Nathan Eades | Meet Mr Understated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I first met and interviewed Nathan during the 2018 World Waveski Surfing Titles (WWST) in Pantin and he left a lasting impression on me. I’m sure with this follow up interview some 2 years later you will be just as equally impressed.

Before I begin with questions and answers, I think it’s humbling to count Nathan as one of those people that you meet in life who are the complete package ie a talented athlete who combines both emotional and academic intelligence and isn’t afraid to put himself on the line and oh yes, a family sporting gene pool.

His tenacity and zest for living is infectious and I’m sure for any of you who get to know the man behind the quiet unassuming persona will count him as a lifelong friend and confidante.

So let’s get behind the scenes of the ‘quiet achiever’

 

Hi there Nathan, last time we undertook an interview, Huanchaco had just been awarded the right to host the 2020 WWST. What impact has this had with the postponement of the championships to 2022?

Hi Jackie, great to talk with you again! Securing the bid to host the world titles has had a really positive impact on the waveski scene in Peru and South America as a whole. Social media is alive with regular updates and posts from riders in Brazil, Argentina and Chile sharing their training routines and images of their surfing – these images tell an exciting story of progress for each and every rider. There is a real buzz of energy down here and I think it gave us all something to focus on during the heavy quarantine measures most South American countries endured during the pandemic. Specifically in Peru, the amount of waveski riders has increased as has the frequency of training. We have formed a Peruvian team and we have a younger generation of riders coming through.

We also have our first female Peruvian rider and we hope to grow that area of the sport. I think it is fair to say Waveski was already developing well but securing the bid to host the world titles has been a catalyst and is the central talking point for us all when we meet and surf together. The impact of the worlds being postponed has simply prolonged that energy and drive which is great to see. It is also the light at the end of the tunnel for many, now with the vaccine on the horizon, hosting, and competing at, a world titles is a clear line in the sand that life has returned to normal. We are all excited, focussed and looking forward to receiving the best riders from across the globe!

Peru is considered by many to be an emerging nation for waveski development. Would you agree with this sentiment or do you see it differently?

When I arrived 11 years ago, I surfed my waveski alone in the line up. I was aware that there were one or two other riders who I would see from time to time but around 5 years ago, a group of kayakers, lead by Alfredo Ferreyros and Renato Campos, who are members of INKAYAK kayaking club, started to get into the sport and we randomly met on the beach. They invited me to a contest and we started surfing together more frequently after that. At that contest there were approximately 6 of us. Now, 5 years later, we have a Peruvian waveski brand – Focus, an accessories brand – Understated and a community of riders 30 strong. I am super proud of all of the Peruvian riders, they practice like maniacs and push themselves every time they get into the water to raise their level. Every year we host a National champs on one of the local Lima beaches and each year I witness a marked difference in the overall standard. Some of the guys are getting aerials now and all have a solid base level which is a result of their hard work! We are lucky as we have waves every day so we have an incredible resource on our doorstep which has also helped the level to increase.

You have a business called Understated. How did you get the name and what does it do?

Understated represents humility. The idea is that an Understated rider is calm and doesn’t let their ego take over. Instead, they let their riding do the talking. The Understated mission statement is: “Let the lines you draw on the face of a wave do the talking”.

I studied Design at University and, as a design teacher, I spend my days helping my students come up with brands, logos and products then guide and support their journey through their projects from design to realisation and I found myself thinking ‘well, I am helping all of these kids realise their projects, maybe it’s time for me to do my own project’. That desire, combined with my knowledge of design and manufacture, and a need for an accessories manufacturer and distributor in South America resulted in me setting up Understated. I am having so much fun with the project which has been received well by the community so it’s all good so far. Our Facebook and Instagram pages have been running for a while now but we have just launched our website: www.understatedworld.com Insta: @understatedworld Facebook: @understatedworld

 

 

 

 

Do you think waveski design can improve or have we reached the point where the perfect ski has been developed?

Design is ever evolving so nothing has reached its end point. I don’t think we will see a radical redesign like back when Christo changed the distribution between the tail and nose but we will always see incremental changes in every design, in every sport. Recently, I have been riding skis with a wider nose and tail which enable me to ride a narrower ski while keeping stability and makes them more stable on the lip. I think we will see waveskis continuing to evolve gradually and the level increasing dramatically!

