Posted by: smithdavid | February 2, 2014


It’s our last day in Rossnowlagh; we’ve come in for a surf even though, at first, it seemed as though there was no power in the swell. Emmet and the Goofball have caught a wave or two (it seems we were wrong about the waves having no power); I’ve botched the first few.

I paddle farther out, past the back-line. I sit on the 8’7″ hire board; I’ve decided to observe the shape and form of the waves for a while before attempting to catch another.  There is a series of splashes about ten yards to my right: the sounds repeat in a calm rhythm, they are not frantic enough to be those of a surfer. I watch the source of the souund for a while; soon the shiny, gray body of a porpoise glides out of the water and then submerges.

‘You see that?’ I call to Emmet, who is twenty yards farther back towards the shore.

He grins and calls back, ‘It’s pretty cool, alright…’

some weight behind the waves...

some weight behind the waves…

A waves approaches – a gray line pulsing in. As it jacks up I can see that it will not break in front of me, but closer in to shore. I paddle towards it, let it lift me and set me down again. It forms an edge beyond which there seems to be a steep fall. Then it thunders over on itself, throwing spray into the air. The next wave is the same.

someone going towards clean water...

someone going towards clean water…

Now one comes that, if I turn quickly, I can catch. I lie down on the board, turn and paddle. The board begins to rush with the wave; I spring up and begin riding. I shift my left leg a little, put more weight on it. The wave begins to curl over on itself and I surge down it’s face. There is churning white water on either side of me, smooth gray water just ahead. I steer the board right, getting into a position just ahead of the shoulder. I’m now riding almost parallel with the shore: the proper use of this slow, long, Rossnowlagh right. As the power of the wave starts to fade it seems to swell up again and I steer on to the reformed face. I’m taken another fifty or sixty yards towards the cliffs at Smuggler’s.

When I finally dive off the board I’m in waist high water; it’s been quite a ride. I stand for a while and catch my breath. My hair is damp, there is warm water in between my back and my wetsuit, a breeze on my cheeks. I feel the way my mouth is pulling up in to a smile. I realize that for the last few moments there have only been sensations, no thoughts. I get on to the board again and start paddling, hungry for another wave like that.

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