April 22, 2015 4 min read
I am a 24 year old swimmer, surfer, bodysurfer and environmentalist from sunny Cornwall in England. Being near the sea has always influenced my life, whether through the holidays my girlfriend and I go on (Australia, SW France, the Canary Islands etc), my choice of University (Cardiff, Wales to do Marine Geography) to the field I work in now (I work for an environmental surfing charity).
Having surfed and being involved in open water swimming I have unofficially bodysurfed for years but it wasn't until the last few years where my friend (David) convinced me that I have done it properly - and I am hooked! Whenever we go to the beach my Handplane and fins are the first pieces of equipment I pack and whatever the conditions whether it's tiny and onshore or huge and barrelling I always go bodysurfing. I love the versatility of it, the endless possibilities and being fully submerged in the water.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Cornwall and, apart from going away to Uni, have always lived here.
Where are you currently living now?
I currently spend half my time living at home with my parents and half living in Newquay with my girlfriend.
What are your favourite local spots?
One of the best thing about living in Cornwall is the number of waves we have here, i have loads of spots that I surf regularly; Porthtowan and Godrevy and Porthtowan when I am at home, Watergate and Fistral around Newquay and there is a fun wave just over the cliff from our office too!
Do you have any other favourite breaks?
I love South West France, the Hossegor/Biarritz area and have been surfing there so many times. Last year I went to watch the Quik Pro France with my girlfriend and we ended up bodysurfing Grande Plage, Biarritz which was one of the funnest waves I have ever surfed - that was topped off by meeting Taj Burrow just afterwards!
What breaks are on your bucket list?
There are so many waves on my bucket list that I would never be able to name them all; all of Bali - I have't been yet but am planning a trip soon, Trestles in the USA. I surfed Snapper and Burleigh Heads on my gap year but haven't bodysurfed there, I would love to bodysurf the Gold Coast, there were so many good waves, and it's warm! Back here there is a reef break called Porthleven that David and I are planning to bodysurf too.
Have you always bodysurfed?
I haven't officially always bodysurfed - I have surfed for years and competed in Surf Life Saving and open water swimming so have used bodysurfing in those but it wasn't until the last year or so that David convinced me to buy a handplane and I haven't looked back. Although my current handplane is a bit small i still take it everywhere with me and am constantly ditching the surfboard to go for a bodysurf - whatever the conditions!
Do you ride other surf craft?
I have four shortboards that I ride intermittently depending on the conditions and have just got a longboard for Christmas. I haven't ridden it properly yet - only at one of the worst closeouts in the UK! - but the wave below our office is perfect for longboarding so I am just waiting for the right day.
How are bodysurfers viewed in your local line-up?
I would definitely say that for all the places I have surfed in Cornwall, bodysurfers are viewed with confusion. There isn't so much the derision that some surfers have for bodyboarders its more of a case of 'err, what are you doing?"! I went for a bodysurf at the Boardmasters Surf and Music Festival that is held at Fistral Beach every summer and the sea was full of semi-sponsored groms and the confusion on their faces was priceless. The waves were ideal for bodysurfing - just overhead with fast, shallow barrels and none of the surfers could get into the barrels. After a few hours of them getting closeouts and me getting barreled they seemed to understand a bit better!
What do you find cool and inspiring about bodysurfing?
I love the limitlessness of bodysurfing, it is still a relatively new sport here and there are few people that do it which adds to its charm. As it is just you in the water there are no restraints and you can work for whatever you want. Like, how many rolls can you do on one wave or how deep can you take off. Also the versatility of it is amazing - whatever the conditions, big, small, onshore, offshore, closeouts its still perfect for bodysurfing!
What’s inspiring you in the water right now?
In terms of inspiration, anything I see in the water, whether its surfing, bodysurfing, body boarding anything that looks cool inspires me.
Where do you hope to take your bodysurfing over the next year?
Over the next year David and I are going to be working on our bodysurfing film so will be bodysurfing a lot, lots of new waves and new places, hopefully new tricks and new ways to ride the waves too - it is still quite new to me so I am really learning as I go, what I can and can't do, what works best and what to work harder on.