Al Mennie is a Big Wave Surfer, Paddleboarder, Ocean Explorer, Author, Adventurer and 3rd degree black belt. He lives life on the edge on the rugged north coast of Ireland with his fiancée, designer Sara O'Neill, and their retriever, Blyton. The perfectly Instagrammable hipster life. But don't let that beard and check shirt fool you- Al Mennie is no hipster, he's the real deal.
Al Mennie is the epitome of an athlete pushing the boundaries both physically and mentally. Al was one of the originals, the man who first began launching boats and jet-skis in Ireland in pursuit of giant waves and the first person to push the barriers of what is possible in our ocean.
Al has pioneered and surfed big wave spots in Ireland and globally. He thrives in wild conditions off his native shoreline.
Since 2003 Al has searched, discovered, located and pioneered several big wave spots. He rode the record breaking storm on December 1st 2007 at Mullaghmore Head when the biggest swell ever recorded in the Atlantic ocean smashed into Ireland. Al worked with American surfer Garrett McNamara in Nazare Portugal over a three year period in the early days of tackling huge waves off the Portugeuse coast. Al was one of four men in the water the day the biggest waves ever ridden swung into Nazaré in Portugal. Al's board and a plaque are displayed on The Surfer Wall among around 30 other international surfers in the lighthouse at Nazare. Al believes this to be the highest honour in surfing as it comes directly from the heart of the Portugeuse local community in Nazare.
In every sense of the word he is a waterman. Other than pushing the limits of big-wave surfing he has also paddled a surfboard from Ireland to Scotland, against the tide, and has a reputation as having one of the most gruelling and effective training regimes in the world; his activities range from rock running on the cold ocean floor to being held underwater by his trainer after sprinting up his local sand dunes.
At 6'5" and with a large beard (think sea monster not hipster) he holds a third degree black belt and a Master Instructor position in Krav Maga Northern Ireland! He is an imposing but gentle figure. Al has written several books from an autobiography to books to help adults and children with fear, anxieties and being confident! He has also written a self defence guide and teaches regularly! Always articulate, he enjoys a media profile that transcends surfing.
Al's image has recently been featured in campaigns for international brands such as House of Fraser, Johnson and Johnson and Air BnB. He recently performed stunt work for kristofer Hivju the actor most likely best known for his role in Game of Thrones.
‘A surfing colossus has arisen from the chilly waters off Ireland’s Causeway Coast. I think of Alastair Mennie as the modern day Fionn MacCool.’ Mark Patterson BBC.
Most Notable Achievements
Recognised by The City of Nazare, Portugal by being invited to hang a board and Plaque on their Surfer Wall Hall of fame 2018
World Tow in Cup Championships Chile 2008 10th
Nazare Tow in Championships Portugal 2011 2nd
La Vaca Gigante Spain 2011 big wave paddle in finalist (final called off due to conditions)
Mananan Big Wave Challenge Winner 2004
Nominee in Surfer Magazine’s Heavy Water Award 2007
Named as one of the best big wave surfers of all time by surfertoday.com
Irish National Surf Team Member, multiple times
Several Billabong XXL Entries
Freeflow Magazine award winner 2007
Paddled a board from Giants Causeway Northern Ireland to the Scottish Island of Islay in March 2010 in aid of NI chest Heart and Stroke, ‘The Giant’s Crossing’.
Winner of British Universities Surfing Championships.
Guinness Surfing Champion.
Causeway Coast Junior Champion
South West Britain Student Champion
Red Bull Tour Winner
Chris Bertish – Mavericks 2010 Big Wave Winner (California) among other feats.
“I have great respect for anyone who is not mainstream, who goes against the grain, dreams big and follows his passion with determination and perseverance – no matter what the cost. Al is one of those guys. Congratulations brother. Keep the passion alive and keep living your dreams…”
Garrett McNamara – Guinness World Record Holder for biggest wave ever ridden (Nazare 2011)
“Al is a gentle giant. He has really good energy and loves to ride big waves. You can see it in his eyes and feel it in his words. “
Dave Reed – Director UK Surf Promotions, UK Pro Surf Tour, CEO UK Pro Surf Association
“Al is a leading surfer in the UK and Ireland and has been for a number of years. Whilst competing on the UK Pro Surf Tour he competed and beat many of the best surfers in the UK. It did not matter if the surf was one foot or ten feet. Now he specialises in the extreme big wave conditions were not many surfers have the courage or skill to challenge”
Andy Hill – 6 times Irish Surfing Champion
“Alastair is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet or share waves with. I have had the privilege of watching his surfing develop over the last 20 yrs here on the Causeway Coast. I first met him as an extremely focused 12 year old grommet and even then he had a real hunger for surfing. To watch him grow into a mature athlete and a surfing ambassador for Ireland is just brilliant. Al has developed the skill and courage to put his life on the line, riding the biggest and most fearsome waves on the planet. Every surfer has a respect for the ocean, and I have total respect for Al as he rides these mountainous walls of water”