Let's go surfin'

Ireland is the new mecca for breaking waves, says PAT HENRY. So why not slip into a wetsuit and try it yourself?

Pat Henry

This fantastic craze is really hitting Ireland, especially as some of the world's best surfers are paddling their boards of the great waves from Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Sligo and as far as Donegal. Ireland has become the new Mecca for wave riders.

The most famous is Aileens, which breaks about two miles off the cliffs of Moher.

Aileens is 55ft high, the size of two double decker buses, and was tackled by Richie Fitzgerald from Bundoran who featured in the great documentary Wave Riders. It's amazing -- don't try it yet.

I spent the last few weekends in West Cork, where we had two groups for a fitness and adventure week at our centre. It was a great time to try our hand at surfing. It's a must to go to a proper surf school, such as Inchydoney Surf School, and learn the dos and don'ts of surfing.

Our group of seven beginners were, at the end of the two hours, able to get mobile on the waves. What a fantastic feeling moving fast along the surf, though most of the time I was more off the board than on.

At times it felt like being in a washing machine when I fell off but when you get carried by a large wave its really exhilarating, pumping the adrenalin around the body.

It's harder than it looks. I made the mistake of borrowing my son's small board which I did not know makes much harder to stay up. I was tossed around like a ragdoll but eventually got on board.


Lesson 1. Listen to the instructor, he knows best. The larger and wider the board the easier it is. I learned the hard way. Light boards are for the experienced. So don't borrow boards when you get into it. Get advice and buy your own.

After two hours in the water you will feel like you have completed a good workout on arms, legs, abs, shoulders, heart and lungs. Your whole system will feel completely spent. But it's a good feeling of exhaustion. It's great fun and certainly a way of destressing.

All you will be able to think of is staying up on the board. That will keep you focused, no time for worries or stress.

Surfing is one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland and a great way of showing children of all ages that, rain, hail or snow, you will be able to brave the elements under instruction. It's also a great for the whole family to participate.

You might say, 'It's not for me', but I guarantee when you try it you will become hooked. Especially when you wake up the next morning with arms and bum feeling tender.

It's a great workout, you will also learn about balance, tides, judgment, when to get on board, cutting that breaker wave. Your co-ordination and overall core balance will improve.


Getting in and out of the wetsuit is like getting out of a straitjacket. I found it really hard, it just takes practice, but when you hit the cold water you will be glad you have the wetsuit on.

You are cold for just a few seconds then you are insulated and game on. All the group had great fun and, combined with all the other activities over the week-long programme, the average weight loss was between seven and 11lbs.

Quite a lot when your diet is 100pc controlled, no fast food, no fizzy drinks only good organic food and proper instruction. Surfing for two hours burns up about 1,200 calories, you will enjoy your lunch and a good rest afterwards.

Finally, never go out surfing alone. It can be dangerous, so don't be foolish. Stay with a safe group, always in distance, obey your instructor. Simply enjoy.