Monday, May 18, 2015

Big waves and bigger hearts

Windsurfer Katie McAnena in Red Bulletin

Most people who see huge waves stand back in awe of Mother Nature, but a tiny number of people see them as a challenge. 

Windsurfer Katie McAnena is one of them and one of the few women I know of who gets in there among the largest, scariest waves. Her fame is growing – thanks a wave called Teahupo’o in Tahiti. It’s a giant wave, even ‘an avalanche’ as she’s described it above but also just a challenging day at the office for McAnena.

I’m reading ‘Cliffs of Insanity’ at the moment by sports journo Keith Duggan. It’s a book on male big-wave surfers in Ireland, but for once I can’t complain – the author can only write what he sees. And this need to conquer the very largest waves is for now mainly a male pursuit. 

But no less inspiring for that. The single-minded or even bloody-minded dedication on display is what I’m loving the most. 

There are men who started surfing while living in Dublin – ie the no-big-waves side of Ireland but hitched or bussed their way across the island every weekend to get in the water. 

Now I know Ireland isn’t the biggest island around but trust me when you’ve twisted and turned through the windy lanes of the west for hours, it seems a lot bigger. 

The side of my car is scraped to all hell from bushes, trees and even a hidden gate on one scary occasion  - the closer to the sea, the narrower the lanes.

Not to mention waves which don’t even have access roads – slithering their way across icy rocks, and climbing down cliffs into the raging waters. 

I don’t surf myself though I love the sea – it’s these guys ability to throw off what the world expects just to have those brief moments on the water keeping me reading. 


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