Posted by: smithdavid | June 8, 2014


The sky is blue at Incheydoney, despite the fact that it’s late, late November. Down on the west side of the beach – the location of a great session on my last visit over a year ago – the lines of swell that pulse in from deeper water are pitching and breaking. It’s hard to judge the size of the waves at this distance (five hundred yards or so) but they don’t appear very big at all.


‘I’ll give you the longest board I have,’ Colm from the Incheydoney Surf School says, as if he’s read my mind. He nods at the hoodie in my hand, which I’ve had suspended for a few seconds while I decide whether to take it with or not. ‘You may as well take that with – don’t want to come out early ‘cause you’re cold,’ he says.


Carrying the ten foot board to the waterline is like carrying a SUP – very heavy under one arm but too big to get both around it. Eventually I rest it on my head, keep it steady with both arms – progress is quicker this way.

bright day in cork...

bright day in cork…


A small stream of chilly water washes through my wetsuit as I wade in. It’s crisp, but not ice-cream headache cold. The point where the waves are breaking is just deeper than waist high. I spring onto the board, make a few strokes to take me just past the breaking point.


When the first waves comes, I wrench the ten-footer around and begin paddling. The thrust from the wave that I expected to feel on this super-long board never sparks. Instead the board glides along at a pace just faster than if it were under my paddle-power alone. I can sense that it will go no faster so I pop-up, thinking that once I’m up, things will be easier. But it’s too slow and I can’t balance. I tumble, cursing, into the chilly water. Surely on a board this size, you should be able to surf a ripple, I think.

small waves at inchydoney...

small waves at inchydoney…


Three guys that I saw up at the Surf School are in the water now, also trying to make something of the small swell.


‘Where you from?’ I ask.


‘Brazil…’ one of them says.


‘Bit warmer there…’ I say. They grin, try and catch a half-foot wave.


I paddle a little farther out, sit on the board. The swell lines are pulsing harmlessly by me – either not breaking at all or breaking a few feet shy of the shore. Finally a bigger set comes through. I cannot resist taking the first wave – the board accelerates more than before, though it’s still not moving particularly fast. I pop-up and this time I stay up, feeling the weak drive of the wave. But soon the energy is gone and I have to jump off. It’s two months deeper into winter compared to my last visit, yet still the swell is less severe.


The most able surfer of the Brazilians is also struggling to maintain form on a wave and even though I know I shouldn’t compare, this cheers me up.


There are a few more insipid waves; I get a few slow, ungraceful rides. And though my legs chill quickly when they dangle in the water as I sit on the board, there is warmth within my chest.

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