Ireland part 2

by Graham


Ahhhhh. The adventure begins to begin.

Seated beside Mikey in his van, I set out for County Sligo to catch my first Irish waves and wind. The drive from Dublin to the west coast takes about 3 hours, possibly 2.5.

We arrived at the spot around noon and the car’s outside temperature gauge told us the air was a balmy 6 degrees Centigrade. Lovely.

Ireland loves its rain. Clouds cover the sky and showers pop up without warning all the time. This makes everything a wonderful green. But the rain combined with the un-Hawaii temperature made it a bit cold for me.

Against the elements, I did have 2 main weapons: a 4/2 Matuse wetsuit and a Helly Hanson thermal (?) shirt to go underneath. No gloves, no boots, no hat.

But once the feet go numb, it really doesn’t matter how cold it is. And for the hands, I find that they never stop hurting but if I constantly wiggly my fingers or tap along the boom, they never go too stiff from the cold. Performance is key.

That day was fun and the waves beautifully glassy. The wind was gusty which frustrated me. And the current was a hell of a lot stronger than it looked, but it wasn’t much of a problem with the strong wind (gusty as it was).

I met a significant portion of the recreational Irish wave sailors of the North West Coast (there aren’t very many). They proved to be a very nice group of men and women who are truly dedicated to the sport. And for good reason! They live in one of the best windsurfing locations in the entire world.

Anyway, on the water I had fun learning how to sail port tack again. A few carves and some airs.

There were some unfortunate events that day though. Mikey broke his inhaul line (the one at the head of the boom) and one of the local sailors went looking for him and he ended up falling into his new Neil Pryde sail. The sail exploded, leaving him stranded out to sea. Being a strong swimmer, he was able to swim into the inside. But there, the current was particularly strong and it the end it took about 2 hours of swimming for him to reach shore, just before the darkness crept over us. Now, the sailor made no error. The blame lies with the sail quality. And frankly, it is embarrassing that such a poor quality sail exists on the market. People often joke about Neil Pryde making disposable sails but it is no joke when it means that you are stuck out in the cold ocean swimming against a strong current. In fact, it is a matter of life or death.

But he lived. Happily at that.

We slept in a town called Ballina (pronounced Ball in ahhhhhhhhhhhh).

The next day, Mikey and I pulled up to the beach to find somewhat similar conditions to the day before but nobody else on the water. We rigged and went out.

Mikey caught some good ones, but I had a slightly miserable experience. The current was stronger than the day before and the wind lighter. I chose, mistakenly, to go out on my small board. Which meant that I had to fight the current the entire time. It took years for me to get back up wind again and catch another wave. And I was too impatient. So I ended up catching waves and always not being deep enough but trying to fade super hard. It never worked. I came in cold and without any good rides to warm my soul.

We drove back to Dublin that night. The following day I picked up Brendan, the mastermind behind umi pictures.

After borrowing roof straps from Mikey, Brendan and I headed out to Easkey Village to the little cottage we rented for the trip.

The coming weeks seemed so full of promise. And that night we sat in the small structure admiring the peat fire the caretaker had set up. I’d never seen burning mud before.

The coming weeks were spent exploring the Irish coast and land and finding the beauty that lives there.

I go in search of beauty. In my writing and art, I’ve always put more emphasis on being clever. I think that is a terrible mistake, and it is a mistake that most of modern art makes. What is cleverness without beauty? What is anything without beauty? And beauty is not limited to pleasure or even happiness. But I don’t really know what beauty is. And for that reason I dedicate myself to it. I dedicate myself to searching for it.

In his book Franny and Zooey, J D Salinger talks about beauty being essential to poetry and I think he is getting at something extremely valid, so I’ll post it here:

Franny said, “If you’re a poet, you do something beautiful. I mean you’re supposed to leave something beautiful after you get off the page and everything….All that maybe the slightly better ones do is sort of get inside your head and leave something there, but just because they do, just because they know how to leave something, it doesn’t have to be a poem, for heaven’s sake.”

How the hell does this relate to windsurfing? you might ask. Well it relates very much. Often, everyone (myself included) focuses on tricks and technical wave riding. But it’s not about just pulling a taka or a goiter. No, those things don’t matter much. Really it is about flow. Flowing with the wave, and in doing so creating something beautiful in that instant. Few sailors actually embrace this style of sailing. I am trying to now. Kauli has dedicated himself to flow over the last years and for this reason he is one of the most amazing sailors to watch. Josh Angulo is a king of flow as well. And if you think about flow, you realize that it is a lot harder than just nailing a trick because it requires you to really time everything perfectly. And timing is harder than acrobatics. Much harder.