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Lahinch attracts surfing talent

THE West Coast Surf Club, based in Lahinch, held its annual longboard surf competition last weekend, hosting some of Ireland’s best male and female surfers.
More than 65 contestants competed for national men’s and women’s longboard surfing trophies.

Surfing has been going from strength to strength in recent times, with North Clare residents Peter Conroy, Fergal Smith and Ollie O’ Flaherty all making international headlines for their big wave surfing achievements.

Last year, Peter was nominated for the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award – the award for the biggest wave surfed by anyone worldwide.
The previous year, Ollie was also nominated. Peter said this year’s longboard competition “shows just how much talent there is in Irish surfing, as well as it being a fantastic event for the community of West Clare”.

“The competition turned the whole town into a festival with live music bands and deals in local pubs and restaurants that hosted their own theme in conjunction with the event,” said Cliodhna Fawl, chairperson of the West Coast Surf Club.

During the competition, art and photography exhibitions took place, displaying work from this year’s winner of the British Wildlife Photography award George Karbus, as well as other renowned artists such as Phillip Morrison.
Keen to promote women in sport, the West Coast Surf Club has increased the number of female surfers competing for the title of Irish Women’s Longboard Champion to 16.

Furthermore, the top two female surfers, Ione Byrne and Sophie Pigot, had a chance to compete in the men’s category. Ione was announced as the Women’s Longboarding National Champion and Gary Hall was named the Men’s Longboarding National Champion.

Some who competed in the National Longboard Competition in Lahinch are now competing in the European Championships in the Azores, Portugal.

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