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Global Storm Chasers Al Mennie and Andrew Cotton Score Huge Surf in Ireland and OregonSalem-News.com
Surfers looking for the biggest waves in the world, find them in Oregon and Ireland.
(AILEENS, Ireland) - Al Mennie and Andrew Cotton have just managed to surf three giant swells in two oceans all within a one week period. The duo racked up over 8,000 miles last week in order to surf two swells at Aileens, Ireland and compete at the Nelscott Tow-In Classic, Oregon.
Al Mennie said, “All this madness started late on Saturday, October 17th when we got an email from John Forse saying that the contest may run on Wednesday the 21st, but they would make the final call on Monday!”
"This was going to give us less than 48 hours (considering the time difference) notice to get to Oregon. I immediately phoned Cotty and we started thinking fast.”
Al called Eric Akiskalian of Towsurfer.com for his thoughts on the forcasted swell. Eric has been working with Al and Cotty from the start of their towsurfing careers on board designs and equipment needs. As it turned out, Eric had already booked a flight to Lincoln City to surf the same swell at South Reef and the slab so the guys were pretty sure John Forse and Adam Wagner were going to call the event on.
“I didn’t want to hassle John and Adam as I’m sure every surfer in the event was calling them asking if they were going to run it so Eric’s thoughts and input along with his years of experience in the Oregon region kind of gave me an idea of what was going to happen!” Andrew Cotton said.
The contest was called for Thursday the 22nd and this was great news for Al and Cotty as there was also a huge swell forecast for Aileens on the Tuesday. They organized the next few days like a military operation. Flights, sleep and car journey times were calculated to the hour so that they could surf both the Aileens swell and make it to Oregon in time to compete. They didn’t want to jeopardize the contest or the swell at home and knowing how rare big surf is, they did both.
Aileens turned out to produce a solid angry swell. It was almost on the brink of being too treacherous on the inside to perform pick ups if someone fell. Al and Cotty were joined by 6 other skis and surfers that day including locals, Aussies and Englishmen. The small group charged some of the biggest Aileens ever with reported wave face heights between 40' and 50'.
Right after surfing this massive swell they boarded a flight to Oregon while going on their second night of no sleep to arrive at the event at 1:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. That same morning they met John at first light for a contest briefing and also to witness the first surfers Eric A. and Kieth Galbraith out on South Reef, charging giant bombs at day break. The contest was amazing and Al and Cotty said they had one of the most fun surfs of their lives out there.
“It was so surfable this day and it was so good to be able to actually do big carves and turns on waves, I’m stoked John invited us again!” Al Mennie said.
After the event, they looked at the charts and to their amazement Aileens was going to break as soon as they got back. They jumped on a plane out of the States and immediately got their kit ready and drove to Aileens. The swell wasn’t as big as the first swell of the week but still some waves were coming through so Al, Cotty and Paul rotated each other into the mix and then went to another nearby island for a few more waves. Full exhaustion and sleep deprivation has kicked in but there is yet another swell due for mid next week.
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