Timing is everything.
You have to be in the right place at the right time, the tide, the wind and the waves all have to align. Me and my friends have been waiting for this to happen all winter, so we can surf some of our favourite waves. The anticipation was building, as time for our project, backroads surf expedition, was running out as we were fast approaching the end of the big wave season.
There is this thing called the Jetstream, this is a fast flowing air current, meandering like a river, miles up into the air.
What does the Jetstream mean for surfing in Ireland you might say? How does it impact our timing?
In short, the Jetstream picks up big storms off the east coast of America and pushes them towards Ireland, which generates amazing big waves as these storms make their way across the Atlantic.
This winter the Jetstream was changing the approach of the swells to Ireland, less than ideal, resulting that it became harder to find waves that we could test ourselves in as well as our trusty timepieces.
A buzzer beater, that’s what I would best describe it as.
Right when the Atlantic usually starts the approach to summer and calms down a bit, one big swell raged through the Atlantic, a long period of 18-20 seconds between each waves, which results in powerful fast moving swells, as they’ve travelled their way across the Atlantic, building up in size and power with every mile.
Now there are often big swells in Ireland, but few that arrive at the right time, that has the right wind, which ideally is an offshore wind, blowing into the waves. Just our luck that a few days before this swell was due to arrive, the forecast couldn’t have been any better; ‘’We are on!’’.
The day came around, we left at 4 am, so we could get to the spot before sunrise. When we got there our expectations were met and then exceeded.
Long walls of water, seemingly folding over into turbulent white waters in slow motion. The waves were moving deceptively fast, it was simply their sheer size that made them look like they were slow, it takes a few seconds for something, including us, to drop from those heights.
This is the time, this is what we’ve been waiting for this winter, let’s put ourselves to the test.
During the day we spent so much energy and time, simply navigating the waves, the rocks and spent plenty of time underwater.
Getting tumbled over the rocks below, falling over a ledge of a wave as the water drops out underneath you, only to then get sucked back up the face of the and slammed onto the water a second time by the wave itself.
All this to get to that moment where your timing matches that of the wave, your board speeds up, the water drops out and you start falling, seemingly weightless.
Your feet connect to the board, little pressure is applied as your board gradually starts reconnecting with the wave face, your speed is still increasing as you fully stretch out to engage your fins in the wave face.
The best way to describe it is like going down a black diamond slope, with an avalanche chasing you every second, the mountain behind you is folding over and chasing you down.
You pick your line and stick to your guts.
Moments later you kick out of the wave, looking back at your close friends who you just got to share that special moment with, a fleeting moment but a memory and a feeling that lasts on and makes you want to continue the chase for waves.
You paddle back out, looking for the next wave, maybe a bigger one this time!