Darren Bason Profile
AC: How did it feel to win the world title in Costa Rica?
DB: Stoked to say the least. It was a buzz just to surf in such warm conditions, let alone win the event.
AC: What marked you out against your competitors?
I was pushing the limits just a bit more than the others with some big re-entries and aerial manoeuvres. I was also consistent throughout the competition.
AC: When did you first realise you had a chance of winning the world title?
DB: When I started surfing a kayak in 2000. I know it sounds big headed but I always believed that I was pushing the limits of the sport. This has proved that if you want something that much, train hard and stay focused you can reach your target.
AC: What’s your nickname?
DB: Mastervibe is my DJing name. But friends also call me Old Bastard coz I’m getting on a bit.
AC: What’s your home break?
DB: Fistral Beach in Newquay. When it works it rocks. It may be a bit crowded but hassling for waves helps with competitions.
AC: Where are your favourite places in Cornwall to surf?
DB: Mawgan Porth, Droskyn (Perranporth) and Constantine. To be honest anywhere that holds a fast, sucky wave.
AC: Why is Cornwall so special?
DB: For me, it’s the easy access to loads of surf spots. Plus English is spoken, mostly, the pasties are good and there are no sharks or other nasties.
AC: How does Cornwall compare with other places you’ve surfed around the world?
DB: When it works, Cornwall is up there with everywhere else but it’s the long crappy spells of no surf and short days in the winter that let it down. But if we had warm water and perfect surf it wouldn’t make our good days seem so special!
AC: What are your favourite breaks outside Cornwall?
DB: Boca Barranca in Costa Rica has to be the most fun I’ve ever had surfing. Warm water and left-handers that last forever. Shit Pipe and Thurso East in Scotland are also spectacular. Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California is one of those waves that is so predictable you could teach ya dog to surf there. It also holds big swell. There’s nothing better than to paddle out next to a 20ft face and know your not gonna get caught by it.
AC: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen out in the water?
DB: At a river mouth break in Costa Rica heavy rains were washing loads of trees and stuff out into the line up and there had been a lot of sightings of crocodiles. We were all thinking about this when I saw a strange shape in the line-up. It looked just like the profile of a croc. Everyone froze when I pointed it out. But as it floated closer it became clear that it was a cactus. Much to our amusement, a local surfer joked, “Crocadillo. Snap, snap, snap!”
AC: Any particularly bad wipe-outs?
DB: Yeah, all winter wipe outs are bad. Trying to stay calm buried under 6ft of white water strapped into a kayak with ya head going numb is pretty bad. I love it.
AC: Is there any animosity between surf kayakers and stand-up surfers?
DB: Every day! It’s out of control. Where has relaxed surfing with your buddies gone? Most of the hassle I get is from people who don’t know what they’re doing. They buy a top board and wetty, then paddle out and think they’re surfers. They drop in, shout and cuss. Whatever dude – go surf Towan!
AC: What’s your ‘real’ job?
DB: Promoter and DJ. I used to DJ on the drum n’ bass scene all over the world but now I just put on parties in Newquay and DJ locally.
AC: How do you stay competition fit?
DB: By surfing. And by training at the Glendorgal Health Club which helps me by giving me free membership so I can maintain my fitness in the winter.
AC: How do you prepare for a contest?
DB: I don’t really prepare. I try and keep my fitness up at all times so when a comp is due I’m usually ready. Surfing is just something I do. Contests are an extra excuse to travel and surf.
AC: What are your favourite manoeuvres?
DB: I’m trying to perfect aerials at the moment and I always try to copy big surfing moves like snaps off the lip and floaters. But my favourite manoeuvre has got to be tube rides, barrels, cover ups or whatever you want to call ‘em.
AC: What’s your best performance to date?
DB: I am totally stoked with winning the worlds but I perform best when I’m free surfing; probably because there’s no stress and the surf always seems to be better when you’re not in a competition.
AC: You’re number one in Britain, in Europe and now the world. What’s next?
DB: Defending my titles over the next year and just enjoying the whole experience of being the best in the world while it lasts. My next big event is in Santa Cruz, California in March and then the European champs in April in Mundaka, Spain. The world championships are not until 2007 so I have plenty of time to think about that.
AC: What is the biggest challenge facing you as a competitor?
DB: The pressure of being the one to beat. I always liked being the underdog.
AC: What are the challenges facing the sport?
DB: We need more publicity for our sport. With all the new manoeuvres and progress in surf kayak design, our sport is really moving forward. But with surfboarding dominating the media it’s going to be an uphill struggle.
AC: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get into the sport?
DB: Enjoy yourself, stay safe and be aware of others around you because surf kayaks can seriously damage others.