Late last week Mullaghmore broke and the world ooohed and ahhed. Inevitable comparisons were drawn with a chilly Teahupoo or a hollow Nazare. However, despite the thousands of views generated most were left no closer to understanding who these silhouetted surfers are, nor why they huddle in that harbour before dawn. Here are three perspectives on paddling the wave, the crew and bodyboarding the damn thing.
Will Skudin on paddling Mully
The paddle session was a short one. With growing swell that morning, I knew it was going to be a one or two wave deal – if I was lucky. I have watched some amazing footage of a handful of local guys paddling it, inspiring stuff. Most waves suck up way too fast to get into it paddling, but there are some out there. It's a wave which demands respect, paddle or tow, and you have to put your time in to figure it out. It is difficult, cold and far from perfect. Every once and a while a wave would come through that would blow your mind. It was a fun vibe but safety and communication in the line up is taken very seriously. I was stoked to put some time in with a great group of guys.
Dylan Stott on the local flavour
In the Malloy film about bodysurfing Plight of the Torpedo People, one of the Wedge guys, Fred Simpson had this to say about the wave. “The people who bodysurf the Wedge are weird people because the Wedge is a weird wave.”
Well the people who surf Mullaghmore are weird people, because Mullaghmore is a weird wave. She has many different faces. She is long and scary, twisty and boily. She will bash you against the reef then drown you. There is nothing more inevitable than getting a good kicking if you surf her. She is moody and violent and yet compelling. A scary creature.
The people who surf Mullaghmore are weird people, because Mullaghmore is a weird wave. She has many different faces. She is long and scary, twisty and boily. She will bash you against the reef then drown you. Dylan Stott
But the best thing about surfing Mullaghmore is the other people who surf it. Those who surf Mullaghmore regularly all have day jobs. They have enough distraction during the months and sometimes years that it takes to break. They do other things. But when Mullaghmore is breathing, the people who surf Mullaghmore are there just as much for each other as they are there for the wave.
But it is rare for Mullaghmore to have a banner year. One year there it only broke once. So you would consider yourself lucky to get it good once in a month and last week it broke three times.
Imagine the pre-surf anxiety. Post-surf adrenal overload syndrome – a lot for the nerves to take. Three times in one-week, the peaks and valleys of dopamine induced emotional swings ruled the thoughts and actions of a dozen men.
Men like Paul O’Kane who has more driving experience than all of us put together, men like Peter Conroy who drove around Dublin trying to borrow a defibrillator from his firefighting buddies. Shambles, who studied molecular physics and is comfortable in a discussion of philosophy at a late night café and pulling into twenty-foot tubes on his bodyboard. Will Skudin, a newcomer from New York who is on the BWWT (Big Wave World Tour).
We share gear and space in the house. We look out for one another and always make sure that the heads pop up when they go down. There is nothing like being part of a crew. The right crew can make a session that some see as going to war feel like just having fun in the ocean. Its as simple as that.
Shambles McGoldrick on bodybording the wave
Mully has an inside reef and the outer reef which breaks only on massive swells. Since we were groms we all knew about the outer reef, which was called The Slave. This wave was pioneered by Richie Fitz and Gabe Davies. But eight or nine-years-ago myself and some booger friends began surfing the inside piece of reef quite regularly. No one else had been surfing that spot up until then.
I have been surfing Mully consistently for over eight years. In fact, I would call myself a Mully local. However, another crew with skis were the guys who first began to surf the outer reef regularly. Myself and number one Irish bodyboarder Shane Meehan towed in there for the first time three years ago, the day before the first ever Irish Big Wave competition sponsored by Billabong.
Since then I have towed it and paddled it a number of times. As far as I know, the only boogers to have surfed the outer reef at Mullaghmore Head are me, Shane and Cornish hellman Dan Skajarowski. We are only scratching the surface, Mully will soon show us who is boss and blow minds in the process.
The Halloween session was epic. It was a pumping swell and the wind was ok in between the squalls. The night before I called up my good mate Barry Mottershead, and he was frothing as usual and offered to whip me into a few if I wanted. I also knew a lot of the regular crew would be there: Paul O Kane, Peter Conroy, Peter Craig, Neil Britton and New Yorkers Dylan Scott and Kurt Risk – so I knew good times were guaranteed. In fact, Dylan and Kurt's mate Will Skudin came over too and blew my mind. This guy charges, before I went out I saw his paddle attempts, and he got some serious bombs off the rope.
'Now Barry, I just want to get a medium one...' Barry fired up his engine and said, 'Here come a set, you want this one'. I was in the spot so I went.Shambles
When Dylan and Kurt came into the harbour to change air canisters on their inflatable safety vests I got a lift out on the ski to the lineup. After watching the carnage for a while Barry came over on his ski and said, 'Let's go'. I got whipped into one closeout and managed to pull out through the back, phew! As I was duckdiving the rest of the set I saw Kurt disappear into what looked like a 12-15ft keg and get spat out. Suddenly I was out the back again and I was trying to communicate to Barry, 'Now Barry, I just want to get a medium one...' Barry fired up his engine and said, 'Here come a set, you want this one'. I was in the spot so I went. Once I let go of the rope and came down the face I was locked in. I have a weighted bodyboard that adds more momentum to the ride and even though I was going what felt like Mach 5 the ride was pretty smooth. Mully is completely doable on a boog, provided there is not too much wind or chop.
I kind of out ran the section, and I need time to suss out the wave and my equipment. But I am super stoked to have got a nice set wave on a great day out there. Hopefully, if I put a bit of time in out there I might get a mental barrel. I got one more small one and went in before a squall hit. I really appreciate the guys towing me into a few waves and cheering me on. We all had a good old time in the hotel afterwards, drinking coffee and checking the footage, and at the end of the day, that is what it is all about, good times, good waves and a good crew. After all, the winter is approaching and sessions at Mully are going to get colder, scarier and no doubt bigger. We are all laughing now, until the next big swell and we are back out there freezing and scared out of our wits in the wild elements.