Grace Doyle says Winter is the Best time to Surf in Ireland…
Mermaids come from every corner of the depths of ocean on planet Earth. There are some out there working hard to spread the spirit of riding waves amongst girls, and even in some of the coldest oceans you’ll find some of the biggest smiles and sharpest turns in the business… enter Grace Doyle.
Grace Doyle has the heart and drive of a grommet in the surf. The 25 year old Irish born surf champ takes to the water covered head-to-toe in neoprene in a little seaside town called Tramore or TBay, to the locals. TBay is located on the South East coast of Ireland (not facing the fierce Atlantic) and provides fun beach breaks for it’s devoted surf community.
‘More often than not” says Grace, we’re faced with howling onshore winds but we take whatever we can get. We’re lucky to have a kind of consistent break as well as an epic wave called ‘The Incredible” which really does live up to its’ name when it works. Unfortunately that isn’t too often but it definitely makes you appreciate the good days more when it does go off. It’s a super long left hand point break, breaking off a sandbar that has faster barrelling sections followed by slower fun walls.”
Born as a natural water baby and mermaid she grew up as a competitive national and international swimmer but following the black line wasn’t enough and the sea came calling. Grace first dabbled in surfing when she was 12 but stuck to her competitive swimming until her late teens. As soon she was spending more time in the waves that undying passion took over. She started competing at 22 and she says she hasn’t been happier since giving herself to the sea.
My life now revolves around surfing, it makes me so happy
“The sea, salt, sand and surf! Kids these days have great opportunities to start or progress in surfing in Ireland, with local surf clubs holding surf camps and coaching sessions for surfers of all ages set up to bring along the next generation of surfers. Surfing in Ireland has been far behind other countries in terms of the surfing scene in general and progression in surfing, but in the last few years it has most certainly taken off, with more and more people hitting the waves each year.”
When you’re hooked, you’re hooked! Grace now makes sure her work revolves or is close to the waves, working as a lifeguard, surf instructor and teaching at the local school means she can keep her eyes on the swells and get in the water when it’s on.
Surfing the local in Ireland isn’t that different to anywhere else in the world. A line up dominated by the boys is not a bad thing. Grace says “I surf with all the local Tramore surfers, which is mainly guys, including my brother Kevin and my cousin James who both rip, and a few up and coming girls who are shredding and taking the Irish Junior competition scene by storm. Growing up surfing with boys has definitely being a big help in my progression so far and I am still learning loads each and every surf. I love that surfing always has something you can improve on. I appreciate when someone paddles up beside me and gives me constructive feedback. It’s good to get someone else’s analysis.”
“I learn loads by surfing with all the Tbay Crew. Some of the best surfers in the country have come from T-Bay which isn’t bad for a small town in the South East of Ireland, considering we don’t get as much swell as the west or northwest coast. Although, we do tend to put a lot of mileage on the cars in our efforts to get to the best surf in the country at weekends or whenever we can.”
Grace is pushing positive vibes towards girls surfing in Ireland, she already sees movement and increased participation but says “A lot of girls might get put off by the cold or having to wear wetsuits, but I have found that once they give it a go and catch their first unbroken wave on a surf lesson for example, and they get that smile on their face, they are nearly always back for more. When coaching younger girls, I love to see them improve and watch their progress. It’s such a satisfying feeling to know you’re having a positive influence on their lives.”
Amongst the top surfers in Europe, most travel a lot to get some bikini time, warm water and new waves. Grace has made sure she’s ticked the boxes on all the best breaks. “I have been to many beautiful places in the last few years such as Costa Rica and El Salvador and Indonesia. However, the best place that I have travelled has to be the Maldives for sure. It is the most amazing, tropical, beautiful, remote place I have ever been. Living on a boat in the middle of the ocean surrounded by amazing surf and scenery and warm tropical waters, where the daily routine was to simply surf, eat, sleep and repeat…Heaven!”
As a competitive spirit it’s easy to get back into the water each day even on the coldest. Grace has done well to progress and earn herself a number of great results and keep her hungry for more. She hopes to push her performance in the water as close to the top 17 in the world as she can “I entered the Irish Surfing events in the last 3 years. I was happy to finish 2nd on the Irish Womens Surfing Tour on my first year on Tour in 2013 and to win a few titles since then such as the Strandhill Open and the Portrush Open with other podium finishes too.”
As well as landing herself in the prize pool often she loves watching the sport grow in Ireland and hanging out with girls who too share her love of the sea and surfing. “I plan on entering the Irish Surfing National events this year again, along with a few of the UK Pro Surf Tour events also, such as Boardmasters and the Thurso event as I really enjoyed these last year. The girls are very competitive which is cool to see and be a part of and surf with like-minded girls, so I am looking forward to entering more events this year. The first event of the Irish Surf Tour is this weekend and I am looking forward to it.”
And by the way, winter is the best time to surf in Ireland
“We get the best swells in Winter, but it is very cold so you have to be prepared.” Grace is prepared for the bleak, black ocean with a 5x4mm Billabong Xero Wetsuit, Booties, Gloves and Hood. (We think, is that it?) “I sometimes wear a thermal rash vest too if it is really windy or if the surf is epic and I know I want to last a little longer in the water. I always have a second wetsuit at hand to avoid putting on a wetsuit that has frozen over since your last surf!”
And when the temptation of warmer waters and long days beckon Grace packs up in search of good waves and good times. What she just can’t jump on a plane without, she says, “My Billabong Wetsuits, Surf Capsules and Bikinis, My Quiver Surfboards, My Beyond Leashes and Tail pads and my Surferskin Sunscream is always packed with me.”
Grace is proudly supported by…
- Billabong Womens Europe
- Quiver Surfboards
- Freedom Surf School, Tramore
FOLLOW GRACE’S ADVENTURES…