Katie McAnena

Conquer the Ocean 

Words: DECLAN QUIGLEY 
Photography: Patrick Bolger

The fearless irish windsurfer Katie McAnena gives her top tips on how to tame the sea

For those of you hoping to gain Neptune like powers to control the sea will be left dissapointed, “you can never conquer the ocean!” says Katie, “and you’d certainly be fooling yourself to think that you could.” The sea is a something that should not be challenged, but there are ways of improving your ability to deal with its incredible force, and to maximise your water time. 

Here are Katie McAnena’s top tips to take advantage of what mother nature has left on our doorstep. 

1. “Always try to balance a healthy respect for the ocean with pushing your level and trying to improve.

2. “You can’t hide away in your nice warm car and avoid the cold, wet, wild days and think you’re going to improve. Get yourself the right equipment. A serious wetsuit with all the trimmings will be costly but will be the best investment you make as it will give you up to two hours extra on the water.

 3. “Don’t be afraid to fail and look like a kook. Kook is my middle name! So instead of worrying about how you look to everyone around you in the line-up and on the beach just go for it. You will fall and you will fail and you will look ridiculous but shrug off the pride and just go for it. That’s how you learn.

“Hours and hours and hours on the water will make you as a water-person. I windsurf, SUP surf, regular surf, swim and spend time in the water at any opportunity”

4. “Start small! I can’t reiterate this one enough. Start small and work your way up. Everyday on the water is a learning experience. Don’t be a snob, ok it might not be epic out there but you’ve probably just driven 2 hours to get there and nothing feels worse than going home with a dry wetsuit. Get out of your car and just go! Whether it’s two foot swell or 20 foot, whether you catch zero waves or 100 waves, trust me, you always learn something.

5. “Hours and hours and hours on the water will make you as a water-person. I windsurf, SUP surf, regular surf and swim at any opportunity. No matter what your craft, time on the water is time on the water.

“You can’t hide away in your nice warm car and avoid the cold, wet, wild days and think you’re going to improve”
Katie McAnena

“Everyday on the water is a learning experience”

7. “Always have a contingency plan. Before you go out suss out the beach and say, ‘right, if the shit hits the fan what am I going to do?’ The conditions in Ireland in winter are notoriously violent and volatile. You have to be prepared for the sea to change and to be out of your comfort zone in a matter of seconds. Have a back-up plan and use it.

8. “Trust your gut. I always do. If my gut says ‘nope, Katie, today’s not your day,’ I listen. If in doubt don’t go out.”

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