There’s a million ways to do a surf contest, not all of them good, but this looks like a hell of a time.
Fergal Smith has long been one of the most interesting and enigmatic figures in surfing. He put the quality of Irish waves on the global map some years ago, pitching himself into barely-surfable rock shelves under dark, foreboding skies. He was picked up by a multitude of sponsors, because, well, his tuberiding skills are world-class, as well as the adventure lust that’s conjured from seeing dangerous waves breaking in remote, cold water locations. Ferg was quickly on the pro surfer program: Fiji, Mexico, Hawaii, but, it wasn’t really his cup of Irish Breakfast.
Ferg jacked in the travel, to focus on the community farm that he’s heavily involved in, and getting mindlessly tubed at the handful of fearsome waves in the vicinity of his hometown. Ferg felt that travelling in petrol-fuelled metal birds was counteractive to the eco-lifestyle that he was promoting. Ferg then ran for The Greens for the County Clare in the Irish General Election. His admirable policies included: healthy school meals everyday for school kids made with local ingredients, promoting eco-friendly adventure tourism, and increasing the number of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms operating in Ireland. Got to love a man who doesn’t do things by halves.
Now, The Nixon Surf Challenge—the annual, invite-only showcase that features a different, frosty locale—decided that if Ferg wouldn’t come to them, then they’d go to him. It’s summer-ish in Ireland, and as you can see, the conditions were decidedly pleasant. Blue skies, user-friendly beachbreaks, and not a dry rock in sight. Unsurprisingly, considering he’s one of the top five aerialists in the world and the best surfer in the field by quite some distance, Chippa Wilson won.
Irish surfing in global surfing perspectives is 15ft, heavy peat-ridden water, and the dark, depths of winter. However, like everywhere, Ireland has summer months (now) when it’s slightly warmer, the surf’s that little bit friendlier, and from experience, it’s pretty much the best holiday destination you could hope for. Food for thought.