How Swell: Daredevil surfers ride 'mutant' waves in Sligo

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Autumn weather Oct 28th 2020, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By James Ward, PA

Daredevil surfers had a swell time riding so-called “mutant” waves brought on by Hurricane Epsilon.The waves are believed to have reached near historic highs of between 10 and 15 metres.

Surfers at Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, couldn’t resist the pull of the tide and used jet-skis to take themselves out to the mammoth waves.

Surfers take to high waves caused by Atlantic swells in Mullaghmore in Co Sligo (Niall Carson/PA)

This technique, known as tow-in surfing, allows surfers to catch faster moving waves than is traditionally possible when paddling by hand.

Surfers arrived as early as 7am and rode the waves until 11am on Wednesday morning, drawing crowds of local onlookers.

Hundreds turned out to watch the dramatic spectacle, but most remained in their cars on the cliff top, observing social distancing rules.

The coast guard helicopter hovered overhead, while three jet-skis carrying paramedics acted as safety guards for the fearless surfers.

The exceptionally high waves are believed to have reached up to 15 metres high (Niall Carson/PA)

Met Éireann forecaster Gavin Gallagher said the “exceptionally high” waves were due to a perfect storm of strong winds, the high swell and high tides.

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He said: “They are exceptionally high waves and most of that is swell height. The three things that are coming together – the swell is technically very high, about eight metres or so.

“You have the wind waves on top of that which is another couple of metres.

“Then you also have spring tides. The full moon is at its peak on November 2nd maybe, so we’re getting quite close to spring tides.

“So we’re coming into a period where you would have very high tide as well as the high swell.

“Then we have very strong west/south westerly winds today and indeed tomorrow as well. Those three things, the wind, the swell and the tide have been high.”

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