Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tasmanian Tripping

   It's funny when you just think of a place because of one thing and you don't know anything else about it. Tasmania has so much more to offer than just Shipstern, the people are as friendly as the Irish and have big hearts welcoming you anywhere you went. On a trip recently there for other reasons than surf I was also pleasantly suprised by the beauty of the surroundings as I was tripping around. From classic stone buildings restored to their original state to the eucalyptus soaked hill sides and the stunning east coast beaches it's certainly a place to return to.
   Not really expecting Shipstern to break I was more driven to see the sights and the first, well you could say delivered. Driving around Hobart in the evening of the first day looking for a nice bar for a pint I kept going pass a Hotel and for some reason it was tempting me to go in. Within 5mins of being in there I found myself in the barmaid's car playing with a baby Wallaby she had saved. Stef did say she had a boyfriend straight away, but I respect bar staff and never have, never will hit on bar staff so she had nothing to worry about, besides I had this a cute baby Wallaby in my hands and it was frign soo cool to hold him. It was so fragile but Stef said Wally was getting stronger every day, she had saved it from the mom which had been mowed down by a car, so sad. Back in the bar I got to know the 2 barmaids better over a few of the best Guinness I've had since leaving Ireland. What a brilliant start to me trip. I got to know them a little more during my stay, really nice young ladies that made what could've been some dull nites so frign halarious that I got sore stomach muscles from laughing so much.
   Oh and by the way if you sit in the corner of a bar and want a drink feckn ask nicely and respect the hard working barmaids, don't just sit their gawking at them and throw sexual verbal abuse at them expecting to still be served. They're their to serve you drinks, not to take crap that they don't need to hear, if i'm in the vicinity of your bullshit I will say something and believe me I feel strongly about respecting bar staff. Sure have a laugh with them but don't cross the line, I told an older guy off at this bar, Stef said to me he's done that for years and thanked me for standing up for them, apparently he's come in since as he's a regular but now is really nice to them. Happy days aye...respect.

Stef & Wally
 The next day was the business part of the trip with a bit of a sore head, so I got what i had to do out of the way quickly and proceeded down to Shipstern. I didn't really know how I'd handle the walk in, with the van parked up at the end of the road I started on me trek in. Oh shit my legs burned so hard, I'm not exactly made for hills but with the thought of Shipstern breaking I pushed on through the bush and got to the lookout eventually. Sitting down catching me breath I saw my first set hitting the reef, holy shit it's truly a scary looking beast but so perectly mutated that you can't look anywhere else. The crack and boom as it unleashed on the reef was easily heard from my vantage point. Considering I didn't even expect to see it break while in Tasmania I just sat there thinking how frign lucky I am, life is great. Having not seen anything remotely like this since Ireland I ended up walking in 3 times over the next 5 days.

The walk in

   The second day I was lucky enough to meet Marti and Mikey, they were walking in to paddle it, fair balls to them because it was big enough and blowing a side shore gale producing over a 1m chop out there. They paddled into a few but it was just too bumpy, stuffed if I know how they didn't get mowed down by the rogue sets. It was a pretty heavy session to watch, I know it wasn't perfect by any means but I was stoked to the eyeballs to see it bigger and gnarlier than the first day. Because the wave breaks over reef the colours that saturate the wave as it breaks is this beautiful teal green, every photogs dream. There were alot of waves unridden as there wasn't anyone towing really but the boys were their to push themselves in the paddle zone, some waves are more stunning with no one on them and that lets your imagination run wild.

Marti & Mikey sitting on the edge

Every beach should have 1 of these

   I also had the honor of meeting the legend Wizz, the brains behind Harddartz surfboards. Not just surfboards thou, he also does wooden carvings. Each piece he brings out is as impressive as the first, a bulldogs head larger than life carved out of a solid piece of fallen tree, so much here so much to see. You know, I went to the world respected "Mona" gallery in Hobart and personally I think some of his work should be in there, one piece in particular of a hand that is just freaky with long gangly fingers and protrudent knuckles simply carved out of a branch. But what really caught my eye was the timber surfbaord hanging on the wall waiting for another day to be ridden. It looked like nothing I had ever seen with it's water channelling system and beautiful grain. I heard that it rode like no other board gliding across the water with ease, balanced to perfection. I heard you needn't force a turn, the natural wieght and grain in the board along with it's unique finless design and channels it does everything for you, I heard that this was possibly the perfect board...

