Surfing championship organisers deliver 'an amazing event' at Thurso
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The British Surfing Championships held in Thurso under strict Covid-19 protocols have been hailed an outstanding success.
Scottish Surfing Federation (SSF) director William Watson said: "A special thanks to all involved who have delivered such an amazing event under some of the most challenging conditions and warm congratulations to the champions and British team of 2021."
Highlighting the amount of paperwork involved and all the different versions of Covid plans that had been drawn up, local event organiser Pat Kieran MBE said: "It was a huge team effort. Everybody played their part – it was just absolutely brilliant.
"It was a huge thing for surfing in Britain – it was just an incredible weekend. We are just delighted with the way it worked out in extreme conditions."
When not competing, the 16 athletes who came up to take part from England and Wales were more or less confined to their rooms in Thurso's Pentland Hotel to comply with the restrictions.
Jason Simpson, chairman of the Thurso-based North Shore Surf Club (NSSC), pointed out that a tremendous amount of work had been carried out by the committee, particularly with all the protocols that had to be put in place.
"I believe this was the first surfing competition in the UK to go ahead – that is testimony to the amount of hard work of the volunteers," he said. "The conditions were excellent. It was quite windy and there was plenty of surf.
"It was not just four seasons in one day, we were getting it every half-hour – from blizzards to beautiful sunshine, cracking waves, we had it all."
Due to spectators not being allowed he pointed out that many people were able to enjoy watching live-streaming of the event on social media instead from the comfort of their own homes.
Mr Simpson said: "It was great to see the women's surfing closing the gap with the men. The standard is improving year by year. I think the athletes had a great time. It was just a pity they could not have a party after it – we will maybe get it next year."
Remarking on Thurso's Phoebe Strachan taking fifth place in the women's competition, he said: "I am pretty sure it is the highest ranking a woman from Scotland has achieved in one of these events. She had some massive waves – she had the best wave on the day on Saturday."
The event, hosted by SSF with the support of the local surf club, brought together the home nation surfing federations of England, Scotland and Wales. A team from the Channel Islands Surfing Federation should also have been taking part, but was unable to due to quarantine restrictions.
It was the first time British Surfing Championships had taken place in Caithness since the 1980s and the first time it had been back in Scotland since 1992.
The local organiser in charge of communications, Tamara Hicks, said: "We have had such good feedback from the other teams, team members and all the athletes, saying how professionally it was run and how well looked after they were. We are just really pleased that that is the case."
Congratulating the winners who will lead the British surfing team, the SSF board of directors stated: "We would also like to express a warm thank-you to the team in Thurso who have done an outstanding job leading the event, our sponsors, our fellow home country federations and all whom have supported the safe execution of the British championships during these challenging times.
"What an outstanding event – we look forward to supporting the full British surfing team, as they prepare for the World Surfing Games in El Salvador and beyond."