Dr. Tony Butt
Tony spends most of the year in a forgotten corner of northwestern Spain and travels to southwest South Africa during the southern winter. In an effort to convince people that the more we interfere with the coastline the more problems it will cause us, he has dedicated his life to writing and educating others about the coastal environment.
For Tony, surfing isn’t a way to earn money or gain fame or to prove that he is better than anyone else is; it’s about being in the moment. “Being out in big surf is about being close to nature, not conquering it; it is about understanding nature and understanding yourself,” he says.
- Surfed alone at a number of spots around the world—spots that have now become well-known and crowded—in the 1980s and 1990s
- Moved to the Basque Country to surf Meñakoz for 10 years
- In 1999, he earned a PhD in oceanography; the same day he was pre-selected for the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, Hawaii
- Started a yearly migration to Cape Town, South Africa, in 2002
- Worked as staff oceanographer for The Surfer’s Path magazine for 17 years
- Wrote Surf Science: An Introduction to Waves for Surfing and The Surfer’s Guide to Waves, Coasts and Climates
- Paddled out at a new Spanish big-wave spot and surfed it mostly alone for the next 15 years
- Pioneered several other big-wave spots in Spain
- Brought together key individuals from around the world for the 2011 Global Wave Conference, a meeting where people shared ideas on how to protect surf spots
- Made a full recovery from a serious neck injury to return to surfing big waves, and used the experience to help motivate others
- Became a Patagonia ambassador, a position that gave him the opportunity to make a difference