The worldʼs coldest professional surfing contest returns to Scotland in spring 2008. OʼNeill has confirmed that the Highland Open, its signature event, will be staged on Scotlandʼs frigid North Shore for the third year running. OʼNeillʼs first two pioneering contests have revolutionised European surfing, putting the icy barrels of Scotland on the world surfing map, but this Aprilʼs event looks set to be even bigger and better than its predecessors.
The OʼNeill Highland Open by Swatch is the must-see surfing contest in Europe, and no wonder. Itʼs a contest with a difference: itʼs run by surfers, for surfers, at the world-class breaks that lie along Scotlandʼs North Shore.
Itʼs based at the legendary reef of Thurso East, where the water temperature is a mind-and-body numbing 4 degrees Celsius. At 59 degrees north, Thurso East is more hospitable to polar bears than humans, but for a growing number of top-quality surfers, the cold is an irrelevance. What matters is the awesome quality of the waves delivered by Arctic swells onto Thursoʼs reef – long, clean, immense right-handers that rival the perfection of Hawaiiʼs own, rather warmer North Shore. Here, in Scotland, boardshorts arenʼt an option. Only the serious need apply.
The OʼNeill Highland Open by Swatch is a mobile event, meaning that the best waves from a total of six venues along Scotlandʼs North Shore are accessible. If necessary, the contest will re-locate from its base at Thurso to other top quality breaks such as Brims Ness, Murkle West, Nothing Left, Point of Ness and Strathy. The event is also a top-graded World Qualifying Series (WQS) event: at Prime 6-stars, and with a prize purse of US$135,000, the OʼNeill Highland Openby Swatch will draw the serious contenders on the WQS. The quality of surfing will be unrivalled in Britain for 2008, as the likes of Britainʼs own Russell Winter – the winner in 2006 – and the 2007 victor, Australian Nathan Hedge, vie with Brazilians, Hawaiians, South Africans and Californians – not to mention a guaranteed Scottish wildcard entry – to wield the coveted Highland Open sword.
Thereʼs more: the first and second-placed surfers win a berth on the OʼNeill The Mission France 2008. This unique, fully mobile event explores the French coast from Brittany to the Basque Country, with options for a detour to the Mediterranean Sea. Ten of the worldʼs best surfers are invited on The Mission. They judge each other – and the winner takes home US$25,000.
OʼNeill is also 100% committed to continuing the companyʼs other mission, one that has been a constant since its formation over 50 years ago: to raise ecological awareness and safeguard the environment. For the 2008 Highland Open, OʼNeill welcomes Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) as one the key event partners. The Highland Open is supported by EventScotland, the national organisation for sports and cultural events.
The OʼNeill Highland Open runs from 23 to 30 April. Itʼs not for the faint-hearted – but it is the place where youʼll see the best surfing in Britain this year.
For more information, see the O’Neill Highland Open event website.