Catch­ing up with Bude's favourite son and chat­ting about his ca­reer.

Over the two and a half decades the mag has been pub­lished Reubyn Ash has been a fix­ture for a lot of it. Turn­ing heads on a world stage and blow­ing up when­ever he hits the water. Sharpy caught up with him at home in Bude for a look back on his ca­reer.

What were you do­ing in the spring of 1994 when the mag started?

I would’ve just turned six years old, prob­a­bly mainly play­ing with my toy Land Rovers, surf­ing when there were small waves. Just be­ing a lit­tle grommet kick­ing around I guess.

Do you re­mem­ber start­ing to surf?

I re­call mo­ments from when I was re­ally young but more in emo­tion than specifics. Happy or sad times are im­printed on to your me­mory. I re­mem­ber get­ting scared when I was su­per young, go­ing out on my dad’s back. There are lit­tle bits and pieces as it was the same time I was learn­ing to walk, so it’s been a con­stant — just part of grow­ing up.

Did you grow up in Bude?

I’ve al­ways lived here over­look­ing Wide­mouth Bay; born two miles away in Strat­ton. Of course, I’ve been away a lot trav­el­ling, but I al­ways end up back here. I love be­ing home when I can.

How old were you when you re­alised you were ‘quite good’ at surf­ing?

Not sure to be hon­est. I think the first con­test I ever did I came third, the sec­ond one I did I won. I was around six or seven I think. It was the Surf to Save at Polzeath, and it was a cool vibe. That was the ini­tial one that made me re­alise.

Who did you look up to grow­ing up?

There’s been a lot of tal­ented surfers from Bude; it’s a good surf­ing community. Grow­ing up with my older brother Joss, who’s re­ally good, one of the best kids of his age when he was grow­ing up. I’ve al­ways looked up to him. At the same time, we had guys like Mike Raven as a pro trav­el­ling around to do the in­ter­na­tional comps that was in­spir­ing. There were other peo­ple fur­ther afield, but it was the lo­cal guys mainly. Apart from that, it was all VHS. Loads of old movies, if the surf wasn’t good, we’d have the Hawaii Nine-oh se­ries, Grip­ping Stuff, Tom Car­roll rip­ping etc. That re­ally made me want to es­cape the cold and get some warm waves in board shorts. You’ve done your time in In­done­sia?

To­tally, I’ve been go­ing there since I was nine. The first trip my dad took the whole fam­ily, bar one sis­ter, for a two-month trip. Su­per lucky to have the op­por­tu­nity to do that so young. Be­ing able to go some­where like that and surf when you’re from the UK is so good. We have good waves, but they have con­sis­tent, bril­liant waves. To go most years from then on­wards helped my pro­gres­sion as a surfer so much. It’s like a skate park, surf­ing a few times a day and the level in the water is in­sane, so you’re al­ways surf­ing with peo­ple bet­ter than you.

Did you en­joy con­tests when you were young?

In my ca­reer times have changed so much. When I started be­ing a young up and com­ing kid, your fo­cus was con­tests. That’s how you made your name and got spon­sors. I did en­joy comps when I was young. I was fo­cussed and keen. Then in my late teens and early twen­ties, I felt burnt out. My heart and soul wasn’t in it any­more, and I strug­gled men­tally with nerves. Af­ter over a decade of com­pet­ing al­ready by my teens, I needed a break. I was sup­posed to do the QS, that was my con­tract with Bil­l­abong, but we had a meet­ing, and they re­alised I could be more of a free surfer. I was mak­ing these DIY clips in Indo, get­ting friends to film, bodg­ing them to­gether on my lit­tle Mac, and they were get­ting loads of views. In a short space of time, they came around to the idea and said, ‘If you want to go off and make films and be a free surfer rather than train­ing for heats that’s cool.’

They were stoked, and I was su­per happy. So from the age of 20 to 26, I was a pro­fes­sional free surfer. A lot of time abroad, the free­dom to try dif­fer­ent stuff, prac­tis­ing mad moves to get them down.

These days kids are nail­ing crazy stuff in heats. In the old days, it was safer. You put on a heat-win­ning show, but it wasn’t your cut­ting edge. You were lim­it­ing your­self to get through heats safely. I was push­ing it try­ing the same trick for a cou­ple of weeks straight to nail it, and when you do, it feels so good.

Spon­sor­ship fiz­zled out with the re­ces­sion, and I was one of the guys that got cut. From that, I came home and surfed for my­self again. I re­ally en­joy surf­ing, so it was quite nice to do it for me. The last few years I’ve just en­joyed com­pet­ing on the UK Pro tour. It’s an ex­cel­lent lit­tle tour, and if you’re win­ning events and the tour title, it’s de­cent money. I’ve got a few spon­sors, and I’m en­joy­ing it as there’s not the pres­sure. When you’re with a big com­pany, they’re a big busi­ness, and they want you to do well as it’s good for their num­bers. If I do a QS these days, every­one’s that much older, and it’s so fun to catch up. When you’re do­ing events as a teen it’s a lot harsher and com­pet­i­tive; now it’s all about catch­ing up with the crew.

