TAKE 5 part 7 – Interview with Lucia Arroyo, November 2017
Biscay, the Basque Country, Northern Spain… I feel the rain beat heavily onto the back of my hood as I quickly make my way through the sand dunes. Winter is in the air. The sand, now wet, sticks to my trainers as I reach the trail that leads down to the car park below. I pause and take a final look back at the ocean, the endless waves crash on the shoreline with relentless energy fueled by a fresh North Westerly wind which has been blowing since early this morning.
Breaking into a run, I fly down the trail and after a final burst of speed leap over the big lump of marram grass which borders the sheltered corner of the hollow where my car is parked. I flick the button on my keys, the lights flash, the doors unlock and I’m welcomed by the warm dry interior. As I sit quietly gathering myself my phone rings, I ignore it but it keeps ringing so I reach over to see who is calling, a name is flashing on the screen: “Guy Leverton”. I’ve been trying to get hold of Guy for 3 weeks so I answer, but he’s gone. I call him back, no answer. I leave it for 10 minutes and call again, this time I get a text back: “jumping in the ocean call you laterz” … he didn’t call. I knew he wouldn’t, so the next day I called him and eventually he answered.
- How’s it going, where are you?
- We’re in the motherland, just surfed an epic little pointbreak, super sheltered. I’m making a brew.
- And where’s the motherland? don’t tell me, I bet I can guess…
- The land of perfect waves and … Guinness
- [laughing] Ireland . It’s a surf trip with the boys then [silly me for thinking he might be taking part in something work related]
- Yeah! We’re here for a while and then I’m home for 2 weeks and then we’re back again
- and what else have you been up to
- oh jeez, loads, it’s been mental - training camps, tournaments, we were in Spain, then Germany, then it was Boardmasters; this year was my favourite one so far, Stormzy was real good. Then we went to Sagres in Portugal, cruised around for a bit, had a couple of epic days, surfed some sick little spots, we’ve just been to Dam again that was cool.
- You’ve been having fun then
- So, tell me about Real Surfing Magazine
- Haha. How cool was that, did you read the whole interview?
- I did!
- I thought it was great, an insight.
- They approached me last year and asked if I was interested in being in the mag, I was a bit reluctant because you can so easily get burnt, sometimes the mags have a very definite idea of how they want to portray you and this can lead to you being misrepresented. My last surfing editorial was in Pit Pilot and they gave me an awesome centre-page spread, so I was hoping I would get lucky again. Anyway, it came out a while ago, they gave me 4 pages and the article is sick, so Thanks dudes. It’s a cool mag, new-school and old-school, you can’t read it on the internet, you have to buy it, every issue sells out. It reminds me of the Surfers Journal, something you buy and then keep on your coffee table.
- My friend picked me up a copy, I loved the Albe Falzon article, Morning of The Earth is one of my favourite surf movies
- Wicked soundtrack too. I love that John J Francis track “Simple Ben”
- What’s happening?
- You should see the wave that just wrapped around the corner, lights out … pause, no way, look at that one, whaaaat, look at that … I’ll call you back
- So, where are you?
- We’re in Ceylon, Sri Lanka and it is epic!! The people are so cool and lovely. It’s amazing! 31 degree water, there have been waves every day and this morning the line-up was full of turtles…
- Have you been to Sri Lanka before?
- No. We came because my other half used to come here years ago and she's always said how amazing and chilled out the place is…it’s wicked. Last night we went to a restaurant on the beach. They'd just caught this big bucket full of giant prawns and they made them into a curry with coconut and lime which we washed down with bottles of Lion Beer.
- I’m jealous
- This place rocks out. We’ve been to temples in the jungle, a tea plantation, scuba diving, my mate even went to a cookery class! We’ve been up and down the West coast, Hikkaduwa, Midigama, Mirissa. We’re staying in a place called Kabalana at the moment - there’s a sick left-hander right in front of our hotel which we’ve been sharing every morning with surfers from all over the world; Japan, France, Sweden, Israel. The boys have been laughing because I’ve been whooping everyone and now they’re all my mates. I now know where all the best surf spots are in Tel Aviv (laughing). This is one of the coolest countries I have ever been too, we’ve been here for nearly a month and every day has been awesome.
