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The Sea To Me | Mike Lay

Mike Lay, Writer, Lifeguard & Free surfer

From growing up in the deepest depths of West Cornwall, to travelling the globe to hunt for surf; Mike Lay has carved out a life that is intrinsically linked with the rhythms of sea. Whether surfing, lifeguarding or writing, it is an ever present companion that has shaped his life and career.


Mike Lay carrying his longboard down a steep cliff path

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Interview Transcript

My name is Mike Lay. I’m a writer, a lifeguard and a free surfer from Sennen in Cornwall.

My most powerful memory of the sea is probably the first green wave I caught, on a soft-top at Sennen, when I was about thirteen. It seems like my entire life is built on memories that are in the sea, so it’s very difficult to pinpoint one but I guess that would be significant in that it led me on the path that I’m on now, where the sea has been intrinsic in my life.

It is a provider of hope and it’s something that will always have something positive within it if you allow yourself to think that way. So I always try and be as positive as I can in the sea and then take that into the rest of life, when I’m not in the sea, and I think longboarding and surfing plays in with that.

You only have a bad surf if you decide that you’re having a bad surf. So the sea knows… It's everything to me.

My relationship with the sea definitely is an addictive one. It’s something that I feel I can’t live without, when as surfers the sea provides us with so much scope for enjoyment. And someone like me who’s made a career out of the sea is invested in protecting it to the greatest degree possible.

If you haven’t grown up being in the sea, and you’re kind of apprehensive about how your relationship can start with the sea, then just go for it. Just get amongst it and find it because we live on an island in the United Kingdom and the sea is all around us.

Mike Lay surfing in a Finisterre Nieuwland wetsuit

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