How important is the relationship between manufacturer and rider?

The relationship is very important. I think my best advice to the rider is that they should be honest about their ability – ordering a ski is not the time to hype yourself up as the result will be a ski which doesn’t suit you. Be as clear as you can about your experience and ability level then step back and let the shaper do their job without trying to micromanage them. Trust the shaper and follow their advice as they have years of experience doing this and most shapers are waveski riders or experienced surfers – they have a lot of wisdom so let them use it.

Do you have a set pattern for your competition with respect to lucky charms, one ski or two skis etc?

I have two skis, sometimes three depending on my rotation at the time. For competitions though I stick to one ski only and stay with it throughout the contest. I’m a creature of habit and don’t like even the most subtle of changes. My lucky charm is my ‘lucky helmet!’ which I’ve had for 15 years a gift from Joey Hall.

What are your highest placings on the world arena with respect to waveski and surf kayak?

Surf kayak – juniors 2nd, open 3 times 3rd
Waveski – seniors 2nd

Editor’s privilege – reckon we might see the ultimate result in the next few years judging by the way Nathan is surfing.

 

Nathan Eades surfing in Morocco near by Essaouira | Photo by Marc Holland

 

 

 

You’ve been one of the vice presidents of the World Waveski Surfing Association (WWSA) since 2018. Where do you see the pathway of the WWSA as the preeminent voice for waveski surfing on a global level?

We have a dedicated team of riders with a lot of wisdom and experience who all want the sport to continue to grow and have played vital roles in that growth so far. I was really impressed by the amount of support I received during the difficult decision making process which ultimately ended in us postponing the world titles. We all talk regularly and are excited about the return to normality and kicking our sport off again with a successful, and well attended, world titles in 2022. Gus is constantly strengthening links with the ICF and Waveski which is resulting in us getting good coverage in the official channels. The new WWSA website is being developed behind the scenes and will be live soon. I have had a sneak peak at it – it is really good and, I am sure, it will be a great platform for us to keep the world updated about our sport and events.

You’re now 38 years of age which is considered to be the age where the optimum physical and mental fitness is reached noting of course there are some exceptions. Do you see yourself like this or are you just getting started figuring out the meaning of life etc.?

Life is one big journey and every year is different. I definitely think surfing is a great release and enables you to relax and reflect on everything going on in your personal and professional life so, with waves in your life, you can pretty much handle anything life throws at you. As long as I am getting waves, I am happy – and I get plenty of waves thankfully!!

The older you get, the wiser you get but the more your body hurts so I certainly feel like my mental fitness is great but I have had a few post lockdown injuries this year which required Physio to get over – I’m fully recovered now but I had to slow right down and take the injuries seriously as the usual approach of ignoring them and soldering on until they went away did not work!.

Walk us through what a typical day in the life of Nathan Eades looks like in terms of everything else you do?

I walk the fine line between work and surf doing my best to balance both. I love to surf and try to get as much water time as possible but I am also really ambitious professionally so, sometimes, work gets in the way. Moving to Peru enabled me to shift the balance somewhat as I have access to amazing surf but it also landed me a job, as Deputy Head, in one of the best schools in South America which comes with a lot of responsibility and pressure. I’m up at 6.00 am each morning and into work by 7.00 am.

I work until 6.00pm most days before returning home (during non COVID times of course), taking some dinner then continuing with work. That’s Monday to Friday. Saturdays and Sundays are pure surf days – depending on the waves, I surf my local wave approximately 10 minutes from my house or I head south and leave the city to access the waves around 1 hours south of Lima.

The older you get, the wiser you get but the more your body hurts so I certainly feel like my mental fitness is great but I have had a few post lockdown injuries this year which required Physio to get over – I’m fully recovered now but I had to slow right down and take the injuries seriously as the usual approach of ignoring them and soldering on until they went away did not work!.

 

 

 

Nathan testing Focus Waveskis on perfect Peruvian waves

 

 

 

What virtue do you most admire in others?

