Bodyboarding in Ireland
When I grew up bodyboarding during my teenage years I realised that Ireland was one of the best countries in the world to be a bodyboarder. I mean, there are better waves other places, there are less winds and tides and it is warmer. But from 2000 on it seemed to me that my Irish, British and European friends and I were really living on a bodyboarding frontier.
Ireland is quite well known as a surfing location now but it wasn’t always like that. From a young age I knew I was very lucky to be a part of a small and special crew of people who were really creating something from nothing. However we did it, we each managed to escape the normal career path and life choices that took so many of our running mates away from the ocean. The bodyboard crew was never massive but when you got there and the waves were on there was always someone there to go out with and push your limits.
The highlights of the first couple of seasons were the 3 – 4 ft sunny, hollow Summer/Autumn sessions at the new slabs we were discovering. From being groms who got stoked on bodyboarding mags and videos we had graduated to actually getting to see the real thing for ourselves and living the life. The stoke was unbelievable. The memories will never fade.
Then things got serious, darker. People forgot about the cold. We began to focus on the winter swells. We started towing big Rileys, we got experience at Aileens, we discovered new places. Soon enough big Mullaghmore was on everybody’s radar. The stakes were high and the missions were not easy. A loose collective of friends: Irish, Welsh, English, Cornish, French, American, Aussie and South African. Surfers and bodyboarders brought together by the mutual need to do the mission.
Meeting Mike (Stewart) when he came to Ireland was a turning point. Bodyboarding in Ireland is different. But just because it is different didn’t mean I couldn’t keep doing it and make it my focus and build my life around it. Once I realised that things got a lot easier.
I was getting most of my money around that time from teaching surfing at my local beach, it was a job I felt I was good at and it is very rewarding work. There is a nice beach vibe in Ireland during the summer, it is more warm and sunny. So I went ahead and started my own surf and bodyboard school with one of my close friends, Eddie. Now my life revolves around the ocean. I think the world is going through a bit of a dark period right now so I think if bringing people into the sea to try surfing is spreading some happiness and positivity in the world that must be a good thing, right?
Then the sport I loved turned around and kicked me in the ass. I snapped my right femur and nearly died at Rileys. Still, you got to have that commitment. I got my driving licences years ago and had to commit to driving and I am way more likely to be killed driving than surfing. Still want to be a bodyboarder so I just accepted the fact I had a bad accident, I made a pretty stupid choice going on a suicidal wave. I had to commit to getting better and getting back to bodyboarding.
Six months on and I am glad to report that is exactly what has happened. My leg isn’t 100% just yet, it is about 80%. I am focused now on trying to get that back to 100% or as close to 100% as I can. I am back in the water doing surf lesoms. The introduction of bodyboarding into the lessons has been really successful. My plan is to get more people stoked on bodyboarding in Ireland.
I am not sure how this winter will go for me. I don’t feel the need to do a lot of crazy charging while my body still isn’t ready for it. But I am stoked to rediscover bodyboarding, surfing small waves again and relearning all the moves. I am like a grom again. But in a year I should be back to full strength and super keen to start charging again and pushing myself to achieve my goals.
The release of this clip is a part of that recovery. All the footage was taken before my accident, kindly donated by Mickey Smith, Ian Mitchinson, Peter Clyne and Andrew Course and put together by filmmaker Peter Martin with music courtesy of Jealov.
Increase the peace.