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Displaying items by tag: Surfing

How to improve surfing with “pop-up” training is one of a number of “online” activities that a north Mayo Gaeltacht outdoor pursuits centre is offering to students this summer, The Irish Independent reports.

Coláiste Uisce, which teaches surfing, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking courses through the medium of the Irish language, had just spent some €0.5 million preparing for this season when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

It is one of a number of Gaeltacht colleges which had to cancel residential courses this summer.

It has opted to offer a “virtual” Gaeltacht experience to students Juggling skills, environmental awareness walks and other task-based lessons through Irish form the core of “Blas Choláiste Uisce” which the college is now taking bookings for.

The five one-hour interactive online sessions culminate in a virtual céilí mór which students can participate in at home with their instructors.

The centre founded over 25 years ago by former Air Corps pilot Ciarán Ó Murchú and his wife Máire has taught courses to over 20,000 students and employs up to 17 full-time staff throughout the year.

Read more on The Irish Independent report here

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Surfing schools have appealed to the Government to extend the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme to their sector, as surfers return to the water.

They have also called on Minister for Tourism Shane Ross to lower the VAT rate for surf schools to ensure the sector can survive.

A statement issued by the Irish Surf School COVID Safety Working Group says it is “delighted to be able to open again with safety, as usual, the number one priority”.

Surf schools are required to submit detailed Covid-19 safety plans to the representative body, Irish Surfing, before re-opening, the statement says.

Safety measures include:

  • Online bookings and payments
  • Small group sizes (maximum of eight people from June 8)
  • Travel restrictions (customers must travel no more 20 km from June 8)
  • Two-metre social distancing for groups on land and in the water
  • Hand and equipment sanitation must be observed

“Surfing is proven to improve mental health and boost well being,” the group says, and “after a gruelling two-month lockdown, more people than ever are hoping to relieve some stress and boredom by returning to the waves”.

Learning to surf in the West of IrelandLearning to surf

“Surf schools are now an important part of the prime offering of most of the most popular Irish seaside resorts,” the group says, with “hotspots” like Bundoran, Strandhill, Lahinch and Tramore drawing surfers from around the world.

“Surfing is not a niche sport in Ireland any longer. Surfing is now a mainstream recreational activity, which should come as no surprise to an Atlantic island nation that is now world-famous as a cold water surfing paradise,” it says.

The working group warns that some surf schools will not open until travel restrictions are relaxed again in July, and notes the majority of surf school owners cannot access the wage subsidy scheme for their employees.

“For many, this is going to delay reopening for some meaning their 2020 season will only be four or five weeks long,” the group says.

The working group says it is liaising with Sport Ireland, Irish Surfing and the Irish Association for Adventure Tourism to plan for the survival and recovery of the surf school industry.

However, it is seeking an extension of the wage subsidy and lowering of the VAT rate from 23 per cent. It notes that the rate is currently nine per cent in the Netherlands.

Irish Association of Adventure Tourism (IAAT) Brendan Kenny said that his group was “delighted to see that surf schools are re-opening, and we believe that the activities sector can lead the recovery of the Irish tourism industry”.

“Now more than ever, our country needs the physical and mental health benefits that activities deliver, so we'd encourage everyone to consider what experiences are available to them within the current public health guidelines,” Mr. Kenny said.

“There are however considerable obstacles for our sector including seasonal staff not benefiting from the wage subsidy scheme. We would urge the Government to deliver clarity on this issue which threatens businesses in our sector - none more so than the surf schools,” he said.

In relation to the VAT rate, the Irish surf school working group has appealed for its sector to be viewed as tourism, rather than sports business, and have the rate reviewed.

Irish Surfing development officer, Zoe Lally noted that a “surge” of people to beaches over the June bank holiday weekend had resulted in beaches and car parks being closed.

She said that some local authorities are “reluctant to authorise surf schools to reopen.”

“I would reiterate the importance of schools operating responsibly. Guidance from local authorities must be adhered to. It is particularly important that people are not enticed to travel past the 20-kilometre distance to surf and that surfing is not responsible for generating a surge in activity and crowds,” Ms. Lally said.

Published in Surfing
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Top student surfers will gather in Mayo in early March for the Surf Intervarsities 2020 when hosts Galway-Mayo Institute of TechnologyI(GMIT) hope to secure a “three in a row” national title writes Lorna Siggins

Up to 200 surfers are expected to participate in the annual weekend of surfing on Achill island from March 6th to 8th.

The 20x20 Women in Sport campaign entitled ‘If she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ will be central to the weekend’s events.

