UCC Canoe Club does Galway Fest

Galway fest is always a big event on the white-water kayaking calendar for UCC Canoe Club.

It’s an event that showcases some of the finest kayaking this country has to offer in one of the most scenic environments available to us. The Saturday features a 6 minute or so sprint down a pristine section of white-water which flows directly from the rugged countryside into the crystal clear Galway Bay in the beautiful Gaeltacht area of Spiddle, Co. Galway.

UCC sent a formidable contingent of 8 paddlers to the event in the hope of coming hope with some bounty. An awfully early start from the Mardyke Arena at 5:30am we headed to day one. The first car arriving there at 8:30 Seán and Kevin Cahill who were entered in the mens expert class wasted no time in getting a practice lap of the river to familiarise themselves with the river and “dial in” their skills for the race run to come. While the rest of the competitors rubbed the sleep out of their eyes the organisers handed out race bibs and the fre$h Galway Fest t-shirts.  With over 170 racers from all over the UK and Ireland the competition was fierce. Ciaran Devine’s inexperience with a go pro camera on his helmet was clear to see from his race video after the race, hitting every tree, branch, bridge and leaf on the way down the river and still set a superb time.

All of UCC performed extremely well and put in some great times leaving them well set up for the other events.

Next up was the Team race, where a group of four racers paddle the course as fast as they can starting with a classic “Le Mans” style running start, this led to some hilarious attempts and fails and jumping launches and disastrous tactics. Team Lulu with UCCCC oldie Kevin Caill took the win despite the start line skipping rope interference.

After that the few support crew members that had come up to watch and cheer on their friends took to the water with Ciara Kirk styling her way down (most of) the river, the water started to drop off as the dam shut off the taps for the night the 170+ paddlers packed up and headed to Galway City to relax in good company and discuss the day’s events. Not long after everyone got themselves some well-deserved rest in preparation for the next day.  

Day 2 started in top hole on the Corrib in Galway City with Freesylte at very early o’clock. The feature was a difficult, aggressive hole with a tough eddy which kept the scores low but the crowd kept morale high, due to the very high tides the schedule for Sunday was very strict with mens expert whisked away as soon as they had finished.

The dynamic of this Day 2 was very different to other years as it usually takes place on a river bank in Tuam where everyone competed in freestyle only, instead we tackled the high volume rapids on the Corrib in a mass start slalom race and a knock out boater X event.

This river was a complete different style of kayaking as the big volume and large standing waves provided a very different but just as enjoyable competition to the tight and narrow lines on the Boluisce from the day before.

With carnage a plenty racers fought and shouted their way down the river in attempt to gather those elusive pegs which would secure them the win in the mass slalom event. The racing was aggressive but so much fun and turned out to be without a doubt a highlight of the weekend.

Next up was the Boater X which ran very smoothly thanks to Aisling Brennan’s commitment and whistle.  With the race going off the 6 foot drop into the main channel added some big crashes to the equation.

We finished with the prize giving and pizza in NUIG where James Hayes finished in 2nd in Mens Sport and Ciaran finished in 3rd, everyone will look forward to seeing them next year in the expert division.

Big Congrats to Fia Coghlan who placed 3rd in overall and Ciara McGarrigle who finished in second place in boater X