THE WINTER CAN BE WONDERFUL, AS SOUTH AFRICAN OZZIE SMITH DISCOVERED ON THE MYSTIC TEAM’S DECEMBER PHOTOSHOOT IN IRELAND
WORDS AND CAPTIONS: Oswald Smith
PHOTOS: Ydwer van der Heide / Mystic
This feature was taken from Issue 103 released January 2020 – Buy a hard copy here
AFTER THE RAIN
“Forget turquoise blue waters. We said goodbye to sunshine and boardshorts. Palm trees were a thing of the past. This was not a normal pro kiteboarding trip! We (Mystic Boarding team) were on a quest to put new products to the test. We didn’t follow trends to hit the same places, the same beaches or the same perfect weather. We went somewhere more fierce and wild, where the sun only has chance to smile for about six hours a day (if you’re lucky).
A place where rainbows follow you around like shadows.
There was a storm on the horizon and we followed it into the battle cage.
Welcome to Ireland.”
The troop gathered at Dublin airport where we picked up the trusty Land Rover Defender to venture on a four hour drive towards our first location, Brandon Bay, county Kerry in the southwest of the island on the Dingle peninsula. The drive literally felt like a scene out of Lord Of the Rings.
Everywhere we looked we were surrounded by huge bouldering mountains and massive sheer cliff edges that dropped straight into the ocean. Little villages were enveloped by fields and, in fact, it seemed like all the land was covered in green grass from base to summit and rain patches scattered the horizon. Then there were rainbows. Beautiful colours, somehow everywhere, luring us like leprechauns to gold.
Upon arrival at Brandon Bay we were greeted with a storm unlike anything I’ve seen before. As if the wrath of titans had come up from the dark chasms of hell, turning this world into an insignificant rock of turmoil and destruction.
The wind was gusting close to 60 knots. No exaggeration; to put things in perspective, house roofs were being blown apart. We tried venturing outside the car and were almost swept from our feet and off a bridge. You know it’s heavy when Steven Akkersdijk says, “I can’t even ride a six in this!”.
As the day progressed the storm slowly whispered away and we could finally get into the water at our fi rst spot, ‘Inch Beach’. The set-up was a dream for big air: cross-onshore 40 knot winds and fi ve metre wave faces, complimented by an ominously dark, clustering cloud.
The day was simply insane – just Steven and I in the belly of the beast. Sessions like this are a big part of why we do what we do. Just us and the raw elements, feeling so insignificant, yet part of the puzzle that makes up something bigger. I’ll never forget that one.
Brandon Bay was our home base, so it made sense to try and scout out some conditions there. We went on a little wave hunt to a spot down the beach boulevard. We walked a couple of hundred metres in the rain and, while it was by no means the best wave session, the experience was something else. The waves were small and weak but the rain drops helped turn every wave into a glass mirror.
That night we went to a typical Irish tavern where we met up with one of the local kiters who told us a far fetched tale about a little wave down the coast. It wasn’t part of the plan to check out this spot, but hence forth, we followed the Irish man the next day.
He wasn’t joking. The pot of gold is real!
I would love to tell you the name of this spot, but it goes against everything I feel. It’s not the responsibility of someone like me to reveal these crown jewels. Some places need to stay hard-to-find. They need to be discovered, so I’m just gonna leave it at that.
We had to launch our kites on a little jetty and walk the slippery runway while timing the incoming waves perfectly, so even just getting in the water was quite tricky. Then the long left hand point break finished up on sharp, jagged rocks, but the wave was magical. You could do at least six turns on it with a clean open face and a smooth wall. Everything was possible. I remember coming out of the water not being able to stop smiling for about an hour after the session.
HENCE, WE SHALL GO
We tried to score more wind and waves on our last day in Ireland, but unfortunately as the storm passed it took the wind with it. So we settled for a scenic day, indulging ourselves in the countryside of this beautiful place. We took to the road in the trusty Defender and roamed the green as far as the eye could see. Sheep were herded by their masters while rainbows gleamed at us from a far.
Our last day finished with a little bonfire at the beach, Guinness in hand and sunshine managing to force its glare through the clouds.
The memory of Ireland will last a lifetime, filled with moments that can never be outshone. This place is so special and pure; the trip was our little December getaway cure.
Get the low down on Mystic’s winter hardware at: www.mysticboarding.com
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