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Surfing Brilliant Corners

June 22, 2010 | Words By: Howard

surfing_brilliant_corners A book worth reading if you’re looking for a one-man jazz-infused tip-toe along the road of life.


Sam Bleakley breaks the mould. I’ve never met him or spoken to him, but I think I’d like the fella. Sent to us a couple of weeks ago, his new book ‘Surfing Brilliant Corners’ dropped through the internal mail, and landed on my desk at Drift. I don’t know what drew me to the book, but I’ve been reading it over the last few weeks and it’s genuinely interesting.

Sam simply shares his past, his present and his frequencies with us, which is worth sharing. He’s well travelled, a Cambridge alumni, and speaks with soft tones. Sam travels from his birthplace in West Cornwall to Indonesia and the Philippines; through vibrant West African highlife in Ghana, to war-damaged Liberia; to Mauritania, where landmines litter access to some of the best waves on the planet; to a serene Buddhist oasis in Communist China; to Ecuador, Oman and Haiti, whose complex culture seeps into his psyche and captures his heart. He looks deep into the jet-black eye of a surfacing shark in Kenya, and faces a stacked set of foaming lips during typhoon surf in South Korea.

Unexpectedly he uses his interest in jazz as a vehicle, sometimes a metaphor for surfing and his relationship to it, the title drawing on Thelonious Monk’s 1956 LP ‘Brilliant Corners’. “Surfing,” he says, “has opened me up, split my skin, widened my horizons, and closed me down, because any obsession restricts your involvement in other aspects of life.”

I could go on, but I enjoyed it and I think anyone reading Drift probably would too. Some things are best left unspoken, just go get yourself a copy and see what you think.

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2 Comments


  1. Sam is one of the best voices in UK surfing, a talented and considered individual. I can’t wait to read this.

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  2. Surfing Brilliant Corners is a beautifully written book by Cambridge-educated multiple European, British and English longboard surfing champion Sam Bleakley . It follows his surf travels in the last ten years and is accompanied by some stunning photos from top surf photographer John Callahan. It also uses the metaphor of jazz both for surfing and ultimately I guess, life itself.

    It packs in some incredible trips which are well off the beaten track from the likes of Oman and Haiti to to China and Liberia. A great read and a wonderful contribution to the increasingly rich library of literature by British surfers from Andy Martin’s Stealing the Wave and Walking on Water to Tom Anderson’s Riding the Magic Carpet, Grey Skies, Green Waves and Chasing Dean and Alex Wade’s Surf Nation.

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3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Surfing Brilliant Corners | Sam Bleakley – News 19 08 10
  2. Surfing Brilliant Corners | 24 08 10
  3. Surfing Brilliant Corners reviews | 25 08 10

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