O’Neill Europe and the Association of Surfing Professionals, Europe will be taking the World Qualifying Series (WQS) on the high road to Scotland this coming April for the 5-star O’Neill Highland Open. Between the 25th April — 2nd May 2006, 168 of the world’s most up and coming surfers will make WQS history as they march towards mainland Scotland’s northernmost coast to compete in this landmark event.
The host wave for the Highland Open is the fabled Thurso East. Lying at 59° degrees north, Thurso will be the most Northern wave spot on the planet to host a professional surfing event. Likened by some to a coldwater Nias in Sumatra, Thurso is one of the most consistent spots on the British Isles, renowned for dishing up long, winding right-hand tubes that spin off the flat, kelp covered reef. But scoring Scotland’s prize wave comes at a cost as the peaty brown water in the river mouth barely rises above a bone-chilling 8 – 10°c. This is serious wetsuit territory.
Thurso’s backdrop is equally extreme, isolated, rugged and scattered with majestic castles to make the O’Neill Highland Open one of the most unique stops ever on the WQS tour.
If Thurso fails to turn it on for the event, the contest organizers have the option to go mobile and travel the short distance to alternate swell magnets. Brims Ness, which means ‘Surf Point’ in Nordic, is just one option that is renowned for providing the goods when Thurso’s reef is dormant.
The inaugural Highland Open isn’t for the faint hearted and will test the WQS soldiers’ strength and resolve to rise through the ranks. But with 2000 WQS tour points awaiting the eventual winner as well as the lions share of the 100,000$US prize purse it’s game on for this special stop on the world tour.
O’Neill Europe began started hosting WQS events in off-the-beaten track locations back in 2000 when they staged the first ever professional surfing contest in Nias, Sumatra with the ‘Deep Jungle Open’. A year on, in 2001, O’Neill introduced professional surfing to the Island paradise of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and enjoyed five successive years of perfect, tropical waves at the ‘Deep Blue Open’. The Highland Open is simply another chapter in O’Neill’s unwavering commitment to providing perfect and diverse locations for the world’s best surfers to prove their worth.
Check www.oneilleurope.com for further updates.