Andrew Cotton's quest for the "100 ft wave".
After the spray had settled, the mainstream had a nice little run post-Nazaré, with one of the points of interest being CNN and their infatuation with Andrew Cotton and his search for the 100-foot wave
The hunt for the 100-foot wave us not new though - who remembers the Odyssey Project?
We needed to know, however, if Cotty is legit in his quest for this sea monster, or if it was just another of the endless click baits out there.
Tracks: Now that the dust has settled, and being somewhat of a veteran at the Portuguese big wave trench, what were your impressions of the inaugural Nazaré paddle event as a whole?
Andrew: It was epic. You couldn't of asked much more from the first comp. The swell held pretty much the same size all day, all the guys charging and pushing each other, heavy wipeouts and Jet Ski carnage all makes for great viewing.
Your personal performance? What happened? Interferences are rare in big wave events, so talk us through it.
I did have a pretty solid plan, which I'd been working on although it didn't go exactly as I'd hoped! But we did get warned in the competitor briefing they were going to start penalizing interferences more, so I wasn't surprised. When that wave came through I saw Pedro paddle for it but thought he missed it. It was late in the heat and I really needed another wave after being stuck inside most of the first 20 minutes after my first wave. I did give a quick check before I dropped in but just didn't see him, soon as I did I pulled off and don't think I really effected his scoring potential. I learnt so much in those 45 minutes, and I finished the heat super disappointed but also really hungry for more. I definitely want another shot, which is great motivation for me to keep pushing it and working on my paddle surfing.
You are, according to CNN, on a quest for a 100ft wave. Does this interview reflect correctly? Reading between the lines, you never actually say that you’re after 100ft waves.
Haha, you know how it goes. Mainstream media always want numbers, it helps the headlines and the click bait! The 100ft wave is that mythical number which always gets talked about. I can't recall saying anything about chasing a specific 100ft wave but that's not to say if the day came along I wouldn't want to have a dig, who wouldn't? Right now I just want to make the most of the opportunities I've been given and surf as much as possible and have fun looking for some new big waves in Europe.
You attract so much mainstream attention. Do they actually understand big wave surfing?
Yeah the classic headline was 'plumber surfs giant wave' but there's been many more. I'm not sure why to be honest; I suppose the general public like to see big waves. Some of the articles do have more understanding of surfing and big waves and some don't, it depends on who interviews you, or how they actually come across the story. Regardless I think it's great to get surfing in the mainstream media, although from a surfer point of view can be pretty cringe-worthy at times.
Are you still tow surfing and do you still think it has a place? If Jaws and Nazaré are now commonly paddled, it does seem to be less legit to tow.
I definitely tow less but I still really enjoy it. I've leant so much from towing and it's definitely helped my big wave surfing as a whole. It has helped me evolve as a big wave surfer, shown me what's capable and how to approach big waves. So although it's not my main goal to tow as much, I'd never say I'm anti it. I just like to ride waves at the end of the day and have fun.
What are your big wave goals?
I want to win something! WSL Big Wave Awards has always the dream and focus, and I even made the finals a couple times, but never quite cracked it. The Big Wave Tour would also be a goal, as well as keep my filming projects going. I usually write down 10 goals every year for me to focus on, I personally find it really helps.
Where do you think the next legit big wave spot will be discovered and why?
I'm sure there's lots big wave spots yet to be discovered, which is really exciting for the sport. My focus would always be Europe because that's home.
Who are the top three big wave surfers in your opinion?
There are a lot of good young guys at going nuts and proving themselves. My personal favourites at the moment are:
• Kealii Mamala
• Kai Lenny
• Lucus Chumba
What makes them different?
How they approach waves, style and commitment. Also wave count!
What is your go-to board for grinding Nazaré?
A 10'6 Rob Vaughan. It’s a beast but seems so much smaller than 10.6 when I’m riding, which is always nice.
Are you hoping to get into more Big Wave Tour events around the world?
Yeah for sure, it was an amazing experience and definitely left me wanting more. I'd take any opportunity that came up regardless of the venue. Surfing with the top guys really pushes you, which is always good and something I enjoy.