Tony has a long pedigree as a surfer so it is with little surprise when you see him SUP Surf that he tears the wave apart.
Watching him paddle out, or wait in the lineup is nothing out of the ordinary, but that all changes when he catches the wave. The body posture, use of paddle, footwork and understanding of the wave is born out 35 years of prone surfing and that experience makes him stand out amongst the crowd.
Tony recently joined the Jimmy Lewis SUP Team as our pro surfer and trainer for the SUP Surf with Style courses we are running.
A brief chat with Tony about Jimmy Lewis, Surfing Life and SUP
You started prone surfing over 35 years ago – tell us a bit about your time in the water.
I was 14 when I started surfing and bodyboarding. A cheap little sponge board and a single fin surfboard were my tools along with a dad who would drive my brother and I to Cornwall and we would regularly surf spots like Sennen Cove and Porth Curno.
As we got older we started visiting Skewjack surf village and that was amazing. For those of you who don’t know anything about this place let me tell you.
“Established in 1971, Skewjack was the first original, definitive British surf camp based in Sennen Cove, Cornwall. Renowned for perfect surf and wild partying, Skewjack was a paradise for escapism for those who sought the magical formula of pure madness, love affairs and golden adventures. Over time, the elaborate stories from Skewjack became a phenomenon attracting people from far and wide to stay at the surf camp that had become legendary around Great Britain. At only 1 pound a night and ‘2 girls to every guy’ guaranteed, thousands of ‘Skewies’ passed through the surf camp leaving a path of destruction as they rode the waves of the free life.”
Back in the day when Fosters sponsored surf events I spent time with the top boys like Tom Carroll and Hans Hedemann. Massive inspiration, but always had to come to South coast slop that limited the training time.
In all those years I have totally lived my life to surf and never really had any time off the water. This really came to a head when I took the family for a year long trip aorund the world and surfed the dream.
Places like Autralia, Hawaii, Cook Islands – Noosa, Snapper Rock, Bone Yards, Maui, Balina, Ulla Dulla – it was a dream come true.
A year later and I was back in the UK and met John Hibbard at Watergate Bay. I saw him paddling a sup and this was something I knew I had to do.
There wasn’t so much kit around then so I took an old windsurf board and started out paddling that before I bought a Gong longboard. 12ft is a beast compared to what we surf now, but back then it was the rage.
It wasn’t long before I got asked by Bill of Sartorial to ride boards for him – it was the first time I had signed up with a brand and that brand was Jimmy Lewis. Unfortunately this was such early days that Bill gave up importing the boards so my deal was short lived.
In 2011 I signed up with Fanatic, K66 and Nik Baker. I spent a few years with those guys and we raced, offered training and ran promotional events showing off the ranger of Fanatic SUPs.
I remember one year I did the Marathon SUP race at Paddle Round the Pier. Near enough killed me and I was totally dehydrated but finished it.
Many of you will know of Annabel Anderson, our most famous export and now a world class sup racer. We both raced and paddled together back then so it was great to see her move onto the world scene.
A decision to join Jimmy Lewis UK Surf Team
The brand speaks for itself and when you see the waterman who have ridden and still ride Jimmy Lewis boards you know this kit is meant to be under your feet. Connor Baxter rides his big wave guns, Laird Hamilton has had Jimmy shape his boards, Buzzy Kerbox is still thrashing around on the Stun Gun and Supertech.
I wanted back in and now my friend Ian Phillips who was the new importer of Jimmy Lewis was steering the ship it made sense to get on it. I was absolutely buzzing when it all came together and it just feels right.
What is your current board of choice?
I am currently riding the Worlwdide 8’1. It isn’t the smallest board I have ridden but the dimensions really work in UK waters when we are handling a bit of chop.
First thing struck me about the Worldwide range was the full length deckpad. I wasn’t sure at first but to be honest it really works. You find yourself trimming the board or stepping forward to push for a drop and the pad is right there to keep you on board. It looks good too.
Dims for my board are 29.5 wide, 8’1 long and 110 litres, which compared to my size is actually quite big, but it doesn’t surf big at all. Jimmy has an amazing way of placing volume and developing the rocker lines so the whole package comes together. The rails are down turned and really thin back at the swallow tail which keeps it super loose and really lets me get aggressive on the wave.
I have watched the bigger boards being ridden by some bigger guys and they perform much smaller than their dimensions with the benefit of carrying bigger boys and girls.
What other boards do you really rate in the range?
I have had a play on the Supertech 7’9 and it is off the chart. Super loose and fast, but a bit of a step down on stability so it is a keeper for cleaner days I think. Another one that takes me back to my long baording days is the Black and Blue Machine. Getting back out and putting old school style into my surfing.
Do you have plans for the future?
I am really excited to be back with Team JImmy Lewis UK. It’s a real privelage to ride boards that have been crafted by one of the worlds most respected shapers.
I am looking forward to working with Ian to help get more people on the water and sup surfing. I feel there is so much to learn and I dno’t want to see sup surfers limited by there lack of experience.
One placen that we have on the radar is Cribbar. A big wave that has got my name stamped on it and something the Jimmy Lewis Team aims to get on soon.
What do you love most about SUP
Obviously my passion and life is surfing so that side of the sport really makes it for me. Certainly being part of something like SUP has given me a way to spend time with friends on the water and being able to give something back is an added bonus. I love to see the guys I teach SUP Surfing to improving.