We put the call out for you, our readers, to let us know amazing newcomers or those that had achieved major breakthroughs in 2022. And you didn’t let us down. You’ll find some incredible stories below. And we hope you’ll be inspired to have your own great breakthroughs in 2023.  

If you’re a nominee, consider yourself cordially invited to our annual awards ceremony on the evening of Wednesday 1 February 2023 in the Sugar Club, Dublin.

If you aren’t a nominee but would like to come along for the party and to rub shoulders with these amazing folk, then you can buy tickets here. We are thrilled skinny to announce that our fab sponsors are on board to help us celebrate all that is great and good about the Irish adventure scene, so it’s guaranteed to be a good party. Our hugely generous title sponsor is And our other supporting sponsors are #2MinuteBeachClean, #2MinuteStreetClean, CraghoppersLeave No Trace, Hiiker, Salewa and Collen Construction#OutsiderAwards.

Rocco Wright, sailor

Rocco Wright, a 16-year-old sailor for Howth Yacht Club in Co Dublin, has become a household name in sailing in recent years. The teenager has been nominated for Irish Sailor of the Year four times in the past few years. Rocco has been due a breakthrough year and this year may just have been it!

Following an incredible win at the u21 World Championships in the Netherlands in July, Rocco headed to the Senior European Championships with an air of confidence. However, the jump up to senior racing presents a deeper talent pool and a higher standard. However, Rocco held his own and managed to pull off a win on this big stage in the ILCA6 Men’s European Championship on the Côte d’Azur.

The ILCA6 Men’s event is the stepping-stone class to senior-level competition for the ILCA7 used at the Olympic Games. Rocco’s win at the European Championships bodes very well for the future of Irish Sailing at the biggest competitions in the world.

Dave Berry, open-water swimmer

Dave Berry is a 47-year-old Dublin native that has exploded onto the long-distance swimming scene in Ireland. This year Dave was awarded the 2022 Male Senior Swimmer of the Year by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association.

This year Dave has seen a massive progression into the sport after completing 13 registered Irish Long Distance Swimming Association events and crossings, including completing a 33.5km English Channel crossing in 12 hours 35 minutes. In June, Dave also completed a 32.3km crossing of the Catalina Channel in 12 hours and 6 minutes. An amazing set of achievements for a man who, up until not long ago, had never swum further than 7km!

We are excited to see Dave continue to tackle more marathon distance challenges!

Damien Wildes, paddleboarder

On 8 August 2022, Damien Wildes, a 34-year-old husband and Dad of two, decided to paddleboard across the Irish Sea. Not content with the severity of this challenge, Damien decided to up the stakes and do it on his belly, or ‘prone’. It was a monumental effort that took 14 hours and 59 minutes of non-stop paddling.

The appeal of putting yourself in dark places, in both a physical and mental sense, and working to get yourself out is a great way to see what you can achieve,” he states.

Damien set off from Holyhead at 6:31 am. Over the next 15 hours and 98km, he would experience sunburn, jellyfish stings, and some of the worst chafing imaginable! While this incredible challenge was always a personal challenge for Damien, he was “delighted to raise some funds for three locally based charities: Purple House Cancer Support, Wicklow RNLI, and Sharpeshill WSPCA which made the experience all the more worthwhile.”

Read our Interview with Damien

Oisín van Gelderen, windsurfer

Oisín van Gelderen took windsurfing lessons while on holiday in Killary, Connemara, in 1986 and hasn’t stopped since! Roll on to 2022 and the 52-year-old Dubliner was having a simply fantastic year  Oisín competed in the Sailing Speed World Record Attempt in Namibia and came sixth and set a new Irish sailing speed record at 49.87 knots (57.4mph).

It was a huge challenge to windsurf in 60+ knots of wind (storm force 10), on a tiny board wearing 16kg of lead, at speeds up to 97kmph. But Oisín has trained his whole life to be able to windsurf in conditions like this. 

When asked why he did it, Oisín says it was to see if it was possible for a 81kg windsurfer to join the biggest, fastest guys in the world and find his limits. Another goal was to establish the Irish sailing speed record, and to try and inspire other sailors and windsurfers to progress in the process. 

Windsurfing gives Oisín a feeling of total freedom. “No matter what goes on, once you are on the water, phones/emails/work all dissolve away,” he states. 

Ireland has some of the best windsurfing conditions in the world, with beaches everywhere and no end of wind. “We are blessed to have this playground and are the envy of many countries,” he adds.

The highlight of his challenge in Namibia was when the forecast came good on the last two days. Oisín recalls, “It all lined up, and I stood in the start box with the fastest guys in the world and held my own, ending fourth fastest on both of the last two days.”

Oisín isn’t finished yet either. He still wants to push the Irish sailing speed record to over 50 knots, and there is also a number of big wave spots that he wants to windsurf, such as Mullaghmore in Sligo.  

Chris Cumming, mountain biker 

Chris Cumming is passionate about his sport. The 20-year-old professional mountain biker from Warrenpoint, Co Down, has competed in the UCI Mountain World Cup and the Downhill World Championships. And in 2022, he competed in what is arguably the hardest downhill race in the world—the RedBull Hardline.

