Marketing agency boss Daniel Macaulay on the world's best surfing spots, why fitness is the new mid-life crisis, and making sport more inclusive.
What is your sporting passion?
Running an agency with offices by the beach, I have plenty of opportunities to try out new sports. I think so many sports are complementary to each other and more people are beginning to realise this. If I had to choose one sport to do for the rest of my life, it’d definitely be windsurfing. I’ve taught and competed in windsurfing for nearly 30 years now. I’ve never been more addicted to it and nothing else gives me the same buzz. I owe windsurfing so much, from my physical and mental health to travel and friends I’ve met all over the world.
How did you first get into sport?
I grew up on the south-west coast of Ireland next to a huge watersports centre. There was no Facebook or Netflix back then but there was limitless opportunity to do a variety of sports, especially watersports, in world class conditions. I started really getting into it when I was 11 but developments in equipment mean that kids can get into it much younger now.
Do you also participate in sport?
It depends how you define participation. Sports such Formula One have millions of fans who would consider themselves participants, but not many people get to race F1 cars. I’m definitely a sports fan but I much prefer the doing part. Recently I’ve gotten into road biking. It’s great fun being a beginner and learning something new again. It also blows my mind how inclusive and accessible mass participation sports are these days. Fitness is the new mid-life crisis.
What is your most cherished sporting memory?
In my twenties I worked for US surf brand O’Neill and got to visit many of the most famous surfing and windsurfing spots, from Hawaii and South Africa to Peru and Mexico. With the seductive combo of social media and cheap flights, these areas tend to be increasingly crowded. My most cherished sporting memories are at less-known spots off the beaten track in Ireland with a few friends and family. If we finish off the day with a few cold pints of Guinness, that’s the icing on the cake.
What is your greatest hope in sport?
I believe sport can be a catalyst for positive change; physically and mentally on a personal level, but also a great healing and bonding effect on a societal level. The UK has the most inactive population in Europe. This leads to long-term health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and puts a massive strain on the NHS. There are some amazing national behaviour change campaigns running at the moment such as #getoutside and #thisgirlcan. My hope is that people at all levels begin to better recognise sport not just as the fun and exciting hobby that it is but also as a passport to a longer and more fulfilling life.
If you could change one thing about sport, what would it be?
Sport and fitness have never been more on-trend so it’s an amazing time to be part of a fast-evolving industry. That said, there are still huge segments of society who believe that sports aren’t for them due to ethnicity, age or sex. Sports needs to be more inclusive and to achieve this we need to start young. Having a young family has opened my eyes to how important it is to expose kids to different sports in an attractive and accessible way. Healthy kids are generally happy kids and that’s a good place to start.
Daniel Macaulay is chief executive and founder of Brandwave.