Some sports get more coverage than most. Others are barely given a mention. Rightly or wrongly, surfing certainly falls into the latter category.
One man attempting to bring the sport to a mainstream audience in Ireland is Gearoid McDaid.
Speaking to KCLR’s Saturday Scoreline, the Sligo native explained the lure of the sport for himself and others like him.
“It’s definitely a niche sport and a growing sport in Ireland but once people start most of them don’t give it up, it is super fun. Ireland has some of the best waves as well which makes it really enjoyable,” said McDaid.
McDaid currently competes in the Qualifying Series (QS). The QS is the third tier of surfing worldwide and sees many of the world’s top surfers compete against each other on a consistent basis.
McDaid, who currently lies within the top 300 surfers on the globe, elaborated on the past year and what his goals are once surfing returns.
He said: “I haven’t been doing too much this year but before that, I was doing a lot of travelling for different competitions.
“The goal is to get into the top 100 when everything starts again next year. I’m really lucky to be able to do that because my sponsors have stuck with me.”
The Sligo man, presently Ireland’s top competitive surfer, was thankful that he could surf while he was forced to remain in Ireland over the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’ve been lucky that I have been able to surf during the lockdown because I have an elite status so that has kept me happy enough while I’ve been stuck at home for more than a year at this stage,” said McDaid.
Surfing will make its debut at the Olympic Games this year and McDaid is fully concentrated on earning a place on Team Ireland for Tokyo 2020 this summer.
“The primary focus is on qualifying for the Olympics. I think the extra year to concentrate on it has helped me a lot and I can’t wait for the qualifiers in El Salvador at the end of next month.”
Getting into surfing
While it is unusual for children in Ireland to get involved in surfing, McDaid, who was Irish national champion at 16, insists that he was inspired by his father to pursue a career in the sport.
“My Dad got me into surfing when I was younger. He brought me surfing every day after school and we used to drive for hours up and down the coast looking for a big wave.”
McDaid didn’t hesitate when asked about the place where he loves surfing more than any other.
“My favourite place to surf is Nicaragua because you’re pretty much guaranteed a super wave every time you’re there. You don’t have to worry about the cold there either which is absolutely great.”
Listen back to the interview below.