Stab Magazine | "It Was Fucking Bonkers"
481 Views

“It Was Fucking Bonkers”

Tom Lowe on his first (and unforgettable) Cloudbreak surf and why it’s nothing like Mullaghmore.

news // May 31, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Sunday at Cloudbreak is still throttling everyone’s feeds. 

For a week leading up to Sunday, discussion of the swell about to hit Fiji mimicked an echo chamber: whether it would be bigger than 2011, whether it could be paddled, and the unfortunate timing of Cloudbreak’s replacement event at Keramas. 

Most had a week to prepare for the swell: organising tow-teams, photographers, filmers and most importantly, making sure there quiver was prepped.  

Tom Lowe, a big wave surfer from Cornwall, UK, was not one of these well-prepared surfers.

Tom Lowe Mickey Smith Mully

Tom is far from scared of XXL swells, here he is back near home turf. Photo. Mickey Smith

In fact, he’d never even surfed Cloudbreak – at any size – before Sunday.

He flew out from Puerto the day before the swell, with nothing but an undersized 8’6″ and a seven-year-old 9’6″ gun that’s snapped twice before. 

Lowey might not have packed anything the magnitude of Ramon or Makua’s Teahupoo-esque tow waves, but he was as psyched as anyone on what he surprisingly described in the end as a “mellow lineup”. 

We got on the horn with a surfed out Lowey before his connecting flight back to the UK and spoke about his first Fijian surf, that just happened to be on the biggest Cloudbreak day in history. 

Stab: Hey Lowey, what a psycho session for your first time at Cloudbreak! When did you fly into Fiji?

Tom Lowe: Yeah it was fucking bonkers!

I only landed the day before, straight from surfing a little swell that popped up in Puerto. It was as last minute as you get. I was on the phone to Greg Long and every other guru trying to get a gauge on the place before I surfed it…[laughs]. 

Were you prepped with boards in Puerto already?

Nah! All I had with me was an 8’6″ and 9’6″.

I ended up riding my 9’6″ which is the oldest gun I have. I’ve snapped it twice before and it’s probably over seven or eight years old. It goes well at Puerto though so I usually just leave it there, considering I was already there I decided to bring it with me to Fiji. 

I ain’t comfortable riding 20-foot-plus waves on an 8’6″…[laughs].

https://www.youtube.com/embed/cJ2DxdaZZuc

Let’s talk about that morning, it wasn’t as good as expected was it?

We rolled up a little after first light and it looked real ranky, really windy and it was raining too. Sorted of suited my vibe being from England though…[laughs]

Who kicked things off?

Everyone was sort of waiting for that little window at first, no-one wanted to gas themselves out too early I guess. Dane Gudauskas paddled early and towed into this south bowl grower, he got smoked but it was the first proper pit packed.

I headed out a bit before midday with Damo [Hobgood] and that’s when that small window started, but it was still pretty windy and rainy even then.

Tell us about your first wave at Cloudy?

Took me under 20 minutes or so to get it, but it felt like the best wave I caught! 

I got stuck in the lip because of the wind and dropped from the top. I made the drop and that was pretty much it. I was buzzing though, it knocked away the nerves. 

 

Tom Lowe Edwin Morales

A hell of a lot warmer than the waves back in the UK that’s for sure. Photo. Edwin Morales

 

I went back out and had a bit of flow going for a while, had a break then caught a few more ‘fun’ ones, got a little head dip too. [Author’s Note: head dip may be tending on the modest side]

You get flogged on any?

Nah, somehow I made every wave and didn’t get cleaned up…[laughs].

How was the feeling in the lineup?

Considering how huge it was the lineup was actually mellow, nothing too serious went down.

There was a current sweeping away from the lineup too which made it difficult to get stuck inside and you could easily dodge waves.

Monday [the day after] was sweeping towards the lineup though, so if that sweep was there on Sunday it probably would’ve been a different story. 

Alright, what about those two waves, Ramon and Makua’s?

Those two waves were fucking bonkers, there’s no other way to describe it. 

For Makua’s I was looking right down into it near the takeoff and Damo was a little further down looking right into it. I didn’t even consider the consequences of another wave coming because that thing was so psycho.

The line he [Makua] drew was like, “I’m going deep on this thing, I’m gonna pack it”. 

I was on the boat for Ramon’s and everyone knows how fucking psycho those two waves were. They were completely different shapes to everything else that came through. They hit the ledge crazier than everything else.

So there was nothing else like those two?

