Gearoid Mcdaid swaps the sand­bars of Strand­hill for the leg­endary lefts of Namibia via a swing through South Africa.

So looks likes you have suc­cess­fully avoid­ing the Sligo sum­mer, what have you been up to?

Yeah al­though it looked like there's been a cou­ple of re­ally fun sum­mer swells com­ing through the last month when I was away. A cou­ple of lit­tle slabs were light­ing up, but since I've been back have had a cou­ple of fun beachie ses­sions which is al­ways nice at home. This past month or two I've been trav­el­ling a lot. I started out go­ing to France for the World Surf­ing Games with the Ir­ish team which was su­per fun. Al­though I didn't get the re­sult I wanted but sure was a re­ally fun trip with waves ev­ery day. Af­ter that I flew straight to South Africa to meet up with pho­tog Tyler Walker to do some con­tests, travel around and score some sick waves down there. It was a pretty epic two months of trav­el­ling but it is nice to be home for a lit­tle bit now.

How was SA? was that your first visit?

South Africa was so sick. I got to meet the nicest peo­ple ever over there. The first day I ar­rived we drove to the first con­test and straight away I got in­vited to a braai (an in­door BBQ ha ha) and made friends with ev­ery­one there. It was so sick. The whole time I was there I had peo­ple to talk to and hang out with and was get­ting in­vited to stay at their houses and stuff. Def­i­nitely some of the nicest peo­ple I've ever met. Aside from the peo­ple the waves were su­per fun. We didn't score any­where at its best but even still we surfed every­day and had good waves. Even the first con­test we went to was sick. It was like a beachie

reef with a peak break­ing left and right kinda like The Peak in Bun­do­ran, but nowhere near as good ... Ha ha! And then it was over to Dur­ban. It was re­ally nice to surf in board­ies again and some re­ally fun punchy lit­tle beachies. Yeah it was my first trip here but I'll be back next year for sure and hope­fully score even bet­ter waves and see more of the coun­try. It's so good.

Who were you hang­ing with ? Beyrick? He’s a pretty good surfer and re­ally funny.

Yeah was pretty much hang­ing with Beyrick and Tyler the whole time. Beyrick is such a leg­end he helped me out with any­thing I needed over there and yeah he's one of the fun­ni­est guys there is. He's al­ways try­ing to do my Ir­ish ac­cent which is get­ting sur­pris­ingly good for a South African. We had a lot of fun at the con­tests to­gether go­ing free surf­ing to­gether all the time. I loved surf­ing with him be­cause it re­ally pushed my surf­ing as well. And of course we had one or two par­ties along the way which were crazy fun.

Ob­vi­ously Strand­hill has a few sharks, but noth­ing com­pared to Great Whitey. Did the shark fac­tor bother you or did you just get on with it ?

The only shark in the wa­ter in Strand­hill is An­drew Kil­feather ha ha! Yeah for sure I was crap­ping my­self the whole time over there. Tyler took me to some spots around Cape Town and there was no one out. I was not go­ing surf­ing out there by my­self al­though if it had've been pump­ing I prob­a­bly would have. While we were in Dur­ban I kept see­ing dol­phins and whales swim­ming around pretty close to the line up so I was al­ways think­ing if they are were there that def­i­nitely means sharks are go­ing to be there as

well. But once I was in the wa­ter and wasn't by my­self I kinda for­got about them.

How has your comp run been go­ing? Have you had any re­sults? Are you learn­ing the ropes? Do you feel your­self im­prov­ing?

This year I haven't had the best run so far. I missed the first leg of the Euro­pean QS due to an an­kle in­jury and then in South Africa I got pretty un­lucky. I broke a fin out mid-heat and lost pri­or­ity for the last set so ended up not get­ting the score. Then in the other comp it just went flat and I only had one wave. I only needed a small back up score, but that hap­pens and hope­fully in the next few com­ing up the luck and waves will come my way.

So… the Search… how did that call come about?

Well I was in South Africa when that swell popped up and I was froth­ing to go. I had got hooked up with some of the South African boys go­ing there by one of my friends and had al­ready booked my flights to go. It wasn't un­til I was in the air­port in Cape Town when I got the call from Rip Curl say­ing that the trip was on, so my plans were changed and I was go­ing on a Search trip which I was froth­ing for. Thanks so much to the guys at Rip Curl for that.

You must have been jump­ing up and down on the spot?

Yeah, when I saw that swell com­ing I couldn't be­lieve how lucky I was. Be­fore I came to SA I kept hop­ing I’d luck into a swell for it and then it popped up!