The legend and the future
  Driving back to Hobart along the coast their's some impressive scenery, one of which looked like a scene out of Lord of the Rings with a city of towering pinnacles of stone.
   Hobart is a bustling little city, easy to get around without getting lost. Cafe's, galleries and trendy little shops line the yatch soaked harbour. The surrounding headland's a combination of bush and houses precariously hanging on the edge watching over Hobart. I did not expect to get anything from this trip, it was a trip for other reasons so you could say I was pleasantly suprised. I fell in love with Tasmania and the people and I will be definatley returning.
   I'd just like to say thanks to the friendly people I met along the way especially Marti and Mikey for urging me to head back into shipstern even thou my legs were fecked and cheers for helping me out. Last but not least a huge thanks to Stef and Sarah, I didn't expect to make such awesome friends as you 2, your gorgeous smiles and wicked humour made my trip.
Cheers Tasmania

Best mates Stef & Sarah

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Green Gold of Gisborne

  Took a gamble of heading to Gizzy for the a couple of days, the forecast was looking a bit dubious but I headed off anyway. The only guarantee was the weather was going to be fine...or was it!

  I stayed at the "Surf City Lodge" for the first time, wow what a great place to stay. The owners Barry & Ros are so friendly and welcome you with big smiles. Barry surfs and is also a chef which is bloody awesome for some great food. The house, a 1920's classic is riddled with surf photos Barry has taken on his travels, also their's a few classic longboards from the 60's leaning against the timber walls giving the place that surfer's paradise feel. I highly recommend staying here.

  Forecasting cloudless skies the next day I got up before the sunrise, ahh crap it was 100% cloud cover! So I drove around from one place to the next sussing out where the best surf was while waiting for the clouds to hopefully burn off. I found somewhere going off big time, but sorry out of respect to the locals I'm not telling or showing. Finally a couple of hours later I had planted myself at Wainui, it was going off. The sun was just peaking out from the last of the clouds and boom it was on or was it? Where were all the surfers? I was watching empty barrel after empty barrel realing off and only half a dozen guys out, couldn't believe it.

  The waves were so green looking, you know that beautiful shade that just wants you to paint the image on every wave in the world. It was simply stunning, so out came the camera and I rattled off a few shots before the wind turned as forecasted. Even thou I only shot a few photos and there were only a few surfers out I reckon I still captured a few pots of green gold, Gizzy style.

If anyone knows who this is can you let me know, I asked someone and they said it was Rodger Rabbit!

Waves of Deception

  When you look at a photo sometimes it's hard to know how big or small it really it is. I remember one day at Aileens standing on the cliff watching perfecton throw, barrel and spit. Pondering how big it actually was I guessed around 25ft on the face on the set waves.

  A couple of guys turned up beside me and started hooting and was contemplating going out. I hadn't seem them here before and was a bit concerned about if they could handle it out there. So I asked them if they had surfed here before and they had never been here, I suggested to them they might want to wait until the tow boys arrive so they can see the size of it. They asked me "why are they going to tow it, it looks to be about double over head". Looking at them with a smile I said "it's a little bigger than that, best you wait a little before you climb down the cliff".

  As the skis rounded the headland I could see that I had underestimated it. When finally someone towed in it was at least 30ft with some of the sets 40ft. The guys beside me couldn't believe what they were seeing as someone came out of the barrel with the spray on their heels. They turned around to me and just simply said "thanks".

So anyway here's a few shots from NZ with no one out, how big or small is it...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A weekend with Richie Fitzgerald

   You can join Richie this weekend for an exclusive surf lesson and relive the moment that he conquered the biggest swell (60ft+) ever attempted in Ireland with a screening of award winning documentary ‘Waveriders’, on one of the most famous surfing beaches in Ireland at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Clonakilty, West Cork on the last weekend in August.

   Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the award winning Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa invites surfers and adventure movie buffs to join them for a special weekend package combining ‘Surfing & Movies on the Beach’ on the weekend of the 31st, August.

   The exclusive package includes two nights bed and breakfast in the four star  hotel, a private group surfing lesson on the scenic Inchydoney strand with Irish Surfing Champion, Richie Fitzgerald, a BBQ in the hotel before the screening of "Waveriders".

