The Irish competition calendar kicked off on St.Patricks weekend, with the first round of the IWA O\'Neill Wave Championships. St. Patrick was not being kind though. While there was plenty of wind, a distinct lack of waves (due to offshore wind) and an air temperature of 3 to 4 degrees meant that freestyle would be run instead of waves, and competition was going to be tough, if not insane.
This did not put off the Irish though, and a big fleet registered and braved the ice cold conditions. The IWA also arranged for PWA Head Judge Duncan Coombes to fly over and train a panel of 15 volunteer judges for the whole Championships series, and Duncan\'s experience and expertise was invaluable for the smooth running of this event, and also should ensure the success of the entire series.
The competition itself saw 4 full rounds of freestyle run over the 3 days, and while the first day was freezing, Saturday and Sunday were almost tropical at a balmy, sunny 8 or 9 degrees !!
The battle for the top spot was fought hard, and it was extremely close with Morgan McGuire wining the first two finals, and Daniel Gardener wining the 3rd. Oisin van Gelderen took top spot in the 4th final, so after a tense wait to count the rest of the scores and work out the discard, the judges announced Morgan as the winner of the event by 0.3 of a point !
The O\'Neill Freestyle Championships continues with a dedicated freestyle event in Rusheen Bay, Co.Galway in August, and further rounds are possible at the remaining wave events. Like the wave Championships, all these scores will be added up at the end of the year to decide the overall winner in each disclipine.
Results: 1st Morgan McGuire 2nd Oisin van Gelderen 3rd Daniel Gardener 4th Neil Turpin
Ladies 1st Noelle Doran 2nd Anna Ryan
Fun Fleet 1st Dave Norman
Photo Credit: George Allen & Michael Clancy