Swansea-born surfer Beth Mason chats to Buzz about making it as a pro surfer and her hopes for the future.
McArthurGlen’s Bridgend Designer Outlet is partnering with pro-surfer Beth Mason – 2010 Quicksilver Welsh National Champion and U18 Girls British Champion – to launch a motivational Sport Your Style campaign this summer. The initiative, which will take place throughout August, aims to encourage people in Wales to make the most of the amazing landscape around them.
McArthurGlen Bridgend, which sits in between the stunning Welsh south coast and Brecon Beacons National Park, will be showcasing the fantastic range of outdoor fashion available with promotions and offers throughout the month. The centre will be offering extra discounts on a range of fashion lifestyle brands such as Timberland, O’Neill, Helly Hansen, Regatta, and Berghaus at up to 60% less.
“I’m thrilled to be part of McArthurGlen Bridgend Sport Your Style campaign,” explains Beth. “I’m passionate about surfing and outdoor activities, so I’m really excited to help inspire others to go out there and try new things. If I didn’t live so near a beautiful beach and hadn’t decided to pick up a surfboard, I would never be where I am right now. The Sport Your Style campaign is a fantastic opportunity for local Welsh people to take advantage of their natural surroundings.”
What had you first running for a surfboard, and what keeps you in the water as you continue along your career?
I’ve always spent my summers on the beach, and as a child I competed in a lifesaving competition. Often spending time around the sea, it was only a matter of time before I got on a board and had a go at surfing. Since I started I’ve loved everything about it. It’s something to do with your friends; a great place to escape from any dramas, good fitness, and through competing it’s taken me all over the world. There is no reason why I’d want to stop (except the winter water temperatures!)
What do you think of South Wales as a surfing destination? Is there growing interest in the sport?
South Wales is a great place to surf. It has a wide range of beaches with surf for all levels. There are several safe beaches ideal for beginners and as people develop and improve, they are able to find more challenging waves just around the corner.
I think the sport is growing quickly and I’ve seen a lot more girls in the water than when I first started which is nice to see. It’s a sociable sport which anybody can do, whether you’re looking for something just to keep fit, or as a competitive sport.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your surfing career so far and where’s the nicest place you’ve ever surfed?
My favourite places I’ve surfed have to be the Telo Islands in Indonesia and Ireland. Indonesia is paradise, the water’s warm and there are perfect waves without too many people around, and even though Ireland isn’t as tropical, they have some of my favourite waves to surf.
I’d say my highlights are being British Champion two years running, getting second in the Junior Europeans, eighth in the Open Women European Championships, and representing Wales and Great Britain in several events.
How hard is it to make a profession out of surfing? What have you had to sacrifice in order to get where you are today?
It’s very hard. It costs money to be able to travel and a lot of dedication to practice and get to a high standard. I think going away and surfing in places like Australia and Hawaii where the standard is a lot higher is really important. It helps push you to try and surf like they do. When I was in school I was away a lot and had to work hard to catch up.
The last few years I have been concentrating on getting a degree but now that I’ve finished I’m planning on travelling and getting back into competing at a high standard.
As we near the Olympics, there’s been renewed talk of surfing as an Olympic sport. Do you think this would be a good idea for the future?
It would be amazing if surfing got into the Olympics. It would raise its profile and make people take the sport seriously. The Olympics is such a prestigious event, being able to work towards making the British team to compete in an event that is watched by millions all over the world would be amazing, and I think it would also push the standard.
What are your hopes for the next few years?
Next year I’m going off travelling. I’m going to surf as much as possible and compete where I can. Hopefully then work towards making the British team again to compete in the world surfing games.
What tips would you have for anyone looking to start out in the sport?
If you’re looking to start out, I think the best thing to do is go and book in to have a lesson somewhere. Surfing can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. By booking in to have lessons you will learn all the important safety information and correct techniques which will make it easier for you to progress.
It can also be very expensive to buy all the gear, so by booking in to have a few lessons you can try it out and see whether you like the sport before forking out hundreds of pounds on wetsuits and surfboards.
When home in South Wales, do you have any favourite or “secret” places to explore and escape to?
I have so many places I love to go to. There are so many places around South Wales which offer different surfing conditions and amazing scenery. When the weather’s nice there’s nothing better than going surfing to a secluded place with a few of your friends.