Craig Anderson has never been one to hog the limelight. The Newcastle, Australia-based freesurfer’s output has always been a case of quality over quantity. His surf fans’ demand always outstripped his stylish supply. Yet even by his standards, he’s been quiet for the last few years. Turns out running a business, then COVID, followed by eight months out of the water with a foot injury, has seen the 34-year-old fly even further under the radar.
Yet things are about change. Fully fit and with his brand in a good place, Ando is keen to hit the road in 2023 and showcase why he remains one of the most stylish surfers of his generation. I caught up with him at his home in Merewether to discuss where he’s been, and where he’s headed. In his own words, this is Craig on…
Making A Home
“Through COVID and the last few years, my life has changed. Riding for Quiksilver and traveling the world I did fairly nonchalantly, and that finished. During the pandemic, I couldn’t travel, and my girlfriend moved up to Newcastle from Sydney and found work here. We created a more homely environment where surfing wasn’t my sole focus. My priorities changed and I also got married last year.
I did travel to Europe early last year but tore the ligaments in my foot in Ireland and was sidelined for eight months. So I’m looking forward to a big year of chasing waves and I have the travel bug back. The aim is not just to travel for the sake of it, which I did previously because there were always opportunities, but to be more selective. Now I have a wife, a dog, and a vegetable patch, I have responsibilities at home. The aim is to spend a solid month in the right destination, and then come back to check-in and I’m excited to do that.
Running a Business
“I try and just dip my toes in on the fun stuff. At Former we have a team that is great at their jobs. In the beginning, I wanted to get stuck in on the business side and I feel I have a relative handle on that now.
Now I have a level of involvement that isn’t too stressful but lets me do the creative side. My strength and passion is my surfing and documenting that, so that’s where I feel I am best utilized.
This year I’m excited to travel and put in the time. I’ve just come back from Hawaii filming with Db and am now busy planning a year’s worth of missions.
Being a Boss
I’ve been working with the brand now for six or seven years, and it’s had its highs and lows. There were initial teething issues, and we made all the possible mistakes you can make, but I feel like we are in a good spot. There are marketing budgets, and we are paying team riders. I feel we can be a force to be reckoned with, and while it’s never been about that, to be able to pay a young freesurfer a great wage, the same way I was looked after at Quiksilver, is really nice.
We’ve just signed Shaun Manners, who I think is one of the best young freesurfers in the world, and we have Kaito Ohashi from Japan, Jay Davies, and Ben Howard. I’m excited to get together and drink beers and make some special surf clips with the team.
I have pushed myself in the last five years in waves that, while not in the big-wave realm, were still well out of my comfort zone. A lot of my surfing has been focused on the New South Wales South Coast and West and South Oz. I was hanging with bodyboarders that chase these empty, hairy, slabs that no one could be bothered dealing with.
And I loved that scene and the camaraderie. The lineups were empty and organized when it is solid and challenging. However, I think I need to surf longer and more varied waves. I feel my surfing had moved into a space where it was just barrels and one big move, or air, so I’m excited to chase some long lefts in Chile and Africa and hang in J-Bay or Namibia.
I’ve been really lucky with injuries in my career. I mean I was surfing shallow water in front of rocks, and I was trying big airs and yet I wasn’t even conscious of my body. I’m not reckless, I’m selective and I take my time to analyze things on a deeper lineup level, so that I’m not throwing myself at everything, but looking back I got away with a lot.
That foot injury last year gave me a new appreciation of my body. I’ve spent time in the gym and my wife is a yoga teacher so that helps. I’m enjoying where I’m headed. I mean I could be a lot better, but a little bit of work goes a long way when you are used to doing absolutely nothing apart from surfing and drinking beers.
Dane Reynolds and I
Former has always been a creative endeavor and we thought we could offer something that wasn’t directed by sales reps or marketing teams. Dane and I thought we could be ourselves and make the apparel and films that we wanted. We’ve had to conform to certain guidelines on how a brand works, be it seasonal drops or being on-calender to have a functional business, but the attitude remains the same. We always just wanted to make films and hang with surfers we like and respect and we seem to be getting closer to that ideal now.
Dane and I have different tastes, and that mainly comes out every season when we have to pull together a range. We tend to clash on the graphics, and that’s probably the trickiest part of the business, ’cause we are such graphic heads. However, we always come together and put out a range that we are both proud of.
Look people still love to watch Dane, and I feel I am at least in the mix with my surfing. So I’m excited to do some trips with him this year, as well as with the whole team, and work on some cool stuff. I’m in a good place personally and with my surfing. Let’s see what we can bring to the table.
Read more about Craig, Dane Reynolds, and Former here.