Homegrown pro-surfer Laura Crane has been riding the waves since the age of 11, to great success. She told Visit Devon how growing up in Croyde in North Devon got her fully immersed in the outdoors lifestyle – and how she’s never looked back.
19 year old Laura Crane is a professional surfer and model, and the face of brands such as Billabong, Sungod sunglasses and Nixon. She’s already secured two British titles, is a member of Team GB, and is now taking her accomplishments up a notch by competing on the European professional circuit.
You’ve been travelling the world since the age of 12 – but do you like coming home to North Devon?
My heart’s still well and truly stuck in North Devon! It’s where my life changed in ways that I could have only dreamed of and that’s given me the life I love so much.
Was North Devon a good place to grow up?
I loved it – I have so many amazing memories of it, and it’s been an amazing place for me.
I actually spent the first nine years of my life in Bristol, but we often visited our holiday home in Croyde. After a while we were travelling there nearly every weekend, and I was getting sad to leave on a Sunday to go back to school, so I asked my mum and dad if we could move to Devon for good! I think I loved it because I was really outdoorsy and loved the beach.
I hadn’t tried surfing yet but but was doing well and swimming and gymnatics, and my new school was really supportive of my achievements in those. Then one day I decided to try surfing … and after that day all the rest is history!
I figured out that swimming up and down a swimming pool wasn’t for me, and I was then surfing before and after school – it quickly became an addiction in a way that only a surfer would know!
Did starting to surf at a young age give you a head start?
I started at about 11, but most of the kids in my school had been surfing from the age of seven or eight, so I guess if anything I had a bit of a late start! But I got in a fair amount of water time all through that summer right through the winter, and loved every minute of it !
Do you feel glad that you had such an outdoors lifestyle as a kid?
With kids having phones, video games and computers as young as they are today, I think it’s as important as ever that kids spend as much time as they can outside, playing and having fun, because you don’t create childhood memories on a video game.
What about kids who just come to North Devon on holiday? Can they have a go while they’re here?
For sure – anyone can start surfing, even if it’s just a hour a year. Then, they’ll be thinking about being back in the water surfing until they can go in again … it has a crazy effect!
Can you recommend a good beach for learners? There are perfect waves for all abilities in North Devon. For the learners, Saunton Sands is the best – it’s a slow wave that’s easy for people to learn on. Then for the more progressive surfer my home beach of Croyde is a bit faster, but on a small day it’s also good for everyone.
Do you enjoy other beach sports, like paddleboarding?
I love paddleboarding – it’s an amazing workout. I also used to love taking out a canoe with my dad, with a fishing line tied on to the back, and catching some little mackerel.
Where are your favourite spots in Devon – to surf or otherwise?
My favourite place to surf in Devon is Croyde, no question! For a great walk I love Baggy point – it has some amazing views and cute little cafes to stop of at on the way round, like Sandleigh Tea Rooms. It’s so cute, with veggies and fruits growing in the back garden.