March 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm
Im finally home in Corwall after 6months on the road, hence not blogging much! Since Nazare so much has happened that its hard to put into words. I caught one of the best rides of my life at Jaws, paddled some of my biggest at Mavericks, then returned to Ireland for swell of the year out at the Cliffs. Id love to be able to describe how it felt inside that Jaws barrel, or what goes through my mind as you drop down a 20footer at Mavs, but its all just feelings, of pure instinct and survival mode, i really don’t think. Im just so thankful that im still in one piece after all that El Nino action and am stoked for this rest.
Scary beautiful Jaws, Photo by Christina Fernandez
Mavericks the following week, sharing one with Will Skudin.
Rolling into the Alieens bowl, way scarier than it looks, as you never know what your in for, either an epic tube or hectic beating, your rolling the dice every time!
Still my favourite wave in the world, nowhere comes close to the enjoyment i get surfing the Cliffs x
Until next time, whenever that may be? Peace x
January 2, 2016 at 5:48 pm
Its funny to think i nearly didn’t go on this swell, sitting here in Ireland all cozy, it being Christmas round the corner. Found myself moaning about not having enough cash for the mission, is it worth it, bla bla bla. But as often the case i followed my instincts, and hoped the gamble would pay off.
My good friend Nic Von Rupp was at Lisbon airport to meet me, along with our buddy and filmier Guy Mac. With only half hour drive to Nics pad, the plan was to try get few hours rest before Nazare in the am. But there was no chance i was sleeping, full moon, 30ft swell, new wave, wasn’t happening. Instead i found myself chilling on the veranda watching the stars, taking it all in. Ended up getting about an hour, due to all the anxiety. So after a quick breaky and prepping the boards, we were of on the 2hour drive to Nazare. Man was vibe in the car heavy, like proper war time, ha. Im am getting used to that process by now, so i try to enjoy it, take in all the energy, deep breathing, trusting that its your time to get that ride, but of corse your scared of the unknown.
So to jump straight into it, Nazare breaks all over the place, its truly a wild beast. Your going to get sets on the head if you paddle it, fact. I felt that was the case straight away, but with Garrett Mcnamra on safety, shouting you into bombs, your not gonna pull back. Making my way to the inside i went the first wave of the session, a thick heavy right which wiped me out pretty bad. I was warm and amped after , wanting a proper bomb if it came.
15mins later, I took of on this wave above, which was a chunky 20footer, big fat thing, with heaps of lumps. Looking at the nose of my board so not to dive, i went down the thing with mad speed. Moments later, in what felt like slow motion i caught Jamie’s eye, as i looked up for the first time. Instinct steered me round the ski, I didn’t think anything, with him having the only choice but to dive off. Straightening out i headed for the beach, tripping. I just wanted to get to the beach, thats all i thought. I then caught the ski in the corner of my eye as it flew at me. Jumping as it hit my board, luck had it that i penetrated the surface to the sandy bottom, as it rolled right over.
Somehow i wasn’t hurt, just some big dings in my board. As for Jamie and Ross they were all good to. 5mins later We all hugged it out on the beach before Garrett picked us up for a lift out. Within 10mins we were out the back laughing. What followed was an epic session, Really good vibes.
For the record it wasn’t Jamie’s fault by any means, with the jet ski thing. There were many elements that caused this situation. Ross Clark Jones said it was him being to slow to climb on the sled, Garrett said he confused the situation by going in also to pick Ross up. But at the end of the day its part of big wave surfing. It was 30ft breaking every which direction, just nuts, and he was going in to save his mate, so fare play. Ive lost the ski a few times myself getting Fergal at the cliffs, also Derek Dunfee at Laurens. Its par for the corse. And hell i wouldn’t want to go anywhere near driving Narare if i can help it. Both Jamie and Ross are two of the most experienced watermen i know, some of the best in the sport, and i look upto them both. For sure theres no hard feelings.
Anyways, two days later was Christmas eve, and a swell that was twice the size. Everybody was fired up to make history and hopefully paddle the tallest wave of there lives. It wasn’t as big as was hyped, but still the biggest waves id paddled, apart from Puerto Escondido last summer. Yes i was very very scared, along with everybody else.
I felt like i was on a bodyboard on my 10’0, was way to small to get enough speed to catch these mountains. Jamie on the other hand looked chilled, sitting way inside, so gnarly. He owned that session, paddling a handful of 20ft plus bombs, inspiring us all to go for it.
3hours later i hadn’t caught a thing, Tom Butler had got a beauty so he was done, Will and Nic Lamb had a few, Joao was going bonkers on the inside, Alex and Cotty knifing into solid ones, even Hugo and Garrett had swapped from being on safety by then, and were stoked on there waves.
So sitting alone way on the outside next to the lighthouse, i thought to myself maybe this isn’t the right time, if thats the case then so be it. All the crew had been surfing way down the beach, as there weren’t many were i was. It really felt spiritual sitting solo out there, getting to know the place without any distractions, its usually in those circumstances that i catch a special ride.
Then Jamie appeared on the ski offering his 10’10 board. Within 10mins the wave below came to me, and i knew it was right. Flying into it easy, with that board under me, i got up nice and early going real fast, i had it! Then hit a chop halfway down and airdropped, landed for just a second, then hit another, boom! the water felt like concrete, like wiping out skating the bowl, still hurts now. To be honest i panicked underwater, wind knocked out of me, trying to get my vest to inflate, as i was in a washing machine. Feel real lucky it held me for only 15secs or so, otherwise i don’t know how i would have coped. Tom Butler was there to pick me up soon as i surfaced, so big thanks to him.
Photo Jorge Leal
Ive learnt so much from that humbling, about my boards, positioning and most importantly to hopefully not panic next time.
Thankyou Nic Von Rupp for such an epic week, the RedChargers, Garrett, Cotty, Tom, Hugo, for water safety, Nazare for the lessons.
Until next time.