Bio extract from Wavelength Magazine. By Isaac Kibblewhite
I’m in a small cabin about 6′ x 3′ x 3′, the boat is rocking along on its way to HT’s in the Mentawai Islands and I’m jammed in this space with the Isle of Wight’s Johnny Fryer, one of Britain’s best surfers.
Most surfers outside the UK don’t really believe that our country gets any waves and within our own surfing community I doubt many of us would think of the Isle of Wight when we think of surfing in the UK. So on a grand scale Johnny’s home break Compton Bay, is pretty close to bottom in terms of world spots. However Johnny has shown that grit and determination coupled with an intense passion can take you from back waters to the forefront of international surfing.
Johnny grew up on the family farm in the middle of the island some 20 minutes from the beach. During a family holiday to Cornwall when he was five he discovered surfing and got his first board when he was six. Due to the location local surfers would wish for strong onshores to come and blow small sloppy waves up the channel. Often Johnny would find himself out there surfing the slop alone, on the better days local surfers such as Craig Sharp, Nick Dennington, and Timmy Dyer would provide the young Fryer with inspiration in the water and the desire to go and explore the surfing world off the isle.
At age 11 he started to surf off the island when his mum began taking him to contests in Newquay and he thrived in this new environment with more talented surfers to inspire him and experience in better waves. Sometimes going to Newquay for the day to surf, leaving early in the morning on the ferry and returning late at night. Soon the dedication paid off. His competitive success began with a victory in both the under 12 and under 14 divisions of the Headworx Pro Junior and a first place in the under 12′s at the British Nationals. This really fueled Fryer’s flame; “from then I was right into it and I didn’t really stop, I did every contest I could”. He went on to win the British Junior title 3 years in a row, on each occasion raising his game to ensure he kept his crown. Johnny would still return to the Isle of Wight to practice and train but this proved difficult as his style or technique would sometimes become confused without people to look up to or surf with. He would relish the onset of a new contest season as a chance to test himself against the best and put right any glitches in his act.
Johnny describes his competitiveness not so much as desire to beat his opponents but as a determination to prove things to himself. Even with his successes he continues to be critical of his surfing and is constantly trying to improve. Now, he has relocated to Newquay from the Isle of Wight to continue his surfing. As time has passed he has been spending less and less time at home due to contest or travel commitments and so the move has evolved rather than been a conscious decision. Still calling the isle home he returns when he can but these opportunities are few and far between.
With the move to the significant more consistent Cornish coast Johnny’s surfing is maturing as he is able to branch out into more high risk surfing that he would not have previously attempted when every wave counted back at Compton Bay. He relishes the opportunity to ‘try new stuff for a whole session and experiment as there will be waves again the next day’. In a sense Johnny has come at professional and contest surfing at a different angle to most, growing up on the Isle of Wight. Now that he is able to travel to surf and enjoy consistent waves the flair and expression of a truly talented surfer is shining through. With his surfing act coming together and maturing Johnny may well continue to surprise himself and others with just how well a farmer from the Isle of Wight can do when he puts his mind to it!
Johnny is the current English Champion. He has represented his country internationally and featured on the cover of a major surfing magazine.
- 2012 English Champiuon
- Quiksilver 2010 British Champion
- 2011 Uk pro Tour- Croyde Champion
- 2011 Rider Pro Invitational Champion
- English Champion
- Uk Pro Tour Fosters North East Open Champion
- Animal/Carve Shootout Champion
- Quiksilver Invitational Shootout Champion
- Greenaway Pro Champion
- 3x British Junior Champion