Lucy Campbell is no stranger to surfing.
The British surfing champ, 25, has traveled the world to find the best surf spots from Indonesia to Devon.
During her travels, she lived on a boat in the Maldives, fell in love with Mexican cuisine and explored the coastal cities of Portugal.
But she has also seen firsthand how plastic is affecting beaches and oceans around the world, from the UK to Senegal, and Africa.
We spoke to her about the highlights from her nautical adventures.
What is your favorite moment on the wave?
I travel a lot of the year – I’ve been back home for about a month this year so far. But my last trip must have been a few weeks ago, which was more on the sea.
I was lucky enough to be in the Maldives on a live boat, so this meant we could travel wherever the waves were better and live outdoors all the time on the ocean.
You’ve reached a new personal best of spending nine hours one day at sea. It was an absolute dream.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
There are many for different reasons. Portugal is amazing because it’s so close, so easy to get into, really good waves for training and nice weather.
I love everything, but in particular, Sines, just south of Lisbon, which has beautiful, quieter beaches.
The south coast is also amazing. I’ve been on long weekend trips to places like Rome with family. But I am certainly happier near the sea.
What are the best and worst meals you have had abroad?
I love fresh seafood. We were doing a lot of fishing on the boat, so we made fresh sashimi, which is to die for.
This is up there with the best, along with Mexico, probably my country of choice for food, with tacos and burritos, all good things.
worst? I had octopus stew in South Sumatra. It was so cooked you couldn’t chew it.
Where is the best place to surf?
Indonesia is the most consistent surfing destination. You’re guaranteed good swell, good waves, and good wind.
We had a good group in the Maldives – everything from totally auditioning, waves out of my comfort zone to just plain fun, hilarious laughs with friends.
Sometimes the wind was so calm that you could see the fish swimming among the reefs below while you were sitting on the board. Felt like you were in an aquarium.
What is your favorite place in the UK?
My house is in North Devon, where there is a wave called Croyde, which to me is the best beach break in the UK – I might be biased.
There are also many beautiful spots around Cornwall and they swell a bit off the Atlantic. I love Scotland too – there are world class waves. It’s very cold and bumpy.
The most famous is Thurso, by John O’Groats. We had a competition there early last year and it was snowing so hard between temperatures they had to put it off for a minute – it was all white.
I was wearing a five-foot wetsuit with boots, gloves, and hoodies, so it was the smallest part of your face that really got cold. The hardest part was the change in the parking lot afterwards.
Have you noticed a difference in sea pollution while surfing?
I remember seeing a weird paint can or glove floating in the water when I first started surfing. But the thing I’ve noticed more in the UK lately is microplastics: cans, which are raw plastic before being processed into things.
They are carried in beads and sometimes those that come from ships. Anyone who goes to the beach this summer will surely spot them along the high tide line. And then only bottles, packages and things are washed.
What is the worst sea you have seen in terms of pollution?
Senegal, off the west coast of Africa. I was there for the competition, and every time I hit the paddle I would bring in handfuls of plastic at a time.
If something floats by my side here, I’ll put it in the wetsuit and dispose of it at home. But there are plenty of soft plastics, like wrappers and transport bags, out there. The current takes it and gathers around that area.
Also in the Maldives, you’ll come to this picture perfect remote little island and the whole beach was plastic bottles and shoes. I want to show people what I see to get everyone to do a little more.
It’s easy in cities and towns to think about removing all the trash so people don’t see that buildup – or the catastrophic impact on animals.
Where is the strangest place you spent your night?
I collapsed on my way to competition early this year on the M5’s hard shoulder, so I’ve been in a dry robe in the rain most of the night. I have a pickup truck, which I sometimes do on surf errands.
A lot of the places I travel to surf are quite far away, so it’s often basic accommodations or homestays. There is something so beautiful about being a little off the sticks.
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