Noah Lane – An Australian taking root in Ireland
At first sight Noah Lane might seem like a normal guy, but when you see the waves he catches, you will immediately change your mind. He is indeed a very humble gentleman, who is always smiling and loves surfing for its essence. And that’s quite rare these days.
Noah is originally from Australia, a very sunny country, but ended up in west coast of rainy and windy Ireland, in the small village called Bundoran. He first came there for the Sea Sessions festival, which is held every year at the end of June. He was travelling around Europe at that time, and met a few people here, including his girlfriend Tara. Along with his girlfriend, Noah also fell in love with a small village, that people call Irish surfing paradise. So, he began to return there, and eventually moved from Australia to Bundoran for good. After some time, he and his friends opened a café called Foam with his friends to highlight the surfing lifestyle.
You will find out more about Noah in an interview below. I was lucky enough to be working in a hostel next to his café, so of course we went there quite often and gradually identified ourselves with the lifestyle, which may not always seem appealing in Irish weather. If you ever spend the whole winter here, you will understand why.
How did an Australian guy end up here in Bundoran?
“First time I came here was for a festival called Sea Sessions, 6 years ago. I was travelling around Europe at that time and then I met a bunch of people here and my girlfriend Tara. So, at first, I came back few times and then I stayed”, he laughs.
What do you like the most about this place and what do you miss the most about Australia?
“Ehm, for me the best thing is the people here are really friendly. Really welcoming and open. As an outsider here I felt really welcomed here. And then surf here is really good almost all year, so that’s a big one too. And My girlfriend is here. What I miss most about Australia is probably the trees. It’s kind of a weird one, but yeah. It’s really different climate here, so I miss really big bushes and trees here. “
How does the surf culture differ between Australia and Ireland?
“Here in Ireland the surf culture is much younger. Surfing as a culture is still developing, I suppose. In Australia surfing is ingrained in what people usually do. Here it’s a lot more welcoming and friendly here. I suppose it’s because it’s a small place and everybody knows each other and it is less competitive. Australians are competitive and sporty, it’s a big part of the culture. “
Let’s get back to the beginning of your surfing. How and when did you start surfing? Do you remember your first green wave?
“So, I began surfing when I was really young, I don’t actually remember how old I was.” He adds with a smile. “My parents usually take to me to beach from when I was three years old. But then when I started surfing regularly was when I was 8 or nine years old. I don’t really remember my first green wave, I am sorry haha. I got photos when I was younger, so I probably saw it as looking at a picture of myself then actually remembering it. “
When did you transition to big waves?
“I don’t know haha, probably when I came to Ireland.” But Noah doesn’t seem himself as a big wave surfer. “If the wave happens to be big, I just surf it, because I like surfing in general.” He adds and laughs.
Which Wipeout was the worst?
“I kind of remember a wipe out in Hawaii when I was like 18 or 19 maybe, and it wasn’t particularly big or scary, It was the first time I surfed sunset beach, it’s a really famous one for bigger waves let’s say. And I was really scared. It wasn’t that big or anything but I had a wetsuit top and board shorts on, and I fell off on a wave and the wetsuit top came up over my head and sort of pinned my arms to my ears, so I couldn’t swim for ages. It wasn’t particularly bad, but I felt like I was trapped under water. I always remember that, it wasn’t particularly dangerous or anything, I just remember the feeling of desperation.”
How do you motivate yourself after the Wipeouts?
“I guess I don’t surf massive waves really frequently. Most of the time the Wipeout is worse in your mind than it actually is. So generally what you perceive it is going to be like is a lot worse than what it ends up being like. A lot of the times after surfing big waves its more relieving, you kind of get past that I suppose, and it’s more reassuring than before. It’s not actually the wipeouts that scare you, it’s what’s going on in your head beforehand.”
Did you attend any competitions?
“I did some competitions when I was younger. But I wasn’t like particularly great or something. In Australia there is like a series of contest, which I participated in at the age of 17. And then I did quite a few qualifying series events that still run around the world but my heart was never really in it. I did a few here and there and always had fun but to do it proper, you need to do it all year.”
Do you compare yourself to other surfers?
“Yeah, for sure, it’s human nature, I guess. Especially with social media these days. You know, the whole surfing part is more enjoyable if you do it just for yourself. In free surfing comparing is a bit good, to push yourself a little bit, its generally healthy.”
Do you still have fun on small waves?
“Yeah, sure! I consider myself as surfer before a big wave surfer so yeah, I do enjoy the small waves.“
What is your biggest surfing achievement so far?
“Probably I won like a Magicseaweed competition a few years ago, called the winter session and I happened to win that and that was really nice. It was peer voted, and I won quite a bit of money, so that was nice haha.”
Who is your surfing guru/hero?
“Yeah, (thinking), ehm my dad is pretty cool. I enjoy watching my dad and brother surf. We all grew up surfing together and I don’t see them that often. In professional sense I really like watching the local guys surfing. At Mullaghmore I enjoy watching Connor Maguire and Tom Lowe particularly. And then, yeah it’s probably it.”
So, no JJF or Kelly Slater?
“Nah, I really appreciate what they do, but they are not my heroes or gurus.”
When you see someone out there in the water, who is clearly a beginner are you ever irritated?
“Ehm, no not really. Maybe when I was younger. I was a bit less tolerant i guess, but like I wouldn’t say I get irritated. I would probably be irritated if someone who thinks they know better than they do,, because then it might get dangerous. But generally I don’t have any issue with beginners. You try and help. Everyone was a beginner at some point.“
What does your normal day look like?
“It depends on the time of the year. In the summer I wake up and go to the coffee shop and then pretty much work all day and then try to make the most of the evening. In winter I do a bit of yoga in the morning, if the waves are good, I’ll go surfing. Try and surf as much as I can, and fit that in where I can. “
Do you exercise outside of the water or is surfing your main form of exercise?
“No, the gym is not really for me, but I do yoga quite a bit and that’s probably about it.”
How many wetsuits and boards do you have?
“No, haha, I have quite a few. I am trying to keep my wetsuits as long as I can. I am just trying to make them last, because they are not great for the environment, so I might have a three or four wetsuits and I try to give them to my friends after. And boards. I have quite a few boards”
Haha, I bet you do.
“I think like 10 or 12 or something”
What is the coolest stuff you ever received from sponsorships?
“Ehm, what did I get? (thinking) haha obviously, money is pretty cool (laughing) I am always grateful for that, and I really got a cool book once, about climate change and it was pretty cool.”
Noah and his two companions established a Bundoran café that is closely connected with Bundoran soul and surfers lifestyle. In summer days this place is really busy hosting the guests from all around the world.
When was the first idea of foam conceived?
“Ehm, I think my and my companions had that idea separately for a long time. For me it was four or five years ago. And then we came together with our individual ideas and put them together in probably 2018.”
Do you have any plans for expanding? And was Bundoran always a first choice?
“No, probably no, we got small things we’d like to do, but we’re not going to try and become a giant franchise. Yeah, it was. It’s more like a lifestyle and business together I would say.”
What about your other hobbies?
“Reading, nothing particularly interesting haha, I tried for the first-time pottery and I had quite a good time, so I might get into that.”
This one is a really personal one – but do you like Guinness?
“Yeah, I kind of do but it gives me a pretty bad headache. So I’ll only drink like one or two.”
So, you were all warned by Noah about the impact of drinking Guinness and I will add a warning about Irish winter. You have to be really strong to survive. But summer days here are perfect for beginners. Give it a try!
Author: Martina Borutova
Main Image – George Karbus
Portrait of Noah – Finisterre