Irish National SUP Racing Tour – Round 2 Recap

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Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Bundoran Co. Donegal Ireland

Bundoran, Co. Donegal, in the North West of Ireland played host to leg 2 of the Irish National SUP Racing Tour on the 21st and 22nd of September 2013.

Bundoran itself is famous for “The Peak”, a world class point break in the middle of the town.

The long range forecast promised big swell and light wind, and in the end delivered on its promises, with all the main surf breaks firing.

The weekend comprised of two disciplines, a Technical Race of 4.5k, to be held on the Saturday, and the Marathon Race of 22k, which was held on the Sunday.

The event was hosted by Emmet O’Doherty of

SUP Dude Stand Up Paddle Surf school

Technical Race:

Starting early on Saturday morning, the competitors arrived at Bundoran Main Beach to be greated by 6-foot breakers that were pounding the shore.

The race briefing outlined the course: 3 laps of a 1.5k loop, with buoys placed in and out of the surf.

Those who could surf their 12’6 raceboards would be at a distinct advantage! (Mental note: do more 12’6 surfing practice)

7 racers set off through some serious surf with a powerful rip and side swell ricocheting off the head land to the right of the bay. It was anyone’s game…

Mark Gaul fighting the pain

Mark Gaul fighting the pain

By the 2nd lap the pain was showing and all competitors dug deep. Mark Gaul (Jimmy Lewis) unfortunately took a hard wipe-out and limped home with a cracked rib. (A recent x-ray has since given some justification to all his moaning) Unfortunately this put Mark out for the Marathon.

By the 3rd lap, the swell had built a couple of foot and some large double overhead bombs rolled through to the spectator’s amusement. Serious wipe-outs were had as the guys tried surfing their 12’6 race boards back into shore.

Experience allowed Bundoran local Emmet O’Doherty (Surftech, SupDude) to surf all the way in and take 2nd place, with Peter “Speedboat” Kosinski (Starboard, Surfdock) taking 1st.

For me, after a disappointing start I was placing 5th, however some lucky wave rides on the 2nd lap saw me jump 2 places, and maintain my 3rd position to the finish.

In 4th position was David Mangan (Starboard), 5th was Keith Gorman (Naish, Surfdock), 6th, Mark “It hurts to breathe” Gaul, 7th Patrick Crawford.


On Sunday it was the 22km Marathon starting from Streedagh Beach in County Sligo (a beach that almost made my top 5),  following the coast northwards around Mullaghmore, past County Leitrim, and round through into Bundoran Main Beach, in County Donegal.

Mullaghmore island sup

The course – Everyone was excited about rounding Mullaghmore Head

There were a lot of nerves & excitement amongst the competitors, partly due to the long distance but also due to the exposed nature of the course.

Everyone was stoked to be partaking in such an amazing paddle and to witness the breath-taking scenery of the north-west coast from such a different perspective.

Luckily, the weather was ideal with a good tail wind and great visibility, perfect conditions for a SUP marathon.

All competitors were given the safety briefing, and it was mandatory to have leashes, buoyancy aids, mobile phones, and hydration packs. For those with irish skin (i.e. me), I also lathered up with sun cream.


As we set off, the first few kilometres there was very little distance between any of the competitors.

Peter Kosinski chose a tight line close to shore, which gave him a bumpier ride and meant he had to avoid some of the massive reef breaks.

Keith Gorman powered into second, and I followed close behind. Keith and I are roughly the same speed and we kept close together up to the half way point at Mullaghmore.

David Mangan and Emmet were following closely but Keith and I started to edge away as we came to the headland.

The leg from Streedagh to Mullaghmore was pretty much straight downwind, and as we got further out to shore the wind swell picked up and you could ride some bumps.

The scenery was spectacular, especially rounding Mullaghmore with the  castle in the background, and massive waves crashing onto the rocky outcrops, which made for constant noisy rumble for the entire paddle.

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

Heading around the point of Mullaghmore there was a large spread between first and last. I was in 3rd position behind Keith Gorman and Peter Kosinski steaming ahead.

Big 4 metre rollers were coming from left to right (which meant I fell in a few times) and there were lots of weird currents and rips affecting the paddle round the point, which made for a bumpy ride.

I was feeling strong rounding the head and after catching some wind chop I was gaining on Keith, my friend and Dublin paddle partner.

After clearing the point, I was level with Keith, and the water turned to perfect glass, and from then on it was a straight race to Bundoran.

Jimmy Lewis UK & Ireland

Jonathan chasing down Keith at Mullaghmore Head.

My beloved board (Jimmy Lewis Blade II) excels in flat water so I stepped forward, engaged the nose and upped the tempo. After a few kilometres I had put in a good effort and had increased my lead on Keith, with Peter Kosinski still 1 kilometre ahead.

With 10k to go, Bundoran still looked very far away but it was possible to see the sand dunes of Tullan Strand and the blue roof of the swimming pool to get your bearings.

I was still increasing the distance between myself and Keith, but over my right shoulder I saw another racer, David Mangan making a late charge with 5k to go. For the last few kilometres, David and Keith were neck and neck and were battling it out fiercely.

At this stage of any long distance race, mental as well as physical exhaustion sets in, and it becomes increasingly hard to concentrate on your stroke, foot position, and board trim. I spotted a dolphin about 100 metres away and funnily that gave me a boost for the last few kilometres.

With 2k to go, I could see David and Keith gaining on me, and I was seriously tiring. The last thing I wanted was to lose my 2nd place in the last kilometre. I knew that the last 500metres were through the break zone and as we had all learned from the Technical Race, anything could happen.

As I hit the break-zone, a massive set came through and cleaned me out. Knowing that if either Keith or Dave caught a wave properly I was toast, I jumped back on the board only to be hit by another massive wave. I finally got back onto the board and managed to catch one of the smaller waves most of the way into shore, and pretty much crawled to the finish line, placing 2nd, exhausted but elated.

David Mangan came shortly after in 3rd, Keith in 4th, and Emmet in 5th.

The overwhelming feeling from everyone was a sense of achievement, not only in racing a gruelling course, but also from finishing such a long distance safely.

A massive well done to all the competitors, and Emmet O’Doherty from SUP Dude for holding the event.

Next stop: The final leg of the Irish National Tour is in County Kerry, October 5th/6th.

Overall Results

Technical Race:

  • Peter Kosinski – 52 mins
  • Emmet O’Doherty +4.24
  • Jonathan Coyle +7.22
  • David Mangan +8.29
  • Keith Gorman +12.51
  • Mark Gaul +14.38
  • Patrick Crawford (2 laps crossover) +9.01


  • Peter Kosinski – 3hrs 12 minutes
  • Jonathan Coyle + 11.43
  • David Mangan +13.10
  • Keith Gorman +17.47
  • Emmet O’Doherty +47.46
About Jonathan Coyle

Jonathan Coyle is a stand up paddle boarder from Ireland. He is sponsored by Jimmy Lewis UK & Ireland & and K4 Fins. Get in touch and follow his progress at


  1. Fantastic article Jonathan, well written and explained. Just read through it here with my wife and daughter who asked what ‘engaging the nose’ and ‘board trim’ meant! Keep up the writing dude, loving it! Can you tell us who is now leading the points for representing Éire in Nicaragua in Feb 2014! For sure it should be Speedboat himself but I think the Irish Surfing Association still has the insane ‘Under 18′ rule which holds us back! IS it your good self??

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