You know what makes someone really special? When they clearly are, but just don’t realise it, when to others, it's a given. How do I know this? Because in my line of ‘work’ (technically it is a job) I have had the good fortune to speak to a few. I can spot them now, I know what to look for and it just so happens I have found another.
Emily Grimes is a surfer. She lives in the north east of England, about 40 minutes (only about 15 miles) away from the sea. She is twenty four years old, has been surfing for just under 3 years and has just entered a local large wave comp called ‘King of the Point’. She rides a pink longboard, is studying to be a maths teacher and is fanatical about horse-riding and, yep, big slabs of water moving through the ocean. Get this though, she doesn’t think there is anything interesting about that! We beg to differ.
We wanted to find out more about the hows, whys and whats that made Emily decide to go down this path, what appeals to her about doing what she does and how far she will take it.
SB: Hey Emily, thanks for the chat, how are the waves in the UK at the moment? How has the winter been so far?
Emily: I just got back from North Devon yesterday and it was firing! We've had good days here and there in the North East but it's not been very consistent, now that the days are getting shorter and I'm busy attempting to be a teacher I have to hope the swell lines up with the weekend, or drive to the other end of the country. I've been doing a lot of driving. But I've had some amazing surfs in various spots around the UK over the last few months so I'm happy!
SB: So how did you come to get into surfing and when?
Emily: When I was 21 I was working on a farm with horses near the Great Ocean Road in Australia, I was given a car to use and just made a snap decision one day to buy a board. It wasn't something that had ever really crossed my mind, I honestly had no idea what I was doing, never had a lesson and had absolutely no knowledge of the ocean. So something I can't really explain kept driving me to the surf whenever I wasn't working. Luckily I didn't drown and managed to exercise enough patience to make it through months of eating shit before becoming completely addicted.
SB: How did it come about that you realised you liked hoicking into bigger waves?
Emily: In the grand scheme of things I don't surf big waves at all! We're only talking like double overhead, I never considered that particularly big. Not to say that I don't get nervous sometimes paddling out when it's that size. I've been taking my 9ft single fin out pretty much everywhere and it can be a daunting paddle out, especially when there's no one else on a longboard. But I love my board in bigger waves, I can get in early and I have so much more fun on it. It can suck tho, taking waves on the head with a 9ft log attached to my leg. The footage of Kelia Moniz on a 9'4 single fin at 15ft Chopes makes me super keen to push it.
SB: How much would it mean to you to be able to compete in ‘King of the Point’ comp?
Emily: I just think it would be so awesome! I saw photos of last years comp while I was still in Aus and it was pumping. I've never competed before and I approach most things by throwing myself at the deep end, I can be so competitive and I feel less pressure that way. I know some of the guys who competed last year and it's a lot of North East locals, so I think it would be a really nice event to compete at. They only have a limited number of places so I don't know if they will have space for me to compete. I'm under no illusion that the caliber of the other surfers will be way more experienced chargers than me, I think Gabe Davies won last year. I'm not going to lie, the fact that there weren't any female competitors last year spurs me on massively - I really just want to give it a go!
SB: Where and when will the comp run?
Emily: I think they'll announce who's competing soon, then there's a window until February or March where the comp can run, if the swell and wind play ball.
SB: Do you have any shapers that you work with?
Emily: Yeh, Josh Dimery at Phrenix shaped my longboard and he's working on a midlength for me at the moment! When I was in Aus I was just riding like a standard thruster shortboard. I brought it home and I couldn't get on with it with all the extra neoprene and mushy waves. I had some vague and badly worded idea of what I wanted and Josh just ran with it and came up with what I'm riding. It nose rides, and has a reverse rocker which Josh suggested, so I can take off pretty late and deep given the size of the board! I'm not a very handy person, so I've just told him what I want the board to do, how I want it to feel and he's enough of a mind reader/magician to work it out.
SB: How important is it to you to have faith in your equipment?
Emily: I don't know if I would call it faith but there's no point in riding something that doesn't work for me. If I'm comfortable on my board in the conditions then I'll get way more waves. There's never been a time that I've been out on my log wishing I was on something else so I think that's a pretty good sign. I am keen to try out some different boards though.
SB: What are your plans at the moment for life, work and stoke?
Emily: At the moment I'm training to be a maths teacher and full time weekend warrior. I have spent the last few years working outside with animals, so life indoors is a bit of an adjustment. I'd quite like it if the working day started at 4am and finished at 12pm, then it wouldn't be dark all the time. Anyway, I can't do anything about that. I'm keen on anything that will give me more time in the water. I don't really have a plan, I'm going to enter a few more competitions and surf as much as possible! Constant surf on the brain can be a bit debilitating in everyday life, I'd like to be able to channel it into something but I'm not sure exactly what yet.
SB: Can you tell us how important surfing is to you on a scale of one to ten?
Emily: Haha! I don't know why that seems like the hardest question you've asked me... Go on I'll give it a 10.
SB: Thanks to Emily for taking the time out from her busy schedule to chat to us. I will leave it up to you to imagine where Emily might end up. A story like this intrigues us all and with the right support and encouragement we think she will go far in whatever she wants to do.
One of the other questions I asked Emily was how she found the transition from warm waters of the Sunshine coast (AUS) to Newcastle (UK) which is far from tropical even in the summer. The simple answer was that it didn't seem to bother her that much. To me that speaks volumes, there is a lot to be said for the difference in a pounding in warm water to cold.
To us at Surf Bunker, Emily's is a tale of hope, stoke, addiction and most of all determination. If you want to something to happen in life, you just have to go and get it, no excuses, just get on with it. Put yourself in the right place, give yourself the right opportunities and back yourself all the way to the bank.
We look forward to hearing and reading all about the future we believe this young lady has in the world of 'biggish' waves.