EUROPE'S LEADING WINDSURFERS TO CONVERGE ON DINGLE PENINSULA

Fáilte Ireland Targets World's 20 Million Windsurfers through the International Sports Tourism Initiative

"The South West of Ireland is a windsurfing paradise". That is the message being sent out when the Fáilte Ireland Windsurfing Triple Crown is staged in Co. Kerry for the third successive year, on May 7th - 10th.

Attracting over 40 of Europe's leading windsurfers to Brandon Bay, Castlegregory, the Fáilte Ireland Windsurfing Triple Crown has been secured for Ireland as part of the International Sports Tourism Initiative, co-ordinated by Fáilte Ireland.

Competitors will be judged over four days of competition on their performance in two categories - wave sailing (much like surfing) and - wave jumping - with some spectacular aerial stunts guaranteed. The leading Irish contenders are Oisin van Gelderen from Skerries, County Dublin and Timo Mullen from Lurgan, County Armagh who will compete against the best from the UK and Europe.

The Fáilte Ireland Windsurfing Triple Crown is the first leg of the UKWA Triple Crown Championship, which will travel to Brigbury Bay Devon, England in September and will finish on the Isle of Tiree, Scotland in October. The event is free to spectators and as a roving championship will follow the best conditions on offer locally. The action can be followed daily on www.3xcrown.com.

A TV highlights programme of the Fáilte Ireland Windsurfing Triple Crown, showcasing Ireland's water sports resources, will be broadcast in 80 countries globally.

Mr. John O'Donoghue TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said, "Ireland has excellent year-round water sporting facilities and County Kerry's spectacular North Shore area is a prime example. The scenic coastline, great waves and famous local hospitality make the Dingle Peninsula one of the world's most welcoming windsurfing destinations.

"Fáilte Ireland has identified water sports as a tourism niche with great potential. The Fáilte Ireland Windsurfing Triple Crown, together with the other water sport events being supported by Fáilte Ireland, will help us showcase to the world Ireland's varied water sport holiday options. I welcome all of the participants to Co. Kerry and hope that they will not only enjoy the surfing waters of the Atlantic, but will also avail of our unique Irish welcome!"

Mr. Andy Groom, Triple Crown Tour Manager commented, "We have always been made extremely welcome at all of the world tour events here in Ireland. I am really looking forward to returning to Brandon Bay which offers excellent windsurfing conditions and a truly spectacular backdrop".

With over 20 million windsurfers worldwide, Fáilte Ireland is specifically targeting windsurfing and related water sports activities as a niche tourism market with potential for significant growth. Ireland's 5,600 km of scenic coastline and hundreds of lakes and rivers offer excellent year round water sport conditions.

The International Sports Tourism Initiative co-ordinated by Fáilte Ireland targets and sponsors sporting events with the capacity to enhance Ireland's reputation as a leading sporting holiday destination. Other water sports events supported by Fáilte Ireland in 2004 include the BMW Round Ireland Yacht Race in June and the Cork Week regatta in July. A Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA) World Cup event is also planned for Castlegregory in September.