Like Pol Pot and Jim Jones before him, Seb Smart has one of those snappy, alliterative names in which forename and surname are both monosyllabic and begin with the same letter.
Rather than become the homicidal leader of the People's Republic of Kernow, however, Seb chose to focus all his energies into the slaying of the wave face. The decision appears to have been a sound one. The goofyfoot from Cornwall’s southwesternmost tip is known for his impeccable hand and rear-knee placement, and for a visually pleasing style that occasionally borders on "mangina surfing". But what else is there to know about him?
"It’s a small village that’s quite far out, the closest town is Penzance, which is a 10-minute drive through the country, so it’s quite isolated. Nice local group, couple of nice pubs, it’s got everything you need. I’d like to stay there forever — within a ten-minute radius anyway."
"I’ve gotta be honest, surfers are quite annoying people. I don’t wanna expand on that too much, haha. There’s just a lot of ego, you know, and a lot of dickhead surfers — in the water, out the water, everywhere! The Vans Europe team are legends though, I like all of them, there’s a really good vibe!"
"It’s probably the best board I’ve ever had: real flat, a lot of foam in it. Hugh Brockman, the shaper, has put certain concaves in there and it just seems to work. The Ginger Lynn is what the model’s called… I think the Ginger Lynn was one of those sex dolls, wasn’t it? Haha. I’m not sure. It’s a fully ‘80s shortboard. I surfed it recently in the Mentawais and it went just as well on the solid days and in the barrel as it did on smaller days. It’s a good all-rounder, although it’s not great for airs, which is good because it lasts a bit longer."
"I’ve gotta be honest, surfers are quite annoying people"
"My new tattoo is a little leprechaun stepping into a noose. When I was young I used to trip out on the wind blowing through the long grass — I was out on a walk with my dad and I asked him why the grass was moving like that. He said, ‘there’s loads of little leprechauns running round in there, and if you ever catch one, in return for its freedom it’ll give you three wishes.’ So I asked him how you catch one and he said you’ve gotta sit there in the long grass with a snare, and use cucumber as bait. So I used to wait out in the long grass with a cucumber sometimes."
"I had three fights a few years ago, up in Essex, and won them all. I’m gonna get back into boxing but at the moment I’m a little bit rusty. I was getting really into it a few months ago and sparred my brother Sam, who’s an ex-professional. I was throwing these wild punches and lunging around I ended taking a few big shots — he landed a big one on my nose and in my rib. I’ve just recovered from that properly so I’m keen to get back into it."
Getting punched in the face
"It’s fine — you don’t really feel it until a few days after. When you’re actually fighting, 1) you’re sort of enjoying it, as weird as that sounds, and 2) you’ve got a lot of adrenaline so you can’t really feel anything, unless you get a big stiff jab on the nose, straight down the barrel. It rattles down your spine!"
"When I was young and I first got sponsored, I was always quite isolated down in Sennen. I got invited on a trip to France and I can just remember it being the most uncomfortable time in my life. Nobody knew me, I was this English grom on his own, and everyone was pretty fucking rude — all these young surfers, all shredders, who were just twats, and the man working at the house was just as bad, he made my time a fucking hell. He made me feel like there was something wrong with me, he had this aura that was sort of saying, ‘oh fuck off, not you again.’ You know, I’d walk into the room and he’d sigh and stuff. It felt like there was this joke about me and I didn’t know what it was. I was with this Irish kid called Damien Conway, I got on well with Damien, and Damien asked this guy a question — bearing in mind Damien was 13 or 14 at the time. And he said no, but under his breath was like ‘fucking Irish!’ and walked away. Weird dude."
"It’s just something I’ve always liked to do, ever since I was real young. Me and a mate at primary school used to make up these characters and draw them during lessons, ‘cos we fucken hated school. We would give them personas and stuff, just the weirder the better. I tried to choose art as a subject later on but I was too naughty, so they didn’t let me do it, but I carried on drawing."
Head vs Heart
"I try to listen my heart, I think that everyone should. Sometimes you think or say something, and there’s something inside of you saying ‘this isn’t really right’ or ‘this isn’t really you’. And you go against it, and then maybe an hour later you feel like a bit of a twat, and think, ‘maybe that was my gut talking for me, maybe next time I’ll listen to that.' If you see someone in trouble it's hard to break the ice and help. But your heart is telling you to do it. Or someone around you has some hidden motive. Sometimes you can feel it and I think you should go with your heart. That's millions of years of experience in there, your head though is just a few years of advertisements, ego and bullshit. Heart always."