Marli Dunn has been a long time member of the Stealth team and has grown into one of the best bodyboarders in the country. Honing his skills on the technical reef breaks and slabs of the NSW South coast Marli has relocated to the UK, spending most of his time chasing waves in Ireland. We caught up with Marli before putting out his new clip Atlantic Migration to find out a little more about the time in the Emerald Isle.
Zach: Marli, how’s it going? You have just dropped a near 15 minute mega clip of your times in Ireland and some surrounding spots. How long have you been over there and can you tell me a little more about the areas you have been staying in?
Marli: Hey! Yeah really good. I’ve been here since early February living in a van with my boy Ben Bettridge. We have spent time chasing waves up and down the west coast of Ireland and up on the north coast of Scotland up until June
Z: Your from the south coast of NSW which might get cold sometimes, but nowhere near the temperatures you’ve been in … how have you handled the cold and what kind of rubber have you been wearing to keep you warm?
M: The water through late winter and early spring time gets down to about 8 degrees but I feel like it wasn’t to bad to handle. Pretty well equipped with 6/5 and 5/4 suits with a hood and bootys. Had a few dips in shorts to shake some hangovers that were pretty brutal.
Z: You have travelled overseas with your good mate Ben, what was plan behind the trip? Purely surfing or a bit of a response to the last couple years without the ability to travel?
M: Originally we were planning to do a 3 month trip back in 2020 but covid put a stop to that. Being stuck at home for 2 years sent me a bit mad so decided to just make the move over there for a couple of years. A big part of the trip was to just chase waves but also immerse ourselves in the Irish culture, see new places and meet new people.
Z: Ben’s work behind the camera and in the editing suite is really on show in this clip, you must be happy with the end result?
M: Most definitely! Super proud of what we’ve achieved. He’s put in a lot of hours chopping it and making the adjustments to make it all come together. Definitely his best work yet and we’re super excited to see how everyone likes it.
Z: You surf a fun looking right in the clip with loads of ramps, similar to some that you have around home (without mentioning any names), were you expecting to get waves like this or did you think it’d be more the renowned slabs that you would be chasing?
M: I’d been super excited to surf that particular wave since I was like 13. Had seen a few sections of it in some movies back in the day. It looked super playful, the kind of wave where you could do any kind of trick at. On arrival I was stunned to find that not many people surf it and most of the sessions I’d had out there had been on my own.
Z: Speaking of slabs it looks like you scored Rileys a bunch of times. Hows the atmosphere it in the line up?
M: Riley’s is incredible. The backdrop of the cliffs is Insane. The crew In the water is super easy going and always hooting each other into the bombs. The wave itself is extremely perfect and almost every wave is so perfect and chunky.
Z: So many great barrels and big blow outs there , was it what you were expecting? How long did it take you to get the confidence to paddle into some of the bombs you got out there?
M: It definitely packs a lot of punch and some of the take offs on some of the bombs are extremely vertical. You really got to get right under them. I didn’t find it to scary to have a crack at the bombs. The wave itself is so perfect and seeing some of the local boys going skits definitely fires you up to have a crack.
Z: Overall how would you describe surfing in Ireland? Whats the access to waves like and how are the locals at the good spots?
M: I’d say a lot of the surfers over here are nuts. Plenty of dudes charging hard and surfing some extremely scary waves. As long as your respectful in the water everyone’s super friendly and more than happy to call you into some bombs. It’s also guaranteed to go to the pub for a Guinness after a pumping days surfing.
Z: Any memorable beatings? We see you go over the falls on a big one at Rileys, any others to mention?
M: The one at Riley’s was surprisingly sweet. Genuinely thought I was gonna get so pressed into the bottom on it but kind of just got violently thrown around a bit then popped up sweet. Had one pretty scary incident at a wave further north where I got exploded by this solid 8ft wave and got pushed super deep to the bottom and as I started to rise to the surface my I felt my leash go tight and my board was stuck on the bottom. Whether my board was just pushed down on the bottom and didn’t rise because of the pressure or if it was jammed it the reef I don’t know. I was pulling at the leash trying to release the board from the bottom and by this time I really started to feel the need to get to the surface before the next wave comes. I began to take me leash off my arm and just before I let go of the leash I gave it one my tug and it released and started to surface. I popped up just as the next wave hit me and I just got a breath in. That beat down definitely stands out for sure.
Z: Into the knitty gritty now, what was the plan before you went over in terms of the boards Stealth got you on. What have you been riding and how did it perform? What swimfins have you been running over there as well?
M: The boards I’ve been riding over here have been 39” Lip Reader with the Vax Trax and PP core. I generally prefer a stiffer board for speed. The Vax Trax is definitely built for speed and the extra long, wide channels really help you lock in. For fins I’ve been running the old school Stealth S1’s … Can never go wrong with those bad boys.
Z: Have seen a few clips of you on a Mullet foamie making the most of the smaller days, it looks like a great place to work on your stand up skills too?
M: I never go anywhere with out a Mullet Fatcat. Perfect for when you want to mix it up, especially when the waves aren’t pumping for the boog so it’s nice to have It. There so fun, skatey and handle surprisingly well in slabs. Also because there so small there super easy to travel with.
Z: Finally, highlight of the trip?
M: The waves and country is pumping but I would honestly say the best thing about this trip has been the friendships we’ve built. The people over here are extremely friendly and welcoming. There’s such a cool community of people here and there not necessarily even surfers. Definitely plenty of life long friends made here already and we’ve hardly been here for long at all. Stoked to see what the rest of this mission has to hold.
Image Credits: Ben Bettridge, Joao Tudella, Dave Fox