Chris started mountain biking with his uncle when he was 10. At the time, the local council in Warrenpoint started to build MTB trails and his family was in charge of the trailhead and renting bikes to the public.

“Mountain biking is special to me as I get to travel around the world, riding and racing bikes as fast as I can,” he says. “That feeling of getting on the podium or winning…there is no other feeling like it! I also get to meet so many cool people who are now some of my best friends.”

Chris has had to overcome injuries in the last three years, but he’s never had a thought of giving up as he’s put so much time and effort into getting where he is today. His parents, Mark and Jennifer, invested and believed in him from the very start, which is also a big incentive for Chris to keep going.

“The highlight of it all is getting down the mountain with an amazing time and getting that feeling I can’t even describe.”

So what’s next for this mountain biking star? “I’m currently in South Africa training for the 2023 season,” he says. In the off season, he trains for five to six months on his bike, in the gym and at team camps in Europe. 

Dan Clohessy, freestyle kayaking and scout

Venture Scout Dan Clohessy (16) has proven himself to be a formidable outdoorsman, not only competing at a high level in his own sport of freestyle kayaking, but equally finding the time to mentor and support his peers and volunteer adults in skills training and activity management. 

Dan is an avid paddler, having grown up on the shores of Malahide Estuary in north County Dublin and is a member of the local Sea Scouts. With the estuary’s unique whitewater and tidal flows, Dan developed and honed his skill and was selected to join the Irish Freestyle team at the tender age of 15. 

This year, Dan competed as an Irish athlete at the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships and was exceptional. Alongside this, Dan has been a key player and a role-model supporting water activities at Malahide Sea Scouts. As deputy boatmaster, Dan plays an influential role with his peers in developing the skills and activity on the water. 

This year, in addition to his World Championship training, Dan took on two huge projects: officer of the Day for the National Sea Scout Sailing Regatta and leading his scout group’s sailing certificate training. At the National Sea Scout Sailing Regatta, Dan led the team organising and running this massive, prestigious and complex event with great success. As for the sailing certificate training, this involved planning and managing a dozen tuition sessions to National Governing Body standard. What an inspiration and dedication from a wonderful teenager!

Callum Curtin, big wave surfer

Callum Curtin might only be 18-year-old, but he’s already taking on the mammoth waves that hit Ireland’s shores when the conditions are right. The teenager from Spanish Point in Co. Clare says he likes to push himself to see what he’s capable of. Turns out, he’s capable of riding some serious waves! 

Callum started surfing at a young age when he started going down to the beach during the summer with his friends to rent surfboards. He soon fell in love with the sport. “What makes it so special is we have some of the best waves in the world,” he says.

Right now, Callum says he’s just learning and putting in his time. “I started surfing heavy waves last winter, so it’s a new experience, but I love it.” He surfs mostly on the west coast of Ireland. The waves he takes on are massive—15- to 20-feet. But, he says that size doesn’t really matter too much to him. “Once there’s good waves to surf, I’m stoked,” he recounts.

Callum has been described in surfing magazines as “a young gun…pushing it for a few seasons now at Ireland’s heaviest waves”. With a small group of fellow surfers, he recently surfed Riley’s—a remote mutant wave that breaks over shallow reef in County Clare. 

Conditions in Mullaghmore were epic at the end of November. Callum was there, joined by a few others including senior Irish surf correspondent and surfer, Dylan Stott. While Callum might be modest about his achievements, Dylan was impressed by what he saw that day.

“With all the talent running around surfing in new and previously impossible ways, the most impressive thing I’ve seen in this run of swell is the emotional maturity of young Callum,” wrote Dylan for Magic Seaweed.

Extreme Winter Relay North Channel swimmers

On 14 January 2022, a relay team took on the epic challenge of relay swimming the North Channel from Northern Ireland to Scotland. That team consisted of Dave Berry, Ger Kennedy, Declan Bradshaw, Vincent Donegan, Dave Berry, Colm Morris and Niamh McCarthy, along with team manager Ger Devin, emergency medical technician Barry Patterson, and escort pilot Pádraig Mallon. The team became the first group to complete a crossing of the North Channel in winter.

This 21-mile crossing is notorious for being a very difficult open-water swim even in the summer months. The five male and one female team completed the swim in 12 hours 51 minutes which was over an hour faster than anticipated by the leader of the team Ger Kennedy (AKA Dr. Ice). The water temperature measured a freezing 8.4 degrees Celsius on the day of the crossing.

During the swim, the team’s vitals were monitored by a doctor every 15 minutes including their core body temperature, oxygen levels and recover rate to ensure they were safe to continue.

Outsider Awards – Judging panel categories

Public Vote Categories!

By Matthew McConnell


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

Craghoppers Man of the Year: Outsider Awards 2022


Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for the latest adventure news, events, and gear. Plus download our free guide to the 50 best walks in Ireland!

    • No products in the cart.