Pushing the Limits: Bodyboarding Ireland’s Unsurfable Slabs

Editor’s Note: These pieces are intended to offer a deeper look into each episode of surfer Fergal Smith‘s Line9 series, Growing, a new clip published every two weeks. The series is a year in the life of Smith and his brother. With a new clip published every two weeks, the series follows them as they take a step back from the rat race while spending days tending to a sustainable garden and surfing the readily available Irish slab.
Author’s Note: My main reason for doing this series is for showing the what else I’m passionate about — aside from surfing — and to try to promote all the good, positive things that people are doing.
We have a great group of surfers here in Ireland. I have been trying to push my surfing in slabs for years now, and have learned so much by watching the bodyboarders — they are the best guys to surf with when pushing the boundaries on what can be done in the heavy gear. After years of watching them take off on waves that I just can’t do on the standup, I naturally started giving the bodyboard a go.
The bodyboard suits the curves of heavy waves, but that’s not to say it’s easy. It has taken me three years to even have the most basic grasp on it, and there is still much more to learn. But through all the lessons and tests, it has totally opened up the door in heavy waves. Now, days that were once too shallow and heavy on the surfboard are days I reach for the bodyboard. Basically, it gets you into tubes I otherwise would never have seen. It’s cool being on waves that I would normally not be able ride — it allows you to make the most of every day.
Bodyboarders are the boys that really push the limits in heavy waves. There is no money in bodyboarding, or a scene like surfing… they just truly love riding heavy waves. I don’t know why there is such a gap between surfers and bodyboarders, but I personally have always enjoyed surfing with the boogers. I hope people can see that bodyboarders are riding waves just like any other craft, and for surfers to start giving them the respect they deserve for always charging so hard. Bodyboarders all the guys who have typically found the heavier waves in the first place. I want to thank Mickey Smith more than anyone for finding so many of the epic waves we now surf here in Ireland. In fact, thank you to all the boys for out there pushing the limits — bodyboarders and surfers alike. They are the best group of mates anyone could ask for.