About Jonathan Coyle

Jonathan Coyle is a stand up paddle boarder from Ireland. He is sponsored by Jimmy Lewis UK & Ireland & and K4 Fins. Get in touch and follow his progress at http://irishstanduppaddleboarder.blogspot.ie/

Irish National SUP Racing Tour – Round 2 Recap

Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Bundoran Co. Donegal Ireland

Bundoran, Co. Donegal, in the North West of Ireland played host to leg 2 of the Irish National SUP Racing Tour on the 21st and 22nd of September 2013.

Bundoran itself is famous for “The Peak”, a world class point break in the middle of the town.

The long range forecast promised big swell and light wind, and in the end delivered on its promises, with all the main surf breaks firing.

The weekend comprised of two disciplines, a Technical Race of 4.5k, to be held on the Saturday, and the Marathon Race of 22k, which was held on the Sunday.

The event was hosted by Emmet O’Doherty of www.SupDude.ie

SUP Dude Stand Up Paddle Surf school

Technical Race:

Starting early on Saturday morning, the competitors arrived at Bundoran Main Beach to be greated by 6-foot breakers that were pounding the shore.

The race briefing outlined the course: 3 laps of a 1.5k loop, with buoys placed in and out of the surf.

Those who could surf their 12’6 raceboards would be at a distinct advantage! (Mental note: do more 12’6 surfing practice)

7 racers set off through some serious surf with a powerful rip and side swell ricocheting off the head land to the right of the bay. It was anyone’s game…

Mark Gaul fighting the pain

Mark Gaul fighting the pain

By the 2nd lap the pain was showing and all competitors dug deep. Mark Gaul (Jimmy Lewis) unfortunately took a hard wipe-out and limped home with a cracked rib. (A recent x-ray has since given some justification to all his moaning) Unfortunately this put Mark out for the Marathon.

By the 3rd lap, the swell had built a couple of foot and some large double overhead bombs rolled through to the spectator’s amusement. Serious wipe-outs were had as the guys tried surfing their 12’6 race boards back into shore.

Experience allowed Bundoran local Emmet O’Doherty (Surftech, SupDude) to surf all the way in and take 2nd place, with Peter “Speedboat” Kosinski (Starboard, Surfdock) taking 1st.

For me, after a disappointing start I was placing 5th, however some lucky wave rides on the 2nd lap saw me jump 2 places, and maintain my 3rd position to the finish.

In 4th position was David Mangan (Starboard), 5th was Keith Gorman (Naish, Surfdock), 6th, Mark “It hurts to breathe” Gaul, 7th Patrick Crawford.


On Sunday it was the 22km Marathon starting from Streedagh Beach in County Sligo (a beach that almost made my top 5),  following the coast northwards around Mullaghmore, past County Leitrim, and round through into Bundoran Main Beach, in County Donegal.

Mullaghmore island sup

The course – Everyone was excited about rounding Mullaghmore Head

There were a lot of nerves & excitement amongst the competitors, partly due to the long distance but also due to the exposed nature of the course.

Everyone was stoked to be partaking in such an amazing paddle and to witness the breath-taking scenery of the north-west coast from such a different perspective.

Luckily, the weather was ideal with a good tail wind and great visibility, perfect conditions for a SUP marathon.

All competitors were given the safety briefing, and it was mandatory to have leashes, buoyancy aids, mobile phones, and hydration packs. For those with irish skin (i.e. me), I also lathered up with sun cream.


As we set off, the first few kilometres there was very little distance between any of the competitors.

Peter Kosinski chose a tight line close to shore, which gave him a bumpier ride and meant he had to avoid some of the massive reef breaks.

Keith Gorman powered into second, and I followed close behind. Keith and I are roughly the same speed and we kept close together up to the half way point at Mullaghmore.

David Mangan and Emmet were following closely but Keith and I started to edge away as we came to the headland.

The leg from Streedagh to Mullaghmore was pretty much straight downwind, and as we got further out to shore the wind swell picked up and you could ride some bumps.

The scenery was spectacular, especially rounding Mullaghmore with the  castle in the background, and massive waves crashing onto the rocky outcrops, which made for constant noisy rumble for the entire paddle.

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

Heading around the point of Mullaghmore there was a large spread between first and last. I was in 3rd position behind Keith Gorman and Peter Kosinski steaming ahead.

