We started off getting some really fun waves for the first two weeks I was there, even though I was pretty much focused on finishing up some scenes for my film ‘ Lets be Frank’…
It was pretty amazing actually – the weather was great, sun was out, it felt just like a Cape Town winter with no wind and amazing scenery. Visually Ireland is such an amazingly beautiful country. To me it doesn’t seem real in a way – it seems more like a fairy tail or something out of ‘Lord of the Rings’. Maybe it’s the ancient history of the place with some of their temples pre-dating the pyramids in Egypt. I don’t know. Its hard to explain, but you can feel the history in the air and the land. The fields are so green, and then you have the ancient stone walls, which are dark, separating all the fields. So you have this contrast in colour and when the sun comes out the whole place just lights up. Add to that the endless rainbows you see and you can’t help but fall in love with the country.
I rented a house in the little town of Bundoran for my whole stay in Ireland. I had visited last year too, but I didn’t get to surf much as I broke my back pretty soon after I arrived.
Being back almost a year to the day was pretty special for me. Lying in that hospital bed last year thinking I might never be able to surf again was a pretty low point, as you can imagine. I just kept thinking “What am I gonna do?”. There was literally no other answer coming up, as being a pro surfer has been my dream for so long. I didn’t have a ‘Plan B’. I decided then that I was going to carry on with my trip and go to America to hopefully sign with Hurley International, broken back and all…
I’m so very grateful that everything worked out. I drove to England with some of the crew from the film as I couldn’t fly because of my back, stayed in London for about 2 weeks and then flew to California where I signed a deal with Hurley. That is also where I completely changed what I was eating and focused entirely on getting better as soon as possible.
Anyway, to cut a long story short I was back in Ireland and very grateful to still be living my dream!
After getting some really fun waves in Bundoran we decided to head down south to go surf the Cliffs and the slab that broke my back the last year. We first surfed the cliffs and there is literally no way to describe the beauty. For lack of words, try imagine 800ft vertical cliffs that go straight into the ocean. It’s probably the most breathtaking place I have ever surfed in my life. You scale down these giant cliffs and then paddle out and look up and you can barely see the people standing on the top. They just look like little specs. 1000s of people come from all over the world to see the cliffs – I bet none of them expect to see guys surfing at the bottom of them.
After a really fun surf we decided to check the wave that I hurt myself at last year. I was with Will Skudin, his girlfriend and my filmer Andi Jensen. I won’t lie, I was pretty skeptical about going out there again. I just kept thinking that if I went out and hurt myself again I would look like an absolute idiot. Fortunately, thanks to some motivation from Will, I sucked it up and headed out. It was pretty intimidating, but I knew I had to do it. I just needed one wave…
One wave turned into about 10 waves and, with a huge weight lifted off my chest and an even bigger smile on my face from having such a fun day of surfing, we headed straight to the hostel for a couple ‘o ice-cold Guinness’s.
It was a valuable lesson to learn though – breaking my back and feeling like its all over. In that moment, if you had told me I was going to sign a deal with an international surf brand and then come and surf the wave again, I would probably have told you to get lost. I’m not 100 percent sure what the lesson is but for me it was to listen to that voice in your head that tells you to keep pushing and to keep trying no matter how down and out you might think you are.
The next day we drove back up to Bundoran and a couple of days later I got to surf Mullaghmore for the first time. It was a strange day – when we checked the ocean in the morning it was pretty much dead flat. So, we just kinda cruised and took our time. At about lunch time we decided to check the waves again and it was absolutely firing! Guys were alredy out and I felt like we had blown it. A mad scramble followed as we kitted up and headed out. The ocean was so glassy and there just these giant, perfectly barreling lefts coming through. It was a pretty small crew – myself, Will, Dylan Stott, Barry Mothershead, Connor Maguire, Noah, Ryan and Tom Butler.
Everyone was getting waves except for me and it felt like I just couldn’t get into position for one. Eventually this set came my way and not really knowing what to expect I went for it. The take off felt kinda easy, but if you watch the video you see I go over 2 steps on the way down the face. The rest I don’t really remember… I knew I couldn’t pull straight as you would just get obliterated, so the only think I could think of was pulling up and high lining the first section. As I pulled in the wave spat so hard I pretty much just went blind. I do have a vivid memory of realising I’m in the biggest barrel of my life, which is something I’ll carry with me for a long time. Seeing the next section I kinda made peace with the fact that the joyride was over, and that I was in for a solid beat-down. But it just didn’t happen. Next thing the wave spits again and somehow, I’m seriously not sure how, I came out.
It’s hard to explain how you feel after a wave like that. I went and just sat on my board for a while – I had no intention of going back out and getting another one! That was me, my whole trip to Ireland made on a single wave. It seriously didn’t matter what happened after.
That’s what I love about surfing – the constant search for that one moment. Sometimes you find it, most times you don’t, but I’m very grateful be have to opportunity to try…
Until next time,