How to Become a Professional Surfer

“Do you get waves in England?”

If Harry Timson had a dollar— well, maybe a pound would be more fitting — every time he was asked that question, he’d have a lot more extra cash to spend as he travels the world as a professional surfer for Volcom along with fellow international riders like Mauro Diaz and Leon Glatzer.

“Still to this day if I go somewhere and I meet someone, they’re like, ‘Are you Australian?’ and when I tell people I’m English they ask if we get waves in England,” Timson said while in Bali, Indonesia, on a recent trip with Volcom. “Newquay (Cornwall) is one of the best spots for surfing in the UK. Scotland is also sick; it’s super fun, but fickle.”

Like most boys in the United Kingdom, Timson grew up playing soccer. Born in Leicester—home to his beloved 2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester City FC — it wasn’t until summer trips to Cornwall that he could escape his land-locked hometown in favor of the freedom and smell of the sea. Timson caught his first wave when he was 3 years old.

“I stood up on a wave before I could even walk,” he said with a laugh.

Trips to Cornwall became more frequent as Timson grew older and his love of the ocean increased. Every school holiday was spent at the beach. Weekends melted away on the water in between five-hour car rides to and from Leicester. He would cry whenever his parents told him it was time to go home.

Harry Timson getting air off the coast of Java, Indonesia. | © Luke Forgay/Volcom
Harry Timson getting air off the coast of Java, Indonesia | © Luke Forgay/Volcom

Timson and his friends loved surfing so much that even their soccer team name, The Riders, paid homage to the sport they were obsessed with. He began entering surf contests when he was seven or eight and won his first one the year after. When he was 10, his parents realized it was time to get their son closer to the water, so they moved to Cornwall.

“Still to this day I couldn’t thank my mom and dad enough for it,” Timson, 21, said. “They literally put everyone on the line for me to go surfing.”

Shortly thereafter, Timson joined Volcom and has been with their team for approximately 11 years. He hasn’t forgotten how he got to where he currently is, and tries to include his father, a retired auto mechanic who is now a photographer/videographer, with him on as many surf journeys as possible. Vince Timson has been able to film his son in California, Hawaii and Bali this year alone.

“No matter how the conditions are, he’ll stand on the beach for hours,” Harry said. “Having a photographer travel with you all the time is so sick, and it’s even more special if it’s your dad.”

Mauro Diaz

Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mauro Diaz was surrounded by surfing and, more importantly, good waves. It helped that his family lived right in front of the beach. His older brother, Paulo, and their father, Luigi, also surfed. There were even days where Luigi would take his sons out of school unexpectedly to catch some nearby waves.

“I’d go surfing with them after school, before school or sometimes even during school,” Mauro said.

While Diaz developed his love of the water and surfing from his father, his mother, Mirti, was integral in his appreciation for the arts and creativity. When he isn’t in the water, Diaz draws. His surfboards are littered with whatever comes to mind and is expressed through his hands. He’s also in talks with Volcom about possibly creating T-shirt designs.

“My mom does big sculptures that hang for interior design; she’s very artistic,” Diaz said. “From a young age she also put me into that passion.”

One of Mauro Diaz's surfboards. | © Michael LoRé/Culture Trip
One of Mauro Diaz’s surfboards. | © Michael LoRé/Culture Trip

Diaz, 20, joined Volcom three years ago after he graduated high school. It’s been a goal of his to ride for the company. Diaz would watch riders like Nate Tyler, Mitch Coleborn and others in films and clips; now he travels the world with them in search of the best waves around.

“My whole life I’ve wanted to ride for Volcom and it’s a dream come true,” Diaz said. “It’s surreal that I’m here. I remember talking to (Volcom) and I wasn’t sure it would work out, but it’s real now. It’s awesome.”

Leon Glatzer

Leon Glatzer lived with his mother in Pavones, on the southern coast of Costa Rica. Katja Glatzer would frequently take her son into the water and once he was old enough, get him up on a surfboard. Leon loved every moment of it. The experience wouldn’t last forever though. When he got older, Katja moved the family six hours inland to the capital city of San José so Leon could attend school.

“I would always say to my mom, ‘I want to go to the beach and go surfing,'” Glatzer said. “She’d say, ‘No, you can’t right now because you have to focus on school.'”

Leon Glatzer off the coast of Java, Indonesia. | © Luke Forgay/Volcom
Leon Glatzer off the coast of Java, Indonesia | © Luke Forgay/Volcom

Glatzer was still able to quench his thirst for waves, returning to Pavones on weekends and school holidays. At 13, he represented Germany (both his parents are German) at the ISA World Surfing Games and the sponsors began reaching out to him. Glatzer, unfortunately, had to turn them down because school was his No. 1 priority.

After much consideration, the family relocated back to Pavones, providing Glatzer, who would then be homeschooled, an opportunity to get in the water as much as he could. Glatzer would see his other friends with stickers on their boards and logos on their clothes. He longed for a similar experience. Eventually, Volcom got in touch with him again and sent him his first cherished box of stickers.

It was amazing, they just started taking me on trips and going from place to place, country to country, meeting people and learning about new cultures,” Glatzer, 20, said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Travel and accommodations in Bali provided by Volcom.

NOTE: First appeared on Culture Trip

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