12/30/2016 06:21 am ET

Why This Big Wave Surfer Is Only Interested In Tackling The Biggest Monsters

Andrew Cotton gets a buzz from the "void" in the middle of the waves.
Andrew Cotton rides a wave during a December big wave competition at Praia do Norte in Nazare Portugal.
Lars Baron via Getty Images
Andrew Cotton rides a wave during a December big wave competition at Praia do Norte in Nazare Portugal.

Andrew Cotton is determined to find the biggest, steepest, gnarliest wave in the world to surf. Then he’s going to look for an even bigger wave.

“I’m searching for the biggest wave, and that search is never ending,” the British plumber turned professional surfer told CNN Thursday.

Cotton said he searches for the “void” in the middle of a monster wave, which brings a few seconds of a meditative-like trance atop his board with the water churning around him.

He grew up by the sea in North Devon, southwest England, but said he didn’t get hooked on giant waves until he spotted one off the west coast of Ireland in 2013.

Cotton is now in the elite world of the big-wave champions and he competed in December in the World Surf League Nazaré Challenge at Praia do Norte off Portugal, home to some of the biggest waves of the world. He surfed a 60-footer there in 2004.

At Nazaré in January 2013, Hawaii’s Garrett McNamara surfed a 100-foot wave (shown in the video below) — the record for the largest wave ever surfed. That’s what Cotton has to beat. He calls “GMac” his biggest inspiration.

“The hardship was three or four years ago, having the vision and not being able to do it,” Cotton told the North Devon Journal. “Now I’m living the dream and the support and love from my family for it is amazing.”

Some may think his stunts are crazy, but he insists he’s never reckless. “I would say that I respect the ocean. It’s a very dangerous place,” he told CNN. “I respect it massively and I wouldn’t say that I don’t get scared.”

That doesn’t mean he’s going to stop.

Surfing’s “not like any other sport, it’s continuous,” he told the Journal. “I’m always going to be on that mission. As long as the swirl and the tide and the conditions align, you never know what can happen.”



Vintage Surfing