Portrush was the place to be last weekend, running alongside Swell Portrush, the surfing community gathered for our National Longboard and Surf SUP Championships and Team Selection. West Strand was the venue on Saturday with competition kicking off with Surf SUP where Finn Mullen and Katie Mc Anena continued to dominate taking the Men’s and Women’s titles respectively.
The Longboard contest was the show piece of the weekend with an impressive turnout including several former National Longboard Champions, Ronan Breen, John McCurry, Craig Butler and Wesley Hannigan in Men’s and Ione Byrne, Gemma Gillespie and defending Champion, Ruby Knox in the Women’s.
The early standout in Round 1 of the Men’s were the local favourites John McCurry, Dan Lavery and Hector Laverty and Waterford’s Wes Hannigan, Craig Butler and Tom Breen. The best junior performance came from young Harry Reeves, Rossnowlagh Surf Club who put in a solid performance in Round 1 but a tough heat draw saw him eliminated by Tom Breen and Hector Laverty.
As conditions got more difficult on the low tide, the quarter finals saw the first major upset as John McCurry exited the contest followed by Craig Butler, Dan Lavery, Hector Laverty and Donal O’Reilly in the semi-finals. This set up a final between Matthieu Glemarec, Bundroan, Tramore’s Tom Breen and Wesley Hannigan and Tom Knox, Castlegregory.
Tom Breen, who reached the final and finished 4th in Men’s Longboard at the European Surfing Championships in Portugal in July, produced an outstanding performance scoring 16.25 with a 8.75 and 7.50 leaving the other three finalists needing a combination of scores to catch him. Wesley Hannigan finished 2nd, Matthiue Glemarce 3rd and Tom Knox 4th.
Tom and his father Ronan Breen, also competing, made a little bit of surfing history being the only father son combo to have taken a national title in the same category. Ronan held the National Longboard title in 1998, five years before Tom was born.
The Women’s event was equally spectacular with the largest entry in the event’s history and the performance level of traditional longboarding as good as it gets. Ruby Knox who finished 5th in Women’s Longboard at the European Surfing Championships was an early stand out, along with Local favourites, Carla Magee and Eimear Tangney, Donegal’s Bea Greenberg, Sligo’s Gemma Gillespie and Waterford’s Grace Doyle swapping her usual shortboard for a longboard.
In the semi-finals Ruby had the highest wave total with 11.25 and Bea had the highest scoring wave, dropping a 7.00 to bring her wave total to 11.00, both progressing to the final with Gemma Gillespie and Eimear Tangney.
The final saw Bea surf a very tactical heat and again ride the highest scoring wave, backed up with another solid score to take the Women’s Longboard title. Bea has certainly built on her experience competing at the World Longboard Championships in El Salvador earlier this year with a marked progression in her longboarding. Ruby took 2nd with a good score but not finding the 3.76 she needed to secure the title. Gemma finished 3rd and Eimear 4th.
The Women’s Selection contest culminated in a final with Grace Doyle, Ruby Knox, Jude Lee and Ayesha Garvey, with Una Britton and Maia Monaghan going down in the semi-finals. Ruby Knox demonstrated she rides a shortboard as well as her longboard securing a 4.0 for her first wave and a 4.5 for the last ride to take first, each of the other three finalist needed a stronger needed to final a second good score to challenge Ruby. Grace Doyle, coming of the back of the first Irish Women’s Title settle for 2nd, Ayesha Garvey 3rd and Jude Lee, 4th.
Gearoid Mc Daid was unstoppable in the Men’s Selection taking the win with Tom Muphy edging ahead by .45 to take 2nd over Tom Breen in 3rd and Jai Widger 4th. Robin Keating and Kilian Maher went out in the semi-finals finishing joint 5th.
The Playhouse was the venue for Saturday night for Tides Surf Mag screening of the Shapers Edition with special guest Gearoid McDaid. Gearoid who secured his sixth Irish title last weekend, matching Andrew Hill’s record after thirty years, made a presentation of a replica cup to Andrew to recognise and celebrate Andrew six consecutive titles from 1989 to 1994.