Al Mennie, one of the world’s top big-wave surfers and Portrush local, claims to have found two waves off the coast of Ireland that reach a staggering 120 feet. He and “right-hand man” Andrew Cotton said that the waves are off the coasts of Antrim and Donegal, but won’t reveal the specific locations for fear of inexperienced surfers attempting to ride the waves.
The Irish Independent reports that Mennie has surfed some of the waves, but is still waiting for the perfect conditions for the heights to soar. He says, “This is my mission. The good days are few and far between – 90 percent of the swells are unrideable and we'd reckon that only two days each year are rideable . We've been out and ridden them. They weren't enormous but we are waiting for the right conditions."
What makes the waves off of Antrim and Donegal so perfect, though? "Because of the very specific bottom contours on the seabed and the weather, that's what makes these waves,” Mennie told the Belfast Telegraph. He adds that the water could be as shallow as five feet when the waves are sucked up.
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The surfers have decided to keep the locations of the super-waves guarded, at least for now. Mennie says that the waves crash down in a particularly rocky area, making them a hazard for surfers, especially those who are inexperienced.
"We have to understand how the whole place works for safety - what happens if something goes wrong, access, getting to hospital.” Evidently, Mennie is rightly cautious about the danger involved with the size and location of such waves.
Of Ireland’s surf potential, Mennie says that "A number of these waves that we have around the country [Ireland] could be the biggest in the world. There's no doubt about that at all, 100%. It depends on the storms coming across the Atlantic." He notes how the freezing temperatures off the Irish coasts add to the extreme nature of being able to surf there, as opposed to places like Hawaii.
“The tables have turned,” Mennie noted after drawing comparisons between Ireland and Hawaii’s surfing spots.
Mennie is known for his surfing of other mega-waves such as Mavericks off California in 2003, Aileen's below the Cliffs of Moher, and he was part of a team taking on 90 foot waves earlier this year off Portugal. He utilizes several different trackers to monitor wave size.