As North Devon has recently been announced as the UK’s first-ever world surfing reserve, I’ll be using my weekly column to highlight the stories of local people within the North Devon surf community. This week is all about Tom Sherrin, owner of Croyde Bay Surf Hire at Down End car park in Croyde (writes Stephanie Conway).
“I’ve always loved being outdoors,” says Tom Sherrin, who lives in Braunton. “I couldn’t imagine myself working at a desk in an office.”
Tom was destined for a life of adventure. After graduating from secondary school in Somerset, he planned to build a career outdoors. After a brief stint in Monaco, working for a yacht company, Tom was offered a role working in the Swiss ski resort town of Zermatt, best known for its close-proximity to the Matterhorn - a mountain made famous by Walt Disney and the Toblerone logo.
He began developing his skill set in the Swiss Alps, managing to live the Alpine dream by becoming a skiing instructor and competitive mogul skier during the winter, and a bike trail builder and competitive national downhill mountain bike racer in the summer.
“Switzerland gave me so many opportunities to traverse the great outdoors,” says Tom. “In fourteen years, I managed to learn Swiss German, which helped me integrate into the local community.”
But on a fateful winter season day, he failed to land a big ski jump, which resulted in a torn meniscus on both knees and a lengthy recovery time. In one miscalculated fall, Tom’s mountain career abruptly ended, sending him home to the UK.
“It was a hard recovery because everything I had built for myself had vanished in an instant,” says Tom. “But it gave me time to rethink about what I wanted from life.”
Never one to give up, Tom moved to Braunton in 2020, setting his sights on a new adventure: surfing. He taught himself to surf in Croyde, then went on to become a qualified lifeguard and surf instructor so that he could spend as much time as possible in the water.
“All of the passion I had for mogul skiing transferred into a drive to become a better surfer,” says Tom. “I wanted to make sure whatever I did for work allowed me to jump in the water when the waves were pumping.”
Last summer, Tom set up his own surf hire business, Croyde Bay Surf Hire, located at Down End car park in Croyde. He became a regular fixture amongst the staff at Down End cafe, instructors at the neighbouring surf school, and the gathering of local surfers who frequent the seating area to watch the waves and calculate the best time to paddle out to the lineup.
“It has been great getting to know more of the locals and frequent visitors,” adds Tom. “We’ve got a really great surfing community here in North Devon.”
After a successful first summer, Tom has become a fixture at the first carpaprk on the right as you enter Croyde from Barnstaple and Braunton.
This year, Tom is back for a second season, renting out surfboards, bodyboards, wetsuits - and even paddle boards for flat days - to tourists and North Devon locals looking to make the most of their summer days at Croyde Beach. He also has a board delivery service for those staying nearby.
As a passionate surfer, lifeguard and former surf instructor, Tom is well-equipped to help guests make the most of their surf session in Croyde.
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun,” says Tom. “Come down, rent a board and try something new this summer.”
If you’d like to book a board and wetsuit rental for your next beach day at Croyde Bay, then North Devon Gazette readers can receive a special 10% discount. Simply use the code NDG10 when booking your rental at www.croydebaysurfhire.com
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