G-MAN VS THE DONKEY
GEAROID MCDAID HAS JUST BEEN ON THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME. FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO SCORING NAMIBIA ON A SEARCH TRIP IT DOES NOT GET BETTER THAN THIS. BEST WE HAVE A WORD WITH HIM...
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.
(left) G-man, living the dream!