Interview with Phil Horrocks:
What made you decide to visit these spots?
Brendan Pyatt called and suggested going to the Sligo area as the forecast was really good with big swell and strong winds. I went with his call as I had just got back from Morocco so hadn’t even seen the forecast.
Describe the trip?
I flew back to Manchester airport from ‘The Windsurf Challenge’ event in Morocco, where I was getting picked up by my brother Dave. As soon as I landed I got a call from Brendan telling me that there was an epic forecast for North West Ireland and I should get there for tomorrow!
I was back home in Bangor (North Wales) around tea time. After a few beers to celebrate a mate’s birthday, we (myself, my brother and three other friends) left at 10pm and got the 2am ferry from Holyhead, arriving in Dublin at 6:30am. We then drove across Ireland and met Brendan near Sligo around 9:30am. We decided to sail Spot X (near Sligo) and had a good sail from 11am until 1pm. At 2pm we decided to move venue to Easky, arriving there around 3:30pm. I sailed for at least 2 hours until it was starting to get too dark (and I was pretty shattered)!
After checking Windguru on Brendan’s WAP phone we decided that the next day would be best at Magheroarty so we got straight in the car and drove the 3 hours north. We arrived at 9pm and went straight to bed.
The next day we arrived at Magheroarty beach around 9am. The tide was too high so it didn’t look great, but it dropped quickly and it soon started to look good. We had one long session until 3pm and then went to the pub to watch the FA Cup Final.
The game went into extra time and penalties which put us behind schedule. We then drove the 4 hours back to Dublin, but just missed the ferry so had to spend the night with four of us sleeping in the van in a side street in Dublin! We finally got the 6am boat back to Holyhead and then had another 30 minutes to drive home to Bangor.'
Most memorable moment?
The conditions at Easkey. It looked quite small when we arrived from the van but as the tide came in the waves got up to mast high. The waves were so long and smooth and for most of the time, I was the only one out.
Move of the trip?
A top turn at Magheroarty where the tail broke out. I got a really nice, surfy style top turn and managed to bring it back in and carry on riding. It’s in the video – check it out!
Wipeout of the trip?
Going for an aerial at Easkey where I got so much wind that I almost went into a pushloop off the lip and got completely worked. Check that – it’s also in the video!!
Worst thing about the trip?
My mate Ben Proffitt wasn’t able to come. A long story that I won’t go into here.
What were you looking to achieve on this trip?
I have been to Ireland quite a lot and have had a lot of good conditions, but recently I had only been across for competitions and had rubbish conditions. I wanted to go on a decent forecast to remind myself how good it can be!
What planning went into the trip?
Very little from my side of things as I was in Morocco and pretty much out of contact. Brendan phoned me after I landed at Manchester and a few hours later I was on the ferry!
What were the conditions at the various beaches?
Spot X: Side shore, 4.7 weather and logo to mast high waves in the sets. The launch is very tricky as you have to climb through boulders and spiky rocks for about 50 meters and then you jump into a current and sail upwind to a slab of reef where the wave is. The waves were super hollow and upwind was a very nasty sucky barrel into a shallow reef. Inside the wind was light which also made things a bit tricky.
Easkey: Cross off, 4.0m over powered and mast high waves and bigger in the sets. The location feels very remote and it’s quite hard to reference where you are against the beach and then predict where the waves are going to break. It’s certainly a gnarly place to sail when it’s that big. The channel closes out, there are strong currents, rocks everywhere and if something breaks you are going to get washed a long way down the coast!!
Magheroarty: Cross shore (slightly on, which made it a little mushy), 4.2m and logo to mast in the sets. The set up is a reef break off the harbour wall. The first peak is a bit hard to predict, but once it starts to break and wrap around the reef it cleans up into a nice wall.
Describe the kit you used; Board, Sail & Fin?
Spot X: JP Real World 68, 4.7m Neil Pryde Zone (on Combat skinny mast) & 21 cm stock fin.
Easkey: JP Pro Wave 66, 4.0m Neil Pryde Zone & 19 cm prototype Werner Gnigler fin.
Magheroarty: JP Real World 68, 4.2m Neil Pryde Zone and 21cm stock fin.