Interview: SUP Mag UK
Pics: Steve and Ollie Laddiman
Welsh father and son paddle surfing duo Steve and Ollie Laddiman are partners in crime when it comes to chasing down UK wave conditions and slicing a few tops off. With Ollie already having competed in World Stand Up Tour events and Steve noted as being a bona fide charger, SUP Mag UK thought it high time we caught up with the pair for a natter.
- Even though you’re father and son, your relationship comes across more as mates. Is it like that or do you annoy the hell out of each other really?
(Steve) Pretty much, there will always be a degree of patriarchy but when we’re on the hunt for surf it’s very much on equal terms. As soon as he’s driving then this will level out even more so I can sleep on the way and the way back like he does at the moment!
- Do you find surfing together has increased your bond? It’s not often you see such camaraderie between family members.
(Steve) For sure, surfing requires a lot of time spent in each other’s pockets – not only on the water but also travelling, as well as all the planning and scouring of forecasts. There’s the shared highs and lows plus the common angst when one of us is getting nailed badly! We are always watching each other’s backs.
- Are you competitive with each other in the water? Is the race on to see who will get the most likes on Facebook for their videos and pics?
(Ollie) There’s always going to be a slight competitive air, but we don’t tend to show it.
(Steve) On the water we both have very different styles (and I’m fully aware that he’s way better than me!) so we tend not to compete but do push each other on as much as we can. Social media wise, there is little to say really; it’s more a vessel to document the better sessions we’ve had or notable days out. If folk happen to like what we put up then that’s great.
- Steve, are you tempted to step up and compete on the world stage like your son?
Funny! It was an education to be amongst the world’s best last year at La Torche. The level is just beyond, and increasing all the time.
- Ollie, how would you feel if you suddenly had to face off against your dad during a heat?
It’d just be like any other heat, but with a bit more chat. It happened a few times in the Irish SUP Dublin surf comp.
- Who’d win?
(Ollie): Last time it wasn’t me…
(Steve) Incredibly I did… twice! That’s competition though. Anything can happen!
- Ollie, recently you took possession of a performance longboard shape from your sponsor Escape. What made you go down this route after riding high performance short boards for so long?
The last two years of the Irish SUP comp we have both entered the 10ft+ category. It’s just a hoot, and no one seems to take it too seriously, so I decided to go ahead and get my own longboard style SUP. I’m definitely not regretting it! It turns what would be a crappy session into a chilled, fun surf.
- Steve, are you into logging as well or are you happy to stick with your regular ride?
I don’t often venture much beyond 8ft but I do love a longboard session. I reckon there’s a lot of mileage in it. The current longer SUPs are just a bit too big and fat. As soon as they slim down a bit more I’m there.
- What moves are you both working on with your SUP surfing? If one sees the other nail something huge is the pressure on to stomp the same?
(Ollie) Airs, 360s and backhand. Really, I need to work on my backhand!
(Steve) Style and link ups are my priority. If I see him nail something huge it’s all about the hooting.
- Talk to us about your current quivers. What are both using and why?
(Ollie) Well I’ve got a few to talk about; three to be precise. There is the Escape 6.10ft x 25”, the old one now, that basically works in all conditions from knee high to overhead and can slash anything to pieces. Then there’s my new door shaped Escape that is 6.8ft x 23.5”. This is a slack wave shredder. It works really well in smaller conditions and is surprisingly stable for its width. Then to top it off there is the longboard 9.1ft x 24”. This thing is the bomb. It is fun in all conditions no matter the weather, size or wind. It carves really nicely and it’s great fun running up to the nose. There’s a board for every condition. I don’t really need much else. Well… You can’t have too many boards? Can you?
(Steve) I’m currently rocking the Loco Comp 8.2ft and the Loco short SUP 7.4ft. The 7.4ft is my go to board for almost any condition as it is such a hoot in waves right up to overhead, squirty off the tail with loads of pop but with its fairly parallel outline it can hold a rail on the larger stuff with ease. The 8.2ft is for big waves or super messy conditions as it is more stable and paddles in easily with a classic rail turning style. A noserider / longboard style stick would complete the quiver well.
- Do either of you indulge in any flat water paddling or is it all about waves and surfing?
