The Surfer's Guide to Waves, Coasts and Climates

Tony Butt, 2009




What people thought about Waves, Coasts and Climates

Tony Butt brings great cred­ib­il­ity to the task of sum­mar­iz­ing the nat­ural and man­made forces at work in our world of oceans and beaches. … A com­pre­hens­ive over­view of most all of the phe­nom­ena and issues rel­ev­ant to surfers … also addresses issues like coastal armor­ing and erosion, pol­lu­tion and hab­itat destruc­tion, as well as the ways in which the earth “bites back”: cyclones/​hurricanes, tsuna­mis and global warm­ing. Lav­ishly illus­trated with charts and lots of nice pho­tos.
(The Surfer’s Path, Issue 72, April 2009)

Tony… mixes a long-​​time surfer’s intu­it­ive know­ledge of coastal envir­on­ments with expert­ise in ocean­o­graphy in a spark­ling way. His book is an enlight­en­ing and beau­ti­fully illus­trated surf sci­ence odys­sey… It leaves you with a hol­istic under­stand­ing of the nature and beauty of the coastal world… Above all, it inspires eco­lo­gical action.
(The Cornish­man, 02.07.09)

Arrest­ing pho­to­graphs… straight-​​forward and easy to read… one of the best “sci­ence in con­text” books I have seen. A good con­text young people will find appeal­ing used to cover sci­ence, global warm­ing and local polit­ical issues.
(School Sci­ence Review, issue 335, Decem­ber 2009)

As usual, Dr Tony Butt’s latest tome gives surfers an insight into a pleth­ora of sub­jects that affect the surf­ing play­ing field, includ­ing some we might not imme­di­ately asso­ci­ate with wave rid­ing. It’s delivered in a lac­onic, laid-​​back style that doesn’t take too much brain-​​power and the help­ful dia­grams make it a breeze for the lay­man to under­stand. Good build­ing block for con­struct­ing a broad envir­on­mental know­ledge base. 
(Bruce Suth­er­land, Pub­lish­ing Editor The Storm­rider Guides, 23.03.10)

From the moment you open out the cover of The Surfers Guide to Waves, Coasts and Climates, it’s clear that you’re in for a visual treat. Richly illustrated with some quality images of world class waves, the book would sit just as comfortably on your coffee table as it would in a research library. SurfTalk gives you the chance to win a free copy of your own.  The writing style is equally relaxed and comfortable, with the infinitely complex processes at work in the ocean environment explained in a way that is easy to grasp, without becoming condescending. In fact within the first couple of chapters, I felt I’d reached some kind of epiphany. The first section of the book covers the processes involved in coastal geology at beaches, reefs and river-mouths. It wasn’t that the book was describing anything that I hadn’t previously observed – but now I understood the forces behind what I’d seen occurring. Why does this kind of knowledge matter to someone who just wants to surf, and isn’t that bothered with the science behind the waves? Well, perhaps if you only surf the same one beach all of your life it doesn’t matter so much. But as soon as you find yourself travelling with the aim of seeking out new waves, understanding coastal geology will help you identify the best locations likely to produce the type of waves that you enjoy riding most, as well as assessing potential dangers. The book moves on to cover climate and the multitude of cycles that affect the generation of waves, and you soon begin to appreciate the “inter-connectedness of everything”, including the impact that our activities are having on the global system, with direct, local consequences.  The author never preaches, taking a realistic view of the problems we face, both as tenants of the Earth, and as surfers. But I’d challenge anyone to read “The Planet Bites Back” (covering cyclones, global warming and tsunamis) without feeling the desire to make some radical changes to their lifestyle.  A final, special mention should be made about the Coastal Intervention section. While nature demands that the coast is in a constant state of flux between land and sea, mankind normally requires something more stable and permanent. The “solutions” put into place to achieve this often have an impact far beyond that envisaged by the architects of such schemes. The book covers real life examples where classic surf spots have been seriously degraded by coastal intervention – Mundaka, Jardim do Mar and Kirra.  Wherever your local surf spot is located, whether it is a world class wave, or a humble and average beach-break, the risk of wave degradation as a result of human intervention is a very real and present threat. Small changes in beach management can have a huge and sometimes irreversible knock-on effect. The knowledge contained in this book gives us, as surfers the information and case studies required to effectively challenge potential threats to the waves we ride.  In summary, will The Surfers Guide make you surf better? Possibly not. Will The Surfers Guide make you a better surfer? Unquestionably.
(Surf Talk, http://www.surftalk.co.uk April 2010)