Surf’s up at North Coast Festival

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The first Causeway Coast Surf Festival will be held this month in Portrush on the Easter Weekend, March 30th and 31st.

The two day festival will feature contests sanctioned by the Irish Surfing Association in men’s and women’s open, bodyboard, longboard and increasingly popular water sport SUP (stand up paddle boarding). These contests will act as Irish surfing team selection events for 2013. Great prizes will be on offer from title sponsor, Circle One, a major UK based surf company, as well a wide range of local sponsors and surf businesses.

The Causeway Coast Surf Club (CCSC) have organised the festival to build on the success of Irish surfing legends like Al Mennie and Easkey Britton and to promote surfing in the area. CCSC surfer, Finn Mullen, who is just back from the World Stand Up Paddleboard championships in Peru and surfing huge waves in Hawaii, is expected to put on another top display on the SUP category. Other locals like John McCurry, Martin Kelly and Bosco McAuley will be there ready to contend for the winning spot.

“It’s a great time to put on a festival here. There’s a real buzz following local success at the Olympics, Paralympics and Golf. You can really see the difference just walking around Portrush,” said CCSC Chairman Gerard McAuley.

“The North Coast has probably the best facilities in Ireland for surfers and the local beaches have reached world class standards thanks to the efforts of the RLNI.”

The club will have a busy year as they are staging the surf and surf kayak events in Portrush as part of the World Police and Fire Games. They are also developing a coaching programme in the hope of sending locals to the European and World surfing championships. The surf life saving club will open this June in conjunction with the RNLI, which will use the extensive range of equipment and wetsuits the surf club has for its members. It certainly promises to be an exciting year ahead for surfing in Portrush.

The festival itself will include live music from the beach marquee, as well as photo and art exhibitions and a surfers’ marketplace. Beginners will also be able to try their hand at surfing, with the help of local surf school instructors in the novice competition. The under 18 category is a fun based event for young surfers. Known as ‘grommets’ in surf language the boys and girls really enjoy the competition. Evening entertainment offers the opportunity to see some great new surf movies in Kiwis surf bar and the Atlantic bar and music with local DJs, Homespun Sound System & Antidote Sound System.

Environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage will be there to offer information on marine-bourne plastics which damage surf spots and can be extremely dangerous for sea-life.

“Marine-bourne plastics are a growing issue we all need to address,” said Gerard McAuley.

“Surfers campaign for clean seas not only because it protects their sport, but also the time they spend in the water allows them to witness first-hand the destructive effects of waste more than the average person does.”

The festival will be held on March 30-31 on either Portrush’s West Strand or East Strand, depending on the surf conditions. For more information or to register for competition visit www.causewaycoastsurffestival.com.

STORY: Cathal McGuigan