that were used by Surf Life Guards to rescue stranded swimmers before the present-day IRB’s (Inflatable Rescue Boats) were around and lifeguards would compete against each other to make sure they were well-trained for a rescue. Fast forward 100 years take away the rescues and add some fibreglass boats and you have today’s Surf Boat Rowing.

Surf Boat Rowing consists of one boat, four rowers with an oar each and a sweep with his own ‘sweep oar’ who stands at the back and directs the boat. Each race starts at the water’s edge, ideally with water just above knee height. The gun goes off and your crew jumps into the boat locking on to that first stroke together. You start rowing and listen to your sweep who’s directing you through the surf, the aim of the game is to get out through the surf, turn your buoy and catch a wave back home. But it doesn’t always go to plan and your game plan can change from coming first to completing the race unscathed.

Tell us about the training

For the majority of the season we’ve been training five times a week, generally two boat sessions and three erg (rowing machine) trainings to work on fitness and strength. I’m lucky that I have the ability to train in the BurgerFuel Athletic Department and smash out an erg session during lunch which means I can do a fitness or strength session in the gym after work, but even if I miss a lunchtime session I still have three rowing machines at home – so there’s really no excuse for me to not get my ergs done!

The trainings are tough, but they are supposed to be. You train hard so when it comes to race day it’s a little easier (well that’s what we tell ourselves!). My training schedule is a big commitment, but nothing beats sitting in the boat underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge at six o’clock in the morning with my best mates watching the most beautiful sunrise!

Most wild boat moment

Ooo, there’s been plenty of wild moments in the boat, most of which only fellows boaties would understand! But one that sticks to mind was when I made the front page of the Herald in 2010 (my second season of rowing), I was 15 years old; we were at the famous Piha Day of Giants event and our sweep decided to take us for a training row. Long story short, a massive set rolled through, we only just made it over the first wave and the picture to the right/left explains what happened on the next. This picture made its way around the world into the San Francisco Times and even in the Red Bull Bulletin!

Wave One










Wave Two










Where can we watch your next race?

Our season has just finished for the year but stay tuned by following @pihaboaties on Instagram for next year’s dates!

Best part of working at BurgerFuel

The culture, the opportunities – and the BurgerFuel Athletic Department of course! We work, train and party hard, everyone’s really supportive and I get to work with some really talented people! I worked my way up the ladder and enjoyed every part of it!