We chatted with Allan Mulrooney Communications manager @ to find out why the Surf Summit came to Sligo. Founder http://gostrandhill.com | Founder http://www.Strandhillpeoplesmarket.ie | Partner at http://www.ShoreShots.ie
So, why did Web Summit choose Sligo?
If you’re asked about the world of surfing what inevitably comes to mind? Warm water, board shorts, coconuts and palm trees, right?
The sport of surfing has grown massively in the past 10 years with an estimated 23 million surfers jumping in the water every day around the world. This global movement towards action and adventure sports has been brought about by a culture of young travellers, the need to experience adrenaline and amplified by brands that see value in promoting this new culture.
This is compounded by the fact that the sport is free for anybody to try once they have the right equipment, no green fee’s, no restrictions and no time limits! Ever hear the saying ‘only a surfer knows the feeling?’ well they’re not lying!
The destinations surfers now find themselves boarding planes in search of perfect waves and adventure has also changed.
Over the past 40 years surfers have travelled to the farthest points of the planet in search of new discoveries, adventure, new cultures, empty waves and inevitably, something different. Magazine articles showcased new waves in Hawaii in the 80’s, Tahiti in the 90’s and Indonesia in the 00’s.
Once the net exploded it changed everything. Suddenly we could read about every wave in the world as it was discovered. We could watch in real time as a swell exploded onto the north shore of Hawaii and we could watch our hero’s on live stream as they won the biggest contest of the year on the other side of the world.
All the while, there was a small group of hard core surfers pioneering the sport along the west coast of Ireland, quietly! Crowds were never an issue for obvious reasons with freezing temperatures and less than adequate equipment.
Over time, again things have changed. Ireland has now become known as the ‘cold water Indonesia’ with some of the best point breaks, slabs and reefs in the world. From north Donegal as far south as Cork and in every nook and cranny in between, Ireland hosts some of the best waves ever seen on the planet with thousands of new breaks yet to be discovered.
— Allan Mulrooney (@almulrooney) October 16, 2015
Ireland has not escaped the media attention with big wave spots like Mullghmore in Co. Sligo and Aileens at the bottom of the cliffs of Moher in Clare making headlines throughout the winter season. From late September to April some of the world’s best surfers now rate Ireland as high priority on their hit list when the swell is right. Carefully watching weather patterns from as far off as Hawaii and Australia these pro surfers fly into Ireland at the drop of a hat armed with camera’s, drones, media and full teams so that they can capture a story of adventure, danger and of course Guinness! These stories end up on our screens in surf media around the world days later captured in short edits and features which help to put Ireland on the map as a world class destination. More and more the mainstream media has taken to these stories as they watch in awe at these surfers who tackle up to 40foot waves dressed in rubber suits.
What’s different about Ireland and Indonesia is the consistency. During peak season you can travel to Indo and more than likely score epic waves more days than not. (You can also enjoy a cold bintang in a pair of shorts).
In Ireland, it’s just not that simple. Long range swells travelling across the Atlantic Ocean means that surf can be hard to predict and at times fickle. When it comes it is world class, but there is no doubt that it is less frequent. Couple this with bitterly cold winters, hard driving conditions, huge tide variables, small country roads and some really dangerous waves it’s easy to see that surfing in Ireland is not for the faint hearted!
Web Summit has chosen to host Surf Summit in Co.Sligo on the North west coast. This stretch of coastline has a reputation for having the highest number of waves in a very small area. In Sligo surfing has become a way of life with many professionals choosing to live in the area in order to be close to the waves. This has meant that some of Europe’s best surfers grew up and still live here. In fact most of the Irish Surf team is made up of surfers from this area.
The laid back vibe present in most of the coastal towns along this coast is mostly down to surfers which web summit attendees are sure to experience on their journey.
— Surf Summit (@surfsummit) October 1, 2015
Strandhill beach boasts some really fun banks for beginners and intermediates with a number of soft point breaks in walking distance. Less than 25 minutes in either direction you can find Easkey with multiple point breaks to satisfy any level of surfer or Bundoran which hosts the infamous ‘peak’ the country’s most consistent waves. Down every country road in between you can find a wave of some sorts. It just depends on the tide, wind direction; swell direction and day of the week if you’ll score or not.
So make sure to be friendly to the locals and they might show you around!