SRFACE Diaries

Elliot Dudley

Written by SRFACE

Hey! Tell us About yourself

Hi all! I’m Elliot. A longboarder and surfing primary school teacher from Wales. So… let’s get this SRFACE Diaries thing started!

How did you start surfing?

My uncle Pete has surfed since the 70’s in Wales so I grew up watching him surfing. He bought me a Morey boogie board when I was 5 and from then on I pestered my parents for a surfboard. Back then kids’ wetsuits were pretty bad and relatively expensive. Added to that, foamies were near enough non-existent so it was a big commitment to buy me a decent second hand shortboard that I could only use for a few months of the year. On my eighth birthday my uncle dropped round a 6’4” shortboard shaped by a Welsh surfing legend Paul Ryder. From then on I was hooked.

Why do you surf?

This is probably the hardest question! I think the reasons you surf change over the course of your surfing life. At first it’s the perpetual rush of riding a wave. Then it becomes about the improvements and learning to do new maneuvers. At other points in your life it can sometimes feel like you’re just surfing for exercise, especially here in Wales when we get a 4-week spell of small onshore surf. All these things still come into play, however the underlying attraction throughout is probably the connection with nature and the fact that it is possibly the most fun thing in the world.

What does your typical day look like?

I am a primary school teacher so during term time I am in school from around 7:30am until 4:30pm. This means in the winter months surfing in the week is almost impossible unless I manage a quick 20 minute session. In the summer it’s much better and on a good day I can surf before and after work! Living in Northern Europe you almost live a bipolar existence in that respect. I like to do some form of exercise everyday so if there is no surf I go for a run, swim, paddle or do some strength training. The one thing I am not very good at is sitting still. The great thing about being a teacher are the school holidays. The last couple of years we haven’t really traveled that much and it’s been great spending more time in Wales and the UK. I love going to Pembrokeshire any chance I get as it’s so beautiful and relatively quiet.

Who or what inspires you?

Anyone who lives a simple, healthy, stress free existence with their family at the core. I love seeing people in their 80’s and 90’s still surfing or riding their bikes. It makes me want to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible.

Apart from surfing, what do you do to relax?

I listen to a lot of music. I don’t really sit still very often so relaxing would be cooking or doing work with an album or digital radio playing. I wish I did more yoga but I fill my time with too many other activities.

Do you have any advice for people who want to build their life around freedom and surfing?

This is the million dollar question and although I’ve tried my whole life to answer it, I’m still not 100% sure! I guess being self-employed in a trade that allows you to travel would be a great idea and one that I didn’t pick! Then again, all of my mates that do this just end up working all the time so never get a chance to surf. Teaching is great with the holidays but it’s pretty stressful and you have time off when it’s most expensive to travel. Living close to the beach is key, but becoming ever more difficult to afford. I actually worry that surfing will become, even more than it already is, a sport of the privileged minority as affording property in coastal areas is so hard these days. So basically, don’t surf, it sucks!

What is your favorite board and why?

One of my favourite longboards is a 9’8” Bing Surfboards Elevator. I’ve had it for about 7 years and it’s traveled everywhere with me. It’s a beautiful looking board and I think it is the board I surf best on. I have other boards that noseride or turn better but for all round, critical, traditional longboarding it’s the best. I also have a magic 5’6” Bing Sunfish that has seen some epic waves and is now in retirement.

What is your favorite surfing destination?

I would probably say Central America, especially Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It’s pretty crowded and expensive these days, but if you’re coming from Wales and you want to score 2 weeks of consistent, good quality waves then you can’t go wrong. I also loved New Zealand but for different reasons. Probably because it was like home but warmer!

Which surf movie impressed you the most?

I grew up watching Bruce Brown films like Surfing Hollow Days and Barefoot Adventure. I loved watching Phil Edwards surfing and he really inspired me to longboard. One of my favourite movies that I watched a thousand times on VHS was Adrift by J. Brother. Joel Tudor was and is one of my favourite surfers, and a benchmark for good longboarding. I also love Morning of the Earth. I think we’ve lost something in the modern age with endless streams of edits being dropped daily. I used to love the anticipation of a film’s release, having to go to a surf shop to buy it and then watching it every night for an entire winter.

If you’re not surfing you are…

Riding a bike, running, paddling, swimming. Basically moving.

Name something that the world could use more of nowadays?


Would you rather have infinite paddle power and speed or night vision to surf at night?

To be honest, catching waves has never been a real issue for me as I’m not scared of volume in my boards! It would have to be night vision so I could surf after work in the winter. That would be the dream!

One last thing you would like to share with us?

Diolch am ddarllen.

Behind the lens: Mike Dudley and Mhairi-Clair.

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