The Surfersvillage Interview
UK pro seaches out mythical wave, makes film in process
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 October, 2014 - One of the few Brits to travel the world on the Qualifying Series, the former English Open Champion has done a bangup job re-inventing himself as a freesurfer. What does it mean to be a freesurfer outside the plush industry zones of the Gold Coast and Southern California? It means working harder to make your message, your personal brand, stand out in a saturated surf media landscape.
He’s quite good at this, particularly with his video clips satisfying the Protest brand in their series ‘Pin-It.’ Oli’s also embarked on his own Moby Dick adventure of sorts. While everyone was flying off to Iceland and Norway to find untapped coldwater perfection in Europe, Oli focused his lense on a (relatively) nearby wave offshore. The resulting project is an eight-year odyssey to find a white whale wave he saw online ages ago and posted by someone called Hipmasama.
Share with us what it’s like to be a pro surfer from the UK. It’s not like you can pedal down to Trestles for a surf and connect with the industry.
It’s one of the best places in the world to be a surfer. The waves are amazing, but no one really knows it. So, pretty uncrowded! There’s a major variety of waves, yes, it is fickle, but if you learn which spots are going to be good in which conditions, you can really capitalise on that.
What is that you do professionally that you are most proud of?
My film “The Hunt for Hipmasama” which I shot and edited myself is what I’m most proud of. For how much time it has taken to put together (8 years), and I had to go through so many different trips and experiences to do it. On a lot of those trips I didn’t actually score good waves because I was trying to work out what conditions were needed for the waves to be good. I was also trying to find THE wave, and I kept finding these other incredible waves, so I’d come back on more trips for the other waves to work out their conditions, so the time I could have spent finding THE wave in the picture, I was out scoring the other waves.
Tell us what has been your biggest mistake?
When I got diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I tried to continue surfing on the World Tour when I wasn’t well and hadn’t fully recovered. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to chase that dream when actually I should have waited to recover fully.
What did you learn from that mistake?
If you have an injury or illness, just wait to recover fully because there’s no point doing anything in life unless you’re 100%.
Is there something going on in the world that makes you scratch your head and think: “But this is soooo important! Don’t they get it?”
The fact that we are completely ruining the earth for financial gain when we should be equally sharing resources and figuring out methods to protect the environment.
Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment.
Overcoming my illness and being able to not lose my career, bouncing back stronger than before. The first half of my career, the whole time I was sick and I didn’t know, so I wasn’t surfing to my full potential. Now I have spent time revering and am actually stronger, surfing better, and getting better all the time.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?
I’ve started my own surf academy so I guess I might have gone down the route of high performance coaching.
OK, you get to drop into five moments in history – surf or otherwise. Please name them and why.
-I think it was the 1992 Pipe Masters. Tom Curren did this mental low back snap! I wish I could have seen that.
-Jimi Hendrix. Woodstock. Because he’s a legend.
-Nirvana at Reading Music Festival, Kurt came out on a wheelchair. Incredible.
-I would have loved to have seen in 1961 Tottenham Hotspur win the European cup (I love football. Or soccer, sorry ;))
-England win The Football World Cup in 1966! No explanation needed.