SURFING: Surf's up on the North Coast

THE return of the annual Portrush Open Surfing Championships takes place next month.

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 at the East Strand on Saturday and Sunday, April 10-11.

Causeway Coast Surf Club Chairman, Gerard McAuley said: "The Portrush Open is now Ireland's best surf contest. With surfing becoming more and more popular, we're expecting large numbers of competitors and spectators to attend. In fact, plans are already in place to turn the event into Northern Ireland's first ever surfing festival, and where better to stage it than here in Portrush.

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"With over 100 surfers expected to arrive for the contest, competition will be of the highest standard. Top internationals, Fergal Smith, Cain Killcullen and Belfast's Ronan Oertzen are always exciting to watch and the battle for first place in the men's open will be a fiercely contested one. Alongside this, top women's competitors such as Nicole Morgan and Easkey Britton, both former British champions, will certainly be hoping to walk away with this year's title.

"Local interest will lie with "Long" John McCurry, who will be aiming to hold on to his third consecutive Irish title on the longboard.

"Portrush bodyboarder, Martin "TK" Kelly, who recently competed in professional events in Portugal and Gran Canaria, will be looking to take the title in his home town from rival Shane Meehan.

"Finally two of Northern Ireland's foremost junior surfers, Jamie Russell and Bosco McAuley are also expected to enter the contest and there will be much anticipation in seeing how they will perform at senior level."

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For the first time the CCSC will be working in partnership with the Portrush Playhouse who will provide the evening entertainment to compliment the surf contest, which will include a screening of the critically acclaimed movie, "Waveriders", along with live bands and DJs.

Surfing in Ireland is attracting ever more people to the sport and receiving increased media attention. In fact it is hoped that Portrush will be the venue for the 2011 European Surfing Championships.

Deputy Mayor of Coleraine, Cllr William King welcomed the return of the surfing event and added: "This is a fantastic event which successfully utilizes our wonderful facilities at East Strand Portrush, and I commend all involved for bringing the event to the Borough.

"Regular surfers will all agree that East Strand is one of the best on the North Coast for surfing. Not only does it provide glorious surfing conditions, it also provides a spectacular backdrop for surfers and visitors to enjoy.

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“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 first of a new four- leg Irish tour which will help select surfers for the Irish team traveling to the ISA World Surfing Games in Playa Hermosa, Peru in October of this year. The contest features competitive categories for both males and females and include stand up paddle surfing, Open Men’s Surf, Open Ladies Surf, Body Boarding Men, Body Boarding Ladies, Long Board, Seniors Surfing (over 27 years) and Masters Surfing (over 35).

Competitions get underway each day at approximately 9am and the event will be complemented on the Sunday by the addition of a Volkswagen showcase event, with a number of vans and Beetles, which are long associated with the surfing fraternity. For further information please visit or