Riverfest is back!

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COLERAINE Borough Council is once again excited to welcome avid fans of water-sports from across the UK and Ireland to the area for the successful Waterways Ireland Riverfest event on the River Bann.

The Waterways Ireland Riverfest will be held at Christie Park, between the bridges in Coleraine, for a sixth consecutive year on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of August. The event runs both days from 1pm to 6pm and for the first time includes strongman and strongwoman competitions.

Over the past number of years, this family orientated event has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Coleraine and this year a full programme of water and land based activities is sure to entertain and engage. Spectators will enjoy water-skiing, jet-skiing, wakeboarding and barefooting by a team of world-class athletes.

Following on from the success of previous years there will be water based shows and competitions which will highlight the cream of Irish talent. The Waterways Ireland Riverfest will include displays from the Xtreme Action Team, headed by Ant Burgess, wowing the crowds with inverts of up to 20 feet. There will also be the Waterways Ireland Wakeboard Open Championship, which will bring together the 30 best boarders from all over Ireland, who will compete in a two round competition over both days of the event. Also in the line up is Caite Skelly, a 14 year old from Coleraine who will be barefoot waterskiing at over 40mph.

On-land activities will include climbing walls, bouncy castles, slides, laser quest, gourmet food stalls and live entertainment. At Waterways Ireland Riverfest there will be a large range of boats on display from Hanna Boats, one of Northern Ireland’s largest boat dealers. The event provides a two day platform for boats and water sports enthusiasts to get up close with the latest innovations in the boating market.

New for this year the organisers have teamed up with Dave Warner and Ben McMichael, from the world of strongmen, to secure the All Ireland 90kg Strongman Grand Final on Saturday the 11th. A Strong Woman Competition, where the female competitors will be raising money for the Pretty in Pink Breast Cancer Charity, will also take place on Sunday the 12th of August. These events will take place alongside the main water shows between 1pm and 5pm. The competitors will be lifting Atlas Stones, towing a 4x4 vehicle, towing boats, and lifting 200kg weights along with many more tests of strength and endurance.

Rob Skelly, owner of The Edge Watersports in Coleraine, and one of the event organisers said: “The Waterways Ireland Riverfest has been a phenomenal success since we launched it five years ago. For 2012, the line-up will be bigger and better, cementing its reputation as one of the best water-sports events across the UK and Ireland. The natural waterway of the Lower River Bann provides a wonderful platform and backdrop for the magnificent displays.”

“Once again we are delighted to be working alongside Waterways Ireland who are ever supportive and actively promoting recreational opportunities on the inland waterways. My thanks also go to Coleraine Borough Council. Finally I would also like to thank Hanna Boats for their invaluable support”.

Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor Sam Cole Said: “I am extremely pleased to be supporting the Waterways Ireland Riverfest in Coleraine. The event has grown in popularity and I am always supportive of sports and entertainment taking place in our lovely area. The River Bann is a great location and I look forward to welcoming more events for families to enjoy in the Borough.”

Supporting the event is Waterways Ireland, the navigation authority who manage over 1000km of inland navigable waterways. Since its inception in 1999 it has invested €88.5m in the development of waterways and related facilities.

For further information on Waterways Ireland Riverfest click: www.waterwaysireland.org.