Carve Magazine Issue 177
New issue is in stores this week and available on the app now for you iPad folk. For next time how about letting the postie take the strain and subscribe?!
Mully on my mind
Somewhere around the turn of the century I was on my annual autumnal Irish mission. The surf was big, the weather evil and apart from a few brave souls that took on the slightly sheltered big rights at the Peak the ocean was empty. It was a day to hide in the Bridge Bar and rack up the pints of black gold. In an effort to stave off alcoholism we went for an exploratory drive in local shop owner Richie Fitzgerald’s big old red van. Searching along the coast to see what the big swell was doing. We huddled against it from the fierce offshores and rain squalls to look at peaks unloading on various reefs.
This was before the advent of tow surfing in Europe. Bradshaw’s ’98 El Nino fuelled beast at Outer Logs and Laird’s Teahupo’o ‘millennium wave’ had legitimised the concept. Aileens wasn’t on the radar and the scale of Irish waves was only known internationally from Jon Frank’s hectic late ’90s Litmus footage of Joel Fitzgerald charging at an unnamed Irish reef. Sure the local crew knew it got large but the big, world class barrel thing, that was still behind a green curtain. We ended up on the wind ravaged headland at Mullaghmore, a spot a few US pros had paddled on a windy day for a Jack Johnson film, it was big but not epic for their session. More a novelty to add colour, or more correctly, grainy black and white, to the film. It was one of those joints that got looked at in awe.
Especially on this day when the gale force offshores were holding up six to seven times overhead freight train bombs. It looked perfectly terrifying. It also looked surfable. If you were a mad man with no regard for your own safety. The conversation crystallised there: it’s doable. For whoever has got the balls and skill to do it. That and very good medical insurance. The advent of motorised assistance made the first steps into big Mully that much easier. Gabe Davies and Richie, then Cotty and Al, Duncan Scott and others broke new ground. As later did Fergal, Lowey and Sancho.
The recent sessions have moved the goalposts that much closer. A wave that was regarded twenty years ago as unsurfable became unpaddleable ten years ago. Now it’s being paddled at size. Sure it’s insanely tricky to paddle and along with Nazare and Teahupoo lives in the elite group of big waves that actually are too psycho to paddle when really big, humbling any big name international pro that scoffs that it is. It’s crazy to think that fifteen years ago no one had heard of the big wave spots Nazare and Mullaghmore. Now the former is where the biggest waves in the world are ridden and the latter where the most outrageous barrels in Europe are going down.
Hats off to the pioneers and the current crew pushing the boundaries and keeping it safe every session. There’s some insane imagery this issue from a special winter. Enjoy.