Mike Pringuer and a bunch of south coast ‘lads’ recently made the pilgrimage to the hallowed shores of Brandon Bay, Ireland. Anyone who knows the area will be aware of its potential for serving up awesome wave sailing, great surfing and a whole heap of good time craic. With a van packed full of all the toys and the forecast looking ‘on’ Mike gives a snappy account of the trip.
Words: Mike Pringuer.
Pics: Mike Pringuer, Chris Pow, Adam Knight
A great forecast for wind & swell for a one week trip to Brandon Bay on the Dingle Peninsula, SW Ireland.
Six middle aged blokes from the south coast, three vans, eight hours driving and a horrid rough four hour crossing from Pembroke to Rosslare which took quite a few prisoners…
Quite a mission to get there, but boy was it worth it.
With rented accommodation staggering distance from the infamous Spillane’s Bar and a mile from the intriguing Green Room, those that know the area will appreciate that we were spoiled for choice of windsurfing spots on the doorstep.
The conditions were such that we windsurfed mainly at Fermoyle & Stradbally in a mix of cross-off and side-shore breeze using 3.2 – 5.8 sails. The waves were consistently boom to logo high with the occasional mast high curved ball rolling in to spice things up. Whilst Mozzies didn’t fire up, the conditions delivered four days of full on wave sailing, with a surfing day to boot and a bit of R&R in between.
The cross-off breeze made getting out to the waves challenging with close to zero apparent wind in the impact zone, being wholly reliant on momentum, balance, skill and a bit of good luck. Wave boards with decent reserve volume being the order of the trip. Despite that, the inevitable rinsings were not too dramatic and were thankfully kind to the gear.
In short, some great wave riding all round – we definitely had our fill.
Given that Brandon Bay is at pretty much the most westerly point of Ireland, the weather will always be volatile. We count ourselves lucky by experiencing only three seasons in a day as opposed to four or even five. But the rain that fell was not quite horizontal and quite short lived. With considerable sunny and relatively warm periods making up the balance we were plenty toasty in 5/3 suits with no need for any accoutrements.
With the BKSA Wavemasters competition being held at the same time as our trip, the area was buzzing for the time of year yet remained uncrowded. It was interesting seeing Sam Ross dabbling in the dark side of kitesurfing as part of the comp. In addition, Irish windsurfing wave champ Finn Mellon was around shredding it, as was local Rob Sayer who was out doing his thing on his homemade ‘lock-down project’ foil-SUP and wing-foil boards; both making it look too easy.
Naturally, a few visits to Spillane’s (https://www.spillanesbar.com) and the Green Room (https://www.facebook.com/thegreenroombarmaharees/) were inevitable in order to sample some of the best kept and served Guinness along with some great food, company and atmosphere.
It was intriguing to see working artifacts such as cigarette machines and payphones as a throwback to days past. Also numerous mementos of the PWA Wave Grand Prix of 2020 which was attended by the worlds best of time including Naish, Goya, Dunkerbeck, Baker and the like. And moving to see one of Andy Funnell’s sails mounted to the ceiling – RIP Andy.
Was great to catch up with larger than life Jamie Knox and hearing about his addiction to wing-foiling and massive down-winders.
Soft, low light, lush green rolling hills in close proximity to the beach makes for an incredibly photogenic area throughout Brandon Bay, Dingle Town and the Dingle Peninsula in general – heaven for any image maker. The area feels serene, enchanting and timeless, more so for the author as this trip follows a 15 year hiatus to the area. It was incredible to experience the unregulated, relaxed way of life in the area – driving on the beach to park is a thing along with a general friendly vibe. Contrast this with the crowds and over regulation we are accustomed to in England.
An overnight stop-over in Waterford on the way back was in order to break the return journey and give us half a chance of actually making the 8am ferry from Rosslare. Waterford revealed a friendly vibrant city steeped in history, culture & murals and worthy of a cultural visit in its own right. A visit to Sheela Palace (https://www.sheelapalace.com/) for an outstanding Indian meal was followed by what morphed into a rather messy Guiness and ‘top-shelf’ fuelled evening at The Market Bar (https://www.facebook.com/people/The-Market-Bar/100063358645851/) – a live music venue steeped in character & music memorabilia with the company of friendly and welcoming folks.
Also big up to North Coast Wetsuits (NCW) for supplying me with proper rubber protection for the trip. Check out more from NCW here.
And also thanks to Challenger Sails UK.
The only thing left to say is it was a truly memorable trip. To be repeated.