Top surfers hitting the waves in Achill for national competition

GMIT outdoor education students getting in some practice for the weekend’s Surfing Intervarsities.

GMIT outdoor education students getting in some practice for the weekend’s Surfing Intervarsities.

Eleven colleges from all over the country are hitting the waves on Achill Island this weekend for the Irish Surfing Intervarsities, hosted by GMIT Mayo.

The surfing competition runs on Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, at Keel beach.

The event will be run by students and staff on the GMIT outdoor education degree programme.

It will bring the country’s top surfers from 11 third-level colleges around the country to Mayo to compete in what is regarded as the highlight of the surfing calendar.

The event underscores GMIT Mayo’s national profile in the area of outdoor adventure activities and as a leading destination of choice for third-level outdoor adventure students. It will also showcase the beauty of Achill, as well as its suitability for hosting an event of this nature.

GMIT hosting the event is the culmination of months of work behind the scenes by GMIT students and staff, including Castlebar man and GMIT lecturer Jarlath McHale.

Amazing achievement

“Last year we surprised everybody by coming second overall in the team event down in Kerry,” he explained. “It’s an amazing achievement for a college of our size to take on and beat the biggest colleges and universities in the country. We have been training hard all year and hopefully we can turn home ground to our advantage as our guys are very familiar with Keel. To go one better and be crowned the top surfing college in the country would be a dream come true.”

GMIT Mayo sports officer Nigel Jennings paid tribute to the organising committee and said they have added a variety of interesting social events to the schedule to make the competition memorable.

“It’s a great honour for GMIT Mayo to be hosting this sports event,” he said. “It will include events such as live music, beach entertainment and games, as well as food stalls. We’re delighted to invite the public to come along and enjoy the carnival atmosphere.

“We have world renowned surfer Fergal Smith coming along to lend his support. Surfing has grown phenomenally in the last few years and while this year’s storms did their best to destroy the very beach we are using this weekend we will have some spectacular viewing from the beach showing how spectacular surfing can be. Spectators can expect to enjoy what promises to be an incredible occasion.”

Opening heats will commence at 9am tomorrow and run until early evening. The competition concludes on Sunday afternoon.

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