A surfer stood holding a dryrobe near the sea

Blog - Lucy Campbell on what it’s like to be a pro surfer

Lucy Campbell on what it’s like to be a pro surfer

7 minute(s) de lecture

If you’re not in the sea, you’re thinking about being in the sea.

If this describes you, ‘pro surfer’ has probably appeared on your top list of careers, even as a pipedream!

It’s not a profession that needs selling. Surfing every day, honing your skills to ride bigger and better waves, travelling to incredible locations, and pretty much living and breathing the sport you love the most in the world… Sounds dreamy!

However, making the unchartered leap to turn your passion and talent into your livelihood can feel incredibly risky, no matter the industry. There are so many aspects to take into account, from financial implications to the immense psychological pressure to do well.

One British surfer who took the plunge to pursue her dream career is dryrobe® Ambassador Lucy Campbell. We’ve proudly worked with Lucy for over a decade and have seen her career evolve from when she first made her name in British Surfing. She shares with us what it’s like ‘living the dream’ as a pro surfer and offers advice to anyone wanting to go for it too.

Surfer on a wave

You’re a huge inspiration and role model for aspiring British surfers as a 7x National Women's Surfing Champion! How old were you when you achieved your first National title and how do you think younger Lucy would feel knowing you’ve dominated the title 7 times to date?
Ah thankyou! I got my first women’s title at, I think, 18. Little Lucy would just be over the moon at the fact that I’m now able to surf every day, still competing, and that I get to call surfing my job!

Committing to a career in professional surfing sounds like it could be quite intimidating. At what point did you decide to just go for it?
Through my late teens, I spent my summers working 5 jobs to save up to be able to compete and train away over the winters.

I was at a bit of a crossroads, debating whether it was time to go to uni when I won my first British title and soon after got a sponsored opportunity that changed my mind. It was a 1k-a-year deal, which, for most people wouldn't seem like a life-changing amount of money. But the way I saw it was the same as teaching about 25 surf lessons. So I committed to it. I took the model of my year deal and offered my services to other brands.

It meant I could earn money year-round and get more time to focus on training. Things certainly didn’t happen overnight but within a year or three I had an amazing manager helping me and global campaigns locked in!

Being freelance like this is tricky, there have been good earning years and low earning years, I was (and still am) so, so fortunate to always have a bed at my parent's house, which meant that I could go and pursue this career knowing that whatever happened I’d always land on my feet.

Surfer on a wave

You’ve previously spoken about body confidence. What was it like growing up as a female surfer and do you think the perspective of women has changed in the surf industry since you were younger?
I grew up in the surf industry at a time when it was championing a ‘sex sells’ approach. It was hard to get sponsorship unless you had a very specific look and were willing to do bikini shoots. Although there are parts where this still lingers, I think that the industry has changed. Now female athletes are championed in the media for their skills and for pushing the boundaries of the sport. The athletes have more control over how they are portrayed, through things like social media.

What does a typical day look like for you for training?
It depends on how the swell and tides are looking as well as what competitions I have coming up. My favourite days are; up, mobility, brekkie, surf, brekkie, surf, lunch, nap, gym session then a lil evening wind down cooking yummy food and/or catching up on lappy work.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of training?
Ummm I guess If I had to find something it would be struggling to find motivation when it’s - 2 and hailing to surf 2ft wind chop. However, I know they’re the most rewarding sessions that you never regret! Plus I’ve got my dryrobe® to get me warm and toasty!

Female surfer getting changed in a green dryrobe on the rocks by the sea

What/who keeps you feeling inspired?
There are obviously surfers whose style I love or want to imitate specific manoeuvres from.

However, I actually find the biggest inspiration in the people around me. My boyfriend's playful approach to life. My parent's hard work and anything-is-possible attitude. One friend’s kindness or another’s moral compass, the one who will be there for you no matter what, or the one who has two young girls, her own business, and still makes time to make soup for the elderly neighbours. These perhaps seemingly small things, are the things that ignite me the most.

How would you sum up the pro surf community?
The surf community is fairly small in the UK, especially in the crew that compete so we’ve grown into a tight-knit crew in the UK and it almost feels like a big family. Especially amongst the Qualifying series crew. We all look out for each other at events and give advice where we can. I think the boys (Luke Dillion, Pat LD, Stan Norman, Logan Nicol, and Ben Skinner) have shaped and changed the way I compete and view competition, they’ve helped me so much.

You’ve surfed in some INCREDIBLE locations around the world. Are there any places that stand out to you and why?
It would have to be Madagascar, it felt so raw and untouched by tourism.

We had to get flights, a taxi, ride a water buffalo, then a boat, and a 4x4 to get to the wave where we were staying - which made it such an adventure. Plus the waves were quiet and pumping!

Female surfer getting changed in a green dryrobe on the rocks by the sea

What words of wisdom would you share with any female surfers hoping to follow in your footsteps as a pro?
If you treat it as a job or profession, eventually it will become one. The more you put into it the more you get out.

It's not the easiest ride, it's a lot of time away from your friends and family, your partners. You’ll miss just about every birthday and wedding. You’ll get stranded in strange parts of the world with missed connections, broken-down cars, and cancelled flights. You’ll have bad surfs and surfs that stick with you for a lifetime. You’ll need to work out just to be able to carry your board bag around!

But certainly, I wouldn’t change any of it for a thing. I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned, and the mind-blowing sights I’ve seen along the way.

Or you’ll be your own travel agent, accountant, coach, social media manager…

What future goals do you have for yourself and what’s your message to Lucy 10 years in the future?
The Olympics 2028 are definitely high on my list, I think for all athletes the Olympics are the pinnacle of their sport. It would mean the absolute world to me to be able to fly the Union Jack there.

The main thing for Lucy in 10 years is to still be loving surfing and having the ocean as my place of calm.

Female surfer getting changed in a green dryrobe on the rocks by the sea

Follow Lucy:

Facebook: Lucy Campbell Surfer
Instagram: @lucycsurf
X: @Lucy_Campbell22
lucycampbell.org

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