SURFING: Surf’s up in Portrush this weekend

BOARD MEETING...Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor Norman Hillis and three-time Irish Surf Champion, John McCurry check out the waves ahead of this weekend's Portrush Open Surfing Championships.
BOARD MEETING...Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor Norman Hillis and three-time Irish Surf Champion, John McCurry check out the waves ahead of this weekend's Portrush Open Surfing Championships.

SURF’S up this weekend on the North Coast with the annual Portrush Open Surfing Championships.

The Causeway Coast Surf Club (CCSC), in association with Coleraine Borough Council, and the Irish Surfing Association (ISA), will be staging this year’s eagerly anticipated event on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10 April in Portrush.

Keen to build on the success of the last three year’s, contest organisers are expecting the best surfers in Ireland to take part in the two days of competition. Crucially, this year’s Portrush Open will be the deciding contest to select the surfers who will represent Ireland at the European Championships, due to be held in this September in Bundoran, Co.Donegal.

There will also be plenty of activities on offer throughout the weekend, guaranteed to keep surfers and spectators entertained round the clock. For the first time the CCSC will be working in partnership with the Atlantic Bar Portrush, who will provide the evening entertainment to compliment the surf contest.

Their packed programme includes showings of popular surf movies, music and live DJ’s to help everyone relax and unwind after a long day of competing.

Causeway Coast Surf Club Chairman, Gerard McAuley said: “The Portrush Open is now Ireland’s best surf contest. As surfing becomes more and more popular, we are expecting large numbers of competitors and spectators to attend.

“I’m really excited about this year’s event and with the European’s in just a few months time, all the competitors will be giving it their all!”

Over 100 surfers are due to arrive for the contest, with top internationals Cain Killcullen, Aaron Reid and Belfast’s Ronan Oertzen expected to battle it out for first place in the Men’s Open.

Top women’s competitior Easkey Britton, who is currently studying for her PhD at University of Ulster Coleraine, will be hoping to walk away with the Ladies 2011 title.

Local interest will lie with ‘Long’ John McCurry, who will be aiming for a fourth Irish title this year, whilst Portrush bodyboarder and local surf school owner, Martin ‘TK’ Kelly, will be hoping to fight off Sligo based surfers Shane Meehan and the McCarter brothers.

Both John and Martin will be determined to make their mark at this week’s Championship in an attempt to secure their place on the Irish Team ahead of the European Championships. And Portstewart junior, Bosco McAuley will be looking forward to mixing it up with the big guys.

Mayor of Coleraine, Councillor Norman Hillis warmly welcomes the return of this surfing event.

“This is a fantastic family event which successfully utilizes our wonderful beaches, and I commend all involved for bringing this competition to the Borough,” he said.

“Regular surfers will agree that Portrush boasts some of the best surfing spots on the North Coast. Our glorious beaches provide ideal surfing conditions, framed by spectacular backdrops for surfers and visitors to enjoy.

“We have enormous potential on the North Coast to host such championships, let’s hope that we can continue to attract such high profile surfing events.”

This year’s Portrush Open is the third leg of the 2011 Irish tour and final selection for the Irish team.

The contest will feature categories for both men and women and includes stand up paddle surfing, SUP, Open Men’s Surf, Open Ladies Surf, Body Boarding Men, Body Boarding Ladies, Long Boards, Seniors Surfing (over 27 years) and Masters Surfing (over 35 years).

Competitions get underway each day at approximately 9.00am and the event will be complemented by a surf art exhibition in the Water Sports Centre at East Strand and a Volkswagen showcase event on Sunday, featuring a number of vans and Beetles, which have long been associated with the surfing fraternity.

For further information please visit www.northcoastni.com or www.causewaycoastsurfclub.co.uk.