12 of the 13 members of the Irish Surf Team have been selected to represent the country when the European Surfing Championships Eurosurf supported by Fáilte Ireland, happen, in Bundoran, County Donegal from September 23rd until October 3rd this year.
Shane Meehan, 29, from Strandhill, Stephen Kilfeather, 23 and Ashleigh Smith, 24 from Sligo, Cain Kilcullen, 24 from Enniscrone, Ronan Oertzen, 20, Shauna Ward, 24, Darragh McCarter, 25 & Richie Fitzgerald, 36 from Bundoran, Easkey Britton from Rossnowlagh & Oliver O’Flaherty, 24 and Stephen Kelleher, 24 from Lahinch, County Clare competed in a series of selection events in early 2011 in order to secure a place on the Irish national surf team.
The team have singularly competed in competitions all across the world including the previous Eurosurf held in Jersey in 2009. Titles held by team members include Irish National Open Champion 2010, Irish Seniors Champion 2010, 4 times Irish Women’s Champion, Women’s Bodyboard Champion and West Coast Surf Club Longboard Champion 2008.
One position remains to be filled on the team and the contest is between John Britton (JB) from Rossnowlagh and Keith O’Brien from Tramore. A “surf-off” will take place at the Sea Sessions surf and music festival in Bundoran at the end of June to decide the final member of the Irish Surf team to compete at Eurosurf 2011.
The team will be coached by Pascal Devine, a native of Newtownstewart in County Tyrone and managed by Stevie Burns from Portrush, County Antrim – with over 40 years of surfing between them, they are well qualified to bring the team through their paces to compete against the best of Europe in September.
The European Surfing Championships alternate each year between the senior event “Eurosurf” (odd years) and the Junior event “Eurojunior” (even years). The separation into a junior event and senior event happened in 1992. The Euro’s were first held in 1970 in Jersey. 2011 will be Irelands 4th time to host Eurosurf, and 3rd time in Bundoran. The previous Eurosurf events held in Ireland were 1972 in Spanish Point, Co. Clare which was won by England, 1985 in Bundoran, Co. Donegal won by France, 1997 in Bundoran, Co. Donegal won by Portugal.
Until recently there had been a trend that the winners in Ireland retained the senior title until the Eurosurf returned to Ireland. England held the title from 1970 to 1985, then France held it from 1985 to 1997 when Portugal won the senior title for the first time. They then lost the title to Spain in 2003, who proceeded to relinquish it once more to Portugal in 2005. Portugal retained the title in 2007 before losing it to France two years ago in Jersey.
Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy. The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 170,000 people and generates more than €6 billion in revenue a year.
The Irish Surfing Association is the National Governing Body for the sport of surfing in the thirty two counties of Ireland. We are a voluntary organisation comprising of approximately twenty clubs and groups involved in the development, representation and regulation of surfing in Ireland.
Representing surfing in many forms (shortboarding, longboarding, bodyboarding, kneeboarding, standup paddle surfing, skimboarding, body surfing and tow surfing) we are active in areas such as club development, training of coaches and judges, surf school approval, national and international competition, promotion of safety and protection of our surfing environment.
The Irish Surfing Association is managed by an executive committee comprising of one representative from each of our member clubs. Our headquarters are located at Easkey Surf And Information Centre where we employ one full time development officer and one part time administrator.
Photo: Irish lineup : courtesy Big Friday