From the tropical waves of Ecuador to the cold waters of Ireland we caught up with surfer and surf instructor Eimear to find out how she got hooked on the waves.
Name: Eimear O’Sullivan Age: 22 Location: Lahinch, Ireland Occupation: Surf Instructor + Design
Social Media: [email protected]
Tell us about your journey into surfing?
I grew up in a little surf village called Lahinch. When I was younger on the last day of school a local surf school would throw a bbq and free surf lesson to kick off the summer. I got hooked, saved up my pocket money and by 12 I bought myself a board. It was yellow with green flames so that my parents could keep an eye on me in the water. I was so excited, but there weren’t many people I could surf with, especially girls, so the excitement began to fizzle out and my board sat catching dust in the garage. Once I went to university I found my tribe, the surf club. We would go on surf trips around Ireland and to Portugal. I didn’t improve much but I fell back in love with it. I also felt I kept hitting this plateau, and when I failed my instructing course the first time around I was pretty devastated. Growing up on the shore, and getting so much enjoyment out of surfing made it difficult to be told not yet! That was the exact push I needed though. After university I set out travelling in Peru, I got a custom board out there and all of a sudden surf became everything to me. I came home, passed my course and work as a surf instructor now.
What’s your favourite thing about surfing?
My favourite thing about surfing, is my favourite thing about the ocean in general, no matter how you chose to experience it. All thoughts stay on the shore, and as I step into the water I’m in another world. Whether I am catching waves or wiping out I feel totally alive. To me, surfing is the art of slowing down time. When I started surfing, I could barely remember whether I had stood up or not, everything just happened so fast. Now I feel I am slowing those moments down.
The best place you’ve surfed and why?
It has to be at home. The more I explore the Irish coast the more I realise how many different types of waves we have here. Regardless of conditions, there is usually always a reef or beach working within 30 minutes of where I live. Given the cold water, you can always find a quiet place to surf, you just need to adventure a little.
My favourite thing about surfing, is my favourite thing about the ocean in general, no matter how you chose to experience it. All thoughts stay on the shore, and as I step into the water I’m in another world.
What do you love about the women’s surfing community?
Though the women’s surf community is small, it is growing. And being a part of this small community means that there are lots of both women and men who are happy to support and encourage us in the waves. The surfing women I know are strong, kind and incredibly supportive. I love paddling out with other girl-friends. It cuts the tension in the water, I feel at ease and ready to have fun.
If you could change one thing about your surfing what would it be?
I would love to surf bigger waves. I am blessed growing up on the coast of Ireland where there are incredible but challenging waves. I hope to keep improving and someday make it out to the lineup on those breaks. It’s definitely my goal to know all the waves around where I live.
What’s the surf like where you live?
I’m from Lahinch, and it must be one of the best places in the world to learn to surf. There are beach breaks and reefs to surf off, and the more exploring you do the more waves you encounter. It’s been cool to improve my surfing over the last few years and get to know where I’m from in a new way, through new breaks and idyllic locations in the nooks and crannies of Clare.
Dream surf trip destination?
That is such a difficult question. I have been to a few dream destinations already, like Chicama one of the longest waves in the world in Peru, and Montanita in Ecuador. There are still so many places I would still like to experience though, like the Azores off the coast of Portugal, the Faroe Islands, the Philippines, Hawaii and of course Indonesia.
I’m from Lahinch, and it must be one of the best places in the world to learn to surf. There are beach breaks and reefs to surf off, and the more exploring you do the more waves you encounter.
Best surf memory?
It was nightfall in Mompiche, Ecuador. The moon was full, and hundreds of miles inland fork lightning blazed the sky. I was with a group of friends I had just met at a hostel and we decided to paddle out together. The waves glistened blue, and as we started to get further from the lights of the shore we could see glowing plankton light up our every move. When you are surfing in the dark, all your senses are heightened. I guess to make up for the fact that you can’t really see. I love that about night surfs, the focus is off the technical stuff and you just have to rely on pure sensation. I will never forget that night, it was the most magical experience.