Okay, how cool would it be to answer ‘professional surfer’ when someone asks you what you do for a living? Exactly. That’s why we jumped at the chance to interview British athlete Laura Crane, who can say just that. As you can imagine, we were super intrigued to find out what it’s like to travel the world doing a job that requires not only determination, talent, passion and good balance – but also some serious guts.
Laura’s interest in surfing began at the age of 13 after she moved to North Devon, UK, and since then she has represented Great Britain internationally, ranking fifth in the 2013 International Surfing Association European Championships. Whilst travelling the world competing, Laura continued to model for international brands including Nike, Billabong and Chilli Surfboards. Now based in Portugal and the UK following a two-year stint surfing in Bali, Laura is dedicated to promoting a healthy body image and flying the flag for talented, female surfers and sportswoman across the globe. Here, she tells us what it’s really like to live the dream of riding waves for a living…
What was your first attempt at surfing like?
I started surfing when I was 14 and even from the first day I loved it and knew that it was all I wanted to do.
What made you fall in love with the sport?
I had always loved the water since I was really young – I had swum for my county previously – but there was something about surfing and being in the ocean that was so different and exciting.
When did you decide to turn your passion into a career?
All I wanted to do was be a pro surfer. I remember when they would ask me in school what I wanted to do when I left and I would reply with ‘be a pro surfer’. They would almost laugh and tell me to be serious, but I knew I didn’t want to do anything else, and although there had never been a female pro surfer from the UK I didn’t care, it’s what I wanted to do.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually wake up at 7.30am and have a coffee, then I go for a walk for 30mins-1hour to check all the local surf spots along the way – I love to start the day this way! Then it’s breakfast time and I will usually have natural yogurt, granola and fruit or eggs and avocado, and then I will drive back to the beach to check the waves again. Now I am based in Portugal where there are waves most days, but if not then I just go straight to the gym or do a workout on the beach. I always try to make time in my day to reply to emails, and see friends where I can, but most of the time I’m in the water!
What is your favourite part of your job?
The best part would have to be all the places that I have been able to travel to and all the incredible people I have met along the way – I really am very lucky.
What is the most challenging part?
I think for me it would have to be time away from my family. I’ve travelled full-time since I was 15 and it’s been tough as I’m literally on the other side of the world for most of the year.
Have you ever had any scary experiences?
I suppose as a surfer spending all the time in the ocean you learn that you are always the underdog and you can never predict what is coming next, but that’s one of the things that I really love. You do always have to have one eye over your shoulder, and I have seen sharks whilst surfing in South Africa. I’ve surfed in some seriously scary conditions but that’s just part of our sport.
What has been your proudest moment?
It would have to be representing Great Britain in the World Surf Games and England in the Europeans. I also won my first British Champion title at 14, and that was a pretty special moment.
Where is your favourite place to surf?
This is always the hardest question to answer, but I think it would have to be the Maldives, Indonesia or Portugal – I can’t choose just one!
What are your goals for the future?
To carry on travelling and seeing & trying new things, whilst continuing to inspire people to become more active.
As a sports professional and model, how important is working out and eating well to you?
For me it’s key to put good things into my body. It’s so tough to keep active all the time if you’re not fuelling yourself properly, so I always try to eat well. Working out for me is very important and I am so much more productive in my day if I have worked out. Like any normal human, some days I really don’t want to but you can always guarantee that after a session you will feel great. My routine for exercise usually starts with an hour’s walk in the morning to wake up followed by a surf for one to two hours. I usually go to the gym in the evenings as well, as I’m not very good at staying still!
How important is promoting a healthy body image to you?
Leading a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important parts of my life. Obviously to do this you have to eat well and exercise regularly, but it’s also so important that you feel healthy in yourself and that you really focus on having a healthy mind-set as well as a healthy body. We live in a world where people are always trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ physique, but what I have come to realise is that there is no such thing. With the right diet, attitude and proper exercise anyone can get to a place where they feel perfect in their own skin.
Can you tell us one thing that would be really surprising to know about being a professional surfer?
When people imagine a pro surfer they think that everyday you are on white sandy beaches in the sunshine – and for the most part that’s true – but some of the best waves are also in some of the world’s most unexpected places. Last January I spent ten days in Scotland surfing and shooting photos wearing a full wetsuit, boots, gloves and a hood that only showed my eyes and my nose. It was a lot less glamorous than people imagine a pro surfer’s life to be, but the waves were some of the best I have ever surfed.
Can you tell us a few tips for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Not to let people’s opinions change your dreams. If you want something bad enough and work hard enough, nothing is impossible.