A Week In The Life: Ernest Capbert

We explore the “life less ordinary” of cold-water surfer and entrepreneur Ernest Capbert

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Ernest Capbert has spent a great deal of his life in water. And not the kind of warm swell you’ll find in Hawaii. A surfer,  Ernest grew up on America’s east coast, and studied in Nova Scotia. It gets pretty cold there.

He began surfing as a child after his uncle showed him his first wave on a beach in Peru, and decided that he had to try and find a way to make a living from it.



“I quickly found out that a big company was not going to be the way and instead, a life doing something I truly believed in was more in line with my dreams.”



That dream turned out to be Finisterre, a company who take expertise in fabric and material research and use it to create clothing for cold-water surfers to wear in the inhospitable environments they visit.



“The company we’ve built has gone on to pick up Volvo Design Awards, Observer Ethical Awards and RSPCA awards. Cold-water surfing creates a real sense of camaraderie and teaches you a lot, not least to do things for the love.”

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Ernest's Diary



Monday: My Office

When you surf, you create a relationship with the water, and its moods. Like anything, good waves don’t last forever, so you learn to adapt. My uncle said that spear fishing was “the best thing to do when the ocean sleeps”. When it’s flat, I do that. Sometimes I don’t catch anything, but being underwater teaches you to understand the subtlety of it — it’s incredibly peaceful. It’s unlikely I’ll be going down to 500 metres but not having to worry that my watch will give out at depth is great.



Tuesday: Time Travel

A relative used to wrap an old watch around the handlebars of his bike. I remember being fixated by this watch strapped to this beautiful bike. He told me when you tour on a bike you can forget about everything, so much so that the time an old watch tells is the only thing that keeps you from “riding off into the sunset”. That’s stuck with me, so I do the same with mine, an old BMW R65.



Wednesday: Inspiration

I always find my best waves during the winter. There’s a sense of real achievement, surfing when temperatures drop and winter swells pick up. Your hands don’t work, there’s snow on the ground, cold waves pound you and there’s no safety net of beach-goers to help. When you get in trouble you’re on your own. The sense of camaraderie is unbelievable, a very powerful thing. My business is cold-water surfing so I’m never in the water without a wetsuit on but the strap on the Pelagos allows me to wear it over my suit and it stays firmly in place.



Thursday: Research

Our company was founded around making the best products, running with the best people and protecting, through the work we do, what’s been given to us. We do a great deal of research to find the best waves and the wildest and most beautiful coastlines in the world, plus we’re always sharing videos, magazine clippings, songs… Anything that inspires us counts as research.

Friday: Testing

When you’re producing products that allow people to live in remote and fairly inhospitable places, you’re actually preserving life, so we’re always product-testing because we have to. Can things withstand -20ºC, for instance? Are they practical? Big pockets, merino linings to wick away moisture, lightweight insulation that works when wet. It’s these fine details we’re interested in.



The Watch

Ernest’s Tudor Pelagos is inspired by a number of Tudor’s navy diver’s watches from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, and made to the specifications of a saturation diver’s watch. Made entirely from titanium, a material first discovered in Cornwall, not far from where Ernest is based, it’s water-resistant to 500 metres.



At those depths your body compresses, which in most cases would leave your watch loose on your wrist, but the Pelagos has a unique bracelet that will contract to tighten as it’s needed. The Pelagos also has luminescent material on the ceramic bezel, hands and dial that glows blue, the last colour visible to the human eye underwater, before it all goes dark. tudorwatch.com