Do you re­mem­ber when you twigged you could make a liv­ing from just go­ing surf­ing?

Yeah, I do, I was spon­sored from the age of nine, but not much, just enough to get away on a trip in the win­ter with my par­ents. From 13 to 16 I was mak­ing half a liv­ing. Enough to do the Euro­pean Pro Juniors and a win­ter trip. Then I left school at 16 and walked into a de­cent three-year con­tract which gave me the op­por­tu­nity to do what I wanted within rea­son — trav­el­ling to comps without sleep­ing in cars all the time.

How did your in­volve­ment with Tay­lor Steele’s In­ner­sec­tion film come about?

It was from Ja­son Re­posar, the surf pho­tog, he men­tioned it to me as his friend was in­volved with the pro­duc­tion. I was go­ing to Indo ev­ery year to make my­self bet­ter and was film­ing a lot, mainly for

me to help me im­prove and learn new stuff. Ja­son was watch­ing some footage with me and said I should en­ter. I was fo­cussed on my deal so wasn’t aware of my level in com­par­i­son to the rest of the world. Timmy Boy­dell helped me with the part, so I had the Indo stuff from Lakeys, and we went to Scot­land and scored. It was voted for by the pub­lic, so it was un­real to make the cut.

Do you re­mem­ber your first photo in Carve?

I think it was me, wear­ing a Gecko hel­met, at the point, when I was about eight or nine years old. Rid­ing a Rusty 5’6” pin­tail, it was dou­ble over­head, and it was a big wave for me at the time. (The fam­ily par­rot in­ter­rupts the tape by laugh­ing its head off at this point). How about your first cover?

It’s an­other one of those goals as a young pro. Some­thing else ticked off, like your first edit or land­ing a trick — a ca­reer high­light.

Your un­der­wa­ter one is of the most pop­u­lar cov­ers ever on the mag. To get that un­der­wa­ter cover shot it was Will Bai­ley and me, we were shoot­ing this per­fect lit­tle bar­rel in Scot­land. Some shoots it’s tough to get any­thing done, it’s hard to line up and con­nect. This ses­sion was so easy, per­fect waves, no rip, Will’s a great swim­mer any­way, but he was in the spot ev­ery time. So we were clean­ing up with bar­rel shots, and we sat there hav­ing a breather and were all ‘what can we do that’s dif­fer­ent?’ some of those mad clear shots from Tahiti were hap­pen­ing around then and the water there was crys­tal, so we de­cided to try it. Lit­er­ally, the first at­tempt was the cover shot. I took off, pulled in, he swam down and popped off a se­quence. We tried it a few times, but the first one was just per­fect. I was blown away by the shot. It’s such a pretty pic­ture, and I’d be stoked just to see it, but ac­tu­ally to be in­volved in it. Brings back a lot of me­mories, one of my all time favourite im­ages. Think Will’s done well with can­vas sales of it.

Now you’re the older gen­er­a­tion do you in­spire the new crew?

Ha! Yeah, I’m a lit­tle bit older now. I hope I do. I’m al­ways surf­ing with the kids around here. They keep me mo­ti­vated and on my toes. I try and help them with tips on surf­ing, travel and how to be a pro. I’ve been there and done that. Stan is shred­ding, as is Barn­aby then you’ve got the slightly older crew like Miles and Jobe. There are in­ter­na­tional level surfers here with no spon­sors. But we do it be­cause we love it. They’re hard­core. I’m tak­ing Stan out now he’s that bit older. They’re at an out­stand­ing level. When there’s four or five of you rip­ping it’s a proper ses­sion. We push each other for­ward.

It seems like Bude has a tight surf community?

Very much so. It’s a place where a lot of peo­ple have ded­i­cated their life to surf­ing. Do­ing what­ever they need to do to keep surf­ing. It’s good, whether or not you make a ca­reer, it’s a great life­style. It’s been that way for a long time. Keeps you fit, keeps you on track, it’s an ex­cel­lent thing.

Are you still work­ing on the Land Rovers?

Ha, you’ve seen the yard, haven’t you? I’ve got to get back to buff­ing a wing out now!

El­bow grease time, spring 2019.

Reubs has an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with Lakey Peak. Tears it to shreds obvs. This is from 2009.

Reubs at his home race­track this Fe­bru­ary. Pit­stops, Indo, 2006.

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