Greg Martin worked in the British surf media for 10 years, with a varied career spanning a variety of roles including staff photographer and editor for the now deceased Pitpilot, and of course this fine rag. We’ve mined Gregs archive for some of the best shots and stories, which feature British surfing (and it’s peripheries) in what many would consider to be its hay day, and each week we’ll be brining you 10 of these shot/ story combo’s.
This week features incredible waves across the length and width of the British Isles, from remote Scottish reefs to pumping Irish beachies.
Greg’s currently works as a photo-journalist for the Cornishman, You can see Greg’s recent work, which is a bit like Humans Of New York, but for the depths of Cornwall, on his Facebook page here.
Click the first image to enter full screen, then click on the image to make the caption appear, then scroll through the gallery with your arrow keys.
January 2008 – One of my first trips for Pitpilot Mag and also my first and only time in Northern Ireland. There was a nice swell heading for Cornwall, but I thought I’d take a gamble and head to somewhere that features a lot less frequently in surf magazines. It paid off big time. With the help of local legend Al Mennie, we scored thumping barrels over the 48 hour trip. So why do Seb Smart and Josh Hughes look so miserable in the car park? This was the moment we had to leave for the airport.
March 2011 – This photo, taken on an old medium format film camera, was part of a series of shots for a feature on the ‘English Gun Club’ – surfers who owned gun surfboards and used them in the big stuff. So important to me was it to feature North East big wave legend Jesse Davies, I actually flew up to Newcastle for the day just to get this shot of him and his Dick Brewer outside his house in Tynemouth. (For all you non-surfers, Dick Brewer is the surfboard shaper… not some porno beer-maker).
October 2009 – The less said about this place the better. With its rolling take-off into long, long barrelling section, I would put it up there with Thurso East as one of the best waves in the UK. But the spare board on the shore is a reminder of how hungry for foam this place can get. Have I already said too much? The less said about this place the better.
April 2012 – Easy like Sunday morning; this is from when I followed Steve King in a boat along the Severn Bore. His world record ride on the river was 9.25 miles long… he was surfing that same wave for an hour and seventeen minutes! This part of the Bore is called the Straight Mile. For a while, Steve and his mate chatted about the conditions, their boards, the weather. But after some time, conversation dried up.
April 2008 – At Pitpilot Mag we did wetsuit guides a bit different. Brands supplied the wetsuit images, but the heads we added on… in fact, I joined the mag just as the publishers were pulling the ‘Michael Jackson through the ages’ wetsuit guide issue off the shelves for fear of a huge lawsuit. Anyway, this particular issue was to be mexican wrestlers (in wetsuits) and I needed an action shot to open the guide. I swam out one evening at Gwenvor, Lucha Libra mask in hand, and asked Sam Smart if he’d mind putting it on. Not only did he do this without asking any questions, he then immediately proceeded to find the only barrelling wave seen out there all day.
April 2008 – This wave in Scotland is a siren to all surfers and surf photographers who see it. On the other side of the bay is one of the most photogenic lefthand barrels in the UK. Running into the bay is a long lefthand point break. On the inside of the bay is one of the most fun righthand reefs around – you couldn’t want for anymore. And yet still, everyone can’t take their eyes off this one… the one they can’t have. Some have even made the mistake of trying to surf it.
July 2008 – You know when you go out, and you bump into someone you know who normally dresses down casual, but they are dolled up to the nines and looking absolutely stunning – to the point where you almost don’t recognise them? Well, this is that drab, old, humdrum wave known as the Cribbar having a rare supermodel moment.
November 2012 – Taken to go with an interview in Wavelength Magazine, this photo of Tris Cokes taking stock of his surfboard blanks turned out to be quite poignant. A surfer since the ’60s, Tris has had a huge impact on British Surfing, from his exploration, to shaping the now-so-collectable Tris Surfboards, and finally founding Home Blown, which pioneered a way of making a more environmentally friendly surfboard foam and now enjoys success with sustainability. So why the blank expression? When Tris sent his interview answers back to me a few days later, he ended with the announcement that he was finally retiring – it was time to let go, to hand over his dream and have some ‘fun while I still can’.
January 2010 – Not much of a story for this one; it’s just one of those shots that never made the cut. But recently I found it again, and with that morning light, those amazing clouds, and that empty, glassy reef, I find myself staring at it and day-dreaming.