JP has just sent me over some new boards for the winter complete with future fins. Excited to try them out.
Filmed at Whiterocks Northern Ireland
ASK A SURFER
My heart goes out to the family who suffered loss yesterday
at Portballintrae. I wish some of us had
have been there to help. Just two days
earlier I pulled two other kids from the same beach. I hope between us all in the surfing
community we can prevent this happening ever again.
This is a plea to all visitors to our beaches to please do
one thing before you enter our water. ASK
A SURFER. We aren’t all bimbo surf
dudes smoking weed and shouting “gnarly dude”, in fact some of us have unrivalled
knowledge of the waters surrounding our coast, built from experience in all
sorts of conditions. We’ve spent years
and years developing an incredible knowledge base which anyone coming to our
beaches can benefit from if they ask us. Some of the surfers I know have felt
dismissed when they offer advice to visitors. I have rescued lots of people along this
coastline as have many of my friends.
Unfortunately none of us were there yesterday when the little girl got
into difficulty at Portballintrae.
Please if you come to our beaches to swim, surf or paddle or
anything else, ask a surfer if it is safe for you to enter the water and find
out the reasons why it is or it isn’t.
Quite often the calmest days can be the most dangerous, don’t make
your own assumptions or judgements and instead ask someone who regularly surfs
in these waters, and has a knowledge far beyond what you can imagine.
We have lifeguards on some beaches. They are there as a back up
plan. The surfers have the knowledge and
the experience so please speak to us.
Some reputable surfers worth speaking to for advice at the
following beaches are…
West Strand Portrush – Ricky Martin of Alive Surf School
East Strand Portrush – Andrew Hill of Troggs Surf Shop or
Martin Kelly of Portrush Surf School
Whiterocks Beach – Martin Kelly of Portrush Surf School or
Ocean Warriors Surf Shop or Long John Surf School
Portballintrae – John Bustard of SurfSupNi
Benone Beach- Dan Lavery of Longline Surf School
If you see me please ask if there is anything I can do to help or give some advice.
ASK A SURFER
I was given the opportunity to take road racer Michael Dunlop out surfing a few weeks ago. He stood up first time and loved it. He repaid the favour by taking me for a lap of the NW200 road race circuit. I must admit, for the two days leading up to going on the bike with him, it felt like there was a huge swell coming. I had really similar emotions and feelings before it. I could have said no but I really wanted to do it mainly because I reckoned by allowing myself to go at 160 odd mph with Michael, in particular, it would push my ability to deal with fear further and hopefully increase my performance when the surf gets really big and scary.
Phillip McCallen is another legendary Road racer. He took me to borrow the leathers of who they refer to in road racing circles as “The 2meter man”. Unfortunately I didnt fit into his leathers at all! I spied another slightly bigger racer called Brian McCormick and he kindly lent me his leathers. Phillip lent me his helmet that he has won numerous Isle of Mann TT races in, so I was all good to go. No wet, stinking wetsuits in this game!
As I walked from the paddock along towards the bike that was sitting all prepared, I felt pretty wierd. I was not used to wearing this outfit and by all accounts the colour had drained from my face and lips as I sat on behind Michael. I’m 6’5 and 16 stone and Michael is considerably smaller so I had to hug in tight or as Phillip told me ” Hang on like you’re hanging on to a big woman”. So thats what i did! I had to get in behind Michael as tight as possible so as to keep the bike more steady. I suppose similar to when we are on a jet ski.
Michael asked if there was any speed I wasn’t comfirtable with and as this was my first time on a bike I had no idea so replied “NO!” I was told to tap him if i wanted to slow down but the auld stubbord head kicked in and i told myself “I will not be tapping out!!!!!” I wanted Michael to do his thing.
We were only 300 yards around the track and i glanced over and saw 78mph on the clock and before long we were doing 148mph down the straight to Coleraine. I later heard we reached as much as 165-170mph! The feeling of going so fast and everything flying past was amazing. Seeing the Kerb litterally inches away and then racing across to the opposite kerb to take the next corner. It was pure adrenaline and I loved it! I think i scared myself more beforehand and when I got on the bike I actually really enjoyed it! Ive been asked loads if I now want to buy a bike. My answer is No because I’d only be phoning Michael up everyday to take me for a spin!
You can watch it here…..http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01hwcqn/North_West_200_2012_Preview/
That was truely an amazing experience and I can draw so many similarities between it and my experiences at sea. I have massive respect for those road racers. They may appear mad or crazy but they are seriously driven individuals. It takes passion and determination to come off a bike at high speed and get back on another one for the next race despite being injured. True warriors.
