paul_bourne_portrait1In the local sports community, Paul 'the Surfer' Bourne needs no introduction. He has competed every year of his life since age 9 and having represented Barbados as a junior national in yachting; represented Barbados in surfing, both as a competitor and team manager and serving as the President of the Barbados Surfing Association along with being a Champion Driver and committee member of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC), Paul Bourne is a household name on the island.

Paul doesn't class himself as either a natural or learnt talent in the art of driving, but rather believes it is his innate ability to compete at the highest level that has pushed him to where he has reached. Unlike many of his fellow competitors – Roger Skeete, Trevor Manning, etc., who honed their skills in many of the cart roads left by the island's sugar plantation history, Bourne never drove until he had a driver's permit and was wearing the familiar L's. Being friends with Sean Gill from school days at Harrison College and racing dingies alongside him, it was Gill who encouraged him to get into motorsports. Having watched some events at 18 years old he decided that he had to do it.

With his father's permission he started to race the company car, an Austin Maestro. For the first 5 years of his career he was dead last each time but he loved every moment of it, because it was more about the excitement than the winning. After 5 years the opportunity came for him to acquire a Peugeot 205GTi which was driven by Allan Wilkie. With this, he went from the bottom of the table to the top where he ran with Mike Gill and Skeete and the debate could run for centuries on who was the best driver or who had the best equipment. The 205 went from 1600cc to 1900cc to 2000cc and back to 1600cc whilst he had it. He went on to own a Peugeot 306, Group A Subaru Impreza, 98 Impreza WRC, Impreza S9 and the Focus 07 which he still owns.

bourne_98_imprezaBy acquiring the 205 GTi, the will to win had started to overtake the mere thrill of competing. After a year of owning the 205 he found winners row at Edgecumbe, beating out Roger Hill and Mike Gill. Bourne admits the best time he has had in rallying was with the 98 Impreza WRC in 2007 when he won all the events which he entered, including Rally Barbados in the 50th year of the Barbados Rally Club. Rallying, according to him is "character building" as one has to learn to lose. He has had the disappointment of crashing out of quite a few rallies which then costs money and time to repair. Being beaten in battle went against his competitive desire to win and would see him lamenting for days. Two notable low points were his roll at Dark Hole in Rally Barbados 2008 after taking the fight to Kris Meeke and his crash on Stage 1 of the Automotive Art Shakedown Stages in 2009.

bourne_airbourne_rb08The latter was more disappointing as it was to be his last head-to-head battle with Skeete in identical equipment. As Bourne put it, at the start of the year there was a 'gentleman's agreement' between himself and Skeete about the sport becoming too expensive http://viagrasstor..../. Taking stock of the competition in region, they acknowledged that there was no reason to think about upgrading because they had the best cars in the region at the time. However, Skeete allegedly rescinded on the agreement and at the tarmac event at Luke Hill in April, he was made aware of the pending arrival of the significantly superior Subaru Impreza S12. A few months after SOL Rally Barbados '09 the Surfer took possession of the phenomenal ex-Paul Bird Ford Focus '07.

bourne_focus_gravelThe Focus placed him in a good position to square off against Skeete in SOL Rally Barbados 2010. It was the closest fight the rally had seen. He had the misfortune of hitting a rock on the course that he knew was there but had remembered too late, which resulted in a flat costing him some 25 seconds, which would prove to be quite expensive. Otherwise, all of the stars had aligned for Bourne; no mishaps or run offs and he drove a near perfect rally. Despite this, he was marginally beaten by Skeete after erasing the deficit caused by the flat on Day 1. He took the defeat in stride as by this time his mindset had changed and no longer demanded of himself to win. Philosophically he stated that he was responsible for the effort and God for the result; thus the event finished as it was intended.

Following Rally Barbados 2010, the news surfaced in the July 23rd, 2010 edition of Barbados Today that the Focus was sent back to England due to a requirement to pay VAT on the car if it remained on the island. Following this, many rumours surfaced and it was said that he had retired from the sport. However, Bourne insists he has not retired from motorsport and says "If I had to bet, I'd bet that I will race again." It is now his 3rd break from the sport, each of which finance was the centre. Before it was low funds, now it comes at a point where he has been evaluating his input into 25 years of motorsport; something which the only thing he has to show for it is recognition. This, along with the looming additional cost of running the Focus and the important duty of ensuring his daughter's education overseas and the economic recession made it easy to take stock and take a break.

His sponsors in some cases have reduced their input by as much as half and at this time he is not allocating any funds to motorsports. He maintained that the Focus will remain in the UK until it is sold or until he has secured significant sponsorship which can fully run the car. There is no intention to rally in Group N or any group as his position remains the same regarding sponsorship. Once this is acquired, Paul 'The Surfer' Bourne will most definitely be back.