Big wave surfer and Red Bull athlete, Andrew Cotton, has put Britain on the surfing map. Andrew started surfing at the age of seven on the North Devon coast and ever since then, catching waves has been his life. In 2017, Andrew suffered a life-threatening wipeout and broke his back whilst surfing on a 55ft wave in Nazaré, Portugal. Since then, Andrew has focused on regaining his physical and mental strength to make a return to surfing. He is driven to surf the biggest waves in the world - and it’s the thrill of the unknown which drives Andrew to pursue his goal.
On the sport of surfing
“It's about progress. You treat surfing as a marathon not a sprint so don’t expect to go out first time and start charging down huge waves.”
“Every point where I’ve thought that I am over this sport, I’m going to take up something else, you have a moment of woah, and you recap, this is epic, and this is what it’s about.”
“Of course, at the beginning you’re scared but it’s about pushing it every time. Sometimes you push it too far and scare yourself and then you realise that it’s actually not that bad and then you can go back and do it again. So it’s a lifelong journey of doing that.”
“No one conquers the ocean, you flow with it, ride on it, play in it, but you’re not conquering waves, you just ride them briefly.”
Andrew talks about his traumatic accident in 2017
“Natural human instinct takes over and that’s survival. No one wants to drown or die so you naturally go into survival mode. It was probably more scary for the rescue guys and those helping on the beach as they’re the ones dragging me out of the water when I couldn’t walk.”
“I was really fortunate everyone on the beach and the team I was working with were super professional and within half an hour I was in an ambulance.”
“As an athlete you want a couple of achievements, a couple of things to be remembered by in your sport and there was no way I was going to be remembered for falling off, for a wipeout so that was a big motivation to come back.”
On his recovery and achievements after his accident
“I ended up getting a Wattbike and putting it by the door and I used to hold myself up by the door and just cycle. I felt like I was doing something and keeping active, and you do that for twenty minutes, half an hour a day to make it feel like you’re going somewhere.”
“I was flown back to the UK it was winter, it was cold. If you’re an athlete at home in the UK, indoor bikes, you’ve just got to have one.”
“The amazing thing with big wave surfing is that it's continuous, with surfing storms in the Atlantic, you never know what’s around the corner, you never know if the next storm will be bigger. It’s about being fit and ready.”
“You have to surf to be surf fit but when you’re doing it at a high level, you have to do cardio and train my legs.”
“I actually do cycle a lot. When I started to surf and through my twenties I never really thought about it because I was never really interested in cycling but I’ve gained a passion for it through injury and recovery and now it’s something that I do for fun.”
“When I was 20 I didn’t think I could get any better but even at 42 I still feel like I’m improving which I didn’t think was possible. I feel like I’m fitter, I feel like I’m more focussed, I feel like I’m still improving in my sport. It’s surprising. Hopefully, I can still go in that trajectory.”
“Injury is an opportunity to learn loads of stuff about yourself, about recovery and your body. To understand and find new things. It's that mindset, I think we focus a lot of the time on what we can't do but it's about switching that and focusing on what we can and enjoying it.”
“I think the best bit of advice I’ve ever been given is to enjoy the moment.”
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