Saturday's extreme weather conditions of 10ft waves and gale force winds pushed

the amateur sailors to their limits in the finals of the Ireland Wave Open Competition

at Brandon Bay, Castlegregory. This event acts as the qualifier for the PWA

professional competition, which begins on Monday 8 October.

The Wave Open, which ran from 4 ­ 6 October is a joint Sports Media Ireland

(SMI) & Irish Windsurfing Association (IWA) international competition set

up to enable the top eight qualifiers to compete against world class wave sailors

in the main event, the Ireland PWA 2001 Wave Grand Prix, sponsored by Sport

Ireland, the Irish Tourist Board.

Competitors for the Wave Open travelled from all over Europe and the United

States to have the opportunity to gain qualification for the PWA competition,

but the event was dominated by the Brits who took six of the eight wildcards.

The qualifiers in winning order are: Nathan Mershan ­ USA, Andy King ­

UK, Rasmus Mose Baltsersen ­ Denmark, Lee Sheaff ­ UK, Tom Buggy ­

UK, Terry Luxton ­ UK, Jan Sleigh ­ UK, Danny Seales ­ UK.

Terry Luxton, one of yesterday's qualifiers said, "The qualifier was an

exhilarating experience as the conditions were so challenging. This is my first

year of competing and I would never have anticipated getting this far. In competing

in the PWA event, I am now doing something I have always dreamed of."

The winners now have the unique opportunity to compete against the best in

the world, as only PWA registered sailors are eligible to compete in this elite

event that offers $60,000 in prize money.

The remaining four wildcards go to Ireland's Oisin van Gelderen from Skerries,

Co. Dublin, Timo Mullen from Lurgen, Co. Armagh, Rob Jones, Castlegregory and

Peter Nunan, Cork. Based in Castlegregory, The PWA Ireland Wave Grand Prix,

which starts tomorrow, will be a roving contest on the Dingle Peninsula allowing

the competition to take place in the best possible local conditions on the day,

although it is anticipated that most of the wave action will take place in Brandon

Bay.

This is the second year that the Professional Windsurfers Association has staged

the event in Ireland, considered by some as one of the best windsurfing areas

in the world.