Riding the waves to success: Thurso community hosts British surfing qualifiers in run up to the 2021 Olympics

Tue, 25/05/2021 - 12:51pm

Our Youth Consultant Innes has written his latest blog post on the Team GB Olympic Surfing Trials that took place in his home of Thurso, Highland last month.

The Olympics. Millions of people come together - sporting flags from every corner of the world; spectating or participating in one of the biggest sporting & cultural events on this planet. This buzz of crowds at the Olympic games can feel a world away from Rural Scotland and indeed a world away from the lives we all currently live. The games this year will undoubtedly be different from that of previous years; restrictions on travel, social distancing and the question of viability have all come centre field. It’s not just different because of this but also because surfing will be making a debut - joining the list of events in the 2021 programme.

It’s a great sport as it is entirely contingent on mother nature and the conditions she provides, which makes it inherently beautiful and inherently unpredictable. There is absolutely nothing artificial about barreling through the pulses of the ocean and tumbling to your demise with a mouth full of kelp whilst your eyes burn from the salt - it doesn’t occur in a controlled, man-made, environment. This of course has its challenges when it comes to selecting Britain’s surfers - in the midst of a pandemic - where do you go? One would assume the governing agencies would opt for somewhere like Cornwall or Devon - somewhere warm [ish], somewhere populated and somewhere close to the populus south . That wasn’t the case though. They chose Thurso - mainland Britain’s most northerly town, probably as far from Cornwall as you can get but this wasn’t in vain. Despite being a small rural community, Thurso has world class waves and has athletes to of an equal calibre as well as a legion of highly talented and supportive volunteers willing to accept any challenge thrown at them.

I approached Pat Kieran MBE (Event Organiser) for a quote and he responded stating : “It's been a fantastic experience, though frustrating at times, getting permission to run the event.

It was a really important event, being a major step along the path to Olympic glory for the British Team in Tokyo this year To pull off a competition of this importance in the middle of a global pandemic is mega impressive.

The good reputation of the waves around Thurso is already well established but the reputation of the Thurso surf scene and the North Shore Surf Club in particular, will be polished to a high sheen in the eyes of the British, if not international surfing community, The world was watching, with every heat being webcast and available to anyone with a web connection. All the organisation came together thanks to an amazing team effort and last but not least, the waves themselves turned up for both days allowing the judges to pick out worthy men and women to represent the UK at El Salvador for the World Champs in May”

The Thurso community has proved that rural communities thrive when given the chance; optimising their natural characteristics and their ability to come together and deliver something truly remarkable against all the odds.


Youth Consultant