We caught up with Cooper to chat all things, surfing, mental health, the good human factory and what inspires him to get outside into the Elements.
Let’s start at the beginning, where did you grow up, and where are you based now?
I was born and raised in North Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches, I’ve lived in the same house for 25 years haha.
When did you first start surfing?
When I was about 9 my dad started pushing me into a couple of waves and I was always at the beach from a young age watching my dad surf and doing nippers.
When did you realise you could make a career out of surfing?
I guess when I was around 14 I had picked up a few sponsors and just won an Australian under 16s title and kinda realised it was something I could see myself chasing further!
A lot of people talk about surfing’s health capacity for mental health. Does that hold true for you?
For sure, there’s something really special about being in nature and the ocean in particular. It doesn’t matter your skill level I think just surfing in general offers a sense of freedom.
We dig your new project, The Good Human Factory. Can you tell us how the idea came about?
My philosophy has always been to help people. And when my little sister came home from school one day in year 12 she said she had lost two friends in 2 weeks to suicide. From there I researched the suicide rate in Australia and decided I could maybe share what I do to keep my mental health in balance with students and they might learn a thing or two just by sharing my story.
What are some of your favourite books and podcasts that have inspired you along with way?
Grit by Angela Duckworth is amazing, shows how dedication and hard work will outweigh talent always.
Can’t hurt me by David Goggins, that guy is a machine and helps me realise that we always have more in us.
I’m reading “start with why” by Simon sinek right now which is super interesting on having a clear “why” when we do anything.
Part of our mission at PYRA is to inspire people to reconnect with outdoors, especially those living the city life. How do you feel when you’re in a concrete jungle in comparison to the ocean?
To be honest because I’ve always lived near the beach I’ve had this sense of discomfort and disconnect if I don’t get in the water for a few days. There’s something special about the ocean that fills a void in me.
You have been lucky enough to travel and surf the world’s best waves, where has been your favourite spot?
Very hard to chose one, but Jeffereys Bay in South Africa is really really nice. Great people, cheap and one of the best surf spots on earth!
What do you miss most when you’re away from home?
My family and a bit of routine.
How important is networking and building a following in your industry?
The surf industry is super weird right now. I haven’t found a sponsor or made a cent from surfing other than prize money for two years! I work full time doing carpentry to fund my surf career haha. But just building a following, in general, is great especially for The Good Human Factory as the more eyes who can see what I’m upto hopefully the more people can learn some positive mental health skills.
Professional surfing seems like a competitive space. How do you motivate the younger groms when it comes to preparing for a heat?
I think for younger groms it should be about getting foundation right. I see so many kids with bad technique winning comps. It’s awesome watching a kid have great style and working on improving his surfing and then coming into the junior tour firing.
Describe your surfing style in 3 words…
Fun, loose, risky
What do the next 5 years look like for you?
Very hard to say with what’s happening with the virus! Hopefully make the world tour, and get the good human factory growing to help as many people as possible
What’s your day-to-day look when you’re not at the beach?
If I’m not working, waking up, reading for 30, meditate for 20 mins, workout for an hour. Have a surf. Do emails and admin for the good human factory.
What styles from Season 2 do you have on the rotation of late?
What’s one activity on your bucket list?
I wanna climb everest one day haha
Lastly finish this sentence: I like getting back outdoors into the elements because….?
It’s where I belong.