Surfing tourism rides crest of wave
STORM Christine has helped to put Ireland on the international big surf map, according to enthusiasts who have been risking the high seas.
Hundreds of surfers from across Europe took to the waters off Donegal and Sligo yesterday to enjoy huge swells caused by the latest storm to hit the country.
But Ireland's oldest big wave surfer came a cropper -- when his surf board snapped in two and he suffered a cut forehead and nose.
Henry Moore is chairman of the Irish Surfing Association, and at 50 still likes to ride the big ones.
The Sligo man was bloodied but unbowed after his mishap off Mullaghmore. "I had a few rumbles all right," said Henry.
"These sort of conditions put Ireland on the big wave surfing map and that's why so many people have flown in from France, the USA, Germany, Spain and Portugal."
He said modern wetsuits were making Ireland a destination for surfers all year round.
"Fifteen years ago, you wouldn't have done this in January but with the technology of the modern wetsuits it makes surfing possible all year round because the suits keep the cold out."
The waves were smaller than expected, but were still hitting a massive 40ft in places.
"But it's not really about the size of the wave, it's about the power," said Henry.
Renowned Irish surfer Neil Britton, from the Fin McCool Surf School in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, said visitor numbers were up because of the sea swell.