Author Rodney Sumpter


Rod Sumpter is a former BECTU accredited Director of Photography and he directed six feature- length surf films including: “Oceans” - “Freeform” -  and the classic, “Come Surf with Me”, 1965, Britain’s first 16mm surfing film. He also directed the Old Spice “Surf” footage for the commercial, which he shot at Pipeline, Hawaii and ran for 20 years. In 2005 this commercial was rated 34th in the Channel 4 “100 Best Ever Commercials” television special. Rod worked for ten years as a television news cameraman and a specialist water photographer, winning a gold award for the film covering the 1986 “Surf Masters”.


Cinema Shorts: he has Produced/Directed/Photographed “Windsurfer” (12 mins ,shot in 35mm); “White Waves”(21 mins,16mm blowup); “Sky Surfer” ( 33 mins,16mm blowup), which showed with Feature Films FAME, ROCKY 11, and THE LAST SNOWS OF SPRING respectively.

A former champion competition surfer, he has written five non-fiction surfing books, including “Surfing Hawaii” published by Falcon Press, and he’s been a leading figure in “style surfing”. He has shaped surfboards at Hobie surfboards in California and Bilbo surfboards in Newquay, UK. During a long career at the top of the sport, Rod has surfed all kinds of waves, from the huge surf at the Cribber to perhaps the most unusual, the Severn Bore tidal wave that runs up the River Severn, Gloucester, in spring and autumn. After several half mile rides, he rode the wave for six miles unaided, a recognized world record at the time, Guinness Book of Records.

He has placed in World Surfing Championships: fifth (San Diego 1966) and then seventh (Bells1970) in consecutive World Surfing Championships, and he has surfed in over twenty-five countries.

Born in Watford 27th May 1947, a British Citizen, Rodney Sumpter, at age four, immigrated with his parents to Australia on a ten pound passage called the “British assisted migration scheme”, Desperately poor, his father struggled to feed Rodney and his brother David. Rodney was born with a stammer that developed to an embarrassing level when he started school. Unable to ask questions or answer them, he escaped to the solace of the waves and surfing. So started a sometimes comic battle to overcome his speech impediment,  dyslexia, and a gambling approach in sport that would win him the National Surfing Championship of three countries, and in doing so encountered dolphins, sharks, and turtles, which inspired his first fiction book, “The Green Flash”.

These days, Rod lives not far from the waves and thinks he’s as good a surfer as Kelly Slater. When Rod isn’t writing, he enjoys surf reporting, painting of all kinds, and archiving his films into historical documentaries. His girlfriend, Bel, and 9 goldfish named “Jaws 1-9” keep him company.