(Steve) We do go for the odd flatwater family paddle when needs must, but we’re not really geared up for it.
(Ollie) No, flat water is not really our thing. Only if we have a new board and there are no waves, or we haven’t been out for over two months. Flat water in my eyes is just tedious, no excitement, so I have no interest.
- How do you pass the time during flat spells?
(Steve) North Wales has a lot of everything going on so there is always something to do. Mostly though when work isn’t getting in the way windsurfing fills the time with rock climbing plugging any gaps between wind and waves.
- More and more paddlers are looking to step up in waves – do you think there’ll come a time when paddle boarders outnumber surfers?
(Ollie) I don’t think that paddlers will ever outnumber the surfers, Too many surfers still don’t agree with the way of the paddle, but paddle surfing is on the rise and becoming more popular all the time, anything can happen.
(Steve) Surfing is a massive marketing machine, people will always want to associate themselves with it and as such it will always be more popular. Suits me too, I can’t abide a break overpopulated with stand ups.
- What’s your general opinion of SUP surfing in the UK?
(Ollie) Its good, everyone I see out on a SUP is always improving. The whole UK SUP scene is getting better all the time. In a few years the UK standard will have risen to another level. Can’t wait to see what the next couple of years have to bring!
(Steve) We are a bit out in the sticks here and don’t get to see that many others paddling. From the looks of social media though, as well as our forays over the bridge, it does look like there are some pretty talented riders out there.
- Have you checked out the Surf Snowdonia facility yet? If not are you planning to and what ‘do you make of these artificial waves?
(Steve) Any consistent wave has to be a fantastic training tool. The facility looks amazing. Once all the fuss has died down we’ll be there.
(Ollie) We’ve been keeping track of it over the internet and Dad has driven past a few times. I still haven’t seen it in the flesh but it’s looking good. We’ll definitely be going to have a look once the initial rush of people dies down. It is only up the road, we can’t not! I think with an artificial wave it will be great for training; perfect peeling lefts or rights, it’s going to improve anyone’s technique – maybe even my backhand too.
- We know you’re both huge fans of selfies (joke – ed). What is it that annoys you about point of view shots from the water?
(Steve) POV cameras are fine, I haven’t got a problem with them… honestly! It’s more about the way they are used. Fixed positions like on the board or on the paddle are ok once or twice but they all blur into each other after a couple of shots. Same, same, same. Yawn. Used on the water creatively, to capture mates riding or interesting angles, they’re great and encourage engagement with fellow riders. Taking a beating in the surf to get that shot of your buddy not only is a hoot, but means they owe you one too.
(Ollie) I basically agree with what he said. 99% of nose pro pics look the same, maybe with a different coloured sky or wetsuit making the difference. However it is worth using one occasionally, just not too often…
- How do you manage to capture the action of you both riding?
(Steve) We try and make sure that one of us does a stint on the camera when a session is on but it only works at easy access locations. It’s also a lot harder when the conditions are firing.
The girls are very tolerant of pointing the camera too when they are at the beach – in fact most of the better footage is courtesy of Martina, who is getting better behind the lens all the time!
- What are your plans for paddle surfing shenanigans moving forwards? We saw updates about you both scoping out new North Wales spots recently.
(Steve) North Wales is a hard place to SUP surf really as we rarely get conditions that would be acceptable elsewhere in the country. Due to this we are always up for a trip out to see what the rest of the country has to offer. However you never know what may be just around the corner at home; SUP gives us the opportunity to go see, though hiking round the coast on surf SUPs is a challenge in itself!
- Where do you see yourselves with the sport in the next few years?
(Steve) Personally there is the gradual progression to look forward to as well as many, many more places to visit and surf. The search for new waves makes it continually interesting, whilst still appreciating what you have at home. I think this one is a long burner.
- Any final shout outs?
(Ollie) I just have to say thanks to all the people supporting me and helping me move forward in my SUP surfing, so a big thank you to:
- Escape Custom Surfboards
- K4 Fins
- Aquaite Paddles
And of course you guys for this interview!
(Steve) Ahem! What about me?
My shout out has to go to all the support team at Loco SUP and those who inspire me, but mostly to the rest of the family who are exceptionally tolerant of this latest addiction.