Surf - Photography - MTB - Run - Travel - Van Life - Art - Humanism

Q+A with Rob Miles.

Now this is a conversation I've wanted to have for a long time, even before this website was even a thought. I met Rob Miles through a mutual friend of ours Chris Murphy back around 5-6 years ago. Myself and Chris were just chatting about surfing as you do and he was telling me about his mate Rob Miles and I should take a look at his facebook profile of Rob surfing 12-15ft Uluwatu, in Bali.

Having surfed Uluwatu myself at just over 6ft (and praying for my mother) I was intrigued to hear that a guy from Caerphilly (not the most recognised town for surfing in Wales) would be charging Ulu's at such size. I watched the videos a few times and was blown away (later to find out he was only riding a 6'1 or something silly like that). This guy was the real deal. Shortly after, living in Caerphilly myself at the time I soon met Rob and would go surfing with Chris, Rob and Amy Murphy (Chris' sister and one of Wales' top female chargers) quite a bit. Over the years since then Rob has been travelling, literally all over the world charging some of the most famous waves in the world such as Teauphoo, G-Land, Pipeline / Backdoor, Cokes to name a few but also hunting down barrels in some less known countries like Taiwan and Sardinia.

Rob charging G-Land, East Java, Indonesia.

Rob is legit one of the most travelled (and barrelled) guys in Wales and perhaps the UK at the moment and has made a bit of reputation for himself for being a serious charger on waves that would make alot of men cry (me). There are also unconfirmed rumours that he flies his balls around on a seperate plane due to their size, but you'd need to ask him that yourself.

Rob's path hasn't always been smooth either, he's suffered a few potentially life threatening / changing injuries over the years. Being such a postive, humble guy Rob has bounced back from these injuries in record timing. It seems like one minute he's in plaster or a wheelchair, the next he's deep in the barrel in some exotic country. It's always an absolute pleasure to speak to Rob and I've dying to ask him some these burning questions for years.

Rob kindly answered some questions on a plane on his latest strike mission to Oz, where he spent plenty more time in the "green room".

Heavy, shallow and very sharp. G-Land, East Java, Indonesia.

Temples, Bali.

Yo Rob!, great to speak to you as always. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started surfing?

I actually started bodyboarding. My parents would love a strole along Porthcawl seafront every Sunday around 2pm. So no matter what the tide, wind, weather or size of the waves, I was dropped off at Rest and picked up 2hrs later! This way before the likes of MSW, but we did have Ceefax, but every welsh surfer will tell you, just because it was 3ft and clean at 8am on a spring tide, means nothing about what it actually is by 2pm! But, not knowing what to expect made it more exciting! I was never really let down as I’d always thought it would be shit - and it mostly was! Around the age of 15-16 when I got my first job, I got my first minimal and as soon as I learnt to drive. I really started surfing. I believe surfing is 90% knowing where (and where not!) to be in the sea, when to paddle, what wave to catch etc so I suppose the basics were all there from bodyboarding.

Over the past few years you've travelled the world surfing. Which countries have you visited altogether and which were your favourite and why?

I’ve always had a list of places I wanted to go in my head. I remember thinking our generation have had an incredible opportunity given to us to be able to travel wherever we want in the world for not much money (thanks to the country we were born in) and if I hadn’t taken that opportunity, I would only have lived to regret it. All it’ll take is the £ to become weak and it’s all over! To surf waves that can put you a tricky situations, you really need to do it whilst your young. I’m 32 now and to be honest the thought of long haul flights already is putting me off! But, I’ve never had the gap year that most people had, instead I stuck with work and built up a solid holiday allowance instead (as well as a few sneaky career breaks!)

I won’t go through the list of places I’ve been - but it’s fair to say I’ve ticked most boxes and there aren’t too many coastlines left! It’s more than what country you are in, more importantly it’s the forecast you have and the people you're with that makes a trip. I find surfing 4ft beachies or secluded points with just a few friends way more fun than surfing all time Desert Point, with 75 pros with you. If anyone would ask me now, just book your two weeks off work months in advance and get a few friends to do the same, then book your flights the day before. That way, everywhere you go, your always gonna score! Yes - it does costs £300 more for the flights - but really, after having two weeks of relentless barrels instead of average crowded surf it’s worth it! Just cheap out a little on the accommodation instead.

Somewhere in the Maldives..
Rob in his happy place, somewhere at home in Wales.

I first came across you when our friend Chris Murphy told me about you charging Ulu's at 12-15ft. I was pretty blown away by it to be honest. As time has gone on you have continued to charge some big, heavy, and dangerous waves around the world. Was there a turning point for you where you just thought fuck it, I can do this or have you just built up your confidence over time and experience in the water?

Being from Wales, even paddling out at 6ft Ulus is scary enough to begin with! I think I did make some dodgy decisions to paddle out when I was younger in waves I really shouldn’t. But it’s only when you make it back to land (not always in one piece!) you realise what your head/body can handle. The only way to get comfortable is to surf out of your depth and keep pushing yourself. These days though, I’m more about having fun, and there’s no fun spending hours working out how your going to get back to dry land alive and not actually catching a wave!

You have surfed some of the heaviest and most dangerous waves in the world, how do you deal with fear? And, have you ever thought oh shit I'm in way over my depth here, any really scary experiences?

I believe it’s more about the power, depth and location of where the wave breaks that makes it daunting. Not so much the size. I’ve had 20ft waves on my head and it wasn’t too bad, then a 4-6ft on a slab almost kill me! In my eyes - Pipe is the heaviest wave, it’s heavy, shallow, shifty and very crowded. Even if you make a good wave, the chances are the one behind will destroy you straight after. At backdoor, there is no channel!

Sometimes you have to pay to play...

Speaking of dangerous experiences, you've had a few significant injuries over the years. Can you tell us about some of them and how do you bounce back from them so well? Does it affect your confidence in the water coming back from such bad injuries?

I suppose I’ve certainly had my fair share of injuries the last 5-6 years!! Funnily enough - no serious ones are from surfing, most of my injuries are from being an idiot and learning the hard way! Falling from that cliff tops the lot, the list of injuries from that alone is too long to want to remember! (Rob broke his back, as well as lots of other bones after falling from the top of some cliffs in the dark on the Gower in Wales). One thing I’ve learnt is that your body will mostly heal up, but it won’t recover. That’s all about you, no amount of doctors or drugs will do that for you. Doctors are experts in the fixing you up and saving your life, but when it comes to recovering from a serious injury, it’s more to do with the encouragement and support from friends and family that keeps you going on the right path. I was very lucky to have both help me through all that. Just remember to return the favour! As for bouncing back - after the initial rest period I treated it like I was working a 9-5, 7 days a week and doing all I could to recover. From eating super healthy, physio,’s all super boring but it’s all about noticing slight improvements. If I managed to walk 10 widths of the pool yesterday, let’s do 12 today......That way you can see yourself improve and it keeps you thinking positive - no matter how small and rubbish it sounds. But you are going in the right direction. Even if you still can’t dress yourself in the morning!

Another hefty one in Wales.
Somewhere in England..

Lastly, as one of the most barreled guys in the country. To a non - surfer can you explain the feeling of what its like to get barreled?

Getting barrelled - I don’t wanna sound cheesy. I suppose it takes so long to actually achieve that goal, like, I suppose it took me 5-6years of surfing to be able to claim a proper one and you’ll never forget it!

You can follow Rob's adventures through his social media pages, he's a top geezer so give him a follow.


He's not just a barrel guy..ooof!
Taiwan, yes Taiwan!!
Last week in Oz.
Fuck yeh!!

The Freesoul Project 2019 - Made in Wales