The deepest depths of Cornwall's coastline is wild and rugged, punctuated with the odd tin mine visible from shore and at least one castle in the sea. It is a place that prides itself on pagan heritage, with much of the Duchy's traditions grounded from those ancient teachings – and the waves are as elemental and as raw as the people who call it home.
Here, Mike Lay dances across a diverse set of locales in the far west, with a quiver of watercraft as nuanced as the wave variety. The result is a stunning homage to cruising and shredding at home called Cynevin, an 18-minute film cut by Seth Hughes. If you want pure log-style, skip to the 14 minute mark. But hang around for some mid-length action, twin fin... Mike's not fussy.
Oh and after you click play, have a peep at the below. We tapped up Mr Lay this morning for a bit more about the project and how it all came about. Enjoy.
Tell us a bit about the film, how did it come about?
Seth and I first met in Scotland a couple of years ago on a trip. The surf was small for most of our time there so Seth was filming logging a lot, something I don’t think he had much experience of up to that point.
I think he was only 18 at the time but his maturity and creative instinct really impressed me. He also had a keen knowledge of British bird life, a sure sign of a good chap.
It was during that trip that we first talked through a possible longer-form film. From our return we filmed whenever both of us were in the country and free, the film is the culmination of those sessions.
Personally, think you gents have created one of the best longboarding films not just out of the UK, but out of just about anywhere in quite some time. Kudos! What boards are you riding and what conditions do you prefer? Top to bottom? Barrels?
Thank you Jason, that is high praise indeed. I’m riding longboards built by my long time shaper and close friend Mitch Surman under the MS Surfboards brand.
Mitch is based near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Australia and is an innovator in the shaping room and an inspiration in the water. The yellow single fin mid-length I’m riding is also shaped by Mitch. I get a few waves on a 5’8 Album Asym which is a real magic board, the glider is 11 foot and made of wood, built by Lignum Surfboards in South Devon.
Finally the Twin Pin I ride in a couple of section is by BOS Surfboards built just down the road from me near Sennen. I’ve been working a lot with Hugh from BOS recently and really excited on some of the shapes he’s producing, that twin is a gem.
In terms of wave type that I prefer, I enjoy surfing most kinds of waves apart from the frightening ones. The joy of longboarding, and a general open-minded approach to surfing, is that the full spectrum of wave quality is opened up. That being said I do like a left... as you can probably tell from watching the film.
This really is an ode to surfing your home – for those who don’t know, what is it about Cornwall that makes it so special?
My little slice of Cornwall is an elemental place, so much so that it is often overwhelmed by prevailing conditions. It is under these conditions that I enjoy it most, searching for sheltered corners.
Cornwall as a whole has a sense of separateness to the rest of the UK and West Cornwall even more so. That cultural distinction combined with the elemental battering it gets makes it a rewarding and challenging place to live and surf. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And what about the title, Cynevin, what does it mean?
Seth found the word ‘Cynevin’ it is a Celtic word and is the Cornish version of the Welsh word ‘Cynefin’, Cornish and Welsh sharing etymological roots.
To me the word perfectly sums up how I feel about Cornwall. It describes that intimate affinity one has with one’s place of birth, a feeling many people share but one which is often unique to children of the Celtic nations.
It’s rare to see such a graciously cut film about longboarding in Kernow, did you and Seth have a plan of how to shoot this, or was it get clips and then see what happens?
Seth is a wildly talented film maker, from shooting to editing to creative direction, he is truly one to watch.
For this project in particular we discussed the lack of longer form, more thoughtful film work around surfing in Cornwall and looked to fill that gap.
The reality of producing the film was me just surfing and organising that side of things and Seth doing absolutely everything else. It has been a privilege to be the subject of his work.
Cornwall’s in the height of summer at the moment, how are you navigating the crowds?
With a smile on my face as much as possible! I’m lucky to live a little off the beaten track so feel not in the thick of things too much.
And for those in the know there are those quiet places where space can be found. From a surfing perspective the mornings are still relatively crowd free.
18 minutes is a bold running time these days – with the I-need-everything-now generation – was a bit more length to the film part of the plan?
Yeah that was always the intention. Seth in particular had worked a lot for brands making short form films with uber short lifespans.
He wanted to make something with integrity and longevity which I think he has achieved. From my perspective it was an opportunity to mark a moment in my life where surfing is my everything. I’m 29-years-old and about to get married, I know I won’t be a professional surfer with no responsibilities for ever, so it’s nice to have such an accomplished piece of work that’ll I’ll be able to look back on fondly and with pride.