The Surf Writer: Alex Wade Interview

Alex Wade is a writer, freelance journalist and occasional media lawyer. He is the author of ‘Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Rights and Hollow Lefts of Britain and Ireland’ and the first UK writer to cover surfing in serious depth for a national newspaper thanks to a daily blog at the Times online. He lives and surfs in the far west of Cornwall.

Alex Wade gets a quick skate in on Sennen Cove esplanade on a flat day, before his last trip to London. Don’t expect to see him in a suit again anytime soon.

Age: 41

Where did you grow up? Devon

How did you get into surfing?
One of my oldest friends explained that windsurfing was not the true path. Eventually, his arguments were proved 100% correct.

Did you ever consider taking it up full time?
In my dreams… But I was landlocked for a long time, so skated a lot and dreamt of waves. I’m no great surfer but I am glad to be in the water now on a regular basis.

How did you get into journalism?
It’s a long story but in a nutshell: went off the rails as nice and respectable lawyer, lost everything, made my comeback thanks to boxing, got back into law and retrieved my marriage, then realised: I hate being a lawyer. So I quit, saying to myself that you’ve only got one shot at these things, and decided to give it a go as a writer. That was seven or eight years ago. Luckily I’m still going.

How did the surfing blog in the Times come about?
18 months ago I told them that as the oldest newspaper in the world they should be the first to cover surfing on a daily basis. The mad fools agreed.

Do you think surfing is becoming more mainstream?
Yes. But at the end of the day, there’ll always be uncrowded breaks. And anyway, if people get stoked riding a wave, for me that’s a good thing.

When travelling the length and breadth of Britain researching your book, what were your favourite breaks?
I love Sennen Cove and the breaks in my neck of the woods (West Penwith). I also loved surfing in Ireland – Dingle Peninsula especially.

Where were the people most welcoming?
South Wales. I can still remember the hangovers.

Did you have any weird or wonderful experiences?
Yes but I don’t want this website or myself to be sued for libel…

Where do you like to surf when you have a day off?
The beach on my doorstep.

What else do you like to do in your free time?
Skate the hills of West Penwith on any board by Original Skateboards. These boards are like surfboards. They turn on a sixpence and carve like a dream. I still box a lot but try not to hurt myself (or anyone else).

What plans do you have in the pipeline? Another book on the horizon?
Hopefully, I’ll get a novel out soon. But for the next year or so I’ll just surf, skate and box as much as possible. I’ve jacked in London work and don’t plan on doing anything other than enjoying life, full-time and permanently, in the far west of Cornwall. That means surfing with my kids – there’s little better than being in the line-up with your offspring, watching them… get better than you.

For more info on Alex, visit his website.

Skate shots by Russ Pierre


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