"OLLIE O'Flaherty? Who's that?" Was bandied around by more than one face after he dropped into an XXL Big Wave nomination for successfully jousting with Mullaghmore back in March, 2012.
Back at his home break of Lahinch, Ireland, it was no surprise that O'Flaherty, or Fla, had been recognised on the big stage. The thing with surfing is that the 'big stage' is often something of an illusion and getting a break might often mean being friends with the right person as much as putting yourself in harm's way, being talented or loving your gig. Almost inevitably Ollie is searching for a main sponsor but by making better friends with the gym than the pub and willingly launching over that ledge he's doing his best to get himself in front of that dotted line.
Interview, David Olsthoorn
So Fla, let's start at the beginning. Who inspired your development as a surfer?
In the last few years it couldnt be just one person who has inspired my development as a surfer, it would have to be a group of people. Shane Dorian, Greg Long, Mark Healy and Fergal Smith. These guys incapsulate everything that is pushing the levels of big wave and slab wave surfing all over the planet . And especially seeing it done on my home waves , it's truly special to watch.
If you could swap Ireland for Hawaii or Aus - would you?
© Conn Osborne
Personally I wouldn't swap Ireland for anywhere. I love the wait and the different levels of slight madness everyone goes through when it's onshore for four weeks. In winter it's only bright from 8am til 4.30pm and all you get is facemelting onshore surf making your favourite place the local gym. But when it turns on, the clouds open up, the colours are amazing, the scenery blows your mind and the surf, well, it's as good as anywhere in the world, but it's a short drive from my front door. It may be cold and harsh but it's perfect and I feed off the energy here, it makes me tick.