There are two. Passion – I find people with passion are happy in whatever they are doing so their energy is great to be around. Empathy – I think empathy is a key virtue which we all need in order to be decent human beings; if we apply empathy to every decision or exchange of words, we will offend or upset a lot fewer people in the world.

If you could do any other job, what would it be?

I enjoy my job and especially like the holidays so it would be hard to beat but I would have really enjoyed a career in sales as I like the interactive nature of the job and the exhilaration linked to pressure driven targets.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My pickup truck!!

Being an ozzie you won’t understand this but I actually love my pickup truck! Pickups are so common in Oz, South Africa and South America that the novelty may have faded away for you (maybe). Growing up in Wales, we had small cars and I only saw the occasional pickup truck on the road or in films so it’s quite exciting to own one. I know that sounds like I have quite low aspirations when you consider all of the amazing vehicles out there but, for me, a pickup truck is so much more than just a vehicle – it represents freedom, adventure and opportunity. I can just throw my waveski in the back and head off up a dirt track or through the desert to find a secluded point break somewhere. Peru is a country where you need the correct equipment to unlock all of those magic spots and the durability and versatility of the pickup just makes it all possible!

Editor’s footnote – In Australia pickup trucks are referred to as Utes (short for Utility, and they are very common and popular with farmers, surfers, tradespeople and girls who wanna have fun!)

 

Nathan Eades and Ezequiel Martinez Francesca plus the infamous pickup 🙂

 

 

 

How do you switch off?

Surfing, sketching and more recently, I have learned to edit videos. I have a creative brain so I find it hard to sit down and read a book or sit still and chill. I need to be fiddling with something or creating something new – I’m pretty annoying to travel with!

What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

Most people know that I grew up in a family of kayakers – brother, mother and father – all kayakers. But what they don’t know is that, despite the support and opportunity to learn, I hated kayaking and refused to get into a kayak as a kid. Eventually, I got bored of watching my family enjoying themselves from the river bank and reluctantly gave it a go.

What travel destination is on your bucket list?

Skeleton Bay, Namibia.

What’s your idea of absolute happiness?

Sunshine, waves, friends, ceviche and a beer.

If you could have dinner with two famous people, who would you choose?

Steve Jobs – I would love to sit down and talk about innovation with him.

Adam Sandler – I think he is hilarious.

Who inspired you the most?

Ben Thomas. Ben is a surf kayaker from Wales who was World Champion and multiple British Champion when I was growing up. I always bumped into him as a young kid and would be starstruck as he was in all the kayaking mags. When I was 15, I got invited onto the Welsh Surf Kayak team and he took me under his wing and went out of his way to teach me how to surf, coached me during comps and helped me get my first deals on equipment.

He doesn’t surf much these days as he’s busy being an awesome father to his two kids. I still rate him as one of the best surf kayakers on the planet!

“Ben (Thomas) is a surf kayaker from Wales who was World Champion and multiple British Champion when I was growing up.

I always bumped into him as a young kid and would be starstruck as he was in all the kayaking mags.”.

If you could turn back time, what would you change in your life?

I spent years surfing a kayak before I hopped onto a waveski. I really enjoyed my time in a surf kayak but you can just do so much more on a waveski – I wish I found waveski when I was 12.

Quick fire questions – last 20 seconds in the heat

Favourite book – Into Africa

Favourite meal – Ceviche – a raw fish dish eaten all year in Peru but it is particularly refreshing after a surf in the middle of the summer

Favourite drink – Red wine

Favourite athlete – Canelo Alvarez – Mexican Boxing Superstar

Most admired waveski surfer – John Christenson (Christo)

Most admired kayak surfer – Dessie McGlinchey

Favourite surf break – Puemape, Peru

Favourite movie – Twin Town

So there you go, an amazing opportunity and privilege to interview Nathan Eades. The type of interview that could go on forever. We hope you have enjoyed reading his story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

From all of us at Waveski Adventurers and kayaksurf.net

 

SOME MORE PHOTOS
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surfayaking Worlds 2019 @ Peru

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nathan and Joey Hall @ Huanchaco 2019

 

 

 

 

Published in 24.12.2020

 

Text – Jackie Dillon

 

Photos – Hugo Grassi | Marc Holland | Understated | Malabrigo Letf

 

Video by Understated

 

Production by kayaksurf.net