Last weekend at our drive-in cinema screening of Point Break, we sat down with Korev ambassador and 6X National Champ Lucy Campbell for a pint and a quick catch up overlooking the waves at Watergate Bay.
WL: What do you reckon to our drive-in cinema then?
LC: It’s pretty amazing, such a good spot. I’d pay to come up here just to watch the sunset but I’m very excited for Point Break. I haven’t seen it in so long!
WL: Is the film basically the reason you decided you wanted to be a pro surfer or what?
LC: I think it definitely gave me some inspiration on how to fund my career…
WL: Bank robberies?
LC: Woah! Spoiler!
WL: Are there any other surfing films that had a big impact on you when you were young?
LC: Blue Crush! That’s a great film… it’s got a bit of everything (laughs). When I first got into surfing I was both inspired and intimidated by surf movies, because they were always surfing big waves and I just thought it looked really scary. But I remember watching Endless Summer and thinking that was incredible. And then when the Nike 6.0 film Leave A Message came out, that was a real game-changer for me because it was really something I could relate to. By then I was competing and travelling, so I could watch and see girls getting barrels and doing airs and that was really aspirational.
WL: So 2020’s been a weird one hasn’t it. What have you been doing?
LC: It has been a weird one. There’s been a lot of rescheduling, re-arranging. I started with a QS in China before it all kicked off, called the Corona Pro, which was quite unfortunate, although it was a really fun contest. Then I headed straight to Australia, where my brother lives, to spend a bit of time hanging out with him and going up and down the coast in a van for the QS events and getting ready for the season.
WL: Where were you when it all hit the fan?
LC: I’d just come back from Australia for the English Nationals, and it was my birthday so I thought I’d stick around and see some friends. But then I actually tried to get back to Australia just as lockdown was announced because my boyfriend was there and I thought I could hang out in a van away from everyone and just train really hard and surf. But they closed the borders five hours before I would have landed. I was calling up the embassy and stuff like, ‘My brother lives there, can I get in?’ and they were like, ‘no.’
WL: So you haven’t competed since March? When’s the last time you had that long off?
LC: I don’t know that I ever have… I guess when I was younger, just doing the grom comps, but definitely not since I’ve been professional, which is 5 years.
WL: How’s it been?
LC: In some ways, it’s really nice to have a break, but I also really miss the fire you get inside of you when you’re competing. I had a contest last year in South Africa where I missed out on the finals by a tiny bit and after that, I remember being so driven and thinking that’s it, I’m training every day, I’m going to the gym, I’m getting in the water, so for the next event I’m that bit better. So I miss that element. But at the same time, it’s nice to take a step back and focus on other projects and just spend time with family and friends. I think lockdown was the first time that I’ve fully unpacked suitcases and board bags for basically five years.
WL: How’s the experience going to affect how you operate when everything’s back on?
LC: I think I’m going to try and have more of a season, so I’ve got the other half of the year to work on different things, whether that’s just getting out and helping with the girl’s sessions in the surf school or trying to encourage the little up and comers to get into it. I’m really into nutrition as well, and I’ve got a little page dedicated to helping people learn healthy nutritious choices.
WL: There’s big changes coming to the QS next year, can you tell me about them and how they’ll impact you?
LC: As of next year you’ll only be able to compete within your region, which for me is Europe. I think it’s great news and long overdue, as it’s really going to help take the whole financial thing out of it, because before, the more money you had from sponsors or parents or whatever, the more events you could do and the higher your ranking was going to be. Because of that, I think there are some surfers who are a really high level but just can’t afford to get to the events. You know like Silvana Lima was funding her QS season by breeding French bulldogs!
It also makes sense for the environment because it’s always been a bit of a moral dilemma for me, wanting to do what I’ve always dreamed of but at the same time not wanting to get on that many flights a year. Now, you’re not having four or five hundred surfers all flying between Australia, Brazil and Indo.
WL: In the almost 15 years that you’ve been competing, what have you noticed in terms of changes in British female surfing?
LC: There have definitely been some big positive changes. Most of the events – although not all of them – are now equal in terms of prize money. I won the UK tour a few years ago and the guy who won received a 5 grand cheque on the stage and I got nothing.
WL: What’s the rationale the organisers gave you for that?
LC: Sponsorship. Which is understandable; the guy’s events do tend to get more viewers, but at the same time I’m really glad now that they’re equalling it all, both in the UK and on the QS too.
Getting to the events is really expensive, and if there isn’t the opportunity to win money to pay back that trip, it’s not worth it. So it doesn’t encourage the younger generation to do them.
WL: And are you excited about the next generation of Brits?
LC: Yeah definitely, a lot of the younger girls coming up now are surfing so well, it’s amazing to see, it really is. I went on a training trip to Portugal last year with some of the younger girls and just their energy and enthusiasm was so inspirational, it really reminded me why I do it. And it was so good to see them pushing themselves, because we were surfing Supertubes and it was pretty heavy and steep some days and we were all just cheering each other into waves.
And I think it’s good that they all have each other. Because I’m always grateful for the fact that, where I grew up, there were a few local boys I used to surf with, and I kind of didn’t see myself any different to them, although they were better than me. But they would always cheer me into waves and I’d keep going over the falls, and they just encouraged me so much. So for this current group to be able to see their girlfriends do a big turn and think, ‘ah I’m going to try that too!’ is just going to be amazing for the level.
WL: I guess that’s why there are so many pro surfer siblings too…
LC: Yea, I read an article with Caroline Marks where she was asked what pushed her to the level she’s got to and she said her brothers used to tell her she surfed like a girl, so she’d go off and surf on her own peak and just try and go as big as she could. And I think it’s those little niggles you can have with siblings that really spur you on.
WL: And outside of competition, what in surfing is exciting you right now?
LC: As soon as I heard the contest season was off for the year, I thought it was a good chance to get into some bigger waves as that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I had a little go in South Africa at the end of last year. I was staying out there with a family and the dad Dougal had all the equipment and the boards and vests and a perfect swell came in on this reef called Sunset Reef. I wasn’t really prepared for it, but I’d been training for the contest season, so I felt fit and ready. And he just talked me through it and gave me loads of tips and I just felt really at home and comfortable out there.
I took a few 15-foot sets on the head, which was fun… but I also had a couple of bombs. There was such a good group of guys out there cheering me into it. So that’s definitely something I’d like to get more into, although I think you need a few wipeouts to know that you really want to do it!
I’m also just enjoying cruising around on a twin fin at the moment, on summer days. I think that really teaches you to put yourself in a different part of the wave, and it’s a different style of surfing. Also, you can’t go surfing on a twin fin and not come out with the biggest smile on your face.
WL: Nice one, thanks Lucy, we look forward to seeing more from your heavy wave exploits and twin-fin cruising.
Lucy is supported by Korev Lager, the official beer of Surfing England.