Big 4 metre rollers were coming from left to right (which meant I fell in a few times) and there were lots of weird currents and rips affecting the paddle round the point, which made for a bumpy ride.

I was feeling strong rounding the head and after catching some wind chop I was gaining on Keith, my friend and Dublin paddle partner.

After clearing the point, I was level with Keith, and the water turned to perfect glass, and from then on it was a straight race to Bundoran.

Jimmy Lewis UK & Ireland

Jonathan chasing down Keith at Mullaghmore Head.

My beloved board (Jimmy Lewis Blade II) excels in flat water so I stepped forward, engaged the nose and upped the tempo. After a few kilometres I had put in a good effort and had increased my lead on Keith, with Peter Kosinski still 1 kilometre ahead.

With 10k to go, Bundoran still looked very far away but it was possible to see the sand dunes of Tullan Strand and the blue roof of the swimming pool to get your bearings.

I was still increasing the distance between myself and Keith, but over my right shoulder I saw another racer, David Mangan making a late charge with 5k to go. For the last few kilometres, David and Keith were neck and neck and were battling it out fiercely.

At this stage of any long distance race, mental as well as physical exhaustion sets in, and it becomes increasingly hard to concentrate on your stroke, foot position, and board trim. I spotted a dolphin about 100 metres away and funnily that gave me a boost for the last few kilometres.

With 2k to go, I could see David and Keith gaining on me, and I was seriously tiring. The last thing I wanted was to lose my 2nd place in the last kilometre. I knew that the last 500metres were through the break zone and as we had all learned from the Technical Race, anything could happen.

As I hit the break-zone, a massive set came through and cleaned me out. Knowing that if either Keith or Dave caught a wave properly I was toast, I jumped back on the board only to be hit by another massive wave. I finally got back onto the board and managed to catch one of the smaller waves most of the way into shore, and pretty much crawled to the finish line, placing 2nd, exhausted but elated.

David Mangan came shortly after in 3rd, Keith in 4th, and Emmet in 5th.

The overwhelming feeling from everyone was a sense of achievement, not only in racing a gruelling course, but also from finishing such a long distance safely.

A massive well done to all the competitors, and Emmet O’Doherty from SUP Dude for holding the event.

Next stop: The final leg of the Irish National Tour is in County Kerry, October 5th/6th.

Overall Results

Technical Race:

  • Peter Kosinski – 52 mins
  • Emmet O’Doherty +4.24
  • Jonathan Coyle +7.22
  • David Mangan +8.29
  • Keith Gorman +12.51
  • Mark Gaul +14.38
  • Patrick Crawford (2 laps crossover) +9.01


  • Peter Kosinski – 3hrs 12 minutes
  • Jonathan Coyle + 11.43
  • David Mangan +13.10
  • Keith Gorman +17.47
  • Emmet O’Doherty +47.46

Top 5 Stand Up Paddling Wave Spots in Ireland

Do they SUP in Ireland? Heck Yes! Check out These Top 5 Stand Up Paddling Wave Spots in Ireland.

Ireland East Strand Surfing SUP

Portrush ripper Oliver Boyd. Photo courtesy of Andy Hill Photography

Over the past years Ireland has become synonymous with surfing. Despite the (slightly) colder temperatures, the amount, quality and variety of waves available, as well as the relative lack of crowds, makes Ireland easily compete with the best spots around the world. Ireland is spoiled with miles of pristine beaches for those new to the sport, and even more miles of rugged coastline that can challenge the most expert SUP surfer.

As if I needed to help prove the point, Mullaghmore in Co. Sligo was voted in the top 5 big of the biggest, heaviest & scariest waves in the world.

If you are like me and you don’t get excited by being smashed by 500 tons of water, never fear. Finding a break suitable to your standard is never a problem in Ireland since:

1) There are so many surf spots to choose from.

2) Ireland isn’t that big! (You can drive from Dublin on the east coast to the west coast in 3 hours).

When I first began writing this piece, I started off thinking it would be super easy to pick the 5 best Stand Up Paddling Wave Spots in Ireland due to the hundreds (if not thousands) of spots to choose from. After a mere 30 seconds however, I then realized how hard it would be to choose between these spots, as all of them are so good!

With this in mind, the below 5 are chosen as spots for all SUP surfers, from beginner upwards.

