Surfers Andrew Cotton and Al Mennie camped out last Wednesday at Ireland’s Mullaghmore Head, hoping to wake up the next morning and greet the arrival of a massive swell they had been tracking for a week. What they did not know was that the swell would produce some of the the largest surf ever seen in Ireland, and that Cotton would streak 50 feet down the face of what’s said to have been the largest Irish wave ever ridden (see video below).

–Andrew Cotton drops in on mammoth wave last week off Mullaghmore Head, Ireland

“That’s easily true as far as any photos I’ve ever seen,” said Bill Sharp, director of the year-long Billabong XXL Global Big-Wave Awards, which ends its qualifying period on March 19.

This is noteworthy because Ireland isn’t known for its gargantuan surf, especially compared to such spots as Jaws in Hawaii, Teahupoo in Tahiti or Maverick’s in Northern California.

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“All these swells that hit Ireland can be hit and miss with wind and this one couldn’t make its mind up,” Cotton explained. “I’ve spent so many swells on that headland with the wind howling but not quite in the right direction and I honestly thought that this was going to be another swell like that.

“After watching for about 30 minutes and deciding to pick a few off, Al towed me into an absolute bomb. It was my first wave of the day. It felt like a reminder of how good it can get there and why I put the time and effort in.”

Cotton and Mennie are tow-surfing partners and use personal watercraft to pull each other onto the shoulders of waves that are too large and swift to be caught with paddle power.

After the mammoth swell passed Ireland it filled into the Bay of Biscay, producing giant waves off Portugal, Spain and France. The Global Big-Wave Awards will name winners in various categories on May 4.

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