GMIT Mayo Clubs and Societies’ Officer Sophie Devereux says “we are delighted to be part of this campaign”.

“We have reached out to surfers from around the globe and will use the Intervarsities to continue to spread this vital message,” she says.

GMIT Mayo has won the last two national championships in 2018 and 2019 and hopes to seize the title again this year.

Nigel Jennings, GMIT Mayo Sports Officer, says the 2020 Surf Intervarsities will “further enhance GMIT Mayo’s reputation as a national power in the realm of outdoor adventure activities and reinforce Mayo’s growing reputation as the destination of choice for outdoor adventure activities”.

Prof Neville McClenaghan, GMIT Mayo campus vice-president, said it would highlight the skills of Mayo campus students studying the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts Honours Outdoor Education and other programmes.

He said it was also a “great opportunity for talented surfers from colleges across the land to come and demonstrate their talents here in Mayo, the adventure capital of Ireland”.

Published in Surfing
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#Lifeboats - Bundoran’s RNLI crew assisted a surfer safely to shore on Saturday afternoon (10 November).

The volunteers launched after a member of the public raised the alarm, having spotted someone they thought to be in difficulty and waving their arm off Rougey Point in Bundoran.

The Irish Coast Guard requested the inshore lifeboat to launch at 3.28pm and 10 minutes later the lifeboat, helmed by Killian O’Kelly, was at sea.

Weather conditions at the time were blowing a light south-easterly wind and there was a three-metre swell.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew observed that the surfer, while not in difficulty or in any immediate danger, was in a challenging part of the sea and some distance away from the shore.

The crew made the decision to take the teenager onboard and transport him safely back to Bundoran Lifeboat Station.

Speaking following the callout, O’Kelly said: “We would like to commend the member of the public who raised the alarm this afternoon — that is always the right thing to do if you see someone you think or know to be in difficulty.

“While this surfer was not in any immediate danger, he was some distance from shore so we made a call to assist him safely back to shore.”

Elsewhere, a person who went missing while kitesurfing off Ballybunion in Co Clare yesterday evening (Sunday 11 November) was found on land several hours later, as RTÉ News reports.

The kitesurfer, who had come ashore at Kilkee, was said to be suffering the effects of cold after spending as much as two-and-a-half hours at sea and was taken to hospital.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - A surfer was rescued from the sea off Northern Ireland yesterday evening (Monday 1 May) after more than 30 hours in the water.

Belfast Coastguard co-ordinated the search for the missing man who had gone surfing near Campbeltown in Argyll, Western Scoland on Sunday and failed to return.

A large area of sea and shoreline was searched from lunchtime on Monday when the alarm was raised, involving RNLI lifeboats from Campbeltown and Islay in Scotland and Red Bay in Co Antrim, as well as coastguard rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen, and HM Coastguard’s rescue helicopter based at Prestwick.

Dawn Petrie at Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre, who was co-ordinating the search, said: “Hope was fading of finding the surfer safe and well after such a long period in the water and with nightfall approaching we were gravely concerned.

“But at 7.30pm tonight, the crew on the coastguard rescue helicopter were delighted when they located the man still with his surfboard and 13 miles off the coast.

“He was kitted out with all the right clothing including a thick neoprene suit and this must have helped him to survive for so long at sea. He is hypothermic but conscious and has been flown to hospital in Belfast.”

HM Coastguard reminds all coastal users this summer to be prepared before you go out on the water or at the coast where conditions can change quickly. Tell someone where you are going and take an appropriate means of raising the alarm in an emergency.

RNLI Add: 
A Northern Ireland lifeboat was involved in the huge search and rescue operation for a missing surfer who left a Scottish beach on Sunday morning and spent 32 hours at sea before being found last night (Monday 1 May). Red Bay RNLI were requested to launch by Belfast coastguard to join with the Scottish lifeboats, Campbeltown and Islay, along with rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen and the Coastguard rescue helicopter based at Prestwick. The man was eventually located by the coastguard helicopter and transferred to hospital.
The young man had set off to go surfing off the Argyll coast on Sunday morning and had not been heard from since 11.30am. In a huge search operation RNLI lifeboats were launched on both sides of the Irish Sea with Scottish and Irish lifeboats searching the extensive body of water for the missing man.
At 7.30pm the missing surfer was located by the coastguard helicopter and was still with his surfboard 13 miles off the coast.
Commenting on the search and rescue operation Red Bay RNLI Coxswain Paddy McLaughlin said, ‘This was a huge search and rescue operation. To have lifeboats launched from both Scotland and Ireland shows the incredible effort that went into the search. Our lifeboat crews along with our colleagues in the coastguard undertook an extensive and detailed search in the large area between the two coasts and thankfully this resulted in a successful outcome.’
‘The young man wore the correct clothing and stayed with his surfboard, giving himself valuable time and keeping safe. It just shows that even after 32 hours at sea people can be found and rescued. We wish the young man a full recovery after his ordeal.’

