What do you think defines Irish surfing right now?
I think it is the few people that genuinely make it their life to push themselves for themselves and nothing else that end up pushing surfing here. The defining feature of surfing in Ireland, for me anyway, has to be the little windows of opportunity of pure gold that only give you a look in when you are on your last nut, and when you least expect it.

Fergal Smith said when he was starting out he always looked up to your approach to surfing heavy waves and wanted you to give professional surfing a crack with him as well, but your vibe was that you never wanted surfing to end up feeling like work?

I remember one of the days that Ferg first raised the bar, the one sesh back at the Loid – it looked absolutely insane, but he was in there like f***in amping, but I wasn’t so keen as I like to take it at my own pace and go because I’m amped, not from pressure and everyone else’s ampage. I would have liked to have stuck at surfing full time for a year or so longer looking back now, but I’ve loved college to, it’s been a different sort of challenge and a little bit of craic with a great bunch, so variety being the spice of life and all that it turned out well, there have been dark times though when I just really wished I could just drop it all and be in the water. 

How many years have you been at Uni for, how long are you planning on staying there?

Haha. That’s a sneaky one, five years, so yeah I’ve had a bit more than a little craic! Still doing environmental science, but I’m finished next week and I’ll enjoy the freedom. I’ll definitely have to think long and hard before I jump into another course but it’s on the cards. I want to do a bit of self education and figure out what I want to learn about before I go back. For the time being though, I’m taking a break and surfing for a while…

You’ve been Irish surfing’s silent assassin these last few seasons, disappearing for months and then surfacing on the swells of the season to get barrelled off your plums for a day and then vanishing again. Is that on purpose, as a way to keep yourself stoked?

It’s definitely not my preferred way to surf and I think in the long term it may be a bad strategy (going by the trail of destruction I left on the last mission), but it works in some ways, the pure disbelief that I come out unscathed sometimes is a good feeling and I have been pretty lucky with scoring the odd amazing day, but I’m looking forward to putting some real time and effort in for better or for worse and earning a good’n, it’s much more satisfying that way. Half of it, though, is the days and nights around good waves that I haven’t had for a while, those are the best times.

You go about your business of charging very quietly and under the radar. What do you make of the big claims and mainstream media hype coming from some of the tow crews here over these last couple of years?

In the end I think it will all level out, hopefully, to a point where the ones who are really surfing the waves well and raising the bar will reap the rewards, and hopefully all hype and glorified claims will be put into comedy skits that we can watch in a few years. The onus is really on the media I suppose, they determine what will be seen and what is turned into big news. It’d be great if it was all just about the surfing and the waves again.

You and Ferg have had some epic bodyboarding duels pulling in the last few winters at the slabs, have you been honing your skills ready for the next showdown?
I don’t know if eating bread roles counts as practice but if it does, Ferg is in big trouble.

Photos: Mickey Smith


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