YEARS in the watching before the right collision of weather and personnel allowed it to be pulled off. Enter Prowlers the latest and heaviest discovery to come out of Ireland.
On scene six of the best, the usual suspects of Al Mennie, Andrew Cotton, Richie Fitzgerald teamed up with Saffas Barry Mottershead and Jeremy Johnson and Aussie Paul O'Kane. Where is this wave? They're not telling. Suffice to say it's equal to Mavericks in power with greater projection.
Excitement gripped hard in the stomachs of the entire team waiting out the night somewhere in Western Ireland. Years ago this wave had been spotted from a helicopter and a previous recee surf revealed it's potential but not at any size. This was the first attempt on the spot at size and all the usual thoughts crowded the mind. Like, how do you actually know it is surfable until you go?
"Pre-dawn and we were all ready to go" Said Conn Osbourne photog. "We packed up the rib and jetted off, our first sight of the wave was impressive and it looked surfable. Drawing-up off the seafloor, throwing a prefect lip before setting up a right-hand wall. Probably paddleable was the first thought."
"Cotton and I were going to paddle at the start." Said Al Mennie. "Initially there was a shoulder on it just like Mavs but then the real sets arrived...
"As the swell grew the wave began to focus more and more on the reef in a huge peak. I've surfed Mavs a good few times and although it looks very similar I think this wave breaks with more violence and power."
Andrew Cotton and Al Mennie were first in the water with the other crews running backup. They'd started the day with a huge paddle sesh in mind until the reality of what they were facing stacked up on the horizon.
"Al hasn't towed in nearly a year and he's so stubborn that when he gets things and goals in his mind that's it. Said Cotty. "He was reluctant to grab the rope but as the tide got lower the peak got tighter and the waves thicker and hollower it looked less and less like a paddle wave, plus with no line-up or markers out there it would of been a tuff paddle session at a new spot."
"To be honest we almost bailed to another spot but i asked Al just to tow me into one just before we left because I wanted to see how my knee felt (still only 7 1/2 months after the op and i had been advised not to surf big waves for 9-12 months). Better hope the doc isn't reading this Cotty."
Prowlers breaks big all the time, but it's exposed nature means it cannot handle any wind. After checking it last year this time was the 'go' and the first instance of it being ridden in anger.
"The only way I can describe this wave is a detonation." Said Al. "Rushing-up, focusing on an underwater sea-mount, a shallow ledge, so far out to sea that the potential of losing someone is very real. It was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime day yesterday."
For Al this was his 'dream team' of guys to to be tackling this spot. All the guys were solid, watching each others' backs and Paul did an incredible job on the ski.
In the Irish prize bag lie numerous other unexplored reefs and set-ups. More than you can shake any number of surfing sticks at. Prowlers may not break every day but on this evidence it as rapidly become the yardstick by which big wave surfing here will be compared.
Qualifying it as 'better' than this or that is pretty impossible but the idea of having a pound-for-pound wave that is a genuine cousin to the big ones in Maui, California and the South Pacific is insane.
"It is so mechanical, allowing you to really surf it. We got to know it pretty quickly unlike Mulla... after years of surfing there she still batters me senseless."