171: Sam Bleakley/The Dance of Things

Sam Bleakley. Photo: Finisterre/Jack Johns

Think of this conversation with Cornish surfer Sam Bleakley as a companion piece to the extremely popular Dylan Graves episode from a few weeks back. Why? Because here we have another amazing surfer using their talent and platform in Jan in an infinitely more interesting way than most other professional surfers.

Sam’s case is particularly interesting because he has managed to find a way to combine his two major passions – geography and surfing – into one singular life path, something that has led him into some very interesting territory indeed, both literally and metaphorically.

Photo: Finisterre/Jack Johns

Of course, there’s the actual work itself. as well as a surfer, Sam is a journalist, author and academic. He also produces and presents his fantastic WSL show Brilliant Corners, and is a commentator for the WSL longboard tour. It’s a busy slate alright, but what I found fascinating about our conversation is the way Sam has worked to create these opportunities for himself by being honest to his own unique interests, and how he uses them to stretch himself creatively with honesty and integrity.

So yep some classic LS themes in this one, explored in a conversation that took its own time and path in the best Looking Sideways tradition.

Listen here:

Connect with Sam

Show Notes

  • The view from Watergate Bay
  • Sam’s Dad, and how Sam grew up with surfing as a lifestyle 
  • Heading to Cambridge to study Geography 
  • Community 
  • Value 
  • Being an outsider, and growing into the scene.
  • The power of surf magazines 
  • The Surfers Path
  • Creative freedom 
  • Travelling to learn 
  • The importance of grass-root surf communities
  • Sensitivity and openness 
  • Finding the story 
  • ‘ of misrepresented places..’
  • An imperialist past 
  • The truthfulness of smaller stories 
  • Adaptive surfing 
  • Alternative surfing 
  • Women in the sport 
  • The longboard community 
  • Sustainability and caring
  • Being mindful about a spot’s carrying capacity
  • The Wave
  • Confrontation and compromise 
  • Brilliant Corners 
  • Filmmaking 
  • Parenting 
  • The value of resilience 
  • Sam’s passion for geography 
  • “The British edge “
  • Celebrating difference 
  • Discipline and patience 
  • Where next
  • Dance and music 

People Mentioned

  • Ben Myers
  • Jock Bleakley 
  • Bob Head 
  • ‘Fuzz’ Bleakley 
  • Chris Jones 
  • Roger Mansfield
  • Paul Holmes 
  • John Callahan 
  • Alex Dick-Read
  • Chris Power 
  • Steve England 
  • James Otter
  • Kassia Meador 
  • Belinda Bags 
  • Carla Rowland Zamora 
  • Avalon Gall
  • Ben Skinner 
  • Joal Tudor 
  • James Bad
  • Skye Brown 
  • Lukas Skinner 
  • Collin Wilson
  • Dave Reed 
  • Nick Hounsfield  
  • Robin Simpson 
  • Alan Whicker 
  • Michael Palin 
  • Lucy Small 
  • Lola Bleakley 
  • Reuben Bleakley 
  • Gabe Davies 
  • Sandy Kerr 
  • Barry Bailey 
  • Andy Martin 
  • Ed Leigh
  • Damian Castera 
  • Randy Rack
  • Emiliano Cataldi 
  • John John Florence 
  • Jimi Hendrix 

Brands, Companies, Organisations Mentioned

  • Tracks Magazine 
  • Surfer
  • Surf Insight 
  • University of Cambridge 
  • Oxbow 
  • The Surfers Path 
  • Carve 
  • The Guardian 
  • The Independent 
  • World Surfing League 
  • Finisterre  
  • The Wave 
  • The Wave Garden 
  • The National Trust
  • English Heritage 
  • Magic Seaweed
  • Surfing England 
  • British Surfing Association 
  • ASP
  • Board Masters 
  • The Observer 
  • Ski Sunday 
  • Ivy Press