Big Waves off the coast of Ireland draw surfers from around the world

The West Coast of Ireland is coming up trumps for big wave surfers. Last weekend’s storms had one beneficial effect – it helped create the monster that was swiftly nicknamed ‘Prowlers’.

Andrew Cotton rides the new wave ‘Prowlers’

About 1.2 miles off the coast an undersea reef creates the perfect brake for a magnificent wave to happen – if the weather conditions are right. Here’s where Hurricane Thomas came into play and heavy tubing waves with 40-50 ft faces were created. The sound quality on the following video is not very good, but it’s worth watching… thank you to mbcbebkb.

There were 6 brave surfers just standing ready and waiting … 6 surfers from 3 nations: Ireland, England and South Africa. They had been waiting five years for the optimum conditions required to surf this wave! Big Wave heros, Al Mennie and Andrew Cotton were amongst them.

Alistair Mennie is without doubt Ireland’s most recognised Big Wave surfer. He has honed his skills on such mammoths as Mavericks, Nelscott Reef, and Killers on the west coast of North America. He was cognizant of the similarities between that coast and the Irish one and so he  committed himself to searching for, and surfing, the biggest, heaviest waves he could find in his Irish backyard.

And they weren’t too hard to find.

“Aileen’s” wave off the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare is now one of the best known big waves in the world, but it was on the 30th September, 2006, when Hurricane Katrina was boiling her way through the Atlantic Ocean that her massive waves were first surfed by Al Mennie.

Mullaghmore Head is another discovery.

And now there’s Prowlers.

Mennie was quick to take advantage of gale force conditions to ride one of the biggest waves in the world … somewhere off the west coast of Ireland. The locations is being kept under wraps for the moment.

No significant swell has escaped Mennie’s notice. Each one, if possible, has been surfed.

With the powerful North Atlantic providing excellent swells for both beginners and advanced surfers, Ireland has become a mecca for keen surfers. But it’s now the big waves that are drawing the most interest. Surfers from around the world are descending on Ireland to surf 60ft waves off the Clare, Sligo and Donegal coasts…

Ken O’Sullivan, the Lahinch-based film maker, said, “These guys, John McCarthy, Duncan Scott, Dave Blount, Al Mennie and Dan ‘Mole’ Joel, to mention just a few, are to the forefront in exploration of big wave surfing. They are like the modern Polar explorers in the new ground they are breaking in surfing. The potential dangers for these surfers are enormous, but they are incredible in terms of the knowledge they have and the preparation they put into it”.



  1. A little more on Garrett McNamara’s epic big wave record | Xtremesport - 2011 | 14 November

    […] Al Mennie from Ireland and Andrew Cotton from the UK, were also out there surfing this wave. Al had this to say about it: “Everything seemed to be perfect, the weather, the waves. Both Cotty and I rode two big ones in the 60ft + range and then when Garrett got on the rope a wave, maybe 30 feet bigger came out of the canyon, it was meant to be. I had the best seat in the house as I was doing water safety on the ski as he dropped down the face of the biggest wave I’ve ever seen. It was incredible. Most people would look scared but Garrett looked in control as he went down the most critical part of the wave. It was an inspirational ride by an inspirational surfer. After the ride it was as if the sea calmed down. We sat out there and just absorbed both what had just happened and the surroundings. What a day!” […]

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