CORNWALL’S WILDEST WAVE
WITH TOM BUTLER
Tom Butler is a big wave surfer. For the last ten years he’s ridden some of the largest waves in the world, but he’s been ignoring what’s in his backyard off Cornwall’s wild north coast.
Made for the BBC’s ‘Our Lives’ strand, Cornwall’s Wildest Wave is a beautiful celebration of Cornwall, during a winter of wild weather and extraordinary waves. But above all, an intimate character profile of Tom Butler, his love of the ocean, his soulfulness and an insight into what it means to be surfer.
“The ocean makes me feel really alive and in the moment. When you are in the waves you just forget about everything else that’s going on in your life and that’s really special for me. The focus it brings.” Tom Butler
THE ULTIMATE CORNISH MONSTER WAVE
A deadly reef two miles from St Ives, known as the Stones, could deliver Tom ‘the ultimate Cornish monster wave’. The challenge is, he needs wind and weather conditions to perfectly align.
Tom spends the winter waiting, but it doesn’t look good. As storm after storm batters the Cornish coast, his hopes of finding a monster wave look bleak.
Then finally, in February, his chance comes. Tom heads back out to the Stones with a large safety team of paramedic, safety boat and back up jet skis. When they arrive it looks like the mission will fail although Tom remains optimistic. As the tide turns something undeniably magical happens. An extraordinary wave forms and for just half an hour, there is an incredible Cornish ‘monster’ some 6m high.
BIG WAVE SURFER TOM BUTLER
Tom Butler is a world-famous big wave surfer who lives in Cornwall. He has surfed Portugal’s giant Nazaré wave, and competed in the Nazaré Challenge a number of times. He is one of the top 20 big wave surfers in the world. Then, after a serious wipe out in Portugal, Tom was forced to take time out and so set up ‘Coastal Crusaders’ in Newquay, Cornwall.
“I set up Coastal Crusaders for people from a disadvantaged background who may have disabilities and illnesses and to teach them ocean skills. I wanted to do something to help people.” Tom Butler.
THE STONES REEF
The Stones Reef is a notorious reef, 2 miles off St Ives that has claimed the lives of many mariners. (not to be confused with the Severn Stones Reef)
“If all goes wrong we’re onto the coast guard. You’re onto the boat with the paramedic and then helicopter, winch, done, gone! The issue with the Stones reef is the topography. There are lots of rocks sticking up, and lots of different rumours about underwater caves.” Ben Granata, Marine Safety Supervisor
THE STONES WAVE
To our knowledge the Stones has not been successfully surfed before. We know of one attempt to try to surf it which failed. It is a ‘bomby’, or ‘bombora’ wave. Rare in the UK these are waves that break out to sea and are difficult to surf because of strong ocean currents. The wave is one of the largest ever surfed in Cornwall. It is a new but dangerous location, and can only be safely ridden by experts surfers with a professional safety team.
BBC Our Lives
From monster waves crashing onto the rugged Cornish coast, to the recovery of a magical underwater Forest off the Sussex shore. Click to to watch Our Sea Forest, narrated by Chris Packham.
- Director & Photography:MICHAEL CUNLIFFE
- Editor:PETER CROKER
- Director of Photography:PIERS LEIGH
- Sound:CRISPIN LARRATT
- Water Camera :ANTHONY BUTLER
- Water Camera :BEN JONES
- Drone Photography :MATT BURTWELL
- Drone Photography :PAT CUMMINS
- Drone Photography :SAM BOYDELL
- Drone Photography :TIM BOYDELL
- Additional Photography:OLIVER CHAPMAN
- Water Safety Supervisor:BEN GRANATA
- Water Safety Teams:ADAM ‘BEARMAN’ GRIFFITHS
- Water Safety Teams:CHRIS DUNKLY
- Water Safety Teams:DAVE IBBERTSON
- Water Safety Teams:DUNCAN WALLACE
- Water Safety Teams:IAN KITTO
- Water Safety Teams:IOAN BALE
- Water Safety Teams:JOHN GILBERT
- Water Safety Teams:JOSH HUGHES
- Water Safety Teams:KYRA DUCROS
- Water Safety Teams:MARTHA KANE
- Water Safety Teams:MARTIN LESLIE
- Water Safety Teams:LLYR FARAGHER
- Water Safety Teams:OLI BAMPTON
- Water Safety Teams:TOM FOREHEAD
- Water Safety Teams:TIGER HARBOUR
- Location Manager:CARN BURTON
- Archive Footage Courtesy of:FIONN ROGERS
- Archive Footage Courtesy of:FRED BERHO
- Archive Footage Courtesy of:JOE BRACEGIRDLE
- Archive Footage Courtesy of:JORGE LEAL
- Archive Footage Courtesy of:STEVE CUMMINGS
- Archive Footage Courtesy of:TOM BUTLER
- Special Thanks:JAMIE BATEMAN
- Special Thanks:NATIONAL TRUST, CORNWALL
- Graphics :JASON KEDGLEY
- Music:EXTREME MUSIC
- Music:LONDON SYNC MUSIC
- Music:NINJA TUNE PRODUCTION MUSIC
- Post Production Picture:THE VIRTUAL POST
- Colourist & On-line Editor:PHILLIPPA BEASLEY-SWANSON
- Post Production Sound :RED SIX SOUND
- Re-recording Mixer:ANREW WILSON AMPS CAS
- Sound editor:OWEN SHIRLEY
- Sound editor:JAY WHITTAKER
- Production Manager:CORINNE BATTERTON
- Production Assistant:KERALA FISHER HART
- Head of Finance:KIM KEYS
- Programme Consultant :TOM BUTLER
- Executive Producer for Big Wave:SARAH CUNLIFFE
- Executive Producer for the BBC :DIANA HARE