Fergal Smith is not your average surfer.
Fergal Smith is not your average surfer, and he’s not riding your average boards. The latest clip of the Smith’s series called Growing, focuses less on his organic farming and more on his incredible surfing on his rather odd quiver.
“I have some weird and wonderful boards now,” Ferg said. “Bonzers, beautiful singlefins, weird biscuit boards and nine foot reclaimed guns. It’s weird to think that if I had shot my quiver five years ago, probably none of these boards would have been it.” Its a testament to Ferg’s whack and recycled approach that one is a reshaped nine foot Tony Hardy gun that West Oz legend Camel used to thread about 1000 desert barrels.
Five years ago is a long time in anyone’s language, I mean its almost half a decade, but Fergal Smith change in that time is more startling than most. Back then Ferg was one of the highest paid professional free surfers in Europe. In between pioneering some of the biggest waves around Ireland, he was paid to travel the world, notching up huge bazzas in Tahiti, Hawaii and West Oz. With all his surfing captured by long time collaborator Mickey Smith, the resulting images and footage saw Fergal gain a high profile. He was the focus of two feature films and claimed the the cover of countless surf magazines.
However since then, Fergal has been retreating from that world, turning his back on the lifestyle of the modern pro surfer and focusing on living an ethical and organic way at his home in Ireland. This is no pie in the sky stuff or hippy dippy shit, he has lost sponsors, refuses to travel by air, had his van converted to bio-fuel and aims to do a single shop in 2014 (and that was for seeds and pulses, rather than ciggies and a carton). It's not for the press or publicity, its because he gives a fuck about the environment and is prepared to make some fairly heavy sacrifices to do something about it.
The Growing Series focuses on his organic vegetable farm he is running, which has turned into a collective of likeminded growers, all who provide their work and expertise for free, in return for the fresh produce the grow. The land was given to him by a hotel, in return for the organic veges he provides the kitchen. The farm and Fergal’s damp shack is a kind of a halfway house for anyone interested in organic farming and who doesn’t mind getting mud on their boots and the odd slam on a shallow reef.
In this episode however it is Fergal’s quiver, and not his curly Kale that comes under the spotlight, as he further experiments with a different surfboards in a range of incredible surf. “The boards are a reflection of my surfing now,” says Fergal. “To be able to enjoy the feeling of a range of handcrafted boards is important.”
Shot with incredible aerial footage, backed by a friend of Fergal’s own original piano composition and featuring world class waves that we now expect from Ireland, there is no doubt that Fergal is enjoying his surfboards, his surfing, and his life, more than ever. Fair play to him.