Andrew ‘Cotty’ Cotton is probably the UK’s most high profile surfers and one of the foremost big wave surfers in the world right now. Along with his close friend Garrett McNamara, he’s one of the handful of surfers to pioneer the notoriously heavy beachbreak Nazaré in Portugal
His feats, which include towing McNamaea into what is considered one of the largest waves ever ridden, back in 2011, routinely make headlines in the UK where he’s achieved mainstream notoriety as much for the fact that he’s a qualified plumber as for his big wave exploits.
The fact that he’s a qualified plumber is the least interesting thing about Cotty
As ever with mainstream media coverage of action sports, these descriptions of Andrew’s feats are massively reductive. Because the reality is that Cotty is one of the most respected watermen in the world today, and he’s travelled a long, hard way from his surfing beginnings on windswept Saunton Beach near where he grew up in Devon.
In this conversation, recorded at Red Bull Studios, Matt Barr, who has recorded a selection of high-profile interviews for his Looking Sideways podcast, and Cotton cover a lot of ground – his early surf apprenticeship, his first exposure to really big waves, and his early years working in a surfboard factory and – yes, as a plumber.
Lead photo: Red Bull Media House