Last night there was the most stunning sunset over one of the most special places in the world. The sea was molten, the surfers coming out of the water glowed in the burning light, dripping icy drops of gold from the Atlantic.
It had been a magical run of swell, days spent chasing waves with old and new friends. I had been left in constant awe by the power and beauty all around. Bobbing in a thick layer of neoprene, scanning the horizon in anticipation, my breath magnified by my earplugs which also made my heart seem louder. Days like those are burned in the memory of a surfer, carried with them on times when they are pulled away from the sea, always creating a yearning and a pull to return. It’s what keeps us alive. Why we shake off the ice from our frozen wetsuits in the morning, scraping the frost off our boards and car windows for the next dawn patrol.
I got on the road before the sun rose. Clouds had rolled in overnight so the there was less risk of ice on the roads. I was heading home to introduce some new recruits to this mad world of surfing in Ireland (the winners of the recent ‘Bring on the Pros’ comp) I was tired but excited to see surfing from another perspective and to learn what drove these three girls, studying at college in Dublin, to get into an unfamiliar sea in the middle of February in Ireland.
The girls were super keen and it was great to get the chance to work with such a committed bunch. Fast to learn and hungry for knowledge, I realised again how much fun ‘passing it on’, the skills learned from a lifetime of experience, can be. It’s the little details that matter most. And seeing the reaction when the mind and body finally click and the brain stops thinking too hard and the body stops trying too hard and all of a sudden you’ve nailed it without even realising. And when you too your face lights up in a huge smile and your arms are in the air and you fall off, laughing hard. When that happens, there is no going back.
It’s a tough one, surfing in Ireland. Especially when life lands you with all these other commitments, like being on the wrong coast studying for a degree, doodling surf pictures in your notes during lectures or using the Uni wifi to google surf reports. I hope these three stick together and get back out there. I don’t doubt their enthusiasm is infectious and they already seem oblivious to the cold. I hope the sea gives them more gifts like today.
Special thanks to the National Dairy Council and the MilkIt campaign supporting youth development in sport & active healthy lifestyles and who made this training day possible.