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Head coach proud of Scotland's junior surfers at world championships in Rio


By Alan Hendry

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Olivia Mackay (North Shore Surf Club) and Finn Clark (Edinburgh and Borders Surf Club) at the opening ceremony. Picture: Malcolm Anderson
Olivia Mackay (North Shore Surf Club) and Finn Clark (Edinburgh and Borders Surf Club) at the opening ceremony. Picture: Malcolm Anderson

Head coach Craig Sutherland says he is proud of the way Scotland's top young surfers have been performing in the world junior championships in Brazil.

Craig McLachlan (18), from Murkle, and Olivia Mackay (16), from Portskerra – both members of Thurso-based North Shore Surf Club – are among the nine-strong Scottish squad taking on the best in the world in the under-18 and under-16 age groups at Rio de Janeiro's Macumba Beach.

Craig, who is captaining the squad, is Scotland's highest-placed surfer. He won both his boys' U18 repechage heats to make it into round three of the main draw, competing in the top 64.

Speaking in a televised interview after his repechage two win, Craig said “It’s pretty stressful. I wasn’t quite sure of the result until I got onto the beach but then my team told me I came first so I was stoked.”

Also coming through their repechage round one were Fraserburgh-based duo Callie Cruickshank, competing in U16 girls, and Lola Mitchell, in U16 and U18 girls. Lola demonstrated great skill in difficult conditions and also made it to repechage two at U18 level.

Scottish squad captain Craig McLachlan on the beach at the World Junior Surfing Championships in Rio. Picture: Malcolm Anderson
Scottish squad captain Craig McLachlan on the beach at the World Junior Surfing Championships in Rio. Picture: Malcolm Anderson

The championships, hosted by the International Surfing Association (ISA), see competitors from 42 countries competing over a 10-day period, with the finals scheduled for December 3.

The Scottish surfers have been praised by commentators for their team spirit and commitment.

Sutherland said: “The ISA commentator is so impressed that our team are all home-grown and used to surfing in all conditions, including the snow, normally wearing 6mm wetsuits, gloves and boots.

“I’m so proud of the team – some losses, some wins, but just an incredible effort from all of them as they mix it with the big guns.”

For surfers eliminated from the championships, there is still training. The squad wake at 6am and surf for a couple of hours before breakfast, then all head to the competition venue to support the Scottish surfers still competing.

There is more surf training in the afternoons, and in the evenings they have video analysis sessions to identify what is going well and areas for improvement.

All heats and interviews are broadcast live on the ISA website.

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Parent Neil Brown said: "The coverage has been terrific. It’s brilliant to see the junior Scottish squad being introduced to the international sporting environment, learning and competing with the best in the world, growing in confidence, becoming more cohesive as a team and having great fun. It’s nerve-racking to watch, and really heart-warming to get such positive commentary.”

Key sponsors of the Scottish team are Malcolm Group, RWE Camster Wind Farm Community Fund, Baillie Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, Stena Drilling, Lost Shore Surf Resort, North Highland Initiative, GMG Energy, Gray and Adams, Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm, North Berwick Rotary, Thurso Rotary, Broch Rotary, Zenith, North Berwick Trust and Tern Alpha Charity Fund.

The surfers say they are very grateful to all sponsors for giving them the opportunity to compete in Brazil.

Scottish squad captain Craig McLachlan competing in the World Junior Surfing Championships in Rio. Picture: Malcolm Anderson
Scottish squad captain Craig McLachlan competing in the World Junior Surfing Championships in Rio. Picture: Malcolm Anderson
The Scotland squad at the opening ceremony of the World Junior Surfing Championships in Brazil. Picture: Malcolm Anderson
The Scotland squad at the opening ceremony of the World Junior Surfing Championships in Brazil. Picture: Malcolm Anderson

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