We headed over to North Devon to catch up with Lifedge Pioneer, Andrew Cotton to talk life, training and his Billabong XXL award nomination.
It’s easy to spot Andrew Cotton once we arrive at the North Devon Cafe where we are scheduled to meet, looking every bit the British surfer with his ruffled blonde hair. “If I had known you were bringing a camera I would’ve washed my hair, I haven’t washed it in like two days” he jokes. As usual, his dry sense of humour and laid back attitude are quick to shine through. It’s easy to see how some people might find his mild manner to be at odds with the literal magnitude of his achievements.
For the last 6 weeks Andrew has been nursing a shoulder injury sustained while filming in Nazarѐ with big wave surfing legend Garret McNamara. Whilst towing Garret, Andrew went through a wave, hitting it at just the wrong angle and taking the full force of the impact through his arm and into his shoulder.
It’s clear to see how frustrating it’s been for him to have to cut back on his time in the water, but as usual he’s quick to find the humour in the situation. “It’s funny actually, and a bit embarrassing I guess. Most injuries seem to happen when you’re just messing around, on small waves or whatever, but I wasn’t even surfing. I was on a jet ski.”
“I’ve been doing some training with a free diver who can hold his breath for like 7 minutes.”
The time spent unable to surf has given Andrew a chance to work on some of the less obvious elements of his training, “I’ve been doing some training with a free diver who can hold his breath for like 7 minutes.”
It’s critical that big wave surfers are able to hold their breath for a time that many of us would think is impossible. After wiping out a surfer can spend a long time tumbling under water, moving with the momentum of the wave being unable to surface. “My record is now four and a half minutes. After just a day of using his techniques I had made huge progress.” Says Andrew, “A lot of people think it’s about having big lungs or being really fit but it’s something everyone can do. It’s all in your head.”
This belief in the power of the mind is a huge part of Andrew’s surfing, and keeps cropping up in his interviews. He reinforces that for him, big wave surfing is more about a state of mind than a particular set of skills or abilities.
Since we last met, his exploits out in Nazarѐ have earned him mainstream recognition, appearing on news broadcasts and in national newspapers, as well as within the wider surfing press. Just last night he found out that he has been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in big wave surfing, Biggest Wave at the Billabong XXL Awards. It’s not a subject that he wants to dwell on though, brushing it off with his usual modesty “It’s great to be recognised at that level and I’m pretty stoked to be nominated but anyone could win.”
Andrew won’t be drawn on whether he fancies his chances of winning the award, preferring to leave us with a simple “fingers crossed.” He seems more concerned with the fact that he’ll be jet-setting out to LA for the award ceremony, “I’m so Hollywood”, he laughs “I think I might stand out if I wear my tux.”