TOM ROBERT LOWE: TRAVEL TALES
My first trip to Ireland, when I was 21. It was me and two of my best mates, Smithy and Greenaway. We drove from Cornwall cramped in Smithy’s Opel Cadett, a vintage beast. We didn’t know anything about the south west coast of Clare, I just called up Mickey Smith out the blue asking him where to stay, we didn’t really know each other, but he said to stay in Lahinch if I wanted heavy waves. I guess it was just destiny to arrive on a solid swell and meet up with Fergal out there. We turned up at Bumbaloids throwing some weird crazy tubes, were all straight in the deep end trying to figure out how to make the drop on these mutant slabs. I went over the falls on about 10 waves that day, snapped two Resin8 boards in the process, finally getting a few medium ones that were at the time some of the best tubes I’d had.
Another special time from that trip was this session at Aileens and Laurens, waves were solid 6-8ft plus, Mickey was amping me to surf Laurens so I paddled over from Aileens. I’ve never surfed it like that day since, it was so surfable, roll in of the boil with a steep-ish drop, then lock into a crazy long tube into the channel, we got the cover of Surfer’s Path from that session. After the surf I walked up the cliff with Tom Greenaway feeling so alive, we sat and talked until dark watching the waves, wicked memories. Greenaway left for home the next day, and that was the last time I ever saw him. I was in the Canaries a few weeks later when I got a call saying there had been an accident. Everybody’s lives changed in our circle of friends and family, the accident with Tom has impacted my life in such a powerful way, you have ups and downs but I feel for most of us we’ve grown from the whole thing in a positive way, being on that trip with him just before it all happened intensifies my feeling for Ireland even more so, the Cliffs of Moher are deep for me. I’ll always remember the way he charged so hard on our trip, and the fun times we had.
My first and only photo trip I went on with surfers I didn’t know, it’s always a gamble going with crew you’re not mates with, sometimes it works out cool, you make loads of new friends, sometimes it’s a nightmare. This one trip I went with guys that were well known on the UK pro circuit, I was 18, intimidated by them all, they were all good mates which didn’t help, it was like being in primary school again, being left out the circle and that. In the end I hungout with a nice bunch of locals, they showed me around, we watched local cricket matches, played a few games ourselves, went to markets on the bus, stuff like that, anything to get away from the others. The pros were on a different trip, wanting to party heaps, doing drugs, it’s not my thing. I’m not Mr Straight or anything but I didn’t get the fact that they were being paid heaps to do that shit, it opened my eyes to the big wig scene enough to see I was different from them all. I remember them telling me that I was too old, and that unless I won comps I’d never be sponsored, and I believed them. Although that trip was hard for me, looking back I learned some big lessons about who I was. So in some ways your worst trips are also sometimes your best.
Told to go Home
When I was 16 in Fuerteventura, we were surfing Lobos and this guy acting the local kept snaking us all week. On the day he blew up at me, I had been waiting for a set for about 30 minutes, he just paddled out off the rocks a few minutes before the set arrived, he did his snake thing and I dropped in on him. I looked back at him as we flew down the line with him shouting, then he kicked his board at me which nearly nailed me, and I surfed the wave all the way to the inside, when I flicked out there he was paddling at me at full speed shouting. When he got to me I sat up on my board, he just went for me punching all over the place, I was shitting myself and just back paddled still sitting on my board somehow, he was off his board throwing all kinds of shapes at me, he got tired after a minute I think, or maybe he just realised he was out of line, he sat there telling me to go home and get out, two of his mates were on the beach shouting shit. I was scared and spinning out, but then I don’t know what came over me but I just charged into the rocks surfing up the reef, I took my leash off and threw my board on the rocks, which was stupid I know, started running up to the guys yelling to come fight me, they stood down for reasons I don’t know, I can’t fight, I’m not a tough guy or anything, but they were saying for me to chill. That was that in the end, no harm done, now the guys are cool with me. Funny world hey?
Told someone to go home
I have never said that to anybody, can’t really be the big local where I’m from, imagine that down at Porthmeor acting up, haha. Not my style anyways.
I’m in Bali now, just got back from a sick swell in Sumbawa, from here it’s back to Ireland, in the new year I plan on going to California for a month or so, I’d love to experience a swell at Mavericks, we’ll see how it goes. As long as I keep improving, then I’m happy.
Photos by Mickey Smith