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 Guide to Sustainable Surfing (2011).

How Gold Diggers in Northern Ireland Are Threatening Natural Beauty
How Gold Diggers in Northern Ireland Are Threatening Natural Beauty
How Gold Diggers in Northern Ireland Are Threatening Natural Beauty
Tony Butt

If you are interested in exploiting somebody else’s land, you can find convenient ratings tables that tell you the current favorites, ranked by competitive taxes, efficient permitting procedures and certainty around environmental regulations. In other words, if a country has low taxes for the rich, a no-questions-asked permit policy and a generous disregard for the…

8 min Read
An Englishman Surfs in Euskadi
An Englishman Surfs in Euskadi
An Englishman Surfs in Euskadi
Tony Butt

It was November 1991. I was with two friends and we were at the beginning of a three-month surf trip around the coasts of Spain and Portugal. Mundaka was our starting point. We all agreed that we would be happy just to get something better than the cold, windblown beach breaks we had left behind…

12 min Read
The Paradox of Schrödinger’s Peak
La Caldera: big, windy and empty. Photo: Miguel Arribazalaga, 2013
The Paradox of Schrödinger’s Peak
Tony Butt

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 coast. This must be it,…

9 min Read
Stop the Black Dragon
Photo: María Mariñas
Stop the Black Dragon
Tony Butt

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 this country. Most of the…

12 min Read
Reviving a Once-Exploited Surf Spot in Madeira
Photo: Will Henry
Reviving a Once-Exploited Surf Spot in Madeira
Tony Butt

“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 as anyone, and could more…

12 min Read
Doughmore: The Futility of Trying to Fix a Coastline
Photo: Kev Smith
Doughmore: The Futility of Trying to Fix a Coastline
Tony Butt

“The real conflict of the beach is not between sea and shore […] but between Man and Nature. On the beach, Nature has achieved a dynamic equilibrium that is alien to Man and his static sense of equilibrium. Once a line has been established, whether it be a shoreline or a property line, Man unreasonably…

9 min Read
Stop the Dams in Portugal
Photo: Platform Save the Tua
Stop the Dams in Portugal
Tony Butt

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 the salmon with it, forever changing the…

9 min Read
Just How Good Is the Surfing in Iceland?
Just How Good Is the Surfing in Iceland?
Just How Good Is the Surfing in Iceland?
Tony Butt

“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. “It’s cool man, aquí no roban,”…

14 min Read
Mundaka: Surf But Don’t Touch
Mundaka: Surf But Don’t Touch
Mundaka: Surf But Don’t Touch
Tony Butt

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 in the world; not just because…

13 min Read
Percebeiros: The Hunter-Gatherers of Europe’s Rugged Coastlines
Percebeiros: The Hunter-Gatherers of Europe’s Rugged Coastlines
Percebeiros: The Hunter-Gatherers of Europe’s Rugged Coastlines
Tony Butt

Until recently in our evolutionary history as a species, humans couldn’t extract resources faster than those resources were renewed. Even if we wanted to we couldn’t because Nature put a limit on the amount we could physically take. Then, sometime within the last few thousand years, we crossed a tipping point and now we are…

12 min Read
Patrick Burnett and Jason Hayes on Making Wooden Big-Wave Boards
Patrick Burnett and Jason Hayes on Making Wooden Big-Wave Boards
Patrick Burnett and Jason Hayes on Making Wooden Big-Wave Boards
Tony Butt

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 the life of the board has…

11 min Read
Medium-Wave Surfing in Spain and South Africa
Medium-Wave Surfing in Spain and South Africa
Medium-Wave Surfing in Spain and South Africa
Tony Butt

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 looking for a place to surf,…

8 min Read
Flow State, Explained
Flow State, Explained
Flow State, Explained
Tony Butt

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 the truth is you really don’t…

15 min Read
A Surfer Remembers the Prestige Oil Spill in Spain
A Surfer Remembers the Prestige Oil Spill in Spain
A Surfer Remembers the Prestige Oil Spill in Spain
Tony Butt

We are constantly reminded that our oil-based consumer society, with our excessive use of plastics, obsession with air travel and inefficient ways of heating and lighting our homes, will eventually lead to environmental suicide in the form of global warming and resource depletion. But for many people, including surfers, global warming and resource depletion are…

6 min Read
The Science of Finding Harmony in Doing Extreme Sports
The Science of Finding Harmony in Doing Extreme Sports
The Science of Finding Harmony in Doing Extreme Sports
Tony Butt

“We still talk in terms of conquest. We still haven’t become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy Nature. But man is a part…

8 min Read
El Berberecho
El Berberecho
El Berberecho
Tony Butt

By Tony Butt One would think that the early nineties would be a relatively late stage to discover new surf in Europe. When I set off from Cornwall to Galicia in November 1992 in a van with two mates, all we were expecting to do was satisfy our own curiosity. Nobody we had spoken to…

4 min Read
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