An Interview with: Beau Young
Earlier this year we had the privilege of catching up with Beau Young, a dual longboard world surfing champion, owner of the internationally recognised brand 'Beau Young Surfboards' and son of surf legend Nat Young - as well as being a father, singer and songwriter among other things! With such an incredible C.V. it was a real treat to hear all about his story, what makes him tick and whats coming up next...
VW: Being from the island of Guernsey, we get to see a good few surfers on our beaches - but for those who don’t know you or your boards yet, tell us a little bit about yourself…
BY: My name is Beau, I feel really fortunate to have been able to focus on creative pursuits and actually make a living out of it, be it through the life as a surfer, board shaper or musician.
I am based mainly in Australia but I have a gorgeous little three year old girl in Devon so I find myself in the UK 5 months or so a year. Be it spending quality time with my daughter in Devon or shaping a few boards with my friends at Open Surf in St Agnes Cornwall - I love getting to be in Europe.
VW: Beau Young Surfboards seems less of a ‘job’ and more of an outcome of your love of surfing and equally seems to run hand-in-hand with your life. Work/Life balance on point! What advice would you give to someone starting their business, what have you done to try maintain a solid 'balance'?
BY: From the outset my surfboard brand was started purely from the love of shaping boards and wanting to make people craft that could alter their wave riding experience for the better.
I think with a business creating beautiful things for customers that they are going to not only get a lot of value out of but also a long lasting item is very important.
There is a lot of thought, time and love in each shape and they are customer specific be it from the measurements specific to their weight and ability, along with their choice of colours or colour. My boards are a hand crafted object and ideally made to heighten a surfers wave riding experience. if you're passionate about what you do and love it it should transpire into a business.
VW: Being from such an incredible surfing legacy, did you ever feel the pressure to ‘live up’ to your dad’s achievements and did he/how did he coach you through that?
BY: Mmm... I get asked this often. The big thing with both my mother and father was the fact they never ever pushed me in any direction. It was my choice to go surfing and very much fall in love with it. Obviously it was rather inevitable with us being at the beach so very often, I could surf before I could swim.
There was never any coaching at all from my father. sure as a kid I would follow him out off the rock to jump into the sea etc., but I worked on bettering myself as a surfer because I loved it so very much and ultimately wanted to make a living doing the thing I love.
Winning a world title felt like any pressure had been lifted from being under my dad's shadow but in reality I never felt pressure because surfing is so very personal and for me it has always been much more a connection to nature than simply boxed into being called as sport, it is SO much bigger than being simply a sport.
VW: You’ve often taken the unexpected path - like switching from short to longboards virtually overnight, despite the cut in financial benefits and popularity. Why is that, what gives you the confidence to take the road less travelled?
BY: I've always just followed my gut on things. You have to really focus on what makes you happy, I've definitely made changes mid-stream in career a few times now and its always paid off. I honestly believe if you follow your heart, forget the financial rewards and focus with all your energy on the thing you love it will be become a career. I've worked plenty of jobs on the side to get by but always had my eyes firmly set on what I'm wrapped up on making a career. With time, energy and devotion, the job you do to get by falls by the wayside and your main focus is now paying the bills. The life of a creative has many twists, turns and pitfalls but... I'm not going to deny who I am because it is the easier road.
VW: No doubts the World Title wins were a confidence booster! Was the plan always to set up your own business after that? How did that come about?
BY: I was well and truly not wanting to compete that last year in 2003. I was hooked on being a singer songwriter and riding alternative surfboards of all different nature. I didn't want to be boxed into a criteria nor paddle over the top of my friends for money, it just was not in my being any longer. I followed the music journey playing festivals and gigs all over with a band but basically as momentum was really starting to gather I dropped the ball and stopped. I struggled with the late nights and endless travel, I'd already travelled so much with surfing it was good to get off that train.
I had always loved shaping and tinkering with foam. A handshaped surfboard the old style way from a block of foam is a completely different animal to a computer cut surfboard you simply finish off. I do both styles of board and my business is not 100% handshapes but there is something in the handmade article that makes it so very special.
VW: Do you remember selling your very own, first hand-shaped board? Which board was it, how did you feel?
BY: Mmm... to be honest I can't! I only really remember the magic ones I've sold that I maybe should have hung on to but If the customer get the same enjoyment I have out of it I'd sell my entire quiver of boards, honestly.
VW: You managed to be one of the first to get your hands on our Sandracer series watch, the Ainsdale - how have you found it?
BY: I'm wearing it right now! I love the simplicity in fact it tells me time, date and looks classic in its form, function and style.
I was really drawn to this watch stylistically the first time I saw it, because it reeks of a certain era and is (pardon the pun) timeless. Being a longboarder, history is really, really important to me. One of the most important things is to know where we come from and the simple classic styles, be it walking on a longboard or that particular watch type, speak to me like this.
VW: Finally, where will your adventures take you next - what’s on the horizon for Beau Young?
BY: I will definitely be coming back to Europe multiple times a year. Holding my daughter, trying on a personal level to better my surfing and shaping boards, however I have really gotten back into my songwriting of late.
For a long time the guitars sat on the wall and gathered dust which was just a crying shame. In the ocean the other month in Cornwall, I met a fellow muso (musician) named Nick Kingswell and we just really clicked. He is a phenomenal singer songwriter talent and producer as well. I am so honoured to not only call him a mate but to also be working with him on producing my music. The plan is to release 1 EP (6 tracks or so) a year through Spotify and the like, and to be honest it just really has me excited, I'm so inspired and loving producing tunes again.
Our first EP launches the 22nd April this year, titled ‘YOU’, and I’m really excited as it’s been about 17 years since I released any music.