The co-founder of Surf Affinity Camps in France talks about studying, surfing and living the good life
Interview by Anna Langer
Surf Affinity began about six years ago. A group of us, including me and my friend Lou, had spent every summer working on a campsite in south-west France and decided we want more of it. It was all a big adventure, coming from the pure love of the ocean. During the last three summers we introduced numerous ladies, from all walks of life, to the awesome lifestyle that we’re so lucky to have and they leave our camps relaxed and free, with a new appreciation for nature and for what really matters in life.
My university days spent in Aberdeen, northeast Scotland, were a haze of surfing and road trips with amazing people. Everyone was up for making the most of a rugged coastline, with new waves waiting to be discovered around every corner. Even though the wind howled and the swell was often way too big for me, it really was a magical time. Where else in the world can you bob around in the water with seals and dolphins, while the snow drifts down around you and not a soul in sight? We used to go on all sorts of missions and camp for days on deserted beaches, surfing as much as possible and living off wild mussels. I still don’t really know how I managed to walk away with a university degree!
I grew up in a pretty market town in North Yorkshire, close to Leeds and York, with the Yorkshire dales on my doorstep and the sea only an hour away. It was super easy to head off on unplanned adventures that lasted for days and I still love going back there to visit my family and drink Yorkshire tea! My parents were both teachers and every summer holiday was spent traveling around Europe in a campervan for six weeks. It felt normal at the time, but looking back I was extremely lucky, and learnt so much.
In the winter I am lucky enough to live in the Alps and spend my days snowboarding in some of Europe’s highest resorts. My first winter season was spent in Whistler, Canada, working in a café and sampling the famous BC powder every hour I could. Since then, I’ve done a few winters doing various things in Tignes, France, and taught snowboarding for a lovely little school in Saas Fee, Switzerland. I love the freedom that the seasonal life affords me. Everyone is so friendly and there are always opportunities for a change of direction so that I never feel ‘stuck in a rut’!
My guideline is don’t just talk about it, find a way to do it! I stayed true to it all my life.
And so, while surfing in France is amazing, I’d like to take Surf Affinity to lots of other spots around the world. Surfing different kinds of waves, sampling the local cultures and promoting women’s surfing and lifestyle in each new place.
Another project I’ve set my heart on is to bring the women’s surf and snow scene together. It all seems quite disjointed at the moment but there are so many cross-overs, it’s unreal. Women have this amazing ability to find enjoyment in the achievements of others, which I don’t think comes through quite as much with men. It’s a really positive energy that can be used for so much more.
It can be difficult to find the right kind of crew to encourage you with your surfing or riding. Sometimes you just have to be brave and strike out on your own. But once you get out there, you’ll make friends for life!