- Hi stranger, what's up?
- Lucia, how's it going?
- ...epic, it's been so cool. We've had the sickest waves and Newquay has been on fire, I love it, the atmosphere is unreal, so much energy everywhere....i got out of the sea yesterday, went into town, there was such a cool vibe, i bought a coffee and just sat there watching people and listening , wicked. I've been away loads but when I come home I love it.
- So you had a great Summer?
- [laughs] Awesome - I've been in so many cool places and met so many lovely people.
- Any stand-outs?
- Yeah, Germany was sick, I've been to Frankfurt and Munich a few times and we filmed a TV commercial for Sparkasse Bank in Dusseldorf but this time we went to the Mosel valley, the "valley of wine and pilsner "(laughs)... had a massive night at the Harley and Wein Festival in Urzig with hundred's of hairy bikers.
- So, it was a holiday?
- Actually it was work [laughs] ...no honestly it was. We went there to spend some time with 2 lads I coach who compete in ITF Futures events and on the last night I let "loose" and took my other half to the festival. We met these 3 dudes from Florida who had crates of Bittburger stashed in their van and one of them had this Harley that was stripped down with a massive tyre on the back, he kept jumping onto his bike and burning down the strip pulling massive wheel spins, smoke everywhere, people would start cheering so he would go bigger and bigger every time - insane [laughing again]
- A good night then?
- [still laughing] What I can remember of it.
- What's next?
- We've got so much cool stuff lined up- Im back in Spain, Jersey, then we're in Portugal, Ireland again in December.
- Defo ... and then as soon we get back Im going to Dubai, can't wait.
- at last we meet
- [laughs] what are the chances of this happening
- What about work? Have you been playing tennis or coaching?
- Uhh oh yea [laughs], but it’s just work
- I know, but what have you been up to?
- I'm doing a lot of work in the UK training coaches for the LTA. I'm still doing bits at Exeter University. I haven’t been to Batchwood for a while but I will do soon. I love those guys. I’ve been travelling a lot with some of the players I coach - we ran an awesome training camp in Spain a few weeks ago - we’re back out there again next month and I’m going to see my mate in Norway but that’s not work.
- Hi Guy, what’s up?
- All cool, we’re in Amsterdam
- The Dam, I love the Dam. Why are you in Holland and why Amsterdam?
- We’ve been in Cervinia snowboarding and decided to come home via Amsterdam, we got here the day before yesterday, had a drive to Rotterdam, stayed there the night and then drove back. Amsterdam is so cool, there’s a bar on the corner of Dam square where we always go, we sit outside, buy a Heineken and chill as the world goes by; if you shut your eyes and listen all you hear is hundreds of people speaking different languages, it’s amazing, there’s nowhere quite like it - London is great and so is Barcelona and Venice is radical but it’s a different vibe in Amsterdam, it’s a different texture here, a different fabric if that makes sense. I first came here in 1996 to shoot a TV commercial for KLM and we’ve been coming back ever since, it’s a lovely place and the people are so friendly.
- So you’re on a break?
- Haha well sort of, I’m working as well, kind of. I’ve just started a new series of paintings called Fabricatia. Last Summer in the build up to my mate Elvis’ wedding in Ireland I completed a series of images called Aqualandia. Elvis lives in Louisburgh which is a magical place on the west coast overlooking Clare Island. The theme for Aqualandia was the sea and its environment – bright colours, sunshine, sand dunes, cliffs, salt, shells, all the things that could make up a world under and above the ocean; over the last few months I’ve been thinking, what would be the opposite to that? Where could it be? where can you go that is flat, has no cliffs or sand dunes and has a totally different vibe to a rural coastal village in western Ireland - Amsterdam . So, I’m here to get some ideas, do some research haha … and hang out.
