Andy rises to Senior challenge as he finishes third at Europeans

Andy McClelland.
Andy McClelland.

Portrush Surf Kayaker, Andy McClelland, is celebrating after finishing among the medals yet again at the European Surf Kayak Championships last week.

The former World and European Junior champion was thrilled to finish third in the long boat category and fifth in the short boat section having made the step up to the senior ranks.

Over 50 competitors took part in the event, which was held along side the Ocean Spirit Festival in Santa Cruz, Portugal, with some travelling from as far away as Brazil and Australia.

It was a very challenging field, so understandably Andy was delighted to finish with a medal.

“The week long contest had great surf throughout with some days providing big and challenging conditions,” he told Times Sport.

“I surfed really well all week. It is a long and difficult contest so you have to keep your head down and take each round as it comes.

“Leading up to the contest I didn’t have as much training time on the water as I would have liked because of university and work but I arrived in Portugal a couple of days early for some training and things fell in to place.

“In a surf kayaking contest there are four competitors in a heat and they have 20 minutes to catch a maximum of ten waves with their best two waves being counted.

“The judges look for wave choice, speed generated on the wave, aerial manoeuvres and turns.

“The standard throughout the contest was very high and it shows how much the sport is progressing year on year.

“As I got through the rounds to the quarter and semi finals, you had to go big to impress the judges.

“The semi finals looked more like a final of the World Championships, all of the top competitors were there and performing at their best.

“I was delighted to finish third in the long boat and fifth in the short boat category.

“In the final there were two competitors from the Basque country and another from England.

“I was really pleased with my third place finish. I have won four European titles as a junior but the transition from juniors to seniors is very significant so to finish third is a great result for me.

“I would like to thank my family and friends for their continued support and my sponsors - Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, SportNI, Canoes Ireland, Mega Surf Kayaks, Robson Paddles, Yak Adventure Equipment for their help.”