Edinburgh schoolboy surfer takes on world’s best in Japan

Peter Laing is representing Scotland in the under 18's Vissla ISA Junior world surfing competition in Japan.
Peter Laing is representing Scotland in the under 18's Vissla ISA Junior world surfing competition in Japan.
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HE IS more used to the icy waters of Dunbar than the pristine beaches of Hawaii.

But now, an Edinburgh schoolboy is set to swap the shores of East Lothian for the warmer climes of the Pacific Ocean as he prepares to represent Scotland at an international surfing competition in Japan.

Peter Laing, 17, began surfing on a family holiday to Sydney as a nine-year-old and has since competed in events across the country.

The teenager, a pupil at Fettes College, will now test his skills on the board against the top junior surfers from 41 countries around the world at the Vissla ISA Junior World Surfing Championship in Hyuga.

Peter, who spends much of his time training at Belhaven Bay in Dunbar, gained entry to the competition after reaching the final of a rain-lashed qualifier in Thurso last month.

And according to his mother Helen, 53, Peter will be fulfilling a lifelong ambition by competing at the championship.

Mrs Laing said: “Peter has had his mind set on representing his country since he was a child, so this is absolutely huge for him.

“We always did our best to help encourage him in his passions, but the surfing one, he just became obsessed after that holiday in Sydney.

“Obviously in Scotland, we didn’t think the climate would be right for it, but the cold water has never fazed him, he’s always been so committed and dedicated, it was like nothing was going to get in his way.

“Both myself and my husband have been out with him in the early mornings to places like Belhaven and even across to Fife and he’s never once complained, he just loves it.”

The qualifier in Thurso featured the best surfing talent from around Scotland, with Peter claiming a top four finish to advance to the world championships.

“It absolutely battered down with rain, it was bouncing off the ground and the waves out at sea were enormous,” recalled Mrs Laing.

“We were all huddled round trying to keep warm, I was amazed the event actually went ahead, but Peter did brilliantly and even managed to come fourth.

“He beat people much older and more experienced on the board.”

Peter is one of only two Scottish surfers competing in the competition, with Tiree-based Ben Larg, 12, also representing Team Scotland.

He has already faced surfers from Ecuador, New Zealand and South Africa in heat one and will take on competitors from Colombia, Denmark and Uruguay in a second heat in the early hours of this morning.

The teenager is currently being roared on in Japan by his father - also called Peter - and is receiving support from the Scottish Surfing Federation (SSF).

Mark Boyd, SSF secretary, said he was proud to have the pair representing the country in the championship.

He added: “It is fantastic to have Peter and Ben representing Scotland at the VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Japan. It will be a great experience for both young surfers and they are tremendous ambassadors for Scotland and the SSF.”

Surfing will make its Olympic debut in 2020, alongside baseball and sports climbing.