- Cool and when will we be able to see Fabricatia?
- I don’t know, when they’re done I suppose, I can never put a time frame on it
- And obviously you have to fit in your surfing schedule
- You know me too well Lucia, if there’s waves at home or wherever I am I will definitely be surfing. It’s been pumping in Cornwall recently, I wake up every morning at first light, make a coffee, take a stroll down to the beach and there are waves everywhere…awesome
- And tennis?
- yes, there will always be that, there’s a lot going on, but…well, you know
- No I don’t know, you never talk about tennis, tell us what’s going on, we want to know.
- Oh you know…it’s just tennis, a bat a ball hahaha !!!!
- Hi. Where are you?
- We're on the far west coast of Ireland. It's beautiful. Wild and beautiful. On an island. Awesome!
- Ok. And why are you in Ireland? I think I know!
- uhhh...waves! Hahaha… we arrived in Ireland yesterday, drove straight from Dublin to Easkey. I went for a surf and then met my mates in the pub; chicken pie and a few pints of Guiness… lovely. I stayed with Cain [Kilcullen - 3 x Irish Surfing Champion] in Enniscrone last night . We looked at the chart and decided we should check this place out, so we got up real early and left in the dark - got here about 2 hrs ago. Since then we've just been sat in the car drinking coffee from Corib and eating the biggest breakfast rolls you've ever seen.
- Is it Raining? The last time I was in Ireland it never stopped.
- Do you know what, it's beautiful. A big, blue sky with not a cloud in sight. There's no-one around - it's like we're hangin out with mother nature; the sky, the beach, the sea and behind us are mountains. Wicked! As we drove down through the valley earlier, the mist was settled over the trees and as the sun has come up it's slowly dissipated. There's even a little rivermouth at the end of the beach. We've got everything.
- So what's the plan now?
- Well, there's not a lot of swell but Cain knows a spot down the road that might have a little something on it.
- Hi. It's Lucia
- Howzit! We had some sick waves, head high. The wind picked up but it was clean. It was reeling, hollow, 4 of us out…and 2 seals. All you could see out the back was the ocean and mountains. I had a few good ones and Cain got one of the sweetest barrels I’ve seen in ages. He took off, stalled and then pulled into this perfect little grey cavern - amazing! I love it here.
- So Guy what's happening?
- I got home late last night after a 7 hour journey. I'm feeling a bit ragged so I'll jump in the sea in a bit.
- Woah, I bet its cold.
- Yeah, but i've just got an amazing new suit from SNUGG, 5/4 super flexible, built in hood, lovely...the new wetsuit technology has made it possible to surf in the most extreme conditions and this has opened up new frontiers like Scandinavia and Iceland, Cold water surfing is becoming as popular as surfing in boardies in the Caribean....well, almost - haha!
- And is home for you still Cornwall?
- Yeah, I live in Newquay, next to the beach. If I'm not working I'm surfing.
- Do you get time to surf much then these days?
- I'm very lucky. At the moment I can pretty much rotate my work around the swell - I have coaching and tutoring commitments but I schedule them so that I get as much time in the water as possible.
- Have you been surfing anywhere tropical recently? I know you spend a lot of time travelling.
- I went to Ireland in December, that's definitely not tropical but it was pumping. Some of my best friends live over there, the waves are epic and the people are so cool. I love Ireland, its a magical place. I'm over there again in April and May and then we're in Northern Spain in July for a while before we head up to Biarritz and Hossegor. I always make sure I'm at home for the Boardmasters Festival in August though - that's the week that Newquay rocks.
- Surfing Safari?
- And work! What’s on the near horizon?
