Big wave surfing? British pro surfer Andrew Cotton tells us what got him hooked.

Big wave surfing is a sport not many of us have the courage for. When the waves reach the heights of buildings, 20 feet or higher, you can start calling them big. British pro surfer Andrew Cotton knows all about it. He is one of the worlds most respected big wave surfers and has traveled the worlds most extraordinary surf spots. After trading his career as a plumber to becoming a pro surfer in 2013, surfing waves up to 70 ft high has become the norm. After breaking his back riding a 60ft wave in Nazaré, Portugal, he is back in the water.

We interviewed Andrew on how he got hooked and what it feels like to ride waves the size of small mountains.

Andrew Cotton

Describe the moment when you got hooked into surfing?

Probably when I was about seven my dad took me surfing at Saunton Beach and he rented me a board and suit. I was hooked pretty much instantly.

You’ve surfed some of the biggest waves in the world. What thoughts run in your head when you are taking off on a huge wave?

Surfing big waves or being in the ocean when the waves are giant, you’re not really thinking about anything. You’re being in the moment. The only thing I’m thinking about is getting the biggest wave and surfing it the best I can possibly surf it. I think if you think about anything else it can lead to hesitation or lead to the concentration being lost. 

Andrew Cotton surfing

How would you describe big wave surfing to those that have some experience surfing or snowboarding?

Big wave surfing for me can be almost like a form of meditation. When you’re going that fast on something so natural and pure it’s almost like time slows down and that’s a pretty magical feeling.

In 2017 Andrew was filming a documentary in Nazare, Portugal and got swallowed by a gigantic wave. On video he can be seen jumping for his life. He was rushed to the hospital and was told he had broken his back. - BBC article here. Thankfully all ended well and he made a full recovery.

We asked Andrew about his near death experiences and this is what he answered:

Don’t think I’ve ever had a near death experience or a bad moment in the ocean, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every moment in the sea. You have to enjoy and embrace the bad moments like the wipeouts to get a chance of experiencing the best waves. So I’ve have never had a bad moment. 


How do you train in order to be prepared to face the waves?

I’ve been working closely with a personal trainer called Andrew Blake the past 10 years to prepare myself for what I’m going to put my body through and we’ve also just started doing surf fitness retreats where we we’ve been training people the techniques to use to give anyone more ocean confidence what ever their surf ability or goals. 

What’s your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner? What do you eat before heading off for a surf?

I’ll eat anything but I try my best to keep it as healthy as possible.


What’s your favourite surf spot?

Every spot has its day, it’s just knowing when to be there. 



Check out Andrews Youtube for awesome surf footage:


Follow Andrew on instagram @andrew_cotty and on his website.