Two to three hundred women will take part in a special sporting festival in North Clare this weekend. Mermaids, the Irish Surfing Association’s national women’s weekend takes place in Lahinch and will feature surfing, yoga and belly dancing among other things.
The Mermaids weekend is an opportunity for women of all ages to learn to surf or to improve their skills – under the watchful eyes of some of Ireland’s top female surfers. Skilled female surf instructors, alongside past and present female members of the Irish Surf team aim to give participants a fun, safe and inspirational surfing experience.
“We would expect 200 to 300 women and girls to take part depending on the weather then we have a team of the top women competitive surfers in the country who will come along and help with the teaching. They are role models within the sport and they will bring all the information you would need whether you are starting out or improving,” explained Zoe Lally, Development Officer with the
Irish Surfing Association.
The idea behind the weekend is to give women the opportunity to meet and share information and advice on surfing while introducing newcomers to the sport in an all female environment.
According to organisers “the weekend is about learning, inspiring others and sharing your excitement and enthusiasm for surfing. Everyone is encouraged to enjoy their time in the water whilst also learning about surfing technique and water safety. Out of the water, new friendships are made and surf stories are shared during the beach lunch, yoga, belly dancing and night time entertainment.”
“Mermaids is hosted under the Women in Sport Initiative, run by the Irish Sports Council, to encourage more Irish women to participate in sport. Typically when they are between 14 and 16 years old, women drop out of sport so for health benefits it is important to get women back into sport. Studies show that individual sports suit women more and we have been running these type of informative, non-competitive events for 10 years now and we find loads of people come along and get involved as recreational participants,” Ms Lally stated.
Activities throughout the weekend include surfing lessons and coaching (equipment provided); talks on all aspects of surfing; yoga; beach lunch; and belly dancing. There is no requirement to book. People can attend the full weekend, one day or half a day.
Registration, and payment of a nominal charge, takes place between 9am and 3pm on Saturday with the last surfing lesson going into the water at 3pm and between 10am and 2pm on Sunday with the last lesson hitting the water at 2pm. More information is available on the festival from www.isasurf.ie.
“The event brings women of all ages and surfing abilities together in a celebration of women’s surfing in Ireland. Whether you are 8 or 80 – if you are interested in surfing, this is an opportunity to learn more,” Ms Lally concluded.
By Nicola Corless