- Well, there’s a lot on the table, so I'm going with the flow. I've got exciting stuff lined up; I'm tutoring loads, my squads at Batchwood High Performance Centre are great fun, we've got players from all over the country dropping in and also some players from Serbia and Lithuania. Everyone is so lovely at Batchwood and the facility is state of the art - it's awesome! I'm enjoying doing bits with the team at Exeter University and I'll be on the road with players. I'm in Holland in March and the La Manga training camps are always wicked. I've got a big one coming up in June. Over the last few years I've built up a strong relationship with James and Lorenzo - they're great people and it's a world class venue. I've been drawing and painting a lot recently. My other half is keen for me to do more - perhaps have another exhibition towards the end of the Summer. I'd like to do it somewhere unusual though - almost make it an adventure just getting there. I don't know...I haven't exhibited my work for a long time.
- How do we find out more about what you're up to?
- check my website - guyleverton.com. I'm on Facebook and Twitter too!
- Thanks Guy, that's 5! Enjoy the rest of your day.
I can hear people talking excitedly in the background, someone starts “whooping” …
And guess what, he didn’t. But, I have to be honest, I didn’t expect him too, he’s probably too busy riding perfect waves and drinking Guinness.
TAKE 5 part 6 - Interview with Lucia Arroyo, April 2017
Estagnots plage, South West France - Sunday morning 9am; It’s raining; I’m sat in my car at Estagnots while my friend Dee surfs the head high waves that appeared this morning. It’s been big and onshore for over a week so the car park is busy with surfers making the most of the calm in the storm. I’m going through the notes I made during the 20 minute conversation I had with Guy last week. I really want to give you a different insight, find something that shows us another side of him, but as much as I’m trying, I can’t. From the moment he answered my call he was his usual happy, animated, self…
…the conversation carried on in the same vain. I didn’t bother asking him about work, because I know he’s always reluctant to talk about it even though tennis is the reason we asked him to take part in this series in the first place. But, TAKE 5 is all about, discovering an insght into the different lifestyles of professional sports men and women and I definitelty feel that we have done that with Guy; the problem is, he’s making me more and more envious every time I speak to him.
TAKE 5 part 5 - Interview with Lucia Arroyo, October 2016
San Sebastian, Spain - I was walking my dog on the beach early yesterday morning, it was busy. A cool offshore breeze was blowing, there were waves and surfers everywhere and I thought of Guy, so I called him. I didn't expect an answer so was kind of surprised when he picked up...
We chatted for about 15 minutes: Guy had been travelling a lot as usual, he had been in Spain, Denmark, Norway, spent time in London and at home in Cornwall; the waves had been "pumping".
and on and on he went - Sri Lanka in January, then France snowboarding... I always enjoy speaking with Guy, his energy and lust for life is infectious. As I sat there with the phone at my ear, looking out to sea I did wonder if I should ask if I could if I come along for the ride.
TAKE 5 part 4 - Interview with Lucia Arroyo, May 2016
So, I finally met Guy … as usual I had been calling him and there was never an answer, then last week I called and he picked up. He was in Santiago De Compostela, the city under the stars - Galicia’s most magical city and finishing point for the many pilgrims that trek through France, Spain and Portugal on the Camino.
We arrange to meet 2 days later in Saint Jean de Luz, one of my favourite Basque towns and only 30 minutes from where I live. St Jean de Luz is home to some of the best seafood restaurants and cafes in France and conveniently close to many of the most famous beach breaks in Europe.
It’s 10AM, the cafe is quiet when I enter, a group of old fisherman are drinking espressos and playing dominoes, a family are having breakfast and sat on a sofa near the window reading a magazine is a surfer looking dude, he’s wearing a blue tie-dye T-shirt and bright pink beanie. As I approach he looks up and smiles…
I order coffee for both of us and for the next hour we have a chat about everything that has happened in the world of Guy since we last spoke – here are some of the highlights
January - we talked again about snowboarding in Cervinia, Amsterdam and when he got home to Cornwall the surf pumped for 2 weeks solid…there was no mention of tennis
February – the surf was still pumping, he rode some perfect waves in Ireland…still no mention of tennis
March – surfing, surfing, surfing!
