A day in the life of a Big Wave surfer - a first hand account of the recent epic session at Mullaghmore Head February 06 2014
Having a winter season blessed with some enormous Atlantic swells that have battered Western Europe we though it would be pretty cool to share with you a first hand account of the trials and tribulations of a Big Wave surfers mission at Mullaghmore Head on the West Coast of Ireland.... so we tracked down Welshman Glyn Ovens, Big Wave Surfer, Professional Waterman, Paddle Boarder, Ocean Rescue Specialist and Tow-In Guru. Stormriders was one of his very first sponsors back in the day and we firmly believed in what he had set out to do. We managed to catch up with Glyn in between looking for the biggest swells he can find, and got a few words from him, and this is the insight he shared with us.... enjoy:
I received a call from my good buddy Peter Conroy, to say: "Ireland is on, get here", enough said. The winter passes by very quickly when you look at it from a large surf, point of view.
Missing one of these swells is not really an option.
I packed a couple of boards, and a load of warm gear into a small bag, and jumped on the ferry over the stormy Irish sea.
I was met by Peter in a rainy windswept Dublin and we headed straight over to the West coast and straight to bed.
Next day there were a lot of tow teams at the slipway, at lot of people had been following the swell on the forecasts and had made a similar call.
Lots of familiar faces, everyone frothing, but nervous at the same.
We have a really tight crew out here, and we had a quick safety briefing along with an etiquette system so every tow team waited in line for their wave .
The swell was really heavy and thick, the waves were ranging from 15 to 30 feet high, with big boils The swell had a very high period, and this kept everyone on their toes, looking out for the record breaking bomb sets that we all thought would be coming through.
The lads took it in shifts running safety and observing from the channel, then taking their position in the line-up for some waves.
There was a mix of tow, paddle and spongers (bodyboarders). The spongers absolutely charged, but also paid the price with some brutal beatings.
When being towed in, the wave doesn't show itself from the top, it comes in thick and then starts to drain off the reef from the bottom.
Picking your line requires you to judge how deep behind the sections you want to be, then you drop down into the bowels of the beast.
There is a huge barrel on offer, but as the wave drains off the reef it pulls up huge boils that are a surfers nightmare to negotiate whilst in the tube.
Peter Craig was my partner for the day, and he drove like an absolute legend.
My best wave consisted of pulling off hard on the rope to carry speed through to a section well ahead of me. The tide was low, and so the boils were always going to be present. Everything was silent and all I could see was how the wave is sucking off the reef, looking for the boils, and how best to transit through them.
I rode through the section nicely, only to see the water reverse sucking off the reef, downhill towards the base of the wave I was on.
I had to drop over multiple steps, along with riding through upsurges of water, I managed to stick it by the skin of my teeth, and pulled up and over the shoulder at the end section to be greeted by the gallery of skis, photographers and even some kayakers, all hooting and shouting.
Job done. Stoked.
This day no falls, just good waves, back safe.
Can't wait for the next swell, But I am going to have to.
There's something very special about the breed of surfer who decides to take on the challenge of riding the biggest waves that nature creates.
They seem to share a very rare mindset that allows their confidence in their abilities and equipment to over-ride the brains natural response that tells most of us to take flight. Raw courage is not enough to keep you alive on these monsters. Skill, preparation and careful calculation are equally important.... and complete trust in your PWC partner obviously!
I'm always in awe of people who can face real fear, put it on the back burner, and focus on the job in hand. What an inspiring way to experience the world.
I guess life on the edge is more vivid, senses magnified, more intense, more raw.
Many people never get to experience these feelings, and that's a shame.
So as we look ahead at what looks like another set of mighty weather systems pushing across the Atlantic Ocean it would seem that for some people, this year is turning into a very memorable one.
Glyn wishes to thank his principle sponsors for their ongoing support:
Ion wetsuits, http://www.ion-products.com/
Fanatic International SUP, http://www.fanatic-sup.com/content/index_eng.html
Guts Surfboards, http://www.gutssurfboards.com/
Voltz Energy Shot, http://www.voltzenergyshot.co.uk/
Water Safety international, http://www.watersafetyuk.com/
High Surf Europe, http://www.highsurfrescue.eu/
Rich Martin Personal Training, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rich-Martin-Personal-Trainer/129838580461363
Pictures by email@example.com
To follow Glyn on Facebook and keep track of some superb surfing go here:
Mostly I'd like to thank to Glyn for taking the time out to chat to us. Keep charging those monsters!