We’ve teamed up with Jeep, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, to shine a spotlight on some of the ultimate renegades from the world of action sports – past, present and future. We’re looking at people who’ve done things differently, who’ve gone their own way and forged their own path. Here Surf Europe editor Paul Evans interviews Cornish surfer Tom Lowe who, with his nomination for a Billabong XXL Award this year, now legitimately sits among big wave surfing’s global elite. It wasn’t an obvious career path for a lad from sleepy St. Ives however, and the story of how he got there is a fascinating one.
“Mullaghmore is the one I really want,” says Tom Lowe from his Cornish summer base, a quiet, tourist-season bolthole between St Ives and Hayle where we find him temporarily laid up with a sprained wrist after skateboarding over-exuberance. “I still feel like the biggest potential for something crazy is at Mully.”
The wave he’s referring to, a dark, doom-tinged rocky outcrop near Donegal Bay, Ireland, a spot that reaches out into the full fury of the North Atlantic winter swell window and has seen some of the biggest and heaviest waves ever ridden in Europe over recent years, by surfers towing in to the waves with the help of jetskis. But Lowey’s contemporary focus, just like that of most of surfing’s big wave elite in recent years, is to catch giant waves under paddle power alone, using a huge, buoyant surfboard, dropping down the face of the mountainous water at the last possible moment, and hopefully outrunning the avalanche at the bottom.
“How exactly did a softly-spoken Cornishman earn his stripes alongside riders of giants from traditional big wave epicentres Hawaii, Australia, South Africa?”
“There are so many variables and imperfections, so many reasons why paddling huge Mullaghmore is rarely feasible,” he adds, “But I know there is that one magic day to be had, that magic session or even hour when a certain tide, certain swell direction, size and wind will all come together to allow you to take a real big lump. A crazy one. And when and if they do, I’ll be ready to give it a shot.”