birth of a sandbank
- the right with the left breaking in the background
For years we,d been looking at the rivermouth in Spanish Point wondering why it never seemed to produce a proper sandbank. From time to time a miniature version of a classic sandbank set up would appear, only to be washed away by the next storm. We became resigned to our fate as the poor relations with the best close out beach in the area. Even so it didn.t stop us from wondering what would happen if the stars aligned and conditions conspired to allow a bank to form. No harm in dreaming , right? .
The month of December proved one of the worst in recent memory for surf in the Clare area with non stop South Westerlies and consistent Northerly swell. The only waves to be had involved a six hour round trip to Sligo which everyone seemed to undertake at least once. These conditions lasted so long it felt like it would never end. The only time I ventured onto the beach during this spell was to walk the dog who was going nuts from being cooped up for days on end . It was on one of these mercy missions that I first noticed changes I had never seen before.
Not to be too cosmic about it or anything but it dawned on me how closely linked we are to natures rhythms by our love of surfing. I mean a simple thing like wind direction , so pivotal in the life of a surfer, means nothing to the majority of people . In fact the majority of people wouldn,t be able to tell you what way east is never mind view it in the pseudo spiritual way we do . We are right up there with the muslim world in our reverence for a point of the compass. You only have to look at the glazed over expression on the face of your loved ones when the conversation turns to surf matters to realise how little of our passion is shared by the outside world. If it stopped there , an obsessive intrest in wind direction, it might not be too bad but thats just the start. Theres also tides ,barometric pressure ,swell direction and the final nail in the coffin , a knowledge of the phases of the moon the sure sign of a bona fide nutter. Our lives are woven tightly togther with the cycles of nature in such a close bond we never even think about it , a weird combination of ancient shaman and nerdy meteorologist . Which all brings me back to the rivermouth and its significance as the meeting place of mountains and ocean
While walking the dog on a part of the beach known locally as The Goleen [not unlike the english word Gully] I saw sections of reef I,d never seen before , sections of reef normally covered by six feet of sand. Beyond these sections of reef going north towards the rivermouth was a boulder field up to two hundred metres long which would also normally be under six feet of sand. That folks ,is a lot of sand. The first realization that this could be it , what we,d been waiting forever for was about to happen dawned like a dim light switched in the far distance. So , thousands of tons of sand had dissappeared but where had it gone and would it improve things in Spanish Point ?
There has always been a bank in the rivermouth but its never been that good . It was too far out and only worked well at dead low tide on a swell with lots of North in it. When this happened the rip made it practically unsurfable. That is not to say that people didn,t try but believe me if it was any good it wouldn,t have remained a secret for long, being on the main road .Anyway, in a move that makes the artficial reef builders look like awkward thumpers Mother Nature dumped all that sand from the goleen onto an almost there sandbank and turned it into the genuine article, a high bank with well defined sides giving the fastest longest lefts ever seen in Spanish Point . So with the goofballs taken care of all that remained was a long fast right to keep the regular guys happy. Que mother nature in creative mood and thats what happened next. In classic knock on fashion the river , finding its route to sea blocked , was forced to change course sculpting a second sandbank on its new course, leading to a long fast right hander on the northern side of the rivermouth .
While neither of these waves are classics of their type , its the fact that they.re here at all thats remarkable. From a certain close out to long fast sections is the stuff that surfing dreams are made of. All that remained was for a decent long period swell to arrive accompanied by some favourable winds and natures handiwork could be put to the test…….which is exactly what happened next. So all that remains to be seen is how long it will last. Those of a pessimistic nature rekon it will be washed away by the next storm while we optimists ………… check the Gallery section for lots more photos.