He's only a teenager but Rus­sell Bierke is al­ready veer­ing to­wards leg­endary sta­tus. Al­ready one of the lead­ing charg­ers in the world he came over to check out Ire­land's low key yet world class scene and scored ... even­tu­ally.

Afew is­sues back we ran a piece fea­tur­ing Conor Maguire, Gearoid Mcdaid and Pete Con­roy at home. That shoot came about as part of an O'neill team trip, our crew merged with their crew for a week of fun waves and a few pints of the black gold. Here's the other half we couldn't show you then as the wet­ties were for the new sea­son. The whole idea was to get young Aussie hell­man Rus­sell Bierke over to Ire­land and to surf with some of the Euro­pean and lo­cal crew and ex­plore the wave rich land. It went so much bet­ter than any­one could've hoped for...

Or­gan­is­ing peo­ple is hard. It's like herd­ing cats. Es­pe­cially when they're pro surfers dot­ted all over the globe. Ev­ery­one has sched­ules. Pros get to keep their con­tracts by keep­ing busy be it with comps or free surf shoots and projects. So find­ing win­dows when five of the bug­gers can all be some­where for ten days is tricky. It's hard to

say 'Swell! Come!' last minute when you're deal­ing with a big crew. So a win­dow has to be set. Then you cross your fin­gers and hope for the best. We did some good cross­ing. We had our share of flat days and driv­ing days and promis­ing fore­casts com­ing to noth­ing days but it all came to­gether in the end for three stun­ning days at one of the spook­i­est joints in all of surf­ing: Ri­leys. And we got to share it with Conor, G-man, Pete and lo­cal shoot­ers Fionn and Clem.

It's an am­phithe­ater, a raw Colosseum of oceanic rage, it's like nowhere else on Earth. The noise is Dolby 5.1 sur­round plus. Ev­ery break­ing wave goes through you. The roar is in­ces­sant and un­nerv­ing. Add to this the fact the wave is bor­der­line un­rid­able and dan­ger­ous and it's no sur­prise it's only ses­sioned by a hardy lo­cal crew. It's one of those spots that in­stills ca­ma­raderie, ev­ery­one looks out for ev­ery­one else as in­juries are fre­quent and the con­se­quences un­palat­able. But that ca­ma­raderie also means hoots and cheers for sick tubes and a ses­sion vibe where ev­ery­one is push­ing ev­ery­one else big­ger and deeper.

For all the hun­dreds of miles driven, the hikes made, the frus­trat­ing nearly there surfs, it's all worth it. Those three days with an epic crew from all over the world and Ire­land surf­ing mind­bend­ing waves will be seared into all our grey mat­ter for­ever. Those ses­sions are what we all live for. This is why we do what we do. The kind of days that make your mind glow...


Com­pared to the places I've surfed around the world, the big slabs at home in Aus­tralia, Hawaii and Tahiti this place is right up there. Ri­leys was a heavy as any other slab I've surfed. It was so shal­low, felt like ev­ery time you fell you'd hit the bot­tom. There's def­i­nitely some crazy waves around here. It's got the small town feel, heaps of coun­try­side, it's not that dif­fer­ent to home.


Long time res­i­dent and core Ri­leys rider since Mickey Smith shared the spot with the world, Stef Ska­jarowski, who's wit­nessed most of the all time ses­sions and charges the joint when­ever pos­si­ble reck­oned Rus­sell's last wave (pic­tured) was one of the top three waves he's ever seen pad­dled there...

“I was pretty happy with my last wave, to have the lo­cal boys froth­ing on it and hoot­ing from the chan­nel made it even bet­ter. It's not of­ten you get a round of ap­plause from a line up. It was a pretty good feel­ing get­ting out of that one. I thought it was just go­ing to tease me and get me at the end or some­thing, but it just let out. We had a "few" Guin­nesses to cel­e­brate af­ter that ses­sion.”


I knew it could get pretty big and scary in Ire­land, but surf­ing in chal­leng­ing, hol­low con­di­tions like this with all the boys ... you just want to get a big­ger one, a sicker one and you're just en­joy­ing the mo­ment.


First time in Ire­land, we had sick waves in Scot­land last year but the waves here are more per­fect.


I've been com­ing to Ire­land since I was eleven with my fam­ily and camp at Easkey and surf all sum­mer. I've sailed around the coast search­ing for waves with brother Taz and par­ents too. It's un­pre­dictable and sketchy when the winds get up so we spent a lot of time hid­ing up es­tu­ar­ies but it was awe­some. See­ing the Cliffs from a boat was stun­ning.



Walk­ing down to Ri­leys the first time was crazy, seen so many pho­tos of Ferg and Lowey over the years, you feel so dwarfed by the cliffs and ev­ery­thing, it's like a full am­phithe­atre. The cra­zi­est left slab just hid­den there. When we got there the tide was a bit wrong and we're all won­der­ing how the joint was even sur­fa­ble. Then when there's just enough wa­ter on the reef we gave it a shot ... Turned out to be pretty sick.


