Atlantic Atlantis - Skindog and Oli in Ireland
IT'S WELL and truly winter now then those easterlies have turned up with their smattering of snow, only to be opposed by a monster of a northwest storm whipping up some sizable lumps in our beloved Atlantic. For weeks now people have been talking this swell up, big offshore winter waves. Same old problem in Kernow though, Ireland is slap bang in the way. We were all watching these things develop into pretty colour charts and none more than Oli Adams and Ben Skinner, the chart is on for the West Coast of Ireland, 16ft at 16 seconds plus light offshores, enough to get anyone's blood flowing.
This short sentence describes our long tortured drive in snowy conditions to the port and eventual safe passage to the Emerald Isle. Across the city, past a mountain or two and it's straight into a well overhead pumping righthand point. I have just been reading about Shaun Collins and his early efforts of wave prediction with car batteries and fax machines hooked up on location. I reflect on how it has come from that to this Monday afternoon and the 20 scattered dots down this point scoring the best waves I have seen for ages. All of them with a 14 day anticipation, all hungry for one to remember, one to tell to those that will listen: the glassy face, the glowing sun's red reflection and the freight-train barrel that draws a line so picture perfect off the reef you could pinch yourself. Then you remember I am in Ireland and this is just how it is - sometimes.
Only two days in and my marbles are buckled but happy in the knowledge we have scored some of the best righthanders I have had the pleasure of participating in and on. Filming Oli and Dog, I saw them blowing up on flawless waves one-after-the-other with Cain Kilcullen showing us some disturbing barrel lines on the back of his charmed hand. The swell was supposed to increase but we expected the tide to kill it more, instead it was my turn now while the boys re-hydrated, now 6 to 8ft, only a couple of locals for company in these supernatural surf conditions. My 6â1â Al Byrne, famous for his channel bottoms went like what she was made for - a bit of praise from my crew and Iâm smiling ear-to-ear, what a wave this is.
No sooner than I am out the fellas are back out there for the now entering double figures swell, Caino had the place wired and the boys followed his lead getting grinding dredging tube after tube. Oli was testing his new GoPro with an arm strap and got some hands-on proof while I covered the land cam to earn my keep.
Looking at the forecast there is going to be all sorts on the cards for the rest of the week - although at the time of writing we are surfing the same righthand point at probably a third of the size, it was still a lot of fun but trickier in the way the wave ledges out and folds over the reef shelf. The less than head-high waves are more difficult to navigate than their overhead cousins, strange but true.
With the peak of this first pulse of swell gone weâve headed up the coast and back into the new swell window. There is a real vibe around the town with locals and blow-ins awaiting tonightâs decision on the big wave invitational at the now infamous Mullagmoore Head, nervous excitement would sum it up best and I cannot wait to see somemore of what this magical island has on offer, apparently the morning show is 11ft at 11 seconds light offshore, that will do nicelyâŠ the calm before the storm.
Well that went well, what a day. The way the waves increase here on the swell period is reminiscent of Hawaii or Indo, 2 second increase on the period from this morning and there was 6ft sets a-plenty to weave around on. I filmed for 3 hours straight, with Oli and Ben on barrel patrol, it was a form of modern water torture.
There is a real buzz on here for the Mully comp thatâs on amber alert come Sunday. If the wind plays right its 28 feet at 20 seconds or some crazy stuff. I donât know, they are, another breed, like Bodiâs love children, they circumnavigate the globe for the 50 year storm. We were round one of the boyâs house who's into it and he had 18lbs of lead in the back half of his board, 18lb are you shitting me! I used to get the fear with an 8â6â under my arm now itâs the imagnarium of the 5â6â, insane does not cover it, for what the ocean does here at a quarter of the size! Good luck to them, Iâll be watching from shore you can bank on that.
Back to reality its 4ft at 13 seconds in the morning and if the peak I surfed this at dawn has anything to go on Iâm on for another day of delights. The boys are planning on surfing some hell slab left, so filming should be immense. Get them back out there with the GoPros to upgrade the edit. Well this place is off the hook when the charts dictate it, all this good swell has our arms like noodles, so much surfing and the outdoors life of a Merman has taken its toll on us all. When the echoes that this next hunk of swell predicted at 20 feet and at 20 seconds has turned stormy with west wind its almost a relief, kind of, well maybe not?!
I donât know anymore, you get this way you know, be it in the tropics burnt to a crisp, dehydrated in every way possible or Atlantic Atlantis missions with icicles on your bicycles, in need of a good thaw and muscle recovery, or even at your home spots, warm or cold when reptation fatigue kicks in. So no escape and nor do I wish to escape my mortal shell, after all it has enabled me to get up to this last week. How special life is, especially when youâre soaking up energy from this magical country. A storm at sea, a last minute ferry, farewell new friends and new waves, see you in the not too distant future, for new adventures.
© 2013 Skindog Surfboards filmed by James Mitchell