Windsurfing pioneer Farrel O'Shea who'd 'done it all' dies doing the thing 'he loved'

Windsurfing pioneer Farrel O'Shea
-Credit: (Image: Pete Davis/Wiki)

Farrel O'Shea, 60, a renowned figure in windsurfing, has tragically died in southern France doing what he adored. The Abersoch resident and British speed record holder was reportedly taken ill on a beach in La Palme on the morning of June 2.

O'Shea was not only an accomplished athletic competitor but also a trailblazer within the sport, introducing numerous innovative technical moves and even penning books on windsurfing. He also developed a business operation based on the Llyn Peninsula.

In addition to establishing the notable O'Shea Surf clothing store in Abersoch, this visionary athlete moved his flagship equipment brand, O'Shea International, to the town of Pwllheli. O'Shea sharpened his skills on the waves at two popular Welsh surf spots - Rhosneigr, Anglesey, and Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth) on Pen Llyn - choosing to reside in the scenic area. For the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox sign up to our newsletter

READ MORE: Boy dies in bike crash on day out with his dad

READ MORE: Air ambulance lands at Newport school in emergency

He further contributed to local culture by organising the Wakestock festival, an event that combines competitive watersports with live music. Tributes and memories from friends and fans have flooded social media since the devastating news broke out. His team at O'Shea Surf eloquently expressed their despair saying: "He died on the beach in France, doing what he loved. Farrel was one of life's good guys, an absolute legend, he was deeply loved by so many and will be forever in our hearts.", reports North Wales Live.

Originally hailing from Wellington in the West Midlands, Mr O'Shea first discovered windsurfing on a tranquil lake in Telford during the late 1970s. By the early 1980s, he was amongst Britain's brightest stars, being best known for executing the first-ever manoeuvre known as the "killer loop" or "cheese roll".

Having competed globally and excelled in snowboarding, he relocated to Abersoch in the early 1990s where he developed a passion for wakeboarding. In 1994, he established O'Shea International to market his own designs of upgraded surfboards and windsurf sails, which he personally tested at locations such as Porth Neigwl.

In 2003, he discovered stand-up paddling and, foreseeing its popularity surge, began refining designs to become a leading figure in the market, particularly with child-friendly inflatable boards. As recently as 2013, despite being a seasoned veteran of the sport, he was named UK windsurfer of the year.

SUP North Wales, a Gwynedd-based water sports tour company, described Mr O'Shea as "was one of the most down to earth and unassuming people". They added on social media: "His knowledge of all things 'boardie' was limitless."

"Straight talking, dry, funny and with no airs or graces, a very sad loss for the world of windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding. He'd done it all, from holding world windsurfing speed records to strapping a jet engine to a jumbo inflatable paddleboard."

Mr O'Shea was en route to participate in the Prince of Speed - World Record Attempt 2024 when he passed away. True to form, he had recently broken another record, this time in the discipline of wingfoil.