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Sport / Surf’s up: national competition to head north for first time

Photo: Peter Gear

A NATIONAL surfing competition will be held later this year in Shetland for the first time.

Sumburgh will play host to the Scottish Inter-Club Surfing Championships on 17 and 18 September.

It is being organised by the Scottish Surfing Federation, and hosted by local club 60°N Boardriders – Britain’s most northerly surf group.

The event is dubbed the Gathering of the Clans, and it will see teams of surfers from across Scotland compete in Shetland.

The federation said a key purpose of the event is to “get as much Scottish surfers together as possible”.

60°N Boardriders president Vince Attfield said while the hope is to hold the event in Sumburgh, other locations are available if the weather conditions do not play ball.

“It will be a good event for Shetland to host and a good event for us to host,” he told Shetland News.

The group is keen to hear from any possible sponsors for event, and the club can be contacted through its Facebook group. There is also call for volunteers who may want to help out.

Attfield said while the waves can be “fickle”, Shetland can be a fine place for surfing – if the conditions are right.

“There’s a lot of factors – wind, swell, tides, stuff like that – that dictates what areas you’re going to surf,” he said.

“It’s being experienced and knowing where to go and what days, it’s what makes the difference.

“There’s certain places in Shetland that when they’re breaking, they’re as good as anywhere else in the world. But it can be a bit fickle, you don’t quite get the same consistency as you would maybe some other places.”

The surfing club formed around 15 years ago and has helped to create a community of likeminded folk with an interest in the sport.

It is affiliated with the Scottish Surfing Federation and has a committee in place.

Attfield said he himself has been surfing in Shetland for around 30 years.

Although beaches such as West Voe in Sumburgh and Quendale offer a good place to learn, the more experienced surfers tend to catch better waves off rocky points.

Attfield added that September, when the event is being hold, is normally quite a consistent month for swell.

“The winter months is the best time, that’s when your best swells are generated,” he said.

“But if we have too much onshore wind, it makes things a lot more difficult.”

Attfield added there are plenty of people around in Shetland that can point beginners in the right direction.

He said once the competition is over the club might focus on hosting regular surfs as well as looking into securing funding.

All folk need is a wetsuit and surfboard – as well as plenty of enthusiasm – but they are not always the cheapest items to buy.