Documentary charts surfer’s search for big break off Ireland's west coast

Andrew Cotton attends the Irish premiere of 'Beneath The Surface' in Lahinch, Co Clare, yesterday.

“It had that eerie feeling — the unknown. I knew that I would have to come back.”

Those are the words of big wave surfer, plumber, and father-of-two Andrew Cotton, speaking in his new short film about seeing for the first time a monster wave eight miles off the west coast of Ireland.

Beneath the Surface documents the journey of Devon man Cotton, looking for his next big break.

Presented by Redbull.tv, the film follows Cotton and his team of surfers, sailors, and adventurers who put everything on hold as they secretly chase a wave off the west coast that emerges only a handful of times each year, giving only hours of warning.

Cotton said he first saw the wave at a distance of eight miles.

“As we got closer, it was a giant.”

He dedicated his whole winter to find out what makes this unknown spot in the Atlantic to create such a wave.

Dealing with a giant wave in the middle of the ocean “brings another whole level of danger”, said Cotton.

Andrew Cotton in the midst of a big swell, as featured in the documentary ‘Beneath the Surface’, which follows the English adventurer and a team of fellow surfers and thrill-seekers as they chase a wave off the west coast of Ireland.
Andrew Cotton in the midst of a big swell, as featured in the documentary ‘Beneath the Surface’, which follows the English adventurer and a team of fellow surfers and thrill-seekers as they chase a wave off the west coast of Ireland.

Taking a boat eight miles off the Wild Atlantic Way, the team battle the extreme cold and fierce weather conditions while mapping the ocean’s swell, in order to try and catch one almighty ride.

Far from home, frustration sets in as the team has to play the waiting game with a wave not yet demonstrating its expected potential.

With the days getting shorter, the window of opportunity getting smaller, and a disappointing trip before Christmas, Cotton and his team have to be ready to go as soon as the charts align.

However, with a young family at home, Cotton must balance the normality of the school run before boarding a plane alone to Ireland, to face one of the ocean’s deadliest monsters.

Beneath the Surface is being released on Redbull.tv today.

At first, the Plymouth-born surfer focused on helping pioneer big-wave spots in Ireland and, more recently, turned his attention to Nazare, Portugal.

Documentary charts surfer’s search for big break off Ireland's west coast

Cotton came to wider attention in 2012, when he towed American surfer Garrett McNamara into what the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed was the biggest wave ever surfed.

Since then, Cotton has notched up a series of indisputably big waves, one or two of which have caused debate in the press about whether they are bigger than McNamara’ record.


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