Having grown up in St Ives, Cornwall, I have always been close to the sea. As a keen surfer, I had a lifelong and some would say, crazy ambition to be the first Briton to paddle into the surf of the renowned 'Killers' wave zone off the island of Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico. On Saturday 25 January 2014, I finally realised my dream and now know what it feels like to paddle into a 12m (40ft) wave.
My incredible journey began months ago when Vodafone invited me to be part of their 'Firsts' campaign - a global programme that encourages all sorts of people to do something incredible for the first time with the help of mobile technology. I began training hard, close to my home in Ireland - mentally and physically preparing to ride the wave and navigate the treacherous rip tides and rocks which surround the island.
Vodafone helped me on the journey by connecting me with on-the-ground experts and mobile technology that helped me track the swell from my home and identify exactly when the wave would arrive. The huge waves are irregular and whole years can pass before they reach spectacular heights. This adds to their mythical reputation among surfers around the world - many of whom will drop everything to surf the waves when they hear they are building. So knowing when the right moment would be was crucial in helping me be ready to achieve my goal.
The huge swells of Todos Santos are formed in a channel 12 miles out to sea off the remote island. The enormous waves are famous as being the most dangerous and deadly on earth. I had set myself the challenge of paddling into the wave, instead of being towed, which required considerable skill particularly in an area where one of the top five biggest waves ever surfed was recorded at 20 metres (68ft).
The drive down to Mexico from California was an experience in itself and Todos was everything I had imagined it to be. The boat ride out to the wave was awesome and we even witnessed a school of dolphins putting on a show all the way to the island. Everything about the trip was fantastic and I just knew it was going to be a great day.
The was sun was shining and there was no wind, but in a dreamy place like Todos, it would be easy to forget that soon there would be 20ft waves rolling in. I had to focus and remind myself that I was about to take on the challenge of my life and not get carried away.
Because I had trained incredibly hard for this mission all summer, I was confident that I'd catch the wave of my life and now I've done it, it still hasn't actually sunk in. There were 10 surfers altogether on the day and the vibes were awesome.
Moments after the successful ride, I was able to share my triumph with my family back home in Cornwall. As soon as I returned to the boat, I made an internet video call to my dad and showed him some footage filmed on a tablet. I'm so ecstatic and it felt amazing to be able to share the greatest moment of my surfing career with my family while I was still buzzing.
Achieving my personal First is a dream come true and Vodafone helped make it happen. Riding the wave was everything I'd imagined it to be and more. Now I need to think about the next challenge.Suggest a correction