'Love Island led me back to surfing': Devon’s Laura Crane on tackling Nazare's 60ft waves

  • Watch Laura talk about her achievements in her studio chat with ITV West Country presenters here

From Love Island to 60ft waves, Laura Crane has become the first British woman to take on some of the biggest waves in the world.

The 29-year old, from Bristol, surfed professionally from the age of 12 after moving to Croyde in North Devon as a teenager.

What followed was a journey of personal health battles and setbacks, leading to her retirement at 21.

In 2018 Laura appeared on the fourth series of Love Island. 

She said: “When I entered the Love Island villa, I didn’t feel there was any representation for strong female athletes on the show, but nothing changed. 

“If anything, going on the show made me feel more lost in who I was but ultimately, it’s led me back to surfing and rediscovering what I’m truly passionate about.”

After leaving hospital and recovering from sepsis in summer 2019, Laura moved back to Croyde. It was here that she rediscovered her love of surfing.

Laura has been surfing professionally since she was 12. Credit: Laura Crane

Now she’s made history by becoming the first British woman to surf the 60ft waves of Nazare in Portugal. She’s now got her eyes on setting a new world record. 

Speaking to ITV West Country after her achievement, she said: “Honestly it feels amazing, somewhat surprising because it all happened so quickly. It’s been a rapid but incredible journey so far. 

“I think for any surfer, Nazare is notoriously the most dangerous wave. It’s definitely a tick on the bucket list.

“We have to be towed into the wave so when you’re holding onto that rope there’s an element of fear but I think the main thing for us is to control that fear.”

Reflecting on the challenges she’s faced to get to this point, Laura said her career from 12-21 was all she really ever knew. 

Laura has been through a lot to get to this point.

Laura said: “It really was my identity, I didn’t know anything outside and I think there was a part of me that was over-sexualised as a young female surfer.

“That brave side of me was taken away when I was younger. 

“As I’ve grown up and done the mental work and overcome my eating disorder and other obstacles just growing up as a woman these days, I learnt a lot about who I really was. 

“What you’re seeing now is the Laura I was always meant to be.”

Laura still surfs regularly at home in Croyde. 

She said: “[It's] one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I love it. 

“Even on Saturday I was surfing - it was about two feet, super windy, I was on my own - happy as Larry. 

“There’s something special about being at home and just surfing little waves sometimes, it’s quite nice."