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Surfers On Amber Alert for Third Annual Tow-In Session

23rd January 2013
Surfers On Amber Alert for Third Annual Tow-In Session

#Surfing - Some of the world’s best big wave surfers were last week hurriedly making their way to Ireland to compete in the third annual Billabong Tow-In Session at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo.

Event organisers gave the amber light for the one-day event on the strength of a giant swell that was forecast to reach Mullaghmore this past Monday.

As previously reported on, the waiting period for the event commenced in November 2012 and finishes on 1 March this year. Organisers only need one day of giant waves to stage the event.

The huge North Atlantic swell headed Ireland’s way looked like providing surf big enough to stage the event but, most importantly, the forecast giant waves were expected to be accompanied by light and favourable winds.   

Last year’s event was cancelled because waves in excess of 20 feet in height, with favourable winds, didn’t arrive during the four-month waiting period. But contest director Paul O’Kane said on the current forecasting models it looked like there would be clean and perfect 20-foot waves at Mullaghmore on Monday.

“For a big wave surfing contest such as this that’s about the minimum size we need to run the event,” he said. “But because the ocean conditions will be so clean and perfect on Monday that’s why we have decided to go to amber alert... This will give all the Irish competitors and those coming from overseas enough time to get here and be well organised with their equipment.

For safety reasons the event is restricted to invitees only. Because lives are at stake, only those surfers with recognised big wave experience have been invited to compete. Competitors are also expected to be well versed and qualified in the all necessary rescue and water safety procedures.

Mullaghmore, along with Aileen’s at the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare, is fast gaining a reputation as one of the most fearsome and challenging big wave locations in the world.

Irish surfers competing in the event are Richie Fitzgerald and Peter Craig (Donegal), Dave Lavelle and Mikee Hamilton (Sligo), Peter Conroy and Ollie O’Flaherty (Clare), Hugh Galloway (Galway) and Al Mennie (Antrim). The international field this year also includes competitors from Ireland, Hawaii, USA, Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Tahiti and South Africa.

The event is sanctioned by the Irish Surf Rescue Club and the Irish Surfing Association. Here's hoping we learn soon if the day was a roaring success or a wipeout!

Published in Surfing
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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