Lucy Campbell on life as a pro surfer and what inspires her
Pro surfer and dryrobe ambassador Lucy Campbell has spent most of her life out in the water and has the trophies to prove it! The current English and British Women’s Surf Champion grew up in Woolacombe, just a stone's throw from dryrobe HQ, and learnt to surf on cold Devon beaches. Lucy now tours the world on WSL Qualifying Series, surfing some of the most exotic locations in the world.
We caught up with Lucy to talk about how she got started in surfing, her goals, inspirations and life as a pro surfer on tour. Read the full interview and watch the stunning footage of her surfing off the stormy North Devon coast below:
When did you fall in love with surfing?
I fell in love with surfing right from the start. I began surfing at the age of 10 and so I guess I’ve fallen more and more in love with it since then.
When you start out it’s quite tricky but you’re also progressing so fast that you just sort of get the bug for it and it just gets more and more rewarding.
What I love most about surfing is the sense of freedom you get when you’re out in the water and the fact that you can try new moves and it doesn’t matter if you fall and splash in the water!
As a surfer what do you love about surfing in North Devon?
Obviously, the coast is stunning so I love being around the amazing beaches. There's also a really big variety of waves and you can usually find a quiet corner somewhere with waves to just surf with friends.
I think my favourite time of year in North Devon is September/October, because it’s still nice and warm and the crowds start to thin out and we get some of the winter swells come in, so it’s just an amazing place to be. But then through the winter it gets pretty cold, grey, stormy and even the odd bit of snow! So it can definitely be pretty cold at times. Through the summer is gorgeous, but can get a bit busy and often the waves can be pretty flat too.
Through the winters we get a lot of storms, but I guess you almost get used to it, if you’re dealing with it all the time and you just keep motivated. I think the fact that through the winter it’s pretty uncrowded, you can usually get an empty surf which makes it pretty rewarding to get in the water.
What character traits do you think you need for dealing with the cold?
I guess you have to be a pretty motivated person to deal with the cold! And probably pretty positive to have the attitude where you think “I'm just going to go in and have some fun, it doesn’t matter if my toes fall off!”
Also having the right kit helps, having a thick enough wetsuit, changing gear and boots and gloves and hood makes it so much easier. Oh, and good tunes to get you amped!
I think the advances in wetsuit technology, and I guess everything, really makes it easier to surf through the winter and have longer sessions.
What's the difference between surfing for a hobby and as a job?
So when I first started surfing full time as a job it did add a lot of pressure into my surfing, I was always thinking I want to get good results for my sponsors, I want to be winning this event or that event and I think it changed my perspective on things a little bit. But at the end of the day, I look over it and thought you know what I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing so I've got to get out there and enjoy it while I’m here. A lot of people ask ‘do you still enjoy surfing now it’s your job?’ I honestly I love it more than ever even when you have to drag yourself out of bed to go and surf closeouts, or like 1ft onshore, it’s still time in the water and that’s what I love.
What's life like on the WSL QS series?
With the QS you are competing against the top 500 girls in the world and you go to all these different places, you show up and you’ve got to surf no matter what the conditions are. A lot of the events we have are in Europe, and Europe is not known for the best surf through the summertime, so it’s often one foot pretty weak waves and you’ve just got to get in and focus on the fact everyone’s in the same boat, everyone’s got to go out in that. It can be hard when you know you’ve put a lot of training and hard work into it and at the end of the day it comes down to luck that someone managed to catch a 1 and a half foot wave instead of a half foot wave!
So yeah it can be hard, but then at the end of the day you’re travelling to some of the most amazing places in the world with a load of girls who are inspiring to surf with and be around and it can be really good fun as well.
What would you say have been the biggest sacrifices on the road to where you are now?
I should probably take this opportunity to apologise to all of my friends and family whose birthdays, christenings and weddings I’ve missed over the years! I don’t get to see a lot of my friends and family from home, I probably spent about four months of the year last year with my boyfriend, so it can be tough at times, but I guess at the end of the day I wouldn’t change it for a thing.
What drives you to surf better? Are you a naturally competitive person?
What inspires me to surf better is the feeling you get when you land a new move and that sense of improvement you get. I’m definitely naturally competitive, I’ve grown up with two older brothers so I think everything growing up is competitive, even tidying our rooms it was like who could do it the fastest!
I’m a goal driven person, it really helps you to put sort of a perspective on things, it helps to keep you motivated but also to see how far you’ve come. You can look back and be like ‘Oh last year I was trying to get to this point and this year I’m ahead of that and I’m looking towards this’. It helps to keep you motivated and improving.
How do you measure success?
I sort of had a bit of a shift recently about how I measure success. Before I was results driven: I want to win his heat, I want to get to this point in an event, or win this event. And I think being on the QS you have to learn to lose, which can be pretty tough as an athlete. So I’ve taken a different approach on things and I’m starting to measure success on how I’m surfing - so am I scoring 5s or 6s or 7s in a heat? And if I am then I’m happy. Or how well I feel I'm surfing in that event compared to the other people there.
What are your goals and inspiration? Are you looking ahead to the Olympics?
I guess my goals and aspirations are to really improve my international ranking and my European ranking and I’d love to keep my British titles as well.
I think competing at the Olympics is something every athlete aspires to do, so it’s definitely something I’ve got my sights set on.
Watch the film:
Shot by Mikey Corker