Waveriders review

The gripping story of the surprisingly Irish heritage of wave-riding

Surfing’s “cold paradise” is what a visibly chilly Kelly Slater wryly calls it, as this raw, heartfelt love-letter claims Ireland is the unlikely spiritual motherland of wave-riding.

Just 80 minutes deep and minus the scope and style of Riding Giants, director Joel Conroy’s documentary starts gripping hard when it reveals the remarkable life of the original soul-surfer, George Freeth.

The son of an Ulsterman single-handedly reignited the ancient art of surfing in early 20th-century Hawaii after it had been outlawed by missionaries – and practically invented lifeguarding while he was at it.

Springing off this compelling context, Conroy follows the Irish riders who have spent their lives exploring surfing’s green hidden gem en route to an extraordinary coda. In 2007, a colossal storm churned up the biggest swell ever to hit Ireland – the footage of the tiny figures riding these ferocious 50ft monsters goes past awe-inspiring into something almost indefinable.

Jonathan Crocker

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