Newcastle isn’t the first place you think about when imagining the early stomping ground for a young surfer, but two-time British champion and Casio G-Shock Awards jury member Sam Lamiroy tells Dazed he caught his first wave in the grim north. Now a seasoned pro whose travelled the world many times over and mastered the art of having fun in the midst of competitive pressure, Lamiroy’s recently founded a surf school in Cornwall, where he’s teaching the next generation about catching the best waves. One of the jury members on the Casio G-Shock Awards panel, Lamiroy’s on the hunt for a top young athlete to win £3,000 to go towards achieving their goals.
There’s something magical about seeing potential in someone and then standing by, possibly having a small helping hand. This could be a grommet becoming a champion or simply someone getting to their feet for the first time… witnessing personal achievement from the ringside!
Dazed Digital: Coming from Newcastle, how did you end up becoming a surfer?
Sam Lamiroy: I come from a relatively sporty family and my dad used to windsurf in Belgium. When I was 10 we moved to Newcastle and I think it was more a case of surfing finding me, even if the north east of England isn't the place one imagines when thinking about the typical surfing launch site! I think the simplicity of needing just a board and a wetsuit really appealed to me.
DD: When did you decide this was something you wanted to do professionally?
Sam Lamiroy: As a child I used to lie to my school friends, telling them I was sponsored by O’Neill and that I owned a windsurf shack in Hawaii. In retrospect, that was possibly an early desire! There was a glimmer of this life becoming a reality when aged 18. I finished fifth in the world under-21s, beating some of the most highly touted stars of the future.
DD: How have you found it being a professional surfer?
Sam Lamiroy: The life of a pro surfer is pretty hard to beat - I got paid to go to the world’s most beautiful coastal areas, spend time with like-minded people and… just surf. The slight downside is the constant travelling - we’d be on the go for 10 months of the year, there is also the constant pressure to perform in contests and then the invariable battle of dealing with defeat.
DD: What have been some of the highlights from your professional surfing period?
Sam Lamiroy: Winning the British Championships (twice), the BPSA UK pro tour (twice) and the Independence Pro in Barbados. But in all honesty, the biggest highlight was travelling the world with my wife, surfing perfect waves and getting paid to do this - a single contest victory does not come close!
DD: Did it ever feel like a struggle to keep your love for surfing, when it's also your job?
Sam Lamiroy: No. I just get more creative and then fall in love with the sport all over again. I would never be so conceited as to blame surfing for the breakup of our relationship… it would certainly be my fault!
DD: Did you ever have any dangerous experiences while surfing?
Sam Lamiroy: A couple of times I had some pretty bad wipe-outs, I've had too many injuries to list - lots of stitches (some administered by my wife Hannah!), snapped/torn/tweaked knee ligaments, a broken foot, snapped arm... and this is supposed to be a non contact sport!
DD: We hear you just started a surfing academy - why did this feel like the right next move for you?
Sam Lamiroy: Indeed, it’s something I'm really excited about - check out www.lamiroysurf.com. It came as a result of my never-ending search for the right boards and best teachers, coupled with my experiences teaching at the O'Neill surf academies across Europe. My hope is to offer something of real benefit for all surfers from complete novice to the very best. We have the best equipment, the best coaches and the perfect beach!
DD: What's the best part about working with new surfers?
Sam Lamiroy: There’s something magical about seeing potential in someone and then standing by, possibly having a small helping hand. This could be a grommet becoming a champion or simply someone getting to their feet for the first time… witnessing personal achievement from the ringside!
DD: What are you looking for among the finalists in the Casio G-Shock awards? What will make the winner stand out?
Sam Lamiroy: Integrity, talent, desire and a sense of fun and appreciation.
DD: What would you like to see the winner use the prize money for?
Sam Lamiroy: I don't see the £3,000 prize money as a means for them to dedicate themselves to their sport - rather a chance to delve into themselves and to have the luxury of worrying about nothing else other than to see how far they can push their own boundaries.
Click HERE to find out more about the Casio G-Shock 30th Anniversary Awards. G Shock and Dazed also present a special £5,000 "Spirit of Toughness" award, recognising an extraordinary emerging talent making a mark despite significant obstacles. If someone has impressed you with their perseverance and determination then let us know – we will shortlist the best and the voting public will pick the recipient of the £5,000 award.
Photo of Sam Lamiroy by Devlin Blair