December 16, 2014 3 min read

It may be cold surfing but just the same amount of stoke

We recently connected with Biff Lancaster of The Surfing Sumo  a website dedicated to beaches and surf schools around the UK.

Here he shares with us his personal surfing journey, bodysurfing and alternative surf craft in the UK, and key insights for the surfing industry for 2015!

At what age and where did you learn to surf?

I wasn't lucky enough to grow up living right by the beach. In fact, the nearest surf was about 2 hours drive away. So my childhood surfing was basically limited to bodyboarding on holidays in Europe or convincing my mother to drive my brothers and me to the beach for the day. By my mid teens however, I was hooked, and got my first stand up surfboard when I was 17. Once I learned to drive I was spending all my money on fuel to get to the beach, and trying to convince my friends to take up surfing so we could share the cost! 25 years later and I live in Cornwall, close to some of the best breaks in the UK and still as stoked as I was that first time.

What's the #1 lesson you would give to someone wanting to surf for the 1st time?

Book on to a surf lesson at a reputable surf school. I can't stress this enough. The sea can be a source of enormous enjoyment, but it can also be extremely dangerous. A qualified surf instructor will teach you the basics of ocean safety and more importantly will be there with you in the water for your first time. Once you have built up some confidence, start learning about sea conditions and tides etc. All competent surfers inadvertently become amateur meteorologists and oceanographers; it’s a necessity if you want to catch the best waves.

What's surfing like in general in the UK?

With the best waves in the UK being in autumn through to spring, you’re going to spend a lot of time getting changed in a car park in the rain (sometimes even the snow!). I think that’s what makes us Brits so hardcore. That aside, you'll also witness some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery and snag plenty of awesome waves.

What's your favorite break?

Like most surfers, I guess my favorite break is my local, Watergate Bay. I know it so well and it pulls in more swell than most places in the area. My two
dogs love it too; it’s a huge long beach with plenty of space for them to run around.  I also love to travel, Indonesia being my favorite destination. I love the culture there and you can't argue with the quality of the waves. Luckily for me, my wife loves it there too. We even went on our honeymoon to Bali, so it’s a special place for both of us.

What's the vibe of bodysurfing & alternative surf crafts in the UK?

It’s starting to get a huge following here. In the last few years there’s been a real surge of interest alternative craft like Alaias and Hand planes. The Slyder Cup recently went down here in Cornwall for the second year running, with twice as many competitors as it’s first outing. It’s great to see people experimenting with what works for them and not being constrained by what the pros are riding and the big manufacturers are churning out.

What's your craft of choice?

I don't really have one board that I ride, I’ve got quite a varied quiver. We actually ran an article a while ago when we showcased The Surfing Sumo Quiver. I think it’s the first time I've actually got all my boards out in one go and I actually surprised myself with the diversity of it – everything from the step-up charger to a wooden handmade handplane, and everything in between.

Any big predictions for wave riding in 2015?

I think in the UK, 2015 is going to be the year of the Wave Park. We’ve  got two under construction here at the moment, both scheduled to open next
year. With perfect waves on tap and a ‘pay-per-wave’ approach it’s going to be a real game changer. Both the parks are inland and will mean thousands of landlocked surfers will be able to get their fix without travelling for hours to get to the sea.

It will be interesting to see if wave parks create a ‘breakaway’ style of surfing,
or if surfers will still crave the thrill of riding waves which have traveled
thousands of miles across the ocean.


Michelle Michalak
Michelle Michalak

Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.