I think many people were shocked but no one was surprised to learn that Cornish hellman Tom Lowe got a place on the Big Wave Tour—places which are about as rare as hen's teeth. But Lowey has put in the hard yards and has what it takes to be a professional big wave surfer. So, could the next Big Wave World Champion be British?
Shambles: Morning Tom. How are things?
Tom: Yo brother. All's good thanks.
I was delighted to hear you've been invited on to this year's Big Wave Tour. What was your reaction when you heard the news?
I was in disbelief for days, Jamie Mitchell hit me up saying congrats before I'd heard the news and I started tripping if it was true or not. Then Greg Long messaged and I thought holy shit, this could be for real, but it wasn't until Mike Parsons emailed me that it sank in.
I qualified by being in the top four performers of the year. First thing I did was tell the family then call Mickey (Smith), he was buzzing his tits off. So, I went round to hangout and celebrate not only my news but the release of his single by A Blaze of Feather. I can't wait for him to share the full album, it is so rad.
How exactly do you get on the BWT and what is competition like for places?
I guess you have to be on almost every swell all year round if you're not on tour. It's obvious at the end of each year who has been going the hardest, so it just comes down to that. If you are on tour and getting good results that's another way to get the performer award. There are so many great surfers and paddlers out there but I don't like to compare myself to others, just to myself.
Each year, each swell, my goals are always the same: to get the ride of my life. Growing as a person as well as a surfer is what it is all about for me. I love the feeling of progressing, going into a swell with a particular wave/ride in mind. If you fall, you learn all the more.
What big waves spots are you looking forward to visiting next year?
The Puerto waiting period has started so I am pumped on that event as much as anywhere. I did shit last year and thought I wouldn't get another shot. It just shows how much of a waste of time and energy it is to predict the future, hey.
True that brother.
My focus isn't going to change. I had planned on a Puerto stint again so I'll hit it next swell, then chasing Todos, Mavs, Jaws and Mully. But now I'll get more opportunities to ride those days when the comps are on. So stoked.
Ideally, what kind of quiver would you like for the tour. What board would be your secret weapon.
I love my 8'0's shaped by Luke Hart at Fourth: that's for Puerto up to 15ft, or Mully at that size. I also have a 9'6 of Luke's which went great last year. But my main big wave gun quiver will be Christensen's, as I've been riding his for seven years now and have his boards stored in most of the tour locations. My go-to size will be a 9'6 apart from Jaws which would be 10'4, then Nazare where I like my 11'0.
Phew. That is quite an arsenal. An 11ft gun, I wouldn't even like to contemplate what kind of wave you are planning catching with the that. Rad.
I think everyone in the UK and Ireland is stoked to have one of their own on the BWT. Personally, it has been amazing to see you progress from a frothing charger I met at the Irish slabs with Tom Greenaway over ten years ago into a top paddle-in big wave surfer. It has taken ten years of dedicated effort, sacrifice and training to get this invite on tour. What were the lowlights/highlights.
I owe so much to Mickey and Fergal Smith for instilling the belief that I could be a pro surfer. I was so self conscious of my surfing back then, insecure. Greenaway passing will always burn away in me. But there has been so many heavy losses along the way. Cherry, Unity and Ally and many more
I'll treat it like every other swell I've chased for the past twelve years except I'll have a rashy on.leaving us way too early. That inspires me not to hold back, go on every swell like it's your last.
I'll come out of surgery and be looking at eight months 'till I can surf again and I draw energy from those things. Everybody can relate to me, we've all been through tragic times, it's life but it really is what makes you. I come from this small town in Cornwall, and it's beautiful with so many cool things to do, however there is a darker side with drugs everywhere, lots of alcoholics. It is easy to slip into a bad place.
For kids, if they read this, my advice is to listen to your heart and instinct always. Get out and connect with nature, express yourself in whichever way feels right. Don't compare yourself to others, be yourself. Think about which people feed you with good vibes and which are a negative influence on you. Follow your dream till the end. Ok speech over.
Excited about Mexico, when are you off?
Depends on Mother Nature but even if it is not contest-worthy I'll still be flying over I reckon, I love hanging down there.
Is Mavericks on the Big Wave World Tour?
No Mavericks isn't. Lots of legal reasons the Titans event has stopped which is a real shame. Hopefully one day it'll go again.
In it to win it or just along for the ride?
Of course, I'll go into every heat to win, it's a world tour contest and a big opportunity which I'm very grateful for. That being said, I'll treat it like every other swell I've chased for the past twelve years except I'll have a rashy on. Go out and try to catch a big wave. I just want to keep progressing, keep learning and experiencing new things, that's what it's all about.
Do you reckon Jaws is the pinnacle of big wave paddle in surfing?
I'm no Jaws guy, only been for a few swells so I'm not the guy to ask really. But from my small experience out there I'd say yes, as far a big wave barrels are concerned. Nowhere is as big and perfect and if you're crazy enough, paddle-able as Peahi. But I think we're going to see some heavy rides at Nazare this year. There is still a lot to do out there from a paddle perspective. You've just got to be willing to put it all on the line to catch those huge double ups.
That all sound really hectic, but I know you love that stuff man.
Cover shot by Helio Antonio