There is a phenomenon happening at T-Bay Surf Club in Tramore every Sunday this autumn. It's worth taking a trip to Tramore to see the bustle of activity and the palpable air of excitement outside T-Bay Surf Club from 10am to 12.30 every Sunday morning. There are 150 youngsters ranging in ages from 8 to 18 changing into wet suits, sorting surfboards, taking part in structured warm-up sessions and then hitting the waves in a riot of coloured bibs - green, yellow, orange, purple, white and dotted liberally throughout these young surfers the twenty or more red clad volunteer coaches and helpers. 

This activity is all part of the T-Bay Surf Club Autumn and Spring Series which has been growing from strength to strength over the last five years and is all organised on a voluntary basis with local sponsorship from Dooly's fish & chips
The programme is aimed at getting young surfers involved in surfing from an early age - the youngest being seven and taking them through a very carefully structured and graded surf training programme. The emphasis is on safety and making sure all these boys and girls can enjoy surfing at their own level in a safe environment but at the same time experience the thrill, excitement and challenge of jumping to their feet and riding a wave to the beach.
At the moment there are five levels and the young surfers can progress from one level to the next as they gain experience.
That first moment when a young person takes the plunge, literally, puts on their wetsuit, grabs a board and heads for the sea, will for many, be a moment to remember for the rest of their lives - that's not to mention that first thrill of jumping to their feet and catching a wave.

Having passed though the various stages of white, green, yellow, orange and purple the ultimate aim is to bring youngsters into the Academy where the focus is on honing and fine tuning surfing skills with a view to taking part in National Surfing Contests and ultimately being selected for the Irish team squad to take part in International contests.

T-Bay Surf Club is the oldest and largest surf club in the country and is a non- profit making organisation with charitable status run by a team of volunteers with the primary aim of promoting the sport of surfing. T-Bay was one of the first clubs in the country to build it's own distinctive circular club building and has long had a tradition of surfers from the club winning national contests and being selected for the Irish team to compete in contests all over the world. Currently there are a number of young surfers from T-Bay on the Irish squad.
Young surfers joining T-Bay Surf Club automatically become members of the Irish Surfing Association (ISA) thus getting the benefit of ISA insurance. Softboards and wetsuits are available to those that do not have them for a minimal charge. As surfers progress through the grades they are encouraged to get their own wetsuits and boards.

There are over 25 volunteers helping to organise the Surf Series every weekend. Each group of surfers in the water will have a minimum of one coach to eight surfers with often a better ratio than that. With a huge emphasis on safety, last winter 20 of these club coaches gave up their evenings over 10 week of

 extensive training in First Aid and a Surf Beach Rescue course organised by the Irish Water Safety Association. This involved rigorous pool and beach training sessions in rescue and safety and concluded with practical and written tests.
COMMUNITY SUCCESSThe entire operation of the Autumn and Spring Surf Series is a great community success involving young people from Tramore and the surrounding South-East including Kilkenny, Wexford, South Tipperary and Dungarvan. The entire operation is quietly and efficiently organised by an army of volunteers from the T-Bay Surf Club and the community and is a completely non-profit making operation with supporting sponsorship from Dooly's fish & chips.
At the moment the Autumn series is closed to newcomers because of the large numbers involved but the Series will open again in the Spring. This entire Series is about opening young people up to the sport of surfing.

Who knows but one of those eight year olds paddling out for the first time or one of the elite Academy surfers making their first perfect bottom turn or cut back will go on to enjoy a lifetime of travelling the world searching for the perfect wave or competing on the professional circuit or more realistically will enjoy taking part in a sport that is active, healthy and instils a great love and understanding of the ocean and our environment.


Posted on 01/11/2012 by ZL