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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Chill out time for surfers
About 160 surfers are expected at the festival
Surfers from throughout the world will gather in the Outer Hebrides on Monday for a week-long surf festival.

It is hoped the event can help to establish the area as a key destination for tourists.

The Western Isles are hoping to reap the rewards of the visit to Lewis by the 160 boarders from as far afield as Tasmania, Australia, Hawaii and California.

The former world champion Tom Curren and four-times British champion Lee Bartlett will compete against home grown Scottish talent.

The Western Isles look to be the most untapped region for perfect waves and perfect surf on the planet

Derek Hynd, competition organiser
They will ride what organisers claim will be some of the best waves in the world.

And while the event is expected to generate a 100,000 for the local economy it is hoped the long term benefits will be even greater.

Britain's surfing capital, Newquay in Cornwall, is estimated to earn 30m a year from the boarders who flock there in search of the perfect wave.

The event, which starts on Monday, is the first of its kind in Scotland and has cost about 44,000 to stage.

The director of the competition, Australian Derek Hynd, said: "The Western Isles look to be the most untapped region for perfect waves and perfect surf on the planet."

'World class reef breaks'

Western Isles Enterprise, the Western Isles Council and local tourist board have all put money into the event.

One of the main commercial backers is Hebridean Surf Holidays based in Stornoway.

The company believes surfing will play a major part in the islands' future tourism.

Its website states that the isles of Lewis and Harris have a spectacularly rugged Atlantic coastline with "numerous empty beaches and a multitude of world class reef breaks - pollution free and washed twice daily by the 5 metre tides of the North Atlantic Ocean".

The waters around the islands are relatively warm because of the influence of the tropical Gulf stream

The water temperature on the west coast of Lewis reaches 16C in the summer and rarely drops below 9C in the late winter.

The summer is good for surfers in so far as the sea temperature is comfortable and the long daylight hours in midsummer allows boarders to ride the waves throughout the night.

The Hebridean Surf Festival runs from September 11th to 14th with the venues decided daily depending on surfing conditions.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Scotland
Surf's up in Stornoway
30 May 00 | Sci/Tech
UK beaches in better shape
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