Mark Boyd is a U.K. surfer who has been crowned 2x Scottish Champion. Boydie spends his summers working offshore, dominating Thurso East’s competition line-up in the winter. Boydie spends his summers working offshore, and when he is not at home, he watches the charts in tropical climes. He’s ready to trade his hooded 6/4 shirt for boardshorts in Costa Rica or Indo.
While becoming a surfer north of Scotland has been challenging, it’s also provided the perfect environment for Mark to practice his pigdog technique. He’s undoubtedly one of Europe’s best backside tube riders and has an unmistakable style that allows him to fit into the tightest barrels.
Mark was kind enough to chat with us about his beloved Thurso and surfing in the Olympics. We also discussed Mark’s obsession with Wavepools, which is not surprising.
What was your first experience with surfing?
Skateboarding was how I first got into surfing. We used to skateboard and surf at the E.S.P. local shop. Mike MacWatt, the shop owner, pointed out that I was near a good surfing beach. I bought a board and an Alder suit and have never stopped.
Which are your proudest surfing accomplishments?
My proudest accomplishment is the 2018 Scottish National title. Highlights include being a finalist in a U.K. Pro Surf Tour event and winning 4x consecutive Scottish Longboard titles. Also, representing Scotland at the Euros and Worlds was a highlight. Also, Carve magazine’s cover shot was very special to me.
What length of time have you been a surfer coach?
Since E.S.P. sent me through my instructor training back in high school, I have been coaching in one way or another. After graduating from uni, I became a part-time surf coach. Then I moved to Lanzarote as a full-time coach. Since then, I have been a coach at the Scottish Surfing Federation’s junior and senior levels. I’m now 17 years old!
How can you combine your surfing passion with your offshore work?
Nowadays, I do as little as possible of the former so that I can surf as much as possible! Haha. However, this was only sometimes true. During my 20s, I surfed very little because I was a trainee and had to work away a lot. It’s been a good decision, as I am now self-employed and finding the right balance is more accessible.
What is your favorite wave in the U.K., other than Thurso East?
It’s most likely the Bristol wave pool right now! haha
Which surfer has done the most fantastic surfing at Thurso East ever?
All the significant surfers have been to Thurso East for our W.Q.S. event. Sunny, Jordy, and John John all attended. But Noah Lane, an Aussie-Irish transplant, was the one who inspired me the most. It was the first time I saw a footer connect the narrow first tube section with the more comprehensive second section. That inspired me and made me realize that it was possible. Royden Bryson’s surgery the year he won Q.S. was terrific. I may be biased, but I learn most from them.
Is there anyone you are impressed with as the coach of the Scottish junior surf team?
Three kids stand out now: Craig McLachlan, Ben Larg, and Ben Kobedza. Some younger girls are becoming more dedicated, and I’m excited to see how they work together over the next few decades.
Are you optimistic that the U.K. will soon have another surfer on the C.T.? Who is the surfer? What do you think is the most significant barrier to this?
It’s happened before, and it can happen again. So ‘barriers’ might be excuses. Luke Dillon, an English champion and good friend, is currently the U.K.’s best hope. He is also the only one giving it a try on the Qualifying Series a. It would be great to see him win the Qualifying Series.
Wave pools are an excellent opportunity for the next generation. We have one in Wales, another in England, and one in Scotland. There are many more in the pipeline. These facilities will be a massive advantage for the U.K. over other countries that don’t have them. We are indeed limited by the cold and lack of daylight hours in Scotland, but facilities like the North Shore Surf Club hut at Thurso can make a huge difference.
Are you thinking of surfing as an Olympic sport?
It has mixed emotions for me. We used to compete in the I.S.A. Worlds as Home Nations/Scotland. However, only G.B. teams can now attend due to Olympic qualification years. This means fewer athletes from the U.K. will be able to compete at the highest level and have the experience of representing their country on the international stage. It’s a shame. The funding of the Scottish team has also been affected by this. However, U.K. Sport has now invested in surfing, and it will be interesting to see how that supports the sport’s development. The sport will grow in professionalism, and progress will be made. It will be exciting for competitive surfing fans to see another significant competition.
People who know you know that you love artificial waves. Would you prefer to surf only Thurso East or chlorinated waves for the rest of your life?
I could only surf Thurso East if it were flat enough. It can do this for months throughout the year. As much as I would love to be able to ride my favorite wave again, I’ll have to admit that artificial waves are actually what I will have to use. It’s not salty water, which is a plus!
Which wave is your favorite? We want to hear about your favorite session.
This year, I had the most enjoyable session at Honkys. Even though it was midday, everyone went in for lunch. It was perfect in terms of swell direction and tide and was super rippable. It was almost like I had the whole thing to myself for several hours. The waves are great, though. Last year, I had a tremendous long tube at Chicken. It was also a highlight. I spend so much time at home surfing that I enjoy the lefts. Surf coaching has its perks!