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Der Brite Andrew Cotton zählt zweifellos zu den besten Big Wave Surfern der Welt. Wir wollten von ihm erfahren, wie er sich auf eine Session vorbereitet und wie wichtig nicht nur die körperliche, sondern auch die mentale Fitness fürs Big Wave Surfen ist.
Das Interview haben wir auf Englisch geführt und lassen es hier im „O-Ton“.

Cotty, please tell us about the week before a big swell hits a particular spot you want to go to. Do you have a routine for the last 7/8 days before you leave?
In the North Atlantic the storms and conditions change so much it’s quite hard to make real solid plans that far out to be honest , but when seeing potential big swells it’s always good to look in to a couple of options where to go, maybe who you’d team up with.

My routine would be normal to be honest, surf, swim, stretch, keep training etc...

... until a few days out then I just work on getting my body and mind feeling good. Sometimes staying off socials is good. Not listening or reading the hype and noise and instead focusing on what you want to achieve and who with.

What are the next steps when you arrive at the spot?
It totally depends where I’m surfing, if I’m traveling for a swell I like to put all my logistics in place, travel, safety etc. in the past I’d be prepared to literally turn up the morning of the swell but now a days I like to arrive at least 12-24hrs before. Prepare equipment, what boards I’m gunna ride, back up board and make sure everything is set then try and get a proper nights sleep before hand. Coming into big swells fully rested when travel is in the mix is extremely hard but also really important.

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Andrew Cotton, Cortes Bank. Foto: Pedro Bala/ Red Bull Content Pool

How do you get used to the obviously uncomfortable situation/setting of big wave surfing?
It’s been a marathon, this isn’t something I decided to do last year so I feel I’m quite prepared and ready for most things the ocean has to throw at me. All the trainings been done you just have to rely on yourself and the team you have around you on the day.

Do different waves like Nazaré, Mullaghmore, Cortes Banks or Mavericks require a different kind of personal preparation?
They’re all such different waves so will have completely different goals, it’s just setting that goal and making the plan to achieve it. Often watching old videos and seeing how others are approaching the waves really helps, trying to visualize the different line I’d take or want to take.

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Andrew Cotton, Killybegs. Foto: Jorge Leal/ Red Bull Content Pool

Do you work on your mental strength as well as your physical fitness? 
Mental strength is really important, I like to do some breath holds and breathing exercises to help me focus and get confidence then there’s some really cool meditation YouTube vids I’d listen to before big swells.

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What are the benefits of mental training when it comes to big wave surfing?
Keeping you focused, getting rid of self doubt or negative thought patterns.

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Andrew Cotton, Apnoetraining in Nazaré. Foto: Ricardo Bravo/ Red Bull Content Pool

Has your mindset/self-confidence changed after your back injury in Nazaré?
I think with extreme or serious injuries it can definitely leave you with a bit of trauma, this can take time to heal physically but much longer mentally but as long as you confront them for me and work through them, it’s better than just leaving it. Sometimes it can make you recalculate certain risks and what you’re prepared to risk, but on the day or days I’m still totally all in.

Do you still paddle surf in big waves or are you totally focused on tow surfing?
I’m first and foremost a surfer so I’ll always paddle, but unfortunately since the big wave world tour was cancelled and now the main event on my calendar is the Nazaré Tow Challenge I’ve definitely put more time into my tow surfing.

But I still believe having the ability of paddling into a big wave is super important and not a process to be skipped.

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Andrew Cotton, Nazaré. Foto: Hugo Silva/ Red Bull Content Pool

Is there a wave on your bucket list that you have not surfed yet? And why would you like to?
SHIPSTERNS bluff in Australia, always been fascinated with that wave and I’ve been wanting to surf more barrels that past couple of years so hopefully I can make it happen soon.

What are your plans for spring and summer?
Spending time with the family and partner Justine then obviously preparing for the next big wave season.

Will you spend your family (summer)-time also in your Sunlight Camper Van?
We haven’t anything solid planned yet but looking at the south west France for the summer which is such an epic spot for summer and van life.

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Andrew und sein Sunlight Cliff 640 im Hafen von Nazaré.

What do you like the most about surf trips with a camper van?
Having everything there with you at the beach, it’s perfect for relaxing and watching the waves in the comfort of your home. Waiting for the best time to get back in the waves. ;-)

Where did you go so far and which regions in Europe are still on your vanfile bucket list?
We spent most time on the west coast Portugal but also a bit around Galicia , maybe next time we’d go more inland for a bit of variety.