Posted by: smithdavid | February 9, 2014


We’re in the back-line at Rossnowlagh: it didn’t look like much when we first got in but Emmet, the Goofball and I have all caught at least one really good wave.

I’ve only just got back out here after a long, easy right-hander took me almost all the way to shore. It’ll be a while before there is another like that, I think.

But just a few yards away a wave begins to jack. I turn and paddle, and soon feel the way the wave has caught the 8’7” and is carrying it along. I spring up: it feels effortless and now I’m riding along the face of the wave. I shift a little, the board accelerates and I feel that sudden, exhilarating surge and the sensation of weightlessness. It’s like there is nothing to restrain me, no walls to box my spirit in.

clean at rossnowlagh...

clean at rossnowlagh…

I shift again, trimming the board so that it remains in the energy centre of the wave. When it seems that the wave is spent there is another surge and I keep on going.

I paddle back out when it’s over. Even if the first two waves are the only good ones I get, it’ll have been a great session, I think. But I’m not in the back-line for long and there is another one. Again I’m up quickly, again I feel the drop.

This time I see Emmet on the inside, paddling to get back out. He whoops as he sees me glide by. I crouch a little to keep in the sweet-spot; I can feel myself smiling.

When I’m paddling I see Emmet whizz by, he’s whooping even louder. Out to my right the Goofball has found a left-hander and she slides away towards Finn McCool’s.

We meet out in the back-line again; sit on our boards for a while to rest. Farther out a tall, lean figures paddles for a wave: one, two, three strokes and he’s up instantly, moving the board casually this way and that. When he gets closer I see that it’s Neil Britton, owner of Finn McCool’s, Rossnowlagh legend.

a left at rossnowlagh...

a left at rossnowlagh…

‘Never seen Neil in before,’ says Emmet. ‘It’s never been good enough…’

Neil rides for a while, then drops down on to his board and starts paddling back out, his movements completing the oval of wave ride and paddle back to position.

There are plenty waves for the rest of us; it’s just a matter of catching your breath when you get to the back-line. There is never a long wait.

After a time I meet up with the Goofball again. Her lips are blue and her hands are tucked in under her arms.

‘Think I’m gonna go in,’ she says. ‘I’m getting cold…’

‘Just one or two more,’ I say, ‘it’s too good not to.’

I’m tiring and think that maybe my technique will let me down. But the next wave comes and I’ve popped-up and taken the drop before I know it.

Eventually we each catch one more in, must’ve been a three hour session, I reckon. My legs are jelly-like as I wade out, the Goofball’s teeth are chattering, Emmet’s head lolls to one side.

But I can feel something shine out of my eyes as I look at the others, I see the same thing radiate from theirs. We high five but say nothing. There is no need.


  1. Sounds like one of those days, Dave. Etched in memory.

    • it was a great day, tom. hopefully many more to come.

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