Meet Íarom Madden – UCL’s Very Own Surfing Legend
The Tab speaks to the 2013 BUCS Surf Champion
Íarom Madden, a 2nd year Physics student, has recently been named the 2013 BUCS Surf Champion in the Men’s Individual section, beating 3 others in an intense final down at Fistral Beach in Cornwall.
When and why did you start surfing?
I started back around 2004-2005. My good friend Conor and myself signed up to go surfing with the newest surf school Bundoran Surf Co. in my hometown of Bundoran, Ireland. That summer we were just kids having fun surfing throughout the school holidays.
The surf school gave us jobs over that Summer, and reminiscing back they made us do some horrible things such as manually sanding down the inside of the company’s old rusted mini bus and all the other dirty work – those really were the good days.
We stuck through it though and in return they gave us free surf coaching-lessons. Plus we got to hang out with the guys we looked up to, the surf coaches. These were the same guys who used to duct tape us to street poles on the main street of town amongst other “grommet abuse” traditions in the surf community.
When winter comes most young kids around Ireland stop surfing but Conor and myself were hooked. Most weekends you’d see us practicing down at the local beach regardless of the cold stormy weather. And soon it was every day, many times a day practicing, even skipping school to go surf.
How long have you been surfing competitively for?
A few months after the summer that I began surfing I quickly became part of the contest scene. The first one was the national C-Skins Juniors competition in Lahinch, Ireland. I was 11 years old and went on to beat the very kids I looked up to so much the previous summer to place 2nd overall in the U14s; looking back it’s one of my best memories to have come so far in such a short time. In the very same year I went on to gain my first competition win.
Since then I’ve travelled through Europe to compete in European Pro Juniors, the European Junior Surf Championships and all the way to places such as South America to compete in a closed off Ecuadorian military base at the World Junior Surf Champs, amongst others. Over the years I’ve been off and on the competition scene but have racked up a lot results internationally and nationally that I’m very proud of, including 3 time Irish Junior Surf Champ in 2010, ‘11 and ‘12.
How do you train when in London?
Living in London puts me at a disadvantage because I only get the opportunity to surf every few months. It was going to be really difficult surfing against guys who surf from a weekly to daily basis so I did as much preparation as I could. From eating a healthy diet, training exercises that emulate the same muscle memories as surfing, fitness and flexibility training, traveling to the contest site a day early to get extra practice and getting up early every morning to be the first guy down on the beach practicing before the contest starts. Competitive surfing can be an extremely psychological sport, and more than anything I find preparation helps put a person in the right mind-frame. It gives the feeling that everything needed to win is in its place so now if I just follow my heat-strategies then the surfing just comes naturally.
What was it like representing UCL for the first time?
It was really good to finally represent UCL; I didn’t compete in BUCS last year because there wasn’t a surf club at UCL. Matt Davies and myself changed that and set up the new UCLU Surf Club, something we’re putting a lot of work into and it was great to represent the club and UCL competitively.
Isn’t it cold?
It’s not to bad until the precious joules drop below the water.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you whilst surfing?
So many crazy things but here’s a little story. Once upon a time my leg rope (the rope attaching the board to the person) broke whilst surfing in the dark. My friends and I searched the reef for hours that night but the board was lost. About one or two months later a guy walks into the local surf shop advertising a board that had been found near where he lives. It turns out the board was mine and the man saw it floating just off the coast so he swam out to get it. The thing is that the man lives on the opposite side of Donegal bay about 50-60 km away from where the board was lost and it was found without any sign of damage.
What do you think of the hippie, ocean-loving, surfer dude stereotype?
It’s pretty true but I think it’s just the type of people the surf sport and lifestyle attracts. Being part of the surf lifestyle I’ve met some of the most interesting funniest, funnest, craziest, not right in the head, most chilled out and kindest people I’ve ever met.
Is there anything else you want to add in the article?
Check out the UCLU Surf Club on Facebook and give it a like, sign up to our mailing list eepurl.com/Gcwt1 or follow us on twitter @UCLUSurfClub to keep updated on our events and parties; especially if you like the sound of beach parties. Also we’ll be doing our first big yearly trip this year so stay on the look out!