The last swell of the sea­son was a banger and an old haunt roared to life for the lo­cal crew.

Pete Con­roy off the safety ski and into a shim­mer­ing emer­ald pit. Con­sid­er­ing Pete broke his back here once it's bloody im­pres­sive.

If there's ever a list of waves that don't want to be rid­den it's got to be top three. A barely cov­ered ledge that fo­cuses a hor­rif­i­cally thick lip to defy nat­u­ral law in all man­ner of ways.

It's one of those joints any nor­mal surfer would look at and just say, 'Nope! No. No way. Uh-uh.' while back­ing away slowly giv­ing it the dou­ble bird. It's a wa­tery ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen. It does not look sur­fa­ble. At all.

Thing is as un­ruly and bone-snappy as it is there are routes through the mad­ness. Chip in to the right one and you're guar­an­teed a tube of rare girth. Com­ing out the other end is a whole other mat­ter. If you can sur­vive the foam­ball nip­ping at your fins and the in­evitable can­non blast of spit try­ing it's hard­est to blow you over the han­dle­bars then you might just make it out. Just be care­ful to not get drained into the deadly close­out just feet across the chan­nel. As for the 'spit' it's a phrase that's not re­ally man enough for this joint. 'Spit' sug­gests just that: a wa­tery flob on your shoul­der. This is like a blue whale do­ing it's big­gest ever sneeze be­hind your ear­lobe. Hol­ly­wood would have real is­sues try­ing to recre­ate the salty erup­tion.

It's an awe in­spir­ing spot, an am­phithe­atre of noise and na­ture, of cut­ting edge tube thread­ing, the noise there is like nowhere else on Earth. It's also re­mote, dan­ger­ous and a re­ally bad place to hurt your­self. Hence folk rarely surf­ing alone. Even with Peter Con­roy run­ning safety on the ski it's one of the few waves where you're gen­uinely wor­ried when­ever any­one puts their head down for a big one. Res­cues are tricky, ex­trac­tion even harder.

The spring ses­sions we en­joyed over a few won­drous days saw Gearoid twang his an­kle, Conor face­plant the reef and another surfer near re-break his an­kle (more on that later in the year).

Which for Rileys is get­ting off lightly. Con­sid­er­ing it breaks legs and backs.

It's one of those places you get some good ones then you take your leave. You don't want to push it too far. Pulling the tiger's tail too many times only ends one way af­ter all...

There are not many waves that are known as much for their body count as any­thing else. Rileys is just that.

Det­o­na­tion im­mi­nent.

(top left) Gearoid be­fore he de­cided to try hav­ing an arse kick­ing con­test with the reef.

(mid left)

Empty waves here are works of art.

(bot­tom left) Conor and 'just a flesh wound'.


Another an­gle of Pete's gem. ALL PHOTOS: TIM NUNN

Conor and a re­donku­lous one. The boys mixed up the pad­dle and tow as get­ting into the re­ally big ones is flip­ping tricky.

Gearoid and an even­ing run­ner. The late ses­sion light show, when the sun deigns to ap­pear, is some­thing else.


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