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Displaying items by tag: Andrew Cotton

Four years after breaking his back when he wiped out surfing the massive swell at Nazaré, a British big wave rider has returned to Portugal conquer his demons, as Metro reports.

Andrew ‘Cotty’ Cotton was a regular at Ireland’s surfing hot spots like Mullaghmore Head before the fateful attempt to ride the infamous wall of water at Praia do Norte in November 2017 that left him with a serious spinal injury.

But the Devon man, now 39, was determined to heal and return to surfing fitness. He was back at Nazaré last year just three years after his potentially life-changing injury.

And this year he’s staying in Portugal for the big wave season, with a view to catching another 80-footer that could mean a place in the record books.

Metro has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing
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#Surfing - Chasing the most challenging swells is the dream of the world's top big wave surfers, who've made an art of determining where the tallest walls of water can be found.

But now one Irish coastal regular reveals how he turned to science for his discovery of a new secret hotspot off the North West.

As Mail Online reports, Andrew 'Cotty' Cotton consulted with weather analysts and oceanographers in poring over satellite data to find the offshore sweet spot – generating waves that averaged some nine metres, or 30 feet – after the stormy winter of late 2014.

However, the Devon surfer believes the location could produce swells more than twice that size – and may even break the record for the biggest wave ever surfed as set at Nazaré in Portugal by Garrett McNamara in 2013.

Cotty's quest is the subject of a new documentary on RedBull.tv, while Mail Online has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

#Surfing - Mullaghmore regular Andrew 'Cotty' Cotton has secured a nomination in the 2015 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards for his monster ride on the swells that preceded Storm Rachel this week.

According to The Irish Times, Cotty skipped an appointment with his chiropractor to race from his Devon home to the Sligo coast a week ago to make the most of the strengthening surf.

Shaking off the effects of a shoulder injuring sustained while surfing at the infamous Praia do Norte in Portugal last month, he was ready to take advantage on Monday.

That's when the waves reached their peak in the midst of an "exceptional" five days of surf to match or even better the Vikings storm of 2012.

And luckily for us, it was all caught on video for a new documentary on his and other big wave surfers' adventures on the edge.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

#Surfing - Mullaghmore regular Andrew Cotton is waiting to hear if he has snagged the world record for surfing the biggest wave in recorded history.

As the video above shows, Devon surfer Cotty was simply dwarfed by the giant swell off Nazare in Portugal on Sunday 2 February, in the same location where friend and rival Garrett McNamara clinched the world record in November 2011.

Just a month ago Cotty was tackling 50-foot waves off the Sligo coast - and as Surfer Today reports, he's now claiming "victory at sea" after surfing what the UK media is calling an 80-foot monster wave.

But we'll still have to wait and see if the record is made official.

Published in Surfing
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#Surfing - Devon surfer Andrew Cotton, a regular at Ireland's big wave hotspots, was spoilt for choice as the 'black swell' moved in on the coastlines of Western Europe earlier this week.

But as the video above shows, he plucked for the walls of water off Mullaghmore Head in Co Sligo.

And according to the Daily Telegraph, Cotty was not at all disappointed, catching waves of up to 50 feet charged by the exceptional Atlantic swell - and getting it all on camera for a documentary series on adventure sports web broadcaster EpicTV.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the stormy conditions brought surfers in their hundreds to Ireland's west coast to catch the biggest waves going.

Published in Surfing
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#SURFING - A new book that delves into the world of surfing in Ireland gets a thumbs-up review from surf pro Easkey Britton in The Irish Times.

Cliffs of Insanity, by Irish Times sportswriter Keith Duggan, focuses on the close-knit surfing community in Lahinch, Co Clare - one of the many hotspots along the west coast that have produced such Irish big wave sensations as Ollie O'Flaherty and overseas visitors like Devon's Andrew Cotton (featured in the video above).

Britton - in the news herself recently for her pioneering surf trip to Iran - notes the passion among Ireland's surfers "to pursue a challenging vocation, one that is raw and unglamorous, set against the icy waters of the Atlantic" towered over by the Cliffs of Moher - the 'cliffs of insanity' of the title.

