Sunday 25 March 2018

Hundreds of surfers to descend on Ireland for highest waves in storm

Giant waves break over the pier on the South beach, Arklow, Co Wicklow. Photo: Garry O'Neill
Giant waves break over the pier on the South beach, Arklow, Co Wicklow. Photo: Garry O'Neill

Greg Harkin

Surfers from all Europe have arrived in Ireland today to ride huge waves which could break new records.

Hundreds of surf enthusiasts were picking between beaches in Donegal and Sligo today, hoping to find the highest waves as high tides driven by a storm hit the North West coast.

“We have surfers here from all over Europe, mainly France, Spain and Portugal and some from the States and South Africa,” said Neil Britton, from the Fin McCool Surf School in Rossnowlagh.

He was busy organising two-in surfing for customers.

“With such big waves we work in pairs. The surfers are towed out on a jetski because the waves are moving too fast to paddle out to.

“This is a very exciting event, there has been a build-up to this for more than a week. We are looking at the biggest swell in living memory and it’s possible we could see waves higher than the biggest ever recorded which was around 97-ft a couple of years ago.”

In Mullaghmore further down the coast the waves were too big to tackle earlier this morning.

“This is a big event for surfers,” said Christian McLeod a surf photographer who has been in the Co Sligo village since dawn.

“Waves are between 40-ft and 60-ft high and there are surfers arriving from all over Europe. Some waves will break higher than that.”

They have been monitoring the waves on the specialist website with Bundoran in Co Donegal another favourite destination for the surfers today.

But for hotelier Paul Diver, who runs the Sand House Hotel in Rossnowlagh, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“We closed on Friday for a couple of weeks to give all the staff a break so unfortunately we had to turn down a lot of bookings,” he said.

“If it happens again next year, we’ll definitely be open,” he laughed.

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