HUNTINGTON BEACH — The McNulty brothers are perhaps as well known in Ireland as they are on the beaches of San Clemente. So it seemed natural for the Irish surf team to come calling on Joe and Terrence McNulty to represent the Emerald Isle in the World Surfing Games at the Huntington Beach Pier.
"I was honored when they [Ireland] called me," Joe McNulty said. "Our roots are Irish. We have a lot of family back there."
Joe, 26, who is competing in the short and longboarding competition, and Terrence, 28, who competes on a shortboard, grew up in San Clemente, and have dual citizenship in the U.S. and Ireland. They are friends with many of the surfers on the U.S. team. Nevertheless, when they were asked to join the Irish team, there was no hesitation.
"I guess if we were asked by the U.S. team and Irish team at the same time, we would pick Ireland," Joe said.
Irish Assistant Coach Michael Vanc said his country scored a coup when it got the McNultys.
"The rules for the [World Surfing Games] were changed so they resembled the Olympic rules," Vanc said. "That meant we could ask professionals who have a link to Ireland if they would like to compete for us. When we looked at the possible names, the McNultys seemed perfect choices. Besides, it seemed better to bring them on instead of an extra crate of booze."
Joe, who is still alive in the longboard division, and Terrence, were scheduled to surf Thursday, but foggy conditions caused two major delays in Day 5 of competition. Both are scheduled to compete today.
The McNulty family has been a part of the Capistrano Beach area since the 1950s, when Patrick McNulty bought beach-front property there. "He was a reporter for AP [Associated Press] and he had been all around the world," Terrence said. "When my dad was working for AP, he covered the Algerian war and interviewed President Kennedy."
After leaving AP in the late '60s, Patrick McNulty for a brief time was editor of Surfer Magazine. And as Joe McNulty described it, his father, who died in 1972, always had a deep fondness for the ocean and surfing.
Besides Joe and Terrence, there are three other brothers, Sean, Pat and Brian. All grew up surfing the San Clemente area, and four of them are, or were, professional surfers.
When it comes to hot surf spots, Ireland doesn't exactly come to mind. But Terrence and Joe swear the Irish shores possess some of the best surf in the world. After making this proclamation, Shane Beschen of the U.S. team, walked by, shaking his head.
"Yeah, they have some good surf in Ireland," Beschen said sarcastically.
"They do, man. I just don't want to say where because everybody will be flocking there," Terrence said.
Foggy conditions kept surfing to a minimum Thursday with two major delays totaling more than six hours. Nevertheless, there was still enough time for Taylor Knox and Shane Beschen to win another heat and advance for the U.S. team. San Clemente's Beschen, ranked second on the World Tour, finished his third-round heat with a score of 23.34. Knox of Carlsbad won his second-round heat with 22.34. Beschen and Knox will continue today in the third and fourth rounds.
C.J. Hobgood of Satellite Beach, Fla., was eliminated from the junior round after a close heat where he finished third.
Competition is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. today.