They are also selected as for each one of them, it is possible to rent SUP boards, and/or get lessons from our top class instructors.

But beware – this is by no means the limit of what Ireland has to offer. There are SO many more places to discover, they are just waiting for you to paddle out.

Spot #1: Causeway coast (Northern Ireland)Causeway Coast Ireland, SUP Surf Spot

The Causeway Coast, in Northern Ireland, is a 4800 mile stretch of rugged coastline, boasting many beach breaks and reefs. Portrush is the surf capital, with two breaks to choose from, East & West strand, each within walking distance of the town. (Think of it like a slightly colder and less tanned Biarritz).

East Strand is sometimes known as “East the Beast”… in the winter it can produce double over head monsters.

A short drive east or west can bring you more choice, and more of a challenge.

When it’s flat, you can paddle around the rocky coast line, exploring the many caves and inlets. It’s also really close to the famous “Giant’s Causeway”.

For more information, visit: http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com/.

The Causeway Coast Ireland SUP Surfing

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Lewis UK & Ireland

Rossnowlagh Donegal Ireland SUP Surfing Wave Spot

Spot #2: Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal (North West Ireland)

Rossnowlagh is my all-time favourite spot, and is as famous for its place in Irish surf history as it is for its waves.

A classical beach break, it cannot be beaten during those light wind summer days. Waves break up and down the two miles of pristine golden beach, and it is one of the most chilled-out places to surf in the country. It’s also one of the safest beaches around, with many surf schools providing instruction & rentals to young and old.When there are no waves, flat water paddling can be just as rewarding, with numerous dolphin sightings (I saw two pods this summer) and basking shark.

Rossnowlagh is also famous for the “Intercounties Surf Championship”, which has been running since 1969, and is by far the biggest surfing party in the country.

For more information, visit: http://www.discover-donegal.com/.

Donegal Ireland SUP Surfing Wave Spot

Photo courtesy of My Donegal Holiday Home

Strandhill SUP Surfing IrelandSpot #3- Strandhill, Co. Sligo (North West Ireland)

Strandhill is another famous beach break, and like all west coast beaches is surrounded by many reef and point breaks.

Nestled at the foot of Ireland’s table mountain, Ben Bulben, spectacular scenery surrounds you, and it is always somewhere to check when you’re on the hunt for waves.

Again, a few miles north and south yield more beach, reef and point breaks.

For more information, visit: http://www.sligotourism.ie.

Strandhill Sligo Ireland Coast SUP Surfing

Photo courtesy of Surfnstay.ie


Lanhinch Clare Co Ireland SUP SurfingSpot #4- Lahinch, Co. Clare (South West Ireland)

Lahinch is a classical Irish surfing town, with a cracking nightlife to boot.

Situated right beside the main beach, like Rossnowlagh & Strandhill it has a bustling surf school trade.

The area is spoiled with many additional reef breaks north and south, and when it’s flat, you can visit the Burren or the Cliffs of Moher, which, in addition to their astonishing beauty, are also famous for “Aileens”, a massive wave that has gained world attention over the last few years.

For more information, visit http://www.clare.ie/.


Lahinch, Co. Clare Ireland Stand Up Paddleboarding

Photo courtesy of surfholidays.com

Dublin Ireland Stand Up Paddleboarding

Spot #5: The Ferry Wave, Dublin. (East Ireland) – Yes I said East, it’s not a typo!

Traditionally, all surfing activity in Ireland is based on the west coast, with it being battered daily by Atlantic Ocean swells and storms. To those blessed to be living on the west coast (highly jealous), they are treated to some of the best conditions the world has to offer.

But for those living on the east coast of the country, the Dublin Ferry Wave is something of phenomenon. Guaranteed waves, accurate to the minute, are generated by the various incoming ferries into Dublin port.

On a given day as many as 20 SUP surfers can be seen awaiting the incoming craft, tracking the boats on their smartphones, ready to pounce when the waves magically appear.

Each boat generates 3 or 4 waves and allows east-coast based surfers to get some surfing practice without driving to the west coast.

The ferry wave continues to be used daily and was used as a mid-week surf training spot for the members of the Irish SUP team prior to the 2012 SUP world championships in Peru.

For more information, visit: http://www.visitdublin.com/.

Stenaline Ferry Dublin Ireland SUP

Photo courtesy of www.rte.ie