She also describes the book's central story - the progress of Mayo man Fergal Smith and Cornwall native Mickey Smith as they surf the uncompromising Aileens break - as "a story of hope for an island nation on its knees".

"Duggan presents a rare and intimate window into a little-understood world," she writes. "The ocean and the art of wave riding run so deep in our veins that when you ask a surfer to describe what it feels like we struggle to put it into words."

The Donegal surfing star adds that Duggan "is uniquely positioned as an 'outsider' looking in, and he captures what it is that drives these surfing souls, describing it as 'an elemental pull'."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

#SURFING - A new short film tells the story of "one epic day of huge surf" at Mullaghmore Head, as Surfer Today reports.

The Northcore film 'Fathoms Left to Fall' follows some of the world's top big wave surfers as they converged on Co Sligo to take advantage of the swell, prompted by the extreme weather system known as the 'Viking storm'.

Among the Irish riders featured is 24-year-old Ollie O'Flaherty, who has been nominated for the 'biggest wave' prize in the 2012 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards for his monster ride at Mullaghmore.

Also nominated for his outstanding effort at the Sligo surf mecca is Andrew Cotton, a Devon native who's no stranger to Ireland's big rollers.

Published in Surfing

#SURFING - A young surfer from Lahinch in Co Clare is in the running for the 'biggest wave' prize in the 2012 Billabong XXL contest for his monster ride at Mullaghmore Head, The Irish Times reports.

Ollie O'Flaherty, 24, is nominated along with Devon's Andrew Cotton for the massive surf they caught off Co Sligo on 8 March last.

It was the first visit to the world-class big wave spot by O'Flaherty, a science student at NUI Galway who is a veteran of the Co Clare scene.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, it was Cotton who tackled the biggest wave on that day - a giant 50-footer - as some of the world's top surfers took advantage of the Viking swell.

Also nominated for the $50,000 (€38,280) prize is Irish-American surfer Garrett McNamara, who last year rode what is being called the biggest wave ever surfed in the world, a 90-foot goliath off Nazaré in Portugal.

According to the Irish Independent, O'Flaherty has put out a call for sponsorship so he can attend the awards ceremony next month.

"It's a massive honor to be able to represent Ireland," he said, but added that he is "pretty much on the breadline from what I'm doing".

Should he win, the Lahinch native said he intends to "put every cent back into surfing" and replace his seven broken boards.

The winners will be announced at the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards in Anaheim, California on 4 May.

Published in Surfing

#SURFING - It may have been too late for the postponed Tow-In Surf Session, but the big waves at Mullaghmore Head finally picked up this week - and some of the world's top surfers were there to take advantage of the swell.

As The Irish Times reports, an extreme weather system nicknamed the 'Viking storm' helped produced monster rollers on Thursday that are the biggest the area has seen in 15 years.

Devon surfer Andrew 'Cotty' Cotton rode the biggest wave when he tackled a 50ft giant, assisted by his Irish tow-in partner Al Mennie, while Brit boarder Tom Butler recorded the biggest barrel.

Richie Fitzgerald described the scene as "very calculated madness", noting that a safety crew was on hand as the 16-strong group took on the "huge, unruly and very dangerous swell".

The Irish Times has much more on the story, while Surfer Today has more video of the last winter swell at Mullaghmore Head HERE.

Published in Surfing

#SURFING - One of Ireland's top surfers claims he has found the world's biggest waves off the coast of Ireland.

As Irish Central reports, Portrush waverider Al Mennie says that he and surfing partner Andrew Cotton have found two waves reaching as much as 120 feet in secret locations off the coasts of Antrim and Donegal.

The duo are currently waiting for the right conditions to surf the biggest swells.

"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," Mennie told the Irish Independent.

Their location is being kept under wraps for now due to safety concerns, as the waves crash down in a hazardous rocky area - making them definitely not suitable for novices.

Irish Central has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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