Surfing

Ireland, facing the Atlantic, whose great breaking rollers have a 'fetch' of hundreds of miles offers superb opportunities for surfing. If the climate was a bit warmer, it might equal Hawaii! So no wonder this is a popular sport, especially since the equipment is so simple - a board and wet-suit and a flotation aid - or even, for body surfers, just a wetsuit and flotation aid!

Surfboards are come in various types, but basically they are a long oval in shape, with a "skeg", a little keel at the back, to help you keep direction. To get into position you lie on the board, paddle out beyond the breaking wave with your hands, and wait till you see a good wave, get on it, stand up, and whiz in! But of course it is not quite that easy for a beginner, and at first stay flat on the board, grip tight and try to stay on the wave.

The Irish Surfing Association(*) is the national body for all Ireland, and deals with all types of surfing from body surfing up to long board. It is not responsible for wind-surfing (see Sailing) or Canoe surfing (see Canoeing). It is currently involved in a major development plan, so now is probably a good time to think about trying out the sport. You can get into surfing by joining the ISA, or better, by joining a surfing club, if there is one near you.


Some of the Adventure Centres offer surfing, and this is a good way to see whether it really interests you. There are ISA coaching courses. Please don't just go and buy a board and launch yourself into the ocean! There are good and bad surfing beaches and the bad ones can be deadly.

Where to Surf

Probably the most popular beaches for surfing are Rosnowlagh, Bundoran and Strandhill in the north-west, Lahinch in Clare, and Tramore on the south coast.

There are several safety considerations. Like all the risk sports, never do it alone, and even with a group, be certain that the beach you choose has no awkward currents, which often vary with the state of the tide. Some beaches have a lifeguard who will be a very useful source of information even if you don't need rescuing. The best advice is to stick to the popular beaches where there are plenty of people around.

Surfing is probably the easiest adventure sport in which to get a mouthful of the local sea water especially near the beach where it is most likely to be polluted, so it is worth looking for a Blue Flag beach. An Taisce(*) is the agency which awards annual Blue Flags, and you can check the list from them.

Websites

Irish Surfing Association: www.isasurf.ie
An Taisce: www.antaisce.org


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