Did you tell any of the lads back home you were on your way there? How did they take it? Were they happy or did they give you a right slag­ging ha ha? Theres a few heads I know would have been wish­ing they were on the flight with you…

I mes­saged a few of the boys yeah and some of them nearly booked a flight for the next day to come with me. They were pretty stoked for me they just kept ask­ing me how it was (prob­a­bly hop­ing I got squished ha ha). I sent them I few shots and they couldn't be­lieve how it was. I was so con­fused how a wave can do what that wave does, how long it is and how hol­low and be­low sea level it goes. It's in­sane.

So how about the wave it­self. What were your first im­pres­sions as you rocked up?

We rocked up to it be­ing two foot and flaw­less. The swell was just be­gin­ning and with ev­ery set it got big­ger and big­ger. My first im­pres­sions was 'this is the best wave I've ever seen' and my se­cond thought was 'how quick can I get into my wet­suit?' ha ha!

Ev­ery­one says the take off is more in­tense than it looks on video, like a full-on slab. How did you find it?

It's way harder than it looks on video. The drop is su­per in­tense with some waves not hav­ing any en­try points just go­ing way be­low sea level. Even the body­board­ers couldn't get into them. At the start I re­ally strug­gled just fig­ur­ing out that you don't stall on the wave; you take off and start pump­ing straight away and it will even­tu­ally catch up with you. I saw some cra­zier waves come in there than I've seen even than at all the slabs I've surfed at home.

How do you line up out there?

You don’t, you walk as far up as you can or want or see the best part of the wave. The only line up you have out there is the odd car on the beach, so you try to make that your take off spot but they al­ways move so it's kinda hard.

Is the cur­rent real bad?

The cur­rent is crazy. Ive never felt any­thing like it. You jump in at least three to four hun­dred me­tres fur­ther up than where you want to surf. If you time your pad­dle out wrong and take a wave on the head you're gone half­way down the point. So you can have a cou­ple of dry runs with out catch­ing waves be­fore you re­alise you re­ally need to time your pad­dle out.

Es­ti­mate your long­est bar­rel? Was it the long­est bar­rel of your life?

I think we timed one of my bar­rels and it was 12 sec­onds. Not su­per deep the whole time but

like in it with some deep parts. Yeah I reckon the long­est bar­rel of my life for sure. But then you'd also be get­ting like five, five se­cond bar­rels per wave as well, which is also crazy.

Be­tween surf­ing, pad­dling and run­ning it must be an Olympic ef­fort. How many waves did you get be­fore you legs gave in?

Aww man, you don't even know how tired you get. There was a point on the se­cond day I thought I had sun­stroke and was gonna die. I ob­vi­ously hadn't drank any­thing for like four hours and just kept do­ing runarounds. I took a two-hour sleep and drank four litres of wa­ter and then got back out there for some more. It is so crazy the amount you run and pad­dle out there.

How was it hang­ing with Gram­beau? Did you know what a leg­end he is?

To be hon­est no, I hadn't ever heard of him. But I soon re­alised from his sto­ries he had been pretty much ev­ery pro surfers dad as they were trav­el­ling ha ha! And yeah he is the big­gest leg­end ever such a good guy. We got a cou­ple of sto­ries out of him ev­ery day. Some of them were pretty epic and hi­lar­i­ous with some of the pros back in the day.

From Sligo grom to Search star is a pretty big jump. Were you pinch­ing your­self?

Yeah, it's nuts. I al­ways watched The Search clips and al­ways wanted to do one, so to be on one was a dream come true. And to have such le­gends on the trip like Ted, Louie Hynd, Tim Bisso and filmer Paul Daniel made the trip so much bet­ter. Hope­fully I can do more trips with that crew, they all such le­gends.

What are you plans now for the rest of the year?

Au­gust I go down to France and get back on the QS grind and hope­fully get some re­sults in the bag for next year. But af­ter that it's home for a few months chas­ing swells and hope­fully get the best bar­rels I can around home. Hope­fully I will start get­ting some proper waves out at Mully. Last year I had some fun ones but this year I'm re­ally hop­ing to get into a crazy one out there. Then for the win­ter just chase swells wher­ever I can and hope­fully put out a crazy clip and the end of it, but we'll see how the swells align for us this year.

How many surfers wished they had tele­por­ta­tion abil­i­ties and not this walk back to the top of the point? (left)

Gearoid spent the first cou­ple weeks warm­ing up in SA and hang­ing out with Saffa leg­end Beyrick De Vries.

(above) G-man check­ing the spring weather fore­cast for Sligo: rain, rain … miz­zle, rain. (right) The mo­ment you know you have ar­rived! (be­low) Life on the road.

Don­key Bay, a dream come true.

(left) G-man, liv­ing the dream!

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