Tom's had a hell of a year so far. In January, not long off the back of a major shoulder operation, he took on Mavericks, returning only to continue his daily routine in Ireland and the Canaries – throwing himself into bombs, with seemingly little regard for his own personal safety.
After a stint back home in St. Ives, he got the call for a swell in Mexico he couldn’t turn down. Before he knew it, he was back in the air on his way over the Atlantic and when a bunch of shots turned up in our inbox, we thought we best get in contact with the man and find out exactly what he’s been up to.
How long have you been out in Mexico, and how's it been so far?
I flew in last week, it was a spontaneous swell mission to be honest. Rusty and I keep in touch and he gave me the heads-up on this one. I was in cruise control in Cornwall, nothing going on but relaxed happy times with friends and family. I definitely wasn't expecting 20ft slabs. But I'm not going to miss a swell of a lifetime.
Is this your first trip to Puerto?
No, I came here during the off season when I was 19 with Matt Smith and Patch Wilson. We got some swell and it was a great trip but a whole different vibe to this one, we were travellers, not chasing swell.
Have you stuck to the waves in Puerto Escondido or have you managed to explore any of the rest of the coast?
I’m either at Casa Dans or in the water mate. What else do you need? Nah, last time I explored the coast heaps, up to Nexpa for a week, then down south to Barra for a bit and we ventured deep into the mountains, which was far out, so I got a feel for the culture and mixed things up. This time’s all about Puerto though.
Any of the local guys standing out in particular?
Coco Nogales and Oscar Moncada and the boys, and then you have the younger crew coming through: Caesar, Angelo and Marcial. Those guys are charging hard, with some serious tube riding skills.
Who are you traveling with?
Solo mission, it’s the best way. Under the radar with no hype. No photographer or filmer. I knew if I got out here, there’d be somebody to document what went down. Really, I just wanted to get my adrenaline fix for the summer, can't go too long without.
Zicatela has gained a bit of a reputation for causing some pretty hellish beatdowns, how have you found the power out there? Anywhere else you’d compare it to?
I don’t tend to compare waves too much, it’s really heavy here, like next level even when its 4 ft. The banks are good at the moment, it wasn't amazing during the biggest day, but around it – it’s been the best beachy I've ever seen. It’s only today that it dropped under 5ft, before that it was pumping, not many out with A-frames down the beach. I either rode my JP 8'0 or my Luke Heart 7'2. The 7'2 is the smallest board I brought! . But going back to the heaviness, it’s a place that you pick your wave, take your time, and always pull in unless you know you can outrun the lip, otherwise you're going to get lit up.
How's the shoulder holding up?
Really well thank you. I take my time with my sessions, one a day, not three times like before, and I always travel with my elastic bands for my exercises. It feels stronger than ever, but it’s always on my mind, in and out the sea. It’s become my greatest teacher in many ways, it tells me when to pull the pin and get out before I push it too far. My wave selection is way better than the old days. I've only wiped out once during this whole swell, and that was on a smaller day. That’s evidence enough that in the end life’s challenges make you a stronger, wiser and deeper person.
What's the chart looking like for the remainder of your trip?
There’s a bump towards the weekend, Rusty reckons 6 to 8ft, which means it’ll be firing. It’s offshore every day man, from sunrise to 12am everyday. I feel so lucky to be here.
What've you been up to besides surfing?
Yoga, reading and a lot of hangout time with some of the most amazing characters in the world. They all gravitate here, it’s hilarious, you never know what to expect walking into town. Dan's has Pear and Meatball, two of the funnest guys ever. I won't bore you with stories but they’re classic.
What's the plan after Mex? Back to the Mighty Meor mate. It's pumping isn't it? [laughs] I’ll go hang in Cornwall, work, make some money, car boots or whatever’s needed to fund my next mission. The way I feel now, I would go on the next swell to Fiji, even though I'm skint. I’ve just had the trip of my life, surfing with Dorian, Healey, Greg and Rusty. Being called into 15ft slabs, just hanging out with my heroes is rad. Everyone’s humble and cool, not what you'd imagine being the best big wave guys around. I’ll never forget this experience.