19-year-old Georgie Timson has been surfing competitively since her teens, displaying an early talent that saw her take the win at the 2015 Night Surf competition while still at school. After finishing her A-levels last year, the talented British surfer was finally able to turn her energy to surfing fulltime.
Mixing her time between her home in Cornwall and her surfing home-from-home in France, the Animal ambassador chats about wipeout scares, must-have kit and her surfing tips for beginners.
Georgie, you’ve been surfing from a young age – how did you get into it?
I learnt to surf was I was 10, but I only started to surf when I was 13. We used to live in the midlands and come to Cornwall for our holidays. A couple of years later we decided to move [to Cornwall], and that’s when I really got into it. My dad coached myself and my brother Harry, who is now a professional surfer. I would say they’ve both inspired me and I think that’s why I love surfing so much now.
Did having a surf instructor for a dad fast-track your love of surfing?
Having my dad as a surf instructor definitely progressed my love for surfing – my whole family were always in the water so I couldn’t not be! My dad now is a surf photographer. I’m super lucky to get surf images every day.
At what age did you start competing?
I started to compete when I was 15/16.
Image Credit: Animal
What kind of fitness do you need to be able to surf well?
Fitness to a surfer is number one; you’re using a lot of energy and need to be physically fit. Doing a range of activities like running/swimming/skating/biking engages the whole body and improves your stamina. Strength is key! I do a lot of HIIT and circuit workouts – with weights included – to help build muscle without losing it.
Also, your legs are as important as building up your arms; as surfers we’re constantly using them. Your abdominals are used throughout surfing, so the majority of surfers have good cores. Surfing is about balance because without it you’d probably not be able to stand up! I do yoga, which helps, and use balance boards too.
What does a typical week of training look like for you?
My typical week of training depends on the type of day. I surf most days. If I just surf once, I’ll do a training session in the gym – a HIIT workout session with just bodyweight and then weights after – but most of the time I train around my home. I do long-distance running, swimming, board paddling and sprints. I also do weighted circuits/HIIT workouts in my garden – they’re my favourite. [But] surfing is a priority!
You’ve recently spent time surfing bigger waves in Indonesia. Did this require a learning curve coming from France and the UK?
Yes, Indonesia is amazing for waves, it’s one of my best places to go and surf. It does require a learning curve, but I’d say I’m used to surfing there now. In comparison to France, it’s very similar, however Indonesia is mainly reef so sometimes it can be harsh and heavy, although France with its powerful beach breaks can feel the same. It takes me a few days to a week to get used to the feel again, especially after surfing in England and then going straight into power. After that, it just becomes normal and natural again.
Image Credit: Animal
Have you ever been scared on the board? Any close calls or bad wipe-outs?
I’ve for sure had a few scares, when you see the sets on the horizon and think ‘Wait, I’m actually not going to make these!’ It is just water, right? I’ve had some bad wipeouts but nothing serious – board hits, face smashes, and attempted barrel rides that haven’t ended too well, and maybe a snapped nose! I think when it’s huge and I’m surfing reef or even a beachy, I’m more worried about how I’m even going to get out the surf [laughs]. You do get used to it the more you push yourself.
On a typical day’s surfing how many hours do you usually spend in the sea?
On a typical day I’d spend 2-4 hours; normally 2 hours per surf but if it’s pumping then a lot longer – or I’ll just stay in for the day!
What is it about surfing that you love?
Honestly, I just love being out in the water, the feel of being on my surfboard and on the wave is unreal and makes me so happy. I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by some amazing companies – they all give me such good support. I’ve been with Animal for a long time now. They’ve given me everything and have provided me with lots of opportunities, and I hope this will last a long time.
People often assume that the life of a surfer is pretty glamorous – is that an accurate perception?
It isn’t all glamorous, but you do get to see parts of the world most of the time and experience the good- you can look up to sponsored surfers as the ideal of what surfing should be. There’s lot of travelling involved which isn’t necessarily glamorous due to long flights, stop overs, and sometimes you’re staying in remote places which aren’t always as civilised.
Image Credit: Animal
Tell us about your must-have kit for surfing…
Surfboard, wax, leash, fins, swimwear, wetsuit, board bag/sock, Robie (towel changing)/ towel and also some snacks for the journey!
Do you like to surf with a group of friends, or do you prefer the solitude of being on your own?
I love surfing with people, it’s so much fun. But surfing by yourself is important as you can get focused with no distractions, and it’s very relaxing!
What are your top surfing tips for beginners?
Don’t let a wave knock you back! I know it can be daunting, especially for beginners, but repeatedly having a go can only make you better. Don’t learn by yourself; it may look easy, however if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s difficult. Get an experienced friend to teach you or go to a surf camp. Lastly, spend time on dry land first; once you’re at the beach, do your stretching, check your leash, yourself and the board, keep a watch on the waves, and watch out for other surfers.
Where do you spend most of your time surfing?
A lot of my time surfing is spent in England but France is a close second.
Image Credit: Animal
Where are your favourite places in the world to surf?
Snapper rocks in Australia; Lakey Peak in Sumbawa, Indonesia; Hossegor in France, and also Portugal.
What’s on the horizon for you in 2017?
This year for me so far has been a year to really improve my surfing and to think about what I really want. I’m aiming to train for the rest of the time and to travel to as many places as I can, then compete next year.
Are you sponsored by anyone right now?
I’m currently sponsored by Animal UK, C-Skins Wetsuits, Reef, Alibi, Surf Ears, Redwood girls, Get Fruity bars and Ticket to Ride. I’m lucky enough to be sponsored by some amazing companies, who support me so much and have given me a lot of opportunities.