Surf Photographer and Co. Clare native David Olsthoorn tells Sea Sessions about his rollercoster winter in the North West, capturing the many moods of the waves that crash against its coastline.
The last few months have been a rollercoaster of mad events. I left my Clare home in mid November to spend two or three days in Bundoran with Lyndon Wake & Andrew Cotton. This turned into two weeks which then turned into an ongoing yoyo like affair between Lahinch & Bundoran for the following three months. My poor car ‘Emma’ has seen more miles this winter than any other and could probably drive the three and a half hour drive to Bundoran herself now.
“The long dark road in search of a nice sunrise and good waves”
“Bundorans not a bad spot when the sun shines”
Although I try to keep positive as much as possible I have to admit I had my worst week earlier this month. We had a long stint of terrible waves and I lost all thirst to get in the water and turned to spending hours on my laptop & drinking tea. I actually had so much time on my hands that I started to write a book and got 8 288 words into it. Lyndon Wake had left the house because he needed to get work done at home and Andrew Cotton was also not feeling the stoke and wanted to go back home to his pregnant girlfriend Katie. We saw a long forecast chart for some big swell and decided to stay. The chart for that ‘big Thursday’ was a bit strange the night before. Nothing was certain so when we woke up to amazing waves it was such a relief. All the patience had paid off. We got out there straight away and Cotty got this bomb almost instantly. Usually I never think about shots till I’m back on the computer later that evening, but the moment Cotty let go of that rope I knew this was serious. I knew this was the biggest wave I’d ever seen and taken a photo of.
“My shot of Andrew Cotton riding the beast at Mullaghmore that got him into the Billabong XXL Awards”
The rest of the session was amazing and along with the regular local crews it also had people like Tom Butler from England & Ollie O Flaherty from Lahinch getting some of the waves of there lives. It was great to see such young lads pushing it in conditions like that. The session went on for a good few hours and luckily everyone went home with no injury’s just a lot of stoke!
“Tom Butler after getting the wave of his life had a few more waves. This was one he took on the head”
“The Beautiful Beast of Mullaghmore”
The following day Cotty left for England and I felt like I was good to go home too. I felt like after months in Bundoran with all them times spent putting on icy cold wetsuits at a pier at 6am in the morning had all paid off. As I packed all my gear up and prepared to get ‘Emma’ on the road for her final journey home I got a call from Wavelength Magazine Editor Greg who told me I had got the cover shot. What perfect news to drive home to and end to my winter in Bundoran.
The next few days brought more exciting news when I got my photo in the Billabong XXL awards. I still can’t really get over this. I can’t believe I’m in the same pot as photographers like Tim McKenna who I’ve drooled on magazine pages because of.
Looking back on this winter it’s mental to think that I’ve got two covers and a picture in the XXL awards and I only just turned 20. This is going to be a cracking story for the grandchildren.
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