Since Michael Lay took down the 2013 Hip Wiggler event, we thought it would be rad to catch up with him, pick his brain on a few things UK and get a little personal.
Mike getting sideways during the latest Hip Wiggler event x Russ Pierre
Where did you grow up? How far from the beach is that?
I grew up in a small town called St Just. It’s about four miles from the beach at Sennen, which was cool. Since there was both a primary and secondary school there, I pretty much stayed in the same place till I was sixteen. My high school was the smallest in Cornwall… I don’t really remember doing any work. We used to roam the streets during lunch, feeling like kings.
Surfing seems to be a pretty unique form of entertainment in the UK, at least compared to somewhere like Australia or California. How did you become a surfer?
Yeah, I think you’re right. We don’t have long, hot summers or endless, user-friendly swells. I mean, we get really good waves, but it isn’t as readily accessible as the epicenters of surf culture. I had started boogie boarding early on, but my best friend Matt Travis surfed, so I started going to the local surf club at Sennen when I was about ten. We’ve grown up surfing together ever since. My best ever wave was my first one; I don’t think I’ll ever get close to that experience again.
Joel Tudor and his efforts to make logging something bigger seem to have made their way to the UK, especially considering the success and promotion of the Hip Wiggler event. How stoked are you to surf in the next Duct Tape event?
Joel’s work legitimizing logging to a skeptical audience has certainly made it here, but not as much as elsewhere. In California, traditionally inspired surfing is so prevalent. Here, the thruster still rules. I’m not saying “people riding thrusters are wrong,” I just think that a lot of people would have a better time in the water if they were a little more open minded.
What about James Parry? Who is that guy, anyway?
Well, I would say that as far as over here is concerned, James is as influential as Joel in bringing logging to the masses. Through his Hip Wiggler events and participation in the Duct Tape, James has given British and European loggers someone to be proud of. He’s the most talented guy in the UK on a log, hands down. Not only that, but James has a deep appreciation of UK surf culture and he actually cares about its past and is passionate about forming its future.
How stoked are you to surf in the next Duct Tape event?
I feel extremely privileged to be in the next Duct Tape. I am looking forward to being with and learning from these guys that I have looked up to for a long time. I can’t wait!
What made you ride a log rather than a standard thruster shortboard?
In Sennen there is an incredibly strong history of logging and perhaps less of mainstream forms of surfing. The person who initially inspired me to longboard was Sam Bleakley: he’s an incredibly encouraging surfer and writer. After Sam, there are my buddies Matt, James, Russ Pierre and Rich Emerson, all of who are incredible loggers and super inspirational. A couple events stand out to me, as well. The first was a visit of Tyler Hatzikian (he seemed ridiculously huge when I was a kid) and the second was Dane Peterson and Belinda Baggs. Those two wonderfully connected sections at my home break; I remember them telling the lifeguards that there was no way they were gonna wear a leash. I watched a lot of The Seedling after that.
Does it seem like logging and riding alternative equipment is becoming more accepted in the UK?
I think so. In Sennen there is a group of groms coming up who shred on everything. Their main kick is shortboarding, but when it’s small they’re all on logs, without fail. I love surfing with all of them. In the UK as a whole, there is a strong movement; it’s pretty tight still, but I like to think that it’s growing.
Who makes your surfboards?
Rob Wright from Slide 65 makes my logs. He is a real craftsman and an incredible surfing and ordering a board is a day-long process of chatting, surfing, and cups of tea. My current board is a 9’6 pintail: it’s the best board (long or short) that I’ve ever had. We actually have a very strong shaping scene in the UK at the moment and Rob is leading the way in terms of logs. Companies like CMBL are also doing some really exciting things with guest shapers at the minute.
What or who has the most influence on your surfing?
I love the nature of my home: it is full of hidden coves and wild beauty and it keeps me excited and inspired. In terms of people, Matt Travis inspires me a lot. We have a very similar outlook in terms of riding waves and life, in general.
Who do you surf with most often and where?
I surf with a group of buddies at home: Jack, Josh, Bert, Matt, Buster, James and my brother Dom. We all ride really different shit and just have a load of fun.
What’s your favorite beer?
Doom Bar, Cornish Ale.
Do you prefer brown or blue eyes? Blonde or brunette?
Blonde hair and blue eyes. Luckily, my girlfriend Frankie fits the bill. She is an incredible musician and is from a wonderful family in Jersey. Her siblings are both incredible loggers. One of them, Joe, would definitely push James for the title of best UK logger.
What’s your favorite pastime outside of surfing?
I like to write, hence the overlong nature of my answers. Poetry keeps me thinking about the world and not just drifting through it. It keeps me grounded. My sponsor, Rhythm, is really supportive of both my surfing and my writing, which is really refreshing. There is definitely more to life than just surfing. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.
Any last thoughts? What’d you do last night?
I played pool with my buddies, then tried to watch the Super Bowl and reminisce about California, but the time difference meant it was on too late, and we all fell asleep.
A few selects from the instagram of Mike Lay