Published in Rescue
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#Surfing - Between Land and Sea is a new documentary on the surfing culture of Lahinch that’s currently touring with screenings around Ireland, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Chronicling ‘a year in the life of an Atlantic surf town’, Ross Whitaker’s film set out to capture the characters of the Co Clare coastal spot that’s become a gateway to some of Ireland’s most spectacular waves.

Big wave surfing isn’t just a sport for its top names — it’s a lifestyle. And the film gets to know a number of those who have made it their life’s work to get in harmony with their environment.

Among them are Ollie O’Flaherty, a regular at the Riley’s break at Lahinch as well as Aileen’s under the Cliffs of Moher, and Fergal Smith, the subject of two other recent films on the organic farming collective he’s helped establish for himself and fellow wave chasers.

Smith also features in Common Ground, a new film from Finisterre in which the surf clothing brand’s ambassadors — including women’s surfing pioneer Easkey Britton — met to share their challenges and achievements thanks to the power of the waves, as Huck reports.

Another recent surfing video from Red Bull shows what happened when Barry Mottershead invited American surfers Cody Thompson, Justin Quintal and Nate Zoller to taste the waves of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Published in Surfing
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#SUP - South African adventurer Chris Bertish has become the first man to cross the Atlantic by stand-up paddleboard, as the Guardian reports.

The big wave surfer took 93 days to traverse the ocean from Agadir in Morocco to Antigua, where Ireland’s ocean rower Gavan Hennigan set his own transatlantic record in January.

That effort required Bertish, 42, to paddle some 43 miles a day on his custom 20ft expedition paddleboard designed by Phil Morrison, the naval architect also responsible for the latest National 18 design.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

#Surfing - Two Irish surfers are nominated for ride of the year in the 2017 WSL Big Wave Awards after taking on the monster swell at Mullaghmore Head last month.

Conor Maguire and Peter Conroy were in the right place at the right time on 9 February to get a tow-in to the ‘emerald walls’ at the surfing hotspot off Co Sligo.

Bundoran resident Maguire found himself barrelled by the kind of surf usually associated with the big wave paradises of the Pacific.

Meanwhile, Northcore team member Conroy, from Co Clare, caught his own massive wall of water to stake his claim among the world’s top riders.

Both clips were captured by Clem McInerney, who was also on hand to shoot one of American surfer Will Skudin’s two nominated efforts at Mullaghmore — as well as Dublin-based Emirati surfer Mo Hassa Rahma’s spectacular wipeout, as The National reports.

Published in Surfing

#Surfing - It’s no longer such a secret that Ireland has some of the most sought-after swells among the world’s top big wave surfing talent.

But beginners aren’t left out of Surfer Today’s list of '10 surf spots you must visit in Ireland', with Inchydoney in West Cork and Achill Island in Co Mayo noted for their scenery as much as their perfect starter waves.

Sligo features on the list with two wave hotspots, Enniscrone and Easkey — both just west of Sligo town, which again hosts the Shore Shots Irish Surf Festival on the weekend of 22-23 April.

The North West is also the ancestral home of Irish-Australian surf pro Mick Fanning — famous for his close call with a shark off South Africa in 2015 — who recently paid a visit to sample the surf for himself, as documented in this new Rip Curl video:

Published in Surfing

#Surfing - Lahinch-based surfing pro Fergal Smith is the subject of not one but two recent online documentaries — and neither for his big wave exploits.

Smith turned to organic farming after a globetrotting surfing career, teaming up with fellow wave-riders Mitch Corbett, Matt Smith and others to start the Moy Hill Community Garden.

Having grown up around organic farming all his life, Smith saw an opportunity to share what he learned with his fellow surfers — and encourage young people to get interested caring for the land.



Their organic farming collective and its location on the stunning Wild Atlantic Way are the subjects of ‘Beyond the Break’, a short film for The Perennial Plate — a series that aims to highlight local producers around Ireland’s breathtaking landscape, as the Clare Herald reports.

Yet at the third episode of ‘food ranger’ Mark Harris’ Endless Winter Europe series shows, Smith and his surfing mates still make time for the water when the surf is up.

Published in Surfing
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Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth.
  • The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
    Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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