Walk­ing in I was a bit stressed, ev­ery­one was laugh­ing and talk­ing wait­ing for the tide and we had plenty of time to gauge how it all worked. Once we got in and got a few we re­laxed. That said it's a re­ally dan­ger­ous spot, you've got to choose a good one, take your time. You can't just go any wave. When you're see­ing friends get­ting hurt it re­ally makes you think 'I've got to be care­ful' it's so easy to get re­ally hurt. But you just deal with it.


First time we went down to Ri­leys I was scared. It's one of the heav­i­est waves in the world and when you're sit­ting there so close to the wave and how shal­low it is ... I didn't think it was sur­fa­ble. Maybe only for tow ins. Once you've caught some medium ones you fig­ure it out a bit.


Walk­ing down to Ri­leys I was ner­vous. I've never been out any­where as heavy as that. Es­pe­cially on my back­hand!

Mul­lagh­more was an ex­pe­ri­ence, it was good to be out there and pick a few off. The guys got pretty nailed. It's all a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It's a steep learn­ing curve, but I'm froth­ing to come back and give it an­other dig.


It's been sick watch­ing Rus­sell, Nel­son and Adrian and the lo­cal crew catch some big ones.

It shows me where I want to be. My first thought go­ing down to Ri­leys was 'please don't make go in!' It's def­i­nitely he heav­i­est wave I've ever seen. It was so loud and thick.



I was talk­ing to some friends be­fore the trip, when I said Russ was com­ing they were all 'you bet­ter take a hel­met and life vest if you're surf­ing with him'. I surf Hossegor beach­break all the time, he's a slab ex­pert so we've got a dif­fer­ent ap­proach but it's sick to surf with new peo­ple and learn from each other. We've given him some Euro­pean cul­ture as well... I hope he comes down to France and we can show him our waves as well.


It's been a fun trip with Nel­son, Kit and Pea such a good crew. Rus­sell is a mad­man, be­ing in the wa­ter with him you learn how he moves and how slabs work. They've got more of them there we don't have so many death slabs in Spain.


It was an ex­pe­ri­ence meet­ing and surf­ing with Rus­sell. So good to pad­dle out at Ri­leys and get some tips. He's so friendly and mel­low on land but a nutter in the wa­ter, just charg­ing. It's been fun with Conor and G-man they've been help­ing me too with the reefs, it's very dif­fer­ent to home in North Devon. It's all about hav­ing the con­fi­dence to throw your­self over the ledge.


Rus­sell is su­per chilled, it's like I've known him for ages, he's re­ally nice. I thought he'd be all Mr Big Wave Surfer but he's not. He is crazy in the wa­ter.


LO­CALS I'd seen a lot of Conor and Gearoid's waves from this win­ter, es­pe­cially Conor at Mul­lagh­more, the lo­cals here go hard. They're su­per nice guys as well which is pretty sick. Al­ways good to surf with crew like that. - RUS­SELL

I knew Gearoid from the pro ju­nior cir­cuit but not Conor, they're both so friendly, so wel­com­ing. Thanks to them and Pete we got a few tow waves. Some trips you aren't that wel­come but in a place like this when ev­ery­one's cool it makes the whole trip amaz­ing. Like be­ing at home. Just a big gang hang­ing out.



Ri­leys is some­where if you surf it too much you'll hurt your­self. We had three ses­sions and Conor smashed his face, Adrian his leg and Gearoid did his an­kle. Pete Con­roy broke his back there and Sham­bles did his leg. It's a sketchy spot.


The last day in Ri­leys I broke my an­kle, I'd been re­cov­er­ing from a break two months ago, it was pretty much fixed then I re­broke it. So I've been strap­ping it and get­ting on with it.

Mul­lagh­more was hi­lar­i­ous. First wave face planted on a rock. Not so good for me. And the first ses­sion at Bun­do­ran Peak when it was two foot I face planted on to a rock and my back full scor­pi­oned. All the waves in Ire­land are try­ing to kill me even the two foot­ers! This is the price you pay. I need to come back with a work­ing leg and be­ing 100 per­cent ready to push for the big ones. Hope­fully for big Mul­lagh­more, Axi and Natxo know it well now so it would be sick to come back in the win­ter with them and pad­dle it big with Conor, G-man and the boys.

They're such le­gends, Conor towed me into one of the big­gest bar­rels of my life at Ri­leys...


Adrian is an ana­gram of “a drain”.

Pete, Clem and Rus­sell re­flect on a ridicu­lous ses­sion.

Adrian FDV can't touch the sides. There are not many spots where just get­ting there is in­tim­i­dat­ing. This is Pe­ony.

Rus­sell Bierke might have been a long way from home. But he was right at home in fear­some Ir­ish pits.

(right) Nel­son on a per­fect one.

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