WINDSURFING in the midlands has become a minority sport, but 20 years ago Lough Ennell was host to regular windsurfing competitions and was seen as one of the premier locations for speed windsurfing.
It would not be uncommon to see roof racked cars with boards, sails and kids hanging out of them. In recent years Windsurfing in Ireland has seen a spike in popularity through the Irish Slalom Series. The series organises events around the country, mainly in coastal locations like Galway, Kerry, Dublin, Donegal etc.
These events can attract up to 100 competitors along with family members and spectators and have proven to be a very successful tourism boost to towns and villages across the country. Last weekend was the turn of Mullingar with competitors flying in from Donegal, Cork, Laois, Galway, Offaly and Fuerteventura to see windsurfing racing return to the midlands.
The Whitelaw Family in Tudenham were the hosts for the weekend and facilitated boat safety, race organisation and family BBQ on the Saturday evening. Speaking at the event Barry Whitelaw said, “We are delighted to have the event back in the midlands. It allows people in the midlands the opportunity to experience racing on this scale and it illustrates the resource we have in Lough Ennell and Westmeath.”
Racing took place on Saturday and Sunday and 11 races were held over the two days with current Irish Champion Pearse Geaney, from Cork taking the honours. Pearse speaking at the event said ‘this has been one of the best weekends for windsurfing in a long time and a destination I think we will be returning too’.
Lough Ennell is a significant natural resource and one that is not utilised to its full extent. It has the potential to host similar future events on a much bigger scale. If people are looking to find out more information please log onto www.irishslalom.ie . The next event is to be held in Dublin on the weekend of September 10.