Guests will arrive on the afternoon of Friday 31st, August and depart on Sunday, 1st September. The package is available exclusively from the hotel and is priced at €199 per person sharing. For more information or to make a reservation please visit or call 023 8833143

Richie casually cruising on an average size day @ Mullaghmore

   Richie is one of the most humble surfers I have ever met. Richie owns and runs "Surfworld" in Bundoran and has just opened another shop in Strandhill, he also runs surf schools in Bundoran and on top of all that he charges big surf. If you ever ask him about any big waves he surfed he always plays it down but when you look at what he has accomplished it's pretty darn amazing. With tow partner Gabe Davies they were one of the first to pioneer big waves in Ireland. In particular the ferocious beast Mullaghmore, a wave that is known worldwide to break people.

  Richie and Gabe were part of the crew that surfed the massive 13m swell that ended up in the movie "Waveriders", a story that focuses on Irish surfing roots and some incredible footage of the biggest surf ever surfed in Ireland to this day! The movie got global applause winning 2008 Audience Choice Award from the "Jameson Dublin International Film Festival" and Best Documentary Award at the "2009 SURFER Poll & Video Awards".

  If I was in Ireland I'd be going to this myself, I think it's a fantastic weekend offer with alot of bonuses. Did you know that Richie fractured his ribs on one of the first waves ridden one session we had out at Mullaghmore, he went and sat on the boat for a while not saying much to anyone about the pain he was in. A couple of hrs later he couldn't bear it anymore watching these waves going past so he grabbed the rope again and pulled into this wave pictured above...respect.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Surf Café cookbook, Strandhill style

   A surf cookbook you ask? And I answer yes surfing and cooking can go together especially for this well laid out book incorporating the ocean and easy to make delicious recipes for everyone and the surfed out hungry surfer. Not only seafood recipes but some great Irish recipes are found in there like the Guinness and beef stew that I miss soooo much, different ways to make a classic potatoe mash and some good old fashioned Irish bread recipes. These are just a few of what's in the book.

   Also I'm very proud to say some of my photos are scattered amongst the tasty pages. When I was first contacted about using some of my surfing images I was a bit confused about it all, but once Louise illustrated the idea it all made perfect sense. The book is reflected on Shells Café, the owners Jane & Myles Lamberth, fresh organic Irish produce & of course Shells Café is located at the centre of my heart, Strandhill. Once again Strandhill delivers inspiration for great things, as I have always said it is a magical place & it has produced another piece of magic. GO buy the book, it's a must have for any kitchen. Buy it here.

   Thanks to the editor Louise Searle for involving me in the book, Jane & Myles I'm honored to have been part of this & I can hardly wait to get back to Strandhill some day and try some of your beautiful food in Shells with a few of my mates talking about surf, classic.

Photo: Andrew Kilfeather

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cotty power

  I decided to do this blog not just after seeing this picture of Cotty at Mullaghmore but because he's a damn good surfer and deserves the publicity of what he's done over the years in big waves. He's been invited and attended big wave comps, not only in Ireland either, but in other parts of the world. Cotty's been nominated numerous times for Billabaong's XXL awards, in particular his latest nomination you have to admit is pretty impressive and soooo heavy. Cotty's paddled some pretty big stuff but doesn't gloat about it calling it the wave of the day just cause he paddled, he's also towed some pretty impressive waves but once again he never blows his own trumpet. Cotty just wants to enjoy himself with a few mates, simple.
  The very first big wave photo I ever took was of Cotty at Aileens on a less than perfect day and the last big wave photo I ever took in Ireland was yes again of Cotty but this time at Prowlers. That very first photo I was originally told it was of his tow partner big Al Mennie and after getting the print done I found out from Al that it was actually of Cotty, oh and it also got printed that way in the "Irish Times"! Never mind, lesson learnt to check your sources(Al's girlfriend at the time) hahaha.
My first ever big wave photo. "Cotty"

   Cotty never has backed down from a wave, tow or paddle. He just doesn't have it in his vocabulary to say no. Yes he's not just towed, doing a few stints to WA in Australia in his younger days paddling some pretty big stuff gave him great knowledge of the true power of the ocean on the hard hitting reefs. But it wasn't until he got to Hawaii and surfed Waimea where he found his true love for big waves earning the respect from the Hawaiians Cotty returned numerous times, and will return in the future.
Cotty @ Aileens getting chased down

Cotty on a bomb @ Aileens
   Cotty has adopted Ireland as his big wave haven. Spending countless sessions at Mullaghmore in the most harsh of conditions he still loves it and making the lengthy trip to Aileens numerous times. There was one session in particular where Cotty got nailed at Mullaghmore, his first wave of a dodgy day. Getting ripped apart by the wave, his expensive knee brace got torn off him and lost then the wave procedded to pull his leg almost out of joint leaving him in agony. I'll never forget the pain and dissapointment in his face and voice as he couldn't go back out due to his injurys. Seeing everyone else out there from the van on the hill would've been driving him nuts.
Cotty's face says it all...just after the leg ripping wipeout
Cotty @ Mullaghmore

I sent Cotty a txt asking him to answer a few questions about biggest waves he's towed and paddled and how big they were. I was curious to know what his answers were going to be size wise. Here is his humble reply...