They were the standouts for sure, to be honest, there weren’t consistent bombs coming through. It’s scary to think what would’ve gone down if the wind had died and those tow guys were paddling instead. 

Who were the standout paddlers?

Damo was eyeing off tow-sets and I wouldn’t have put it past him to have swung if it was cleaner and no-one was towing. 

Laurie was the fucking man out there too, he dominated, where the fuck are his sponsors?!

Nathan Florence was another standout, he fucking wanted it and made the most psycho drop the day after [on Monday], I’m surprised it hasn’t made its way around social media. There’s someone out there just sitting on it. 

Luke Shepardson caught the best and most technical wave in my opinion too, I can’t think of any other paddle waves that good. 

Luke might not have made this, but it was by far the heaviest paddle-barrel packed that day according to Lowey. Photo. Fred Pompermayer

How was Kelly surfing?

When the King paddled out it was pretty much prime-time, you just knew he felt something was happening and straight away he paddled into a nug, actually it was a bomb, I would’ve killed to have caught it. 

He was only out there an hour and a half, he started doing turns on the little board too, I was blown away.

Kelly Slater cloudy

The ‘”nug” in question. Photo. Edwin Morales

Comparisons are lame, but was it anything like Mullaghmore?

People love making comparisons to Mully, the only real similarities though is that it’s real big and heavy, and I guess it’s a left…[laughs]. 

It did feel a tonne different though because there’s a ledge at Mully you sit under and it’s obvious it won’t break outside that. The Cloudy lineup is really stretched out, where Mully is condensed. 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/37YNVH8hUfQ

Cloudy is more relaxed too, you dive in and feel alright. The water’s warm, you’re breathing easy, lungs are clear and the environments much cruisier compared to Ireland. 

Back home [at Mully] you have to dig deep to even get into your wetsuit. It’s soul-shaking shit knowing you’re going to freeze all day, you have to fucking really want it. 

Cheers Lowey, looking forward to seeing you get back over to Cloudy!

Thanks! it took me a while but I’m planning another trip over there really soon, just hoping for another good swell, that’s maybe a little cleaner too…[laughs]. 

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

1:38

Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022

The Tragic Parallels Between The Murder Of Ricardo Dos Santos & 8x World Jiu Jitsu Champion Leandro Lo

Two Brazilian sporting icons killed brazenly by off-duty police officers.

Aug 9, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: In The Belly Of The Beast

Finger flips, shaping with Zion Wright, slurpees, Hawaiian takeovers, and the king of Surfline rewinds.

Aug 8, 2022

Albee Layer Discusses His Not-So-Budding Acting Career And The Upcoming Film “Sweet Adventure”

"Matt and Nora were tripping a little harder than I was just because they weren't…

Aug 8, 2022

Zeke Lau & Bettylou Sakura Johnson Win The Vans US Open Of Surfing 

Hawaii dominates HB.

Aug 8, 2022

How A Former CT Surfer Gets “Absolute Beginners” Barreled In A Matter Of Months

Luke Stedman elaborates on his Blackball surf programs.

Aug 7, 2022

5:50

Sweeter Than Stolen Honey 

A versatile Haydenshapes x Dylan Graves HP (and soft board) tested in weird waves.

Aug 7, 2022

15-Year-Old Ladybird Erin Brooks Makes Final In All-Men’s Tuberiding Event

And Clay Marzo takes the dub.

Aug 6, 2022

Are We Looking At Reef Sculpting The Wrong Way? 

The pros, cons, possibilities, and mechanisms of changing reefs to suit our surfing desires.

Aug 6, 2022

The Gudang Trio Discusses Brotherhood And How To Make It To The Mountain Top Together  

Positive sibling vibrations we should all aspire to.

Aug 6, 2022

9:03

Everyone’s Local Zone Has A Mythical Wave

Kai Lenny, Imaikalani DeVault, Eli Hanneman and friends get to surf theirs.

Aug 5, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: Harry Bryant Vs. The Wedge

A lot of swell, stolen identities, surf masochists, mutilated noses, The Wedge, skull-crushing pylons, and…

Aug 5, 2022

When Gabby And Kolohe Pull Out, The Hog Pulls In

Tahiti wildcards named.

Aug 5, 2022

First Look: The 2022 Electric Acid Surfboards

Did our questionable EAST gamble pay off for Mick Fanning's Maldivian quiver ?

Aug 4, 2022

How Boardshorts Work

They are your one chance to look cool while actually surfing. Don’t blow it.

Aug 4, 2022
Advertisement