Tom Butler on the tasty, heavy slabs of the UK
ASP Europe's Carte Blanche focuses on Tom Butler
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 18 September, 2012 : - - In this fourth installment of our new segment ‘Carte Blanche‘ we’ve decided to share the interesting story of Tom Butler, 23 year-old surfer from Newquay in Cornwall, England. Competitor in ASP events throughout the UK, Tom is well more known in the surfing community for his big-wave exploits in the cold-water seas of Northern Europe. You’ll find below this article the latest clip Tom edited with his mate Tim Boydell.
“Ive always preferred bigger waves throughout my surfing career, but have only just started to get my gear and act together to meet the real deal swells !
I have been without a major sponsor since not signing a deal to stay with Quiksilver when i was 18; I’ve been working as lifeguard for the last 3 summers before this one. I’ve been to Hawaii twice when I was younger and tasted some big bombs at sunset and pipe. For the last three years I’ve been practicing trying to perfect my tube riding at some crazy spots around the UK.
We have some really tasty, heavy slabs around the country, except in Cornwall the State I’m from. It’s all beach breaks around Cornwall with Newquay’s Fistral being one of the most famous, this is where I live.
I’ve surfed on the European pro junior circuit when I was younger and did ok, I’ve been at the top of UK men’s competition surfing for the last few years. Winning two English Open titles and placing 2nd on the UK pro tour. I’ve been the second youngest guy to win an English Open title at 19 years old this was behind Russell winter !! I just want to concentrate on charging bigger waves right now, I will do select Star tour events when they come around for sure.
Anyway, two winters ago I decided to not bother going anywhere tropical to escape the harsh European winter. I stayed put and chased some bigger swells right here on my door step. Five other friends and myself found some really world class waves off our coast on a group of islands. After this 6 week trip, I got myself over to Ireland where a lot of action has been going down over the last 5 years.
Ireland is 15 hours from my house by car and a ferry ride. The first season there I only spent about two weeks, I arrived two days after the 1st Mullaghmore tow in event, this swell kept pulsing for about 3 weeks. Most guys where calling it the best run of swell they had seen there for a long time. I scored the wave of my life on my first day there; I had been awake for a day and a half after driving across that morning.
I stayed with a good Irish friend, the ripper that is Cain Kilcullen. We surfed a good spot near his house but it wasn’t really doing it’s thing. We got back into the car and drove to this crazy reef that breaks a little out to sea. There was about 2 hours of light left so we had to move fast. The wave was doing it’s thing and had grinding 8-10 footers going mental; it was my first session out at the wave, there where 4 skis out there towing in and a few spongers taking some. I had a 6’6 and an 8’0, I finned up my 6’6 then changed after the photographer I was with asked why the hell I was going to paddle the mile out to sea on my 6’6 when I had an 8’0 in the van… Best advice Will Bailey has given me !
This is the wave above, after this wave I was psyching and it gave me the kick I needed at that point. My attitude was to just keep going hard with a positive attitude and companies will take notice soon enough. Jamie O’brien judged an Etnies ‘Go Film Yourself’ contest, he was choosing the best barrels submitted throughout the European winter season of 2010-2011. My wave came out on top, with some great praise from him. After this winter I went back to work lifeguarding to save money in order to go harder, and bigger the following winter.
European winter 2011-2012 was pretty average for big swells, not loads came through the Atlantic. I had a tow Board made up from my shaper Luke Hart who shapes Fourth surfboards. I had also saved up enough money from working to buy a jet ski. I went splits with Luke and another good friend, so the ski and board were ready.
I went to Ireland again and had a session out at Mullaghmore head, teaming up with a kiwi guy called Felix. The waves where 10-15ft, this was the perfect size to try my new board, the waves were bigger than anything I had surfed before. I got used to the wave and my board kind of quick that session, just amping so hard on using foot straps on a board. The step at “shipies” became a little more imaginable after riding over a few ledges at Mully. My last wave I just went fu** it and faded as deep as possible and got a deep 15ft pit just before dark- that was it really, I was addicted to riding bigger waves and Mullaghmore !
So yeah, there were about 6 bigger sessions last winter, I just tried to be on the sessions when they came by and make the most of everyone, being first in the water last out ! I had another 3-4 days out at Mully before Christmas staying on the hill at Mullaghmore with two South Africans: Barry and Pig. German Sebastian steudtner XXL winner 2010 was also living at the house with the SA boys. Up for each swell also, was Mully Big wave contest organiser Paul O’Cane (POC) full on legend- he’s over 50 I think ! He’s more excited than anyone and lives to surf big waves. I learnt a heck of a lot from the boys over the 3 big sessions we had together, I also got my first big-ish beating, I needed this early on in my bigger wave career. I ended up being pushed inside my hooded wetsuit and had to wrestle my way out underwater, pretty scary but definitely made me train harder for the beatings that are always going to happen when you surf bigger waves.
I tried to have a friend film every session I could afford to pay them to film; all the boys who have been behind the lens deserve a mention from me, obviously without the footage no one knows what the hell you have been out and done. I sat on all my footage from the winter and met up with my friend who edits and films really well- Timmy Boydell. We started filming some lifestyle at my house and interviews. The first draft Timmy showed me was good, he had picked out the best bits of speech from about 2 hours of me talking… what a horrible job !
It was summer in Europe at this point. All I wanted to do was keep progressing and surf bigger waves. I just about had enough money to keep chasing some swells and decided to go train and surf in Chile and Peru. I went and surfed in the 3* WQS at El Gringo; I placed 13th in this event. I was going to explore and see a lot of Chile but couldn’t leave Gringo- it fires everyday!
We waited until a week ago to release this video and mixed in some Chile footage also. Im stoked with the response and comments people have passed across to me after watching the video. Im super pumped to get back into some big waves now, I’ve been back from Chile 5 weeks and have been in England training hard following an all round fitness programme that has been set up by an Olympic sports coach called Rade, he’s been working with Sebastian for a few years now. I’m just trying to get stronger legs to hang on through some bigger tubes !
Let’s hope these hurricane swells start to clean up and arrive with better winds, they have been massive but windy, a bomb one is around the corner I’m sure. Bring it on !
Source: ASP Europe
Author: Tom Butler
Tags: ASP Europe, Big Wave, Tom Butler, UK