Meet Andrew Birkett

By | March 30, 2016

Andrew grew up in Cape Town in Southern Suburbs. He started surfing when he was 12 years old at the Berg. He’s now 29 so it’s been almost 17 years of single-minded obsession over the ocean. He moved out to Kommetjie 11 years ago and has lived between Kom and Kalk Bay since 2002.

Since early 2011, Andrew has been working offshore as a hydrographic surveyor, mapping the sea floor and sub-bottom geology all over the world. That has taken him to Namibia a lot, Australia (where he managed to tie in a few weeks of surf in West Aus with some expat friends), Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, Sweden, Norway, Spain, France and the UK. Basically he’s been pretty busy travelling in the past few years.

Andrew went on his first surf trip out of South Africa when he was 15 years old. Went to Bali for 2 weeks with some mates from school and have been totally hooked on surf travel ever since. He finished school in 2001 and spent 2002 working in bars and restaurants (Bell and Polana), surfing his brains out around the Peninsula. He did his second trip to Indo for 2 months during the winter of that year. Just in the south… Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Nusa Lembongan.

He went to UCT in 2003 and studied Ocean and Atmosphere Science with a second major in Environmental and Geographical Science. He then did 4 years of Undergraduate (BSc Honours) finishing in 2006. He then hit the road, heading over to London for most of 2007. He did a trip to Portugal that year with some mates, but got pretty skunked. Surfed around the UK a bit and then spent a month in Morocco at the end of 2007/2008. Got awesome waves and made great friends with some really cool locals who let him crash on their couch for the last 2 weeks and showed him some of their favorite waves off the beaten track. On 2008, he spent a few months in Spain and Italy trying his hand at the Superyacht thing. He never really got into it and headed back to London to make some quick bucks for the remainder of the year.

Andrew went back to UCT in 2009/2010 to do a Master (MSc) in Physical Oceanography. He started working at sea collecting oceanographic data for the US government during 2010. He used to sail on container ships from Cape Town to New York 4 times a year, so he crossed the Atlantic by sea a fair few times. Then he did a monster road trip through Southeast Africa, driving from Dar es Salaam through Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and across South Africa. Scored epic waves in Mozams (that right superbank they were calling the African Kirra – he was there at the same time as the Zag guys and happened to luck into a monster cyclone swell).

Most recently surf trip wise he spent a month in West Java and South Sumatra in August with his boss, and had 2 weeks in West Ireland in October. Ireland is amazing he said because of the waves, culture, jols, friendliest people, natural beauty.

Andrew’s 2nd best place next to Cape Town were Pescuales in Mexico, or Safi in Morocco when there’s a massive North Atlantic groundswell with light offshore wind.  In terms of vibe, he would love Ireland. For natural beauty, the jungles of West Java would have to be right up there.

Andrew mainly surf Dunes because he just live in Klein Slangkop at the end of Wireless Road in Kommetjie so its 15mins from bed to barrel. He hits the reserve whenever the Dune isn’t on, otherwise Krons if the wind is South/Southwest, the tide high and the swell big enough.

Andrew has a lot of surfboards. From a 9’6 rhino chaser to a 5’11 dumpsterish shortboard. He has a couple of retro boards – an original Country Rhythm single fin from the 70′s plus – a modern rendition of that board shaped for him by Lyndon Read which has a single-fin box plus quad and twinnie setups. He rides a lot of barrelling, chunky waves in the South Peninsula so he has a lot of step-ups and semi-guns in the 6’6 to 7’6 range. In terms of surfing, He’s not the most talented surfer, but he really just enjoys getting barrelled and finding sweet lines on a wave. He doesn’t really care if it’s knee high or triple overhead, as long as he can get a bit of speed. He also hates crowds, so he often missions a long way or surf slightly worse waves to avoid the masses.

Andrew’s favorite surf spot is Dunes which is the most consistently world-class wave in Cape Town.. According to him Kalk Bay is great and he lived there for a couple of years. You get those quiet sessions and you get in with the crew so you can score some good waves. But the crowd is often a bit overboard (slight understatement). He said, he’s fortunate in that extensive travels because he have many epic trips over the years. The Mexican beachbreaks are top-notch, he said, but in terms of uncrowded quality his favorite would have to be a quiet corner of West Java, he scored in August 2012.

Every decision Andrew made in his life since he was 12 years old has been driven by his love for surfing and the ocean. What he studied, where he lives, where he travels, what work he do now. Andrew met so many great people and made many true friends both locally and all over the world through surfing. If he had to pick one that really influences him so much in surfing, he would pick Andrew Marr. He said, he has the best attitude of anyone he had met. Such a down to earth character for someone who charges so heavily, and he constantly has a massive grin on his face.

If given a chance to kick back with one of the famous surfer one day, Andrew would choose to be with Slater. He said this guy is just such an amazing athlete to have evolved over a 20-plus year career and still be challenging for world titles. He also would love to hang with Dorian, he’s on another level in anything heavy.