This year the Downings Windsurfing competition will be running on 19 and 20 July 2008 and is celebrating 25 years, with the first competition taking place in 1984. The competition is an Irish Windsurfing Association ranked event for Race and Freestyle.

Last year the event reached a milestone with 82 entrants, with 2 of the competitors being just 6 years old. This is now the biggest and longest running windsurfing competition in Ireland. The success of the competition is down to the generous sponsors who provide fabulous prizes each year, the huge support from the local community and the enthusiasm of all the competitors and the encouragement given to any competitor, but particularly the young novices.

There is also training and board hire from the locally based Gartan Outdoor Centre on the beach. This is available during July and August, which has helped in the success of the competition.

Downings has been hailed as the breeding ground for young Irish windsurfing talent. In fact, in 2007, 9 out of the 11 Irish Windsurfing Champions learnt how to windsurf in Downings. These were Anna Bonnar, Joseph Fletcher, Sarah Bonnar, James Gribben, Mathew McNutt, Maurice Owens, Nick Fletcher, Cathy Loughridge and Amy McBride.

Downings is a golden sandy beach where vehicles have access, making it ideal for rigging up. Within the bay, the area is ideal for beginners and intermediates with conditions outside the harbour in Sheephaven Bay, ideal for the experts. It can be sailed well in all wind directions, but the best conditions are winds from the south or west, as these winds tend to be steady. The area is on the Atlantic coastline with the Gulf stream passing by, giving rise to warm and clean waters, with more recently annual visits from dolphins. The Atlantic coastline is renowned for the strong winds throughout the year, with local thermals usually providing sufficient wind during the summer months.

With ideal conditions on the coastline of Ireland, Windsurfing is becoming more and more popular, and this has reflected in the growing popularity of the Downings Windsurfing competiton.

Downings is located in North Donegal, 1 hour from Donegal town, half an hour from Letterkenny, 2 and a half hours from Belfast, 4 hours from Dublin and 1 hour from Derry.

There are plenty of B&Bs and Hotels in the area including the Downings Bay and the Carrigart Hotel. There are also camping facilities very close to the beach.

For more information about the competition you can email the organiser of the competition, Nick Fletcher on nfletcher@laingorourke.com.