Thanks to Steven watson, Phillip McCallen, Dave Beynon, Brian McCormick, Mervyn White and of course Michael Dunlop for making it happen! I will never forget that experience and your generosity.
That was more difficult than I expected!
Video here filmed by Causeway Media Solutions and Jamie Russell and edited by Rauiri Cunningham….
Pictures here are from my brother and Conn Osborne.
Leah came with me down to the Causeway at 530am on Tuesday morning while Richard Connor, Howard Robinson, Joe Kennedy, Jamie Russell, Conn Osborne, Charlie Adjey, Tim MacDonald, Connor McClelland, Colin and my brother Andrew loaded up the support boats The Causeway lass and Chasers Surf Tours rib in Portrush harbour.
As they made their way to the Causeway to meet me I lay on the ground and told my self “When you get into the water, you are not stopping until you get to Islay”. Leah saw me off and I set off in the dark to meet the boats a few hundred yards off the coast.
I had planned for this to be in bad weather and freezing as it is March but it turned out to be roasting and I was sweating loads. The sea was choppy despite a light offshore breeze, it was unsettled and made standing on my board difficult. I managed to stay stood up for the first 12 miles travelling at about 4mph. It soon became counter productive to try and stand as the currents continually threw me off my board and I resorted to prone paddling. I’d trained for this eventuality as I knew it was fairly likely.
As I approached the middle bank; a huge rise in the sea bed, the wind went easerly against the flow of the current making the surface even more chaotic. My speed dropped to below 1.6mph and I began to become very demotivated. Huge tankers, trawlers and even an oil rig passed me. Richard was giving me a course and Howard was supporting me close by with Jamie. They were constantly radioing Richard for updates on time and distance as I was barely moving forward against the flow of the tide. I knew I had to fight the tide somewhere on route but by choosing to leave on this day in particular with neaps we thought it might be possible to keep pushing on but it was definitely a struggle. Hours 4,5,6 and 7 became a blur of constant paddling.
It sounds like a nightmare but to be honest was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I didnt once feel like stopping or giving in despite it being difficult at times and to be out there with such a good group of guys, most of whom are my friends was really good.
There was a fog at sea which meant I only saw Islay come into sight within about 10 miles of it. It just didnt seem to get any closer for hours. In my training 10 miles would have taken a lot less time but it seemed like I was going nowhere and the cliffs didnt seem to get any closer!
Finally I got to within about a mile from shore and the two boats came alongside me to support. Richard knew the last bit was going to be tough as there was a counter flow raging along the coast of Islay from east to west. As I got to within 500m of it it sucked me really quickly down the coast. All the guys were shouting and encouraging me and I raced across the flow and onto the rocks right below the American Monument which was built to remember soldiers lost nearby from two war ships.
I was met by local surfer Marcus Covell at the base of the huge cliffs. I carried a gift for him donated by the Causeway Coast Surf Club so I gave it to him and he presented me with a gift to remember the occassion by (see below)
We were welcomed in islay by some locals in Port Ellen and lots of them made doantions to my chosen charity NI Chest Heart and Stroke.
Coming back on the boat was time to reflect on the mission. I knew it would be difficult but I didnt expect it to be that difficult.
I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has donated (especially the legend Finn Mullen!). Also a huge thank you to all the guys on the boats especially Jamie who helped me in my training a lot by sitting on the ski and keeping an eye on me. All the guys were so good to have there and were a crucial part in it all. Also thanks to Alan Simpson for drumming up support and donations for the crew and I. Also to Joyce Rankin and John Bustard. Thanks last but not least to Leah for helping me in my training and supporting me all the way through!
Thank you to everyone who sponsored me and the crew including…
Surftech paddle boards, Chasers Surf Tours, Causeway lass, Tonys Marine Service, Tommy Evans, Richard Robinson Personal Training, Coleraine Borough Council and The Mayor Maurice Bradley, Pure Krav Maga Causeway, Darkfin Gloves, Future Fins, Tim MacDonald Paramedic, BMCG Plant Hire, Little Green Fox Sun Cream ( I actually wore in March!), Causeway Coast Surf Club and Snugg Wetsuits.
So far over £2000 raised for NI Chest heart and Stroke. You can contine to donate via http://www.justgiving.com/TheGiantsCrossing-byAlMennie
Im so lucky to be a surfer and live by the sea and be able to take part in all these things I love.