"After last year I'd have to say Prowlers for both, surfed out there a few times now and i think it has so much potential for both tow and paddle. unfortunately this winter we didn't get to surf it once. I'm not one to put measurement on big waves, everyone judges differently and has different opinions on how big waves are, I've paddled some pretty big waves by my own personal standard and towed some even bigger ones, just hope it continues for years to come and both get bigger."

That day out at Prowlers was something else, with an 8m swell running we all sat over a mile out at sea watching her break. Blown away by how far it was throwing out, the barrell mad huge. Cotty and Al were originally thinking of paddling it until a outside set came through sending plumes of whitewater sky high and imploding out the back of the wave on itself! Cotty's reaction was hell give me the rope, lets see what this wave has. That's Cotty for ya, balls to the wall charger, tow or paddle he's out there giving it everything not backing down. Since that day out at prowlers he's padlled out there a few times bagging himself some great waves.
Here's some of his waves at Prowlers...
Cotty @ Prowlers
Cotty exiting the barrell on his first ever session out there!
Cotty and tow partner Al Mennie...yes that is a paddle board and they were seriously thinking of paddling
A proud moment for Cotty and I, my first surfing mag cover and my last big wave photo in Ireland

Saturday, January 14, 2012

phantom Teahupoo

This below is a piece of moving art recorded Chris Bryan. This is exactly the kind of thing I live for, being able to see Teahupoo maxing at such a slow speed is an honour in my lifetime, I can't count how many times I've watched this. It's like being at IMAX not knowing where to look on the screen as you can see every detail. One part in particular at the end when the surfer slips and turns upside down looking straight at the inside of the lip exploding on the reef a few feet from his head. I cannot start to think what would be going through his mind or his pants! You can see how when a wave of this speed and power stretches the water leaving strips of air bubbles in the lip, I have seen this before in a couple of my shots at Bumbaloids and Rielys. I do hope one day I get the honour to photograph such beauty and capture things going on not usually recognised by the naked eye.
  A big high five to Chris and Billabong

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Not so liquid storm...

"Liquid Storm", what does this name mean to me? I chose this name after the countless storms that are created during the north Atlantic winters. Storms so vicious that since bouy data has been recorded open ocean swells have been recorded to have hit over the 60ft range.

Liquid Storm stands for exactly that, storms at sea and bigger the better. Since I left Ireland I haven't exactly lived up to my reputaion of shooting big surf in any conditions, more so the freezing cold raw conditions that I grew to love and could hardly wait during the flatness of summer for Autumn and Winter to swing around.

 A lot of people who don't surf don't understand the passion of it all, how you become so engrossed in a storm, a particular reef to fire that nothing else seems to matter. Your heart starts to race at the first sign of it on the weather maps, sure there a plenty of times when the storm comes to nothing but that makes it all the more special when all the elements come together-wind, water and slab.
 I remember shooting Dave's barrel at Mullaghmore that day when everythng came together. The hooting from Paul and Barry as they watched with awe. Mikee hooting all the way from picking dave up till when they came to the boat, and Dave's grin, wow Dave's grin said it all. I showed him the sequence and we couldn't stop giving each other high fives and hooting like mad men. This is what Liquid storm stands for, but... the moment my life has taken a bit of a change, not in what I want but what actually has to temporary happen until Ireland picks back up and there's work going on there again. It's been a year now since I got back to NZ, so at the moment I'm driving a brand new 280 ton crane in shake city(15 earthquakes since i got back 24hrs ago from Xmas break!). My life at the moment is work driven as we work 7 days a week, althou I did get 2 weeks off over Xmas to chill out.

   So for a while longer I won't be living up to my Liquid Storm name, I apologise to all that follow what I do but mark my words I will be amongst it all again in the future in bigger and gnarlier surf. My passion and vision will never go away and will never change. I want to photograph big heaving barrels and I want to photograph the 100ft wave first hand, it's out there and it's definately rideable.

Here's a couple of shots from shake city and some waves I saw on my time off.

My 280 ton crane

Homes torn apart by the earthquake

Here's the cliff the house in the previous photo fell down!