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Northern Ireland surfer's death-defying feat


Al Mennie riding a giant wave in Portugal

Al Mennie riding a giant wave in Portugal

Al Mennie riding a giant wave in Portugal

A record-breaking Northern Ireland surfer has taken on what is believed to be one of the biggest waves ever ridden.

Al Mennie from Portrush was part of a three-man team that surfed Atlantic swells as they built from 60-90ft at Nazare off the coast of Portugal.

The men surfed for three hours off the headland at Praia do Norte as part of a Portuguese Hydrographic Institute study.

Al compared the challenge to the efforts of some of the greatest ever Olympians. “It's a bit like rowing in that Steve Redgrave can't win the race without the other three guys to row the boat with him.

“We work as a very tightly-knit team to ensure safety while we attempt to ride the biggest waves the ocean can throw at us,” he said.

“We rotated a three-man system using two jetskis for safety cover. Each of us surfed and then switched roles to driver and safety cover.”

He was joined by surfers Garrett McNamara, from Hawaii, and Andrew Cotton, from Devon.

The biggest wave was ridden by Mr McNamara, by chance — the team were rotating and he happened to be in line to surf when the largest of the waves was approaching, about 90ft.

“We use high-powered jetskis to hurl each other into these giant waves as they approach shore and then watch each other's backs while we ride the mountain of water,” Mr Mennie said.

“The bond and camaraderie between us is like nothing else. We are literally trusting each other with our lives, our lives are in each other's hands.”

Mr Mennie has previously surfed giant waves off the coast of Ireland including at Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, and a wave known as Aileen off the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare.

Belfast Telegraph