Carve Surfing Magazine

Carve Magazine Issue 221

Mar 27, 2024

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30 years… so, where do we start?

I’m sat outside Plymouth Uni café in the sun chatting. You got a grant to go back then. I could surf loads, lifeguard for extra cash, and have time to travel. Someone asked me what my dream job was. I said, “working for a surfing magazine”. I’d never actually thought of it before, as there weren’t any to work for. Then they asked: “Why?” My response: “To inspire surfers to travel the world, give British and Irish surfers the coverage to get sponsors that would enable them to live their dreams like overseas pros, and tell the stories from home about local surfers doing remarkable things. The stuff you didn’t see in Australian or American surfing magazines. And to fight the water companies dumping sewage in the sea…”

Issue one of Carve was published in spring 1994 by Chris Power. Its aim? To get people stoked and to represent British and Irish surfing, like the US and Oz mags did overseas. I wrote about a trip to Portugal. Next year I joined full-time on issue four, as Assistant Editor and Ad Manager. Been here ever since.

So now it’s 30 years later. In that time Carve, its editors, storytellers and photographers, have all sought to stand by its original aims – documenting amazing travel stories, trying to get surfers to incredible places, and represent them. In 1994, British and Irish surfers were still seen as anomalies. “Do you drink tea and surf in the river?” Was a standard response. No one got why we loved surfing where we did. Waiting for breaks in weather systems, the raw brutal coastlines we inhabit, dark waters, endless storms, huge tides, no palm trees – it was all too confusing for those on tropical shores. Now coldwater surfing is a thing and coldwater swimming renowned worldwide as a major health kick. They still may not want to live here, but people get it.

It’s hard to pick out special moments over 30 years. There have been so many. Competitively, Russ Winter’s WCT charge and comeback, Spencer Hargreaves’ sunset barrel. Guts, Bleakers, Bearman and Skindog proving British longboarders are amongst the best in the world. Richie Fitz, Gabe, Cotty and Al Meenie kicking off Irish big wave surfing. Then Mikey Smith, Fergal Lowey and the rest of the crew pushing limits of surfing and creativity. And of late the charge of ISA world number two junior Lukas Skinner, and the younger UK crew determined to make a mark at a global level.

Then there’s the opening up of remote British slabs, some still barely surfed, proving we have world-class waves on our doorstep. Surfers Against Sewage, formed when environmentalists were seen as the great unwashed, legitimising the fight to save the oceans. The onward rise of home-based surf creatives, particularly the Irish, who are amongst the best in the world right now. The launch of SurfGirl to showcase women’s surfing in 2002, and the ongoing fight in a still largely misogynistic world. And too many funny times to even try to put down here.
But, most of all, we just like running shots and words from you and seeing what a journey it can send you on. Particularly now we are running shots of the third generation of surfers. Some lives have been saved, some incredible surfing has gone down, adventures have been had.

It’s been a lifetime of the collective trying to show the world your realities, values, skills and community. It has been a privilege. I think Mickey Smith’s words best sum up the experiences of all creatives involved along the way of the last three decades:

“If I only scrape a living, at least it’s living worth scraping. If there is no future in it, at least the present is worth remembering.”

30 years. Always for the love.