April – back in Spain, caught a bus with one of his mates to A Gudina and walked 200km of the Via De Plata in 8 days
Finally I asked the question:
…and that was it! We chatted about surfing again, stand up paddle boarding in the Norwegian Fjords, music festivals, his art projects and then a van pulls up outside with a couple of hairy surfers in the front and just like that Guy is gone - apparently the waves are 3-4ft and offshore in Hossegor !!!!!
I don’t play tennis but I’ve got to be honest, if I did play tennis I would want Guy to be my coach
TAKE 5 part 3 – Interview with Lucia Arroyo, January 2016
And that was it, one minute he was there and then he was gone. At least it’s only been 3 months this time. We’ve followed Guy for over a year now and although contact time has been infrequent to say the least, every time we speak it’s definitely informative and I do feel we are starting to get an idea of what he is about. We know he surfs a lot, likes to travel and he has confirmed what many who have known him a long time keep referring to when they mention his “creativity”. We want to know more and as the saying goes: ”you can run but you can’t hide!” watch this space…Lucia
TAKE 5 part 2 - Interview with Lucia Arroyo, October 2015
Message from Lucia: When we started TAKE 5 the plan was to follow 5 Professional sports people with 5 very different lifestyles and see what they get up to over a period of 24 months through a series of monthly 5 minute interviews. During the initial conversation with Guy it was made clear that to be a part of this project he would need to make himself contactable…as you can see the last interview was in February, since then 7 months have passed,…“why?” I hear you ask…because we can never get hold of him. We’ve stalked Guy on social media but his Facebook page isn’t even in his real name, according to Twitter he’s been in Spain, France, Germany and Puerto Rico. Speak to his friends and they’ll say…”he doesn’t answer his phone because he never has it on him”…well, yesterday I got lucky…well, sort of…
I lose the signal and the call is ended.
5hrs later, I eventually get hold of Guy and Cain again.
I lose signal again and try to get hold of them but no answer. I try again the next day and the phone just rings and rings. Perhaps I should leave them too it - they’re obviously having fun. I wanted to talk to Guy about tennis and whatever else he's been up to but I think it's going to be a bit of a struggle - how can I compete with waves, the beach, seals, mountains and mother nature?
Check out Cain's new film - Oceanic Acid (https://vimeo.com/94950033) Is this where Guy and Cain were surfing?
TAKE 5 - Interview with Lucia Arroyo, February 2015
In the media …
- Movie: Blue Juice - Guy Leverton, Heathcote Williams, Sean Pertwee
- Commercial: Client - Arla, Cowey frisk energi - Denmark
- Commercial: Client - Insignia. Location - Val D'isere, France. Director - Simon Delaney
- Commercial: Client - Nationwide Building Society. Location - Tavauni, Fiji. Director - Carlton Chase
- Elle Magazine
- The Face
- Surfing Magazine USA
- Pit Pilot
- Mojo Magazine
- Arena Homme
- TV Commercials
- Olivetti - Europe
- Eurocard - Europe
- Nationwide Building Society - UK
- Banko Sparkasse - Europe
- KLM Airlines - Worldwide
- KP Nuts - UK
- Insignia - Europe
- ARLA Foods - Scandinavia
- Velvet Goldmine, Director: Todd Haynes. Producer: Christine Vachon
- Blue Juice, Director: Carl Prechezer. Producer: Pete Salmi
- South Kensington, Director: Carlo Vanzina, Medusa Films
- The Stalkers Apprentice - TV Film, Director: Marcus DF White, ITV
- She Shoots He Scores - short, Director: Kevin Hunter
- Johnny Two Time - short, Director: Jonjo O'Reilly
- No Such Thing - short, Directors: Rob Cheek & George Milton, RCA Prods
- Fashion - Clients
- Island Style
- Hugo Boss
- River Island