In the latest episode of the Inspired Surfers podcast, Jim is in conversation with Fergal Smith; surfer, environmentalist and regenerative farmer.
For long time fans of British and Irish surfing, Fergal needs little introduction.
From the late naughts to the early 2010s, he set the bar at Ireland’s scariest slabs, gracing magazine covers, laying down incredible video parts and cementing himself as one of his generation’s greatest big-wave tube riders on the international stage.
Then in 2012, he made the sudden shift from jet-setting free-surfer to hard-grafting farmer, establishing a small community garden in County Clare, spurred on, in no small part by a decision to quit flying for good.
In this episode, Fergal takes us deep into the thought process that led up to that moment, charting how his upbringing, his surf career, the Fukushima disaster and a chance encounter with Kelly Slater in Fiji all converged to see him plough his unique furrow.
From the tale of his last ever tow wave in Tahiti ten years ago, to a recent two-wave hold down beneath the cliffs of Moher, it’s packed with great stories and wide-ranging insights on parenting, food and the changes to farming we desperately need to secure the future of our planet and all who inhabit it.
- Spending January away from the farm, hauled up on a small island with the family.
- Fergal and his wife’s differing experiences of the cold, dark days of winter.
- Plans for a wind-powered adventure in the future.
- An in-depth look at his decision to stop flying during the height of his surf career.
- Reflections on the pro-free-surfer lifestyle of constant swell chasing, refined by an encounter with Kelly Slater in Fiji.
- The abundant rewards drawn from feeding people in the community and seeing the land improve.
- The impact of food and food production on physical health, biodiversity, climate change and social issues.
- Gaining an education in holistically managed and mixed farms.
- The story of Fergal’s last ever tow ever wave.
- His experience of surfing now.
- His desire to inspire others to take up regenerative farming and the guidance he offers.
- The huge potential impacts for both people and planet of changing the way we manage ecosystems.
Cover photo: George Karbus