The Cleanest Line
Tony Butt

Tony Butt

Tony Butt holds a BSc in Ocean Science and a PhD in Physical Oceanography. He divides his time between Northwest Spain and Southwest South Africa; makes a meager living teaching and writing about waves and the coastal environment; and works with NGOs like Surfers Against Sewage and Save the Waves. His published books include Surf Science: an Introduction to Waves for Surfing (2014), The Surfers Guide to Waves, Coasts and Climates (2009) and A Surfer’s Guide to Sustainability (2011).


La Caldera: big, windy and empty. Photo: Miguel Arribazalaga, 2013

The Paradox of Schrödinger’s Peak

Apr 3, 2018 April 3, 2018

It was about an hour before dark. The spot had been a lot easier to find than I thought—five minutes from the main road and within easy viewing distance from a cliff. A few weeks earlier a friend had told me he had seen “something breaking” along this stretch of… Read More

Photo: María Mariñas

Stop the Black Dragon

Sep 22, 2017 September 22, 2017

About five minutes from where I live, there is a small village called Tapia de Casariego. The waves at Tapia are not world-class, but they can get very good on the right conditions. Tapia is also very significant in Spanish surfing history, being one of the birthplaces of surfing in… Read More

Photo: Will Henry

Madeira: Bringing Back the Dream?

May 31, 2017 May 31, 2017

“MISHEEEEEEEE!” boomed Cecilia, almost crushing Michi’s large frame with a huge hug as we both walked in the door. It was 2016 and the twenty-eighth time Michi (pronounced Mickey) Mohr had come to Madeira Island. Even though he was based in Munich, he knew the waves of Madeira as well… Read More

Photo: Platform Save the Tua

Stop the Dams in Portugal

Apr 24, 2016 April 24, 2016

One of the most powerful scenes in Damnation is where a way of life going back over 15,000 years is suddenly brought to an end due to the construction of a dam. When the Dalles dam was built on the Columbia River it submerged Celilo Falls and took… Read More

Cold-Water Bali or Myth?

Cold-Water Bali or Myth?

Dec 28, 2015 December 28, 2015

“Just go in,” said the woman’s voice. “There’s nobody there at the moment but the house is always left open. Yours is room two, upstairs.” I was calling ahead to the small guesthouse where we had booked a room. Slightly bewildered, I looked across at my traveling buddy, Martín. Read More

Above: The Mundaka sandbar behaving itself, winter 2014-15. Spain. Photo: Javi Muñoz

Mundaka: Surf but don’t touch

Jun 23, 2015 June 23, 2015

When the first surfers turned up at Mundaka around the late 1960s and set their eyes upon those perfect lefthanders, they had no reason to think the waves wouldn’t be there forever. Almost half a century later, we now know that Mundaka is a very special wave, perhaps unique… Read More

Wooden Big-Wave Guns: Two Techniques, Same Objective

Wooden Big-Wave Guns: Two Techniques, Same Objective

Feb 13, 2014 February 13, 2014

By Nowadays there are a lot of people making wooden surfboards. Environmentally it makes a great deal of sense. Wood is a natural, non-toxic material that is infinitely less harmful to work with than polyester, epoxy, polyethylene or polystyrene, and that can be assimilated back into the environment once… Read More

‘Medium-wave surfing’ in Spain and South Africa

‘Medium-wave surfing’ in Spain and South Africa

Aug 8, 2013 August 8, 2013

By Sometimes, to find the best solution to a problem, one has to be unafraid of trying out unconventional or seemingly counterintuitive ideas. Sometimes you have to go back and look at the original problem in a different light and think about what you are trying to achieve. When… Read More



Apr 22, 2013 April 22, 2013

By Tony Butt You are out surfing on your own. Someone else paddles out, comes up to you and says, “How long have you been out here?” You think as hard as you can. In the end you take a stab at it and tell him about an hour. But… Read More

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