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Farr High School pupil Olivia Mackay to compete for Scotland at the European Junior Surfing Championships in Portugal

By Alan Hendry

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A Portskerra teenager is looking forward to testing herself against the best young surfers from across the continent in a top-level competition in Portugal this summer.

Oilvia Mackay will be competing at the European Junior Surfing Championships. Picture: Malcolm Anderson
Oilvia Mackay will be competing at the European Junior Surfing Championships. Picture: Malcolm Anderson

Olivia Mackay is part of the 10-strong Scotland squad for the European junior championships taking place in July.

She along with Craig McLachlan from Murkle and Nadia Murray from Thurso are members of the North Shore Surf Club represented in the national squad.

The team members are raising funds to go towards their expenses and have already had pledges of support from Dounreay Communities Fund and a number of businesses to help them take part in the Championship.

EuroSurf Junior 2022 will be held from July 15-24 at Santa Cruz, north-west of Lisbon.

The far north trio will all be competing at under-18 level after qualifying through their results at national level.

Olivia (14), who is a pupil at Farr High School, has only been surfing since lockdown.

Caithness duo Craig and Nadia are both Thurso High School pupils.

Craig (16) won the open title at the 2021 Scottish championships held at Thurso East in November, becoming the youngest to take the top award. He started surfing when he was 10.

Nadia (15), from Thurso, has been surfing since 2018 and was an under-18 winner in the Scottish Grom Series in 2021.

While competing in the European junior championships will be a new experience for Nadia and Olivia, Craig has taken part before.

The surfers are keen to highlight the time and effort put in by the team’s coaches, Phoebe Strachan and Craig Sutherland.

Phoebe, also a member of NSSC, won the Scottish women’s title for the second time in a row at the Scottish national championships held in Caithness last month.

“I’m extremely proud of all of them for getting into the Scotland team,” Phoebe said.

“Olivia only started surfing a year or so ago and first started competing last year.

“For her to make the Scottish team in her first year of competing is just crazy.

“For Nadia, the hard work she has been putting in obviously paid off last year with her great results in the series. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

“I’ve surfed with Craig for a long time now, and coached him.

“His level is just pushing and pushing and he is at European level. He is really good. It’s going to be really exciting to see.

“They have all worked super-hard. Some of them have never surfed abroad before.

“Hopefully it will be enjoyable for them – it’s a brilliant opportunity.”

Phoebe added: “We’ve worked really hard on growing a good kids’ surfing community. It is thriving – we’ve got ridiculous numbers on the waiting list and we’ve got over 40 kids that come out with us each Tuesday.”

All expenses for the Scotland team need to be met through fundraising, donations, sponsors and parents.

The team has an online fundraising page (www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/scottish-junior-surfers-compete-at-eurosurf-2022).

All the team members will be attending a training camp at Melvich in June.

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