Andrew “Cotty” Cotton: Where is the Big Wave Surfer Now?

As a Chris Smith-directed (‘Sr.’ and ‘Fyre’) sports documentary series we can only describe as equal parts baffling, educating, and intriguing, HBO’s ‘100 Foot Wave’ is genuinely unlike any other. That’s because it gives us an unprecedented look into the wildly dangerous yet exhilarating world of surfing through the eyes of professionals who’ve actually been an active part of it for years. Amongst them is none other than British native Andrew “Cotty” Cotton — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about him, his background, as well as his current standing, we’ve got you covered.

Who is Andrew “Cotty” Cotton?

Although Andrew has always been comfortable in water owing to his early (doctor-recommended) swimming lessons to treat asthma, it was when he was eight that he became interested in surfing. He actually begged his parents if he could have a go at it to such an extent they had to rent equipment, just for him to then fall utterly in love with the sport while also understanding its brutality. So for his next birthday, his supportive “parents bought me a surfboard from Chapter Surf Shop. It was super-Eighties, luminous green and pink with a lightning bolt down it. It was rad.”

Andrew’s passion for surfing only grew exponentially in the following years, but his journey from his local beach in North Devon to some of the most impressive big waves wasn’t easy or without issues. He did manage to join clubs to learn technicalities before partaking in competitions, yet his education, the risk of injuries, its scope, and the cost of turning pro left a question mark in the minds of others. “I was told by the careers advisor [at school] that surfing wasn’t a job – that it was simply not possible,” he once said. “So I left school and ended up just aiming to work in the surf industry.”

Andrew subsequently landed a position at a surfboard manufacturing company, which did wonders as it also facilitated him with enough free time to surf in various locations across the world. “It was through being able to travel that I found my niche – surfing big waves,” he admitted. “I realized that I might not be the best small-wave surfer, but I loved big waves. And that was it.” He did have to evolve into a plumber as well as a beach lifeguard for brief periods to make ends meet, but nothing could pull him away from the waters for a long time as he just loved the wave chase.

However, things only changed for Andrew in 2010 when he got a call from pioneer Garrett McNamara about being his safety ski driver in the forever incredible beach town of Nazaré in Portugal. Thus began their close friendship and his opportunity to move on from being an amateur through working alongside one of his heroes, which he took complete advantage of by soaking in the experience. He was then offered a contract by Red Bull on the basis of his own solo big-wave surfs a couple of years later, making his dream of going pro a reality in a way he could’ve never even imagined.

Andrew “Cotty” Cotton is Perfecting His Craft Today

Andrew’s career in the waters almost came to an end in November 2017 as he broke his back riding a 55-foot wave in Nazaré, yet he truly proved his mettle by making a remarkable recovery. The Dryrobe ambassador had decided this was not the end for him, so he worked hard to regain not just his physical but also his mental strength, only to be back on the board in less than a year. In fact, he returned stronger than ever since he actually surfed a potential world record-breaking 80-foot wave right in Nazaré in 2020, all the while struggling with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.

“My aims as a surfer change all the time,” Andrew concedes. “But for any professional big wave surfer, it’s all about getting that one ride of the winter. The whole year revolves around riding a wave for a few seconds. It’s all subjective, but it’s also quite personal. Just spending as much time as you can in the water on the biggest days, and then you’re in with a chance of riding one of the biggest waves of the year, if not ever.” Nevertheless, no matter what, the Devon resident, Saltrock Clothing ambassador, outdoor adventurer, public speaker, and professional surfer still always prioritizes his family — his two children, Honey and Ace, with his former wife Katie are his rock.

Read More: Are Garrett and Nicole McNamara Still Together?