#dryrobeterritory - Tom Butler
We recently caught up with UK surfer and dryrobe ambassador Tom Butler, to talk big waves, dryrobes and to find out more about the video series he's been working on - Think Bigger.
How is your year going, what have you been up to recently?
This year has started well. For New Year I was in Thailand with my fiance Emily on our honeymoon! Yes - we travelled before getting married, hence me not calling her my wife :) Escaping the cold for a month or two was very needed. From Thailand we travelled to Bali for a week then onto Australia for two weeks. Meeting up with some friends from the UK who have moved to Aus. We scored an incredible part of the coast that I've never visited before.
Photo courtesy of Emily Winch
For someone who hasn't come across it yet, what is the Think Bigger series?
The Think Bigger series has been put together to show my recovery / bounce back from falling off really hard in the Nazare Challenge 2016/2017. I wanted to show a year in the life of me TB. Bouncing back from a really bad surfing crash takes a lot of mental and physical practice, I've really had to think bigger to get over that injury.
What made you want to create this video series?
I was invited back to the WSL Nazare challenge this year, which I was so grateful for. So the final episode will show me competing in this event. The series will be a full circle story then. From the fall in December back to the Nazare challenge this year. I really wanted another go at this event and the series was to show the WSL that I've been active and I'm training to be back to form in big waves.
Photo courtesy of Vitor Estrelinha
The invite to this year's event came through around early October 2017. That was a great email to open and made me realise I could finish the series how I had drafted it out on paper (if the event got the green light). The event did get the go ahead but my heat also started as 45 mph cross shore wind started blowing. Straight after my heat the event was called off for the day as conditions were deemed too dangerous. Not many waves came through and half the heat didn't catch a wave. I caught a smaller one and scored a pretty low score then got bounced the whole way back onto the beach. Standing on the sand for 10 minutes waving my 11 ft gun trying to catch the eye of the water safety for a ride back out to the peak. Another not great performance by me but not the be all and end all! Life's currently great!
So to answer the question! The series was made to hopefully inspire and be entertaining. Following a more in depth journey of my year. Each episode is slightly different it's pretty much two / three months of what I've been up to wedged into an episode. Please go watch the series when you get a chance!
What's next for Think Bigger?
We will piece together episode 6, show some of the contest and also aim to go and score a free surf trip somewhere close to home in the next few weeks.
I'd really like to run a season 2 of Think Bigger following this years 2018 / 2019 happenings and invest more into the TB brand.
Have you always been a surfer? When did you first start?
I've always been in the ocean since the age of 2 but didn't start stand up surfing properly until the age of 11. Age 2 I'd hang on my Mum & Dads backs in the rock pools and swimming pool. Age 3-7 go hard on the bodyboard! Age 7 I started surf lifesaving and football. Around the age of 10 I won 6 gold medals at the nipper nationals in every individual race. I loved surf life saving so much, run as quick as you can, swim and paddle hard, around a course, not subject to judging! Cross the finish line first sports seem to be the fairest and most black and white in my opinion and some of the best to watch!
At the same time my football team Newquay Youth Centre won the West Country Cup, South West league and cup finals, then around 10 -11 I got invited to join Plymouth Argyle youth team. But at the same time I'd just really got the surfing bug! About 9 I started to stand up on the blue foam nipper boards, at 10 my mum and dad bought me and my younger brother a board to share and at 11 I'd won my first English surfing title. By 12 I was sponsored by Quiksilver and so the football and surf life saving competition was a thing of the past.
What draws you to surfing?
It's just such a nice playing field to be surrounded by! Sea water is so therapeutic and nice to be submerged amongst. As for the sport and the technique - it takes so long to get to a half decent standard, you have to practise all the time.
Photo courtesy of Emily Winch
So it's quite addictive. But once you get to master a certain manouvere or wave the rewards and feel good just burst out.The descriptive word is stoked in our game! Then the whole big wave game started for me. Survive the wave, get waves bigger than I ever dreamed about, ride bigger barrels that spit and pull you around so intensely that a 10 second ride feels like 2 minutes. Then you make one and it's just the best feeling ever and a feeling you are then addicted to for life.
What would you say to someone who wants to start surfing?
Be patient and don't expect to shred in the first year / 's !!! After teaching 1000s of people to surf in ABC learner lessons the sporty types are the worst people on their first lesson ( I know the sporty type will be reading as they buy dryrobes!)
The sporty type can turn their hand to most sports quickly. However the hard part in surfing isn't the technique of popping up, it's not the strength and sheer determination that make you good at this sport, with correct coaching you can get most people to stand in their first 2 hour lesson, remember 1 second standing up counts! :)
The hard, time-consuming aspect of our sport is reading that huge, ever so lovely playing field. Catching the wave in the first place! If your not in the right place you won't catch the best waves and you wont find the nicest rides! There's no chair lift that drops you off on top of the perfect run!
Photo courtesy of Polvo
But the only way to understand and read the ocean is time well spent in the ocean. There's no easy way around this. That's why when it's 2ft and onshore or 5ft and onshore, ugly and cold you should always go in. Because even if you don't catch a wave you will have learned something different about the ocean and the way she moves, every session you learn something new - guaranteed!
How to duck dive better, how to get changed into your wetsuit faster, how to lie on your board to paddle faster and so on.. Try to surf with a group of friends as this is always fun. But don't rely on other people to surf with. Getting the group motivated and on the same page can be hard and it's such a solo sport. Sometimes you paddle out as a group and split up within 5 mins of being out there! Do try to surf on lifeguarded beaches and in the winter months when lifeguards aren't present surf on busier beaches with surfers of the same ability.
What does dryrobe do for you, and how has it made a difference to your surfing?
It's an amazing piece of kit - everyone should own one! My favourite thing to do in winter and the cold is stay in my wetsuit, chuck the dryrobe on over the top and drive home sitting in my wetsuit then jump straight in the shower. On competition days if heats or races are close to one another and you don't have time to change putting the dryrobe on really helps your muscles keep warm. So from a performance angle they are invaluable.
They look really good as well! I often just wear mine as a big coat over my other coat. If it's raining really hard and I have to go outside then the last layer is the dryrobe!
Other activities and uses for my dryrobe include stretching on it, wrapping the dog up inside it, just sitting on the beach on it, wrapping around boards when I travel for extra protection. Plus I've used it for dressing up in - the black and red one makes a great Darth Vader outfit :)
Thanks Tom, good luck for the year ahead and we look forward to the next episode of Think Bigger!
Be sure to follow Tom at:
YouTube: Tom Butler