World champion to be crowned at windsurfing event

 

More than 80 professional windsurfers from 20 countries, including Ireland, will be in Co Kerry next month for a major windsurfing event on the Dingle Peninsula.

The 2002 PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association) Irish Wave Grand Prix takes place in the Brandon Bay area, near Castlegregory, from October 3rd to 10th.

This is the third year that the PWA has staged the event in Ireland.

The 2001 world champion, Bjorn Dunkerbeck of Spain, will be taking part.

The current Irish wavesurfing champion, Óisín Van Gelderen, from Skerries, Co Dublin has qualified for the event along with brothers Timo and Finn Mullen from Northern Ireland.

Throughout this year, the competitors have participated in PWA World Tour events around the world where they have picked up points.

The Irish Wave Grand Prix is the climax to the season where the new PWA Wave World Champion will be crowned.

"The seas off the Dingle Peninsula are perfect for wave and windsurfing with wave heights often topping the windsurfer's masts," said Mr Andrew Owen, event organiser.

"This event combines the world's best windsurfers, the visually spectacular sport of windsurfing and the beautiful natural environment of the Dingle Peninsula to produce a world-class event."

Highlights of the event in Dingle will be televised in a 30-minute show which will be broadcast to over 100 countries and over 200 million potential households. Sponsorship by Bord Fáilte is via its International Sports Tourism Initiative.

This initiative was established by the Government in 2000 to identify and sponsor high-profile sporting events that have the capacity to enhance Ireland's reputation as a premier sports tourism destination. The Minister for Arts, Tourism and Sport, Mr O'Donoghue, said: "The establishment of the Irish Wave Grand Prix as a permanent and prestigious fixture on the PWA World Tour is a credit to the organisers and to the local people of Castlegregory.

"There is nothing as enlivening as the sight of windsurfers speeding gracefully and skilfully across the waves - and nothing quite complements that image more than the beautiful coastline of Co Kerry," said Mr O'Donoghue.

Based in Hawaii, the PWA membership consists of over 250 elite athletes, both men and women, who have reached the top of their sport.