Prowlers: the rare and brutal claw wave of Ireland
Prowlers is a ruthless and highly fickle reef break located off the coast of Sligo, on the west coast of Ireland.
It is located about 1.2 miles (two kilometers) off Mullaghmore and is known for its large and challenging waves, reaching up to 50-100 feet (15-30 meters) in height.
The exact location of the A-frame wave has never been disclosed, even though it has been surfed since the early 21st century.
According to local reports, the liquid avalanche was first spotted by helicopter, and paddling in was the initial option.
However, the pioneering surfers quickly realized that it was better to grab the rope and request jet ski power.
The Irish Beast
Today, Prowlers is mostly a tow-in surf spot frequently ridden by athletes from Emerald Isle and the United Kingdom.
However, it only shines to life in all its glory a few times every decade. And when it does, only a couple of times a year.
The infamous wave also requires knowledge of the area and additional safety protocols due to the challenging conditions and the fact that it is affected by many crossing swells.
Prowlers breaks in a very precise and concentrated zone around 30-40 meters deep on each side.
So, it requires constant triangulation to avoid sneaky clean-up sets.
Prowlers gets hollow and thick in low tide, and the absence of wind is often welcome.
Consequently, its mechanical engineering pattern and behavior make it brutally perfect and bewitching.
Al Mennie, Andrew Cotton, Barry Mottershead, Jeremy Johnson, Kurt Rist, Paul O'Kane, and Richie Fitzgerald were some of the first surfers to take on Prowlers.
"You need to live here and be sitting on it and jump on an opportunity that might only come six hours before it's breaking," Fitzgerald once said.
"The 100-foot wave? It's going to happen somewhere. It is doable in Ireland, but you've got to get the right conditions. And that's not something that happens every year, every winter."
"We get plenty of 30-foot swells, but the 100-foot swell with acceptable wind and ocean conditions is tricky, so it might only happen a couple of times a decade."
A Product of North Atlantic Winter Swells
Prowlers is a product of the monstrous North Atlantic winter swells that sweep Europe's western coastlines.
The surrounding region on the Atlantic coast is known for experiencing ultra-strong and unpredictable winds and swells, especially during the cold season.
The area around Mullaghmore is also subject to tidal currents.
They can vary in strength and direction depending on the time of day and the phase of the moon.
As a result, the ocean conditions off the coast can sometimes be rough and challenging, particularly for surfers and fishermen.
Prowlers reminds us of the power and shape of Half Moon Bay's Mavericks.
However, this Irish beast detonates in a rather different scenario, surrounded by gray and cloudy skies and heavy rain.
The spot's name was coined by Aaron Pierce. The first images and footage of the wave went viral online around 2010 and again in 2014.
Prowlers is one of the three crowns of Irish surfing, which also include Mullaghmore Head and Aileen's.