Sunday 15 December 2019

Katie aims to make waves at her Battle for Bay debut

STAND UP GAL: Katie McAnena at Strandhill, Co Sligo, training for the Battle of the Bay. Photo: James Connolly
STAND UP GAL: Katie McAnena at Strandhill, Co Sligo, training for the Battle of the Bay. Photo: James Connolly

Joanna Kiernan

KATIE McAnena is set to make big waves with the world's biggest surfing stars at a major international championship held in Dublin next weekend.

The Galway surfer, who last year became the first woman to tackle the infamous wave in Hawaii known as 'Jaws', will make her debut appearance at the Battle for the Bay Championships in the capital.

"I've never been able to make it before, so I'm really excited about this year," Katie, a qualified doctor who will begin her GP training in July, told the Sunday Independent.

"I've been travelling for competitions and in previous years my college exams stopped me."

Dollymount Strand will transform into water wonderland for the event as surfing superstars from around the globe take part in the Battle for the Bay Kite-Surfing and Stand Up Paddle-board Championships in Clontarf.

The championship, now in its eighth year, will take place next Saturday and Sunday with big names from the world of surfing, including Lewis Crathern, James Boulding and Nick Davies, who will perform breathtaking demonstrations for the crowds.

Last year Katie, 28, who was introduced to the sport at the tender age of 14 at her local wind-surfing centre in Rusheen Bay, became the first woman to wind-surf the notoriously unpredictable and dangerous wave known by locals as 'Jaws'.

"I'm sure if I grew up somewhere else I would have been into GAA or hockey or something else, but it was on my doorstep, this beautiful flat bay with lots of wind, and that's shaped my life," Katie told the Sunday Independent.

"Surfing Jaws, which was just off Maui, was kind of nuts. I'm really proud of it, but I'm more proud of the journey that took me to that point. Yeah, they've got a big wave there in Hawaii, but we've got bigger heavier, waves here in Ireland right at our back door, and all of my training for it was done at home."

Katie urged the Government to harness the growing popularity of water sports and pump more money into hosting events such as the Battle for the Bay.

"There are not a huge amount of resources being pumped into water sports in Ireland unfortunately," she said. "It's a huge resource that we have here, not only for our own people to get involved in, but also it's a world class sport and attracts people from all over the globe.

"An event like this really puts us on the map."

The Battle for the Bay will also feature DJs, a beach volley ball competition, a kids' zone, food stands and wakeboarding displays, as well as the competitions taking place over the weekend.

Aside from Katie, other Irish competitors will include surfer James Hayden, who is tipped to represent Ireland at the next Olympics, and Jade O'Connor, Ireland's top kite racer, who currently ranks number 21 in the world.

Sunday Independent

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