Tom Butler has been busy making a name for himself on the big wave surf scene over the past couple of years, relentlessly pursuing jaw-dropping swells around Europe, most notably having bagged himself a couple of XXL monsters at Mullaghmore in Ireland.
UK charger “Buttsy” has also recently secured a two-year contract extension with Osprey & Urban Beach, this combined with a six-part series for Epic TV and you could say it has been a good year for the Newquay surfer.
Drift talks the army, hockey and ex-girlfriends with a surfer whose balls are clearly made of steel. Luckily for us he is a very amiable chap! Enjoy…
What goes through your mind when you are being towed into a monster wave?
Towing into massive waves as opposed to paddling into them does give you a bit of time to think. I’m just pretty excited and happy the whole time. I will always focus on the lumps in the wave that could catch me out but try keep nice and loose to change body position fast if I’m hitting bits of chops or steps in the wave.
I got taught a lot by Sebastian Steudtner he trained me that repetition will make everything perfect. Driving the ski correct and surfing the wave. So I understand a lot down to him. Thanks bro!
Have you ever wanted to turn back?
Pffttt I’m completely in love with the sport and will never turn back – hesitation leads onto bad situations! Saying that, after I have caught a few big good ones I always feel in my heart when it’s the right time to stop. The times I have been talked into continuing to charge after I have felt like I’ve had enough I have snapped boards!
[pullquote]my ex-girlfriend hated me when I left her on Valentines Day to chase a swell over to Ireland[/pullquote]
Have you met resistance from family friends or loved ones?
Yes my family think I’m a selfish ass! And my ex-girlfriend hated me when I left her on valentines day to chase a swell over to Ireland (not the reason we broke up) But my family know this is me and this is what I love to do. They are 100% behind me… There was times a few years ago when I was performing and getting nowhere with sponsors financially and they told me to jack it in and get a real job and just surf for fun… So that didn’t help when they said this. My board shaper Luke Hart pushed me hard to keep going 100% and be positive and a break will come and I guess it kind of has… Good things come to those who wait and put the hard work in.. As all you workers know!
Are you always ready to shoot off to the next big swell?
Not always it’s pretty expensive to jump on planes to the other side of the world.. Booking your flight two days before the flight itself. So I plan areas that should be in season so big waves are likely that time of year and hang in the area for a few weeks at least.
Physically and mentally I like to always be ready to go though.
Where do you most wish to surf that you haven’t yet?
I’m really keen to go to Chopes and also some areas in south Chile that I have never been to.
Do you have a career goal?
I want to make the big wave world tour. As it’s an invite only tour I know I have to keep proving my abilities in big waves and hope to get some invites into events over the next five years. I’m 25 now so will be getting better and better over the next five years providing I don’t get injured and keep focused!
What would you have been if you hadn’t been a pro surfer?
A pro Ice Hockey player would have been pretty cool. We didn’t have an ice rink that close so I used to play roller hockey! I also played football / soccer at quite a good level until I quit at the age of 13. So ideally I would have played in another pro sport.
What did you want to do when you were growing up?
When I was really young I wanted to be an army man!!! That changed pretty fast once I realised what wars are about – money, power, corrupt governments etc. I’ve got friends who are in the military and it’s like any job you might not love it but you get on with it and do your best job.. So respect to everyone who does go to war. All my friends who are in the army are itching to finish and grow their hair long and become hippies though!!
Can you tell you us a little about your kit for the big waves and how it differs from a normal paddle-out?
A big wave kit is never complete you can always have more.. It takes a while to get all the kit in place and costs so much money, I’m still adding to my kit! The specialist kit required to surf big waves safely and successfully is so different to your average surf in four foot waves. So the kit is the difference and the knowledge of where the swell will be best!
A list would be something like this. And you need spares of each of these of course!
• Specialist boards
• Extra strong leashes
• Bouncy flotation /inflation vests
• Jet skis
• Rescue sleds
• Fuel cans
• Ropes / tow ropes
• 4 x 4s
• Quad bikes
• Spare wheels
• Beach launch trolleys
• Full tool kit
• Spare spark plugs, oil filters, batteries etc
• Full wetsuit kit and spray jackets
and so much more that I can’t think of right now…
What is your career highlight to date?
The waves that stand out in my mind are my big wave paddle in barrel out at Mully a few weeks back. My first successful deep tow tube out at Mully in 2011 and the wave I won the Etnies you tube European barrel award with just down the road from Mully. This was the swell I left my girl for on Valentines Day (obviously knew I made the right choice leaving after this wave) Not because I’m a prick to girls but because I love the sport so much.. It was an eight second tube as well;!! Jamie O’Brien judged the video entries and called it a 10 pointer – I was pretty chuffed! And I bought my ex-girl a gift out of my prize money!! hahaha
Comp result wise, the two third place finishes at European junior level in the European championships were good results. Narrowly missing a win in the under 18’s Reubyn Ash won, Adrian Toyon second me third and Romain Cloître 4th.. Was a really close final that I lead until the last five mins!
I was also stoked on my Men’s English title win in the open aged 19…
[pullquote]I love a good old dance off I’m a party animal at heart [/pullquote]
What do you do to relax?
Time with good people is nice, also helps if they are funny buggers. I have some legend friends all across the world and will generally just sit on FB and talk with them if I’m not working, surfing or training.. Surfing is pretty relaxing so don’t really need to go over the top. I do a little meditation at times and some breath training so that’s also relaxing.. And I love a good old dance off I’m a party animal at heart (I’m from Newquay) so like to let loose every now and then when I get a break.. Always good to give your self fun time! We work to have fun right!
Where are you off to next?
I’m writing this from France and will be between here Spain and Portugal until the first week of November then I go over to Hawaii for two and a half months on the 12th of November…
For more info on Tom check out www.tbsurfing.com
Or visit www.osprey-surf.co.uk and www.urbanbeach-surf.co.uk