Andrew Cotton started surfing at the age of seven on the North Devon coast. Ever since then, catching waves and being in and around the ocean has been his life. When he left school he worked in a local surfboard factory until the age of 25. He then re-trained as a plumber, but along the way began to realise that his real passion lay in big wave surfing.
At first the Plymouth-born surfer focused on helping pioneer big-wave spots in Ireland, but more recently he turned his attention to Nazaré, Portugal. Numerous Billabong XXL entries followed and he came to wider attention in 2012, when he towed American surfer Garrett McNamara into what the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed as the biggest wave ever surfed.
Since then Cotton has notched up a series of indisputably big waves, one or two of which have caused debate in the press about whether they are bigger than McNamara's record.
In 2016, he took part in an Irish big wave exploration project with Red Bull Media House, which was captured in a short documentary film, Beneath the Surface. This documented his journey hunting down a monster wave off the west coast of Ireland in the depths of winter, alongside a team of surfers and sailors.
While surfing in Nazaré in November 2017, Andrew broke his back on a horrific wipeout. Since the accident, Andrew has been focused on regaining his strength to make a return to surfing – and to Nazaré. And in November 2018, he did just that: Andrew took on Nazaré's mammoth waves once again – an experience that saw him overcoming any doubts or fears and realising that he's more prepared than ever for the winter season.
In 2021, Andrew featured in HBO's blockbuster doc series 100ft Wave, which follows his old pal McNamara as he attempts to hunt down the 'Everest of surfing', the 100-foot wave.
Andrew has had to make a lot of sacrifices to get to where he is today, particularly as his north Devon home doesn't really offer big waves. Andrew works hard all summer in order to chase down waves all over Europe in the winter, and spends as much time as possible with his wife Katie and their two children.