A day in the life of an Irish pro surfer

We spoke to Lahinch-based Ollie O’Flaherty about his training regime.

THE LIFE OF a pro-surfer sounds fanciful and idyllic; carving up waves, surfing paradisiacal locales and scooping up a few sponsors here and there to fund the lifestyle.

Lahinch-based Ollie O’Flaherty, an ambassador for C-Skins wetsuits and Globe boards, wouldn’t trade his lot for all the money in the world, even when that means coaching beginners in temperatures barely above freezing.

“To be part of mother nature and feel the energy surfing creates is truly special and I’ve seen and experienced things words just can’t describe,” O’Flaherty explains of his, erm, 9-5.

There are no waves he won’t surf (though Teahupo’o in Tahiti scares the hell out of him).

“They are the ones that give you the ultimate thrill and that’s the draw of the sport. If I’m out of the water more than a week I start getting withdrawals; I need salt in my veins!”

And the odd wipe-out is no bad thing either to make him feel alive. If you thought the life was cool, you’d be right.

Here’s just a day of it…

“A normal day for me, in the summer months anyway, starts around 8.30am.

“I do a lot of coaching and training so I start the day with a nice strong coffee, usually black with almond or coconut milk as well as a bowl of porridge with honey.

“I stay away from dairy as much as I can. I find I feel way better when I don’t eat it. I have a bowl of porridge, rocket fuel to keep me going for hours.

9am: I’ll usually go and do a yoga session to get my body moving.

I came to yoga about three years ago and it changed the way I approach my training. It relieved a lot of my niggles and back injuries and it clears my head like nothing else.

10am: I’ll have my first of two coaching sessions which are both two hours long. I love coaching and have recently set up Ollie’s Surf Academy in Lahinch where I cater for intermediate and advanced surfers trying to get to the next level.

2pm: Time for some lunch and I eat a lot at a local cafe in Lahinch because they’ve amazing salads.

Most likely I’ll have mixed leaves, mixed seeds, chick peas, turkey, goats cheese, some balsamic vinegar and lots of water to get hydrated before I go for a surf in the afternoon.

4pm: After a surf I’ll either hit the gym or keep surfing, depending on the conditions.

In the gym I focus on high-intensity workouts with short rest periods to get my explosive fitness the best it can be.

I’ll end with a light swim session and a breath-holding session to prepare for big wipe-outs when I surf big waves; fail to prepare, prepare to fail, as they say.

6.30pm: Dinner time! I like to pack it with lots of veg and meat and a small amount of carbs. One of my favourites is chicken paella, as my girlfriend is from the Basque region of Spain she cooks some incredible food.

8pm: Time to chill out with Netflix and off to bed about 11pm.”

Flaherty is one of a number of hugely dedicated surfers who populate the west coast of Ireland throughout the year. In fact, of all the places he’s travelled, he reckons the best surf is less than two hours from his front door.

“Waves like Aileen’s and Mullaghmore are among the best in the world and I’m blessed to be able to call them local spots.

“It’s one part of surfing that’s incredible and has brought me all over the planet – though I love it where I am - I do get to travel a lot and last year I was in Portugal, Morocco and northern Spain chasing waves. But the best waves are to be had in Co Clare and in Sligo.”

He knows he’ll never be rich from the sport, but that was never the intention.

“Surfing to me is everything and it’s been the main focus of my life from a very young age I got into it at the age of four when my uncle Alan Coyne pushed me into my first waves.

“He brought me surfing for years and taught me a lot of the things that got me to where I am now.

“It’s has given me a life I could only have dreamt of, and an adrenaline rush I never tire from.”

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