Posted: 03/18/2010




by Laura Tucker

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Around about this time of year, I start to get a little shaky. It’s close to spring break, and some things I guess you just never grow out of. I want warmth, sun, beach, ocean. That about covers it, save for good company to go along with it and a tasty beverage or two. I’m not going to get there this spring break, and it will have to wait until June, so I’m looking to soak up all the tropical paradise I can, wherever I can find it. Perusing Waveriders, an Irish surfing documentary, I found the beach and the ocean, but it doesn’t look too warm. Instead, though, I found quite an interesting story.

The surfers there on the Emerald Isle are the first to tell you they’re not there because it’s warm. What does bring them there best put into these words by Jeff Spiccoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, “some tasty waves.” One surfer claimed that while other locations he surfs at have B and C waves, Ireland has A+ waves. It seems there’s more to Ireland than lush countryside.

While I was looking for that sun, though, I became interested in the story of modern surfing. It turns out it has Irish roots. George Freeth’s father was born in Ireland, and his mother was born in Hawaii. Freeth was born there in Hawaii, learning the sport of surfing from his father. It was him that brought the sport inland, and introduced it to many, including Jack London.

Not that Freeth’s surfing skill was his only offering to society. He also possessed some decent lifesaving skills, and before he came along, lifeguards would gather enough men to push out a big wooden bucket to save someone who was drowning, and in the process, would usually be bringing back in a dead, lifeless body. He revolutionized the whole system, being the pioneer of that torpedo-shaped equipment lifeguards still carry with them. After this he single-handedly saved Japanese fishing boats that were about to be swallowed up by the storm. He pulled them to safety, bared-handed, winning himself a Congressional Gold Medal.

Freeth’s work aside, there was plenty more on Waveriders other than that, such as an interview with two surfing travel writers on their start in the business and what they found the first time they went to Ireland. Along with that is plenty of commentary and interviews from some of the biggest stars in the surfing world, including Kelly Slater and the Malloy brothers, as they chip in on what they have found with the surfing in Ireland, other than some of the biggest waves ever. And even though it’s a colder climate, it still helped me to soak up some paradise in lieu of that spring break I was looking for.

Look for Waveriders out now on DVD. Find out more at Waveriders Film.

Laura Tucker is

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