Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Winter Squirting

After a few weeks of massive amounts of rainfall and amazing paddling we are unfortunately back to the normal low levels. Having decided that the water levels were too low and scrapy to bother running anything I got the squirt boat out as the squirt spots work to a certain extent in most levels. I hadnt paddled it in quite a while with conditions for float boating being so good for a change.
The day was absolutely freezing, about halfway through the session I ended up putting gloves on as I couldn't feel my fingers at all. The level was too low for any decent downtime with mostly just chest or neck deep mysteries at best. Still beats scraping down the upper reaches of the river though!
I figure given an extra foot or 2 of water this spot would be pretty much perfect. In low water the seam is pretty good but is too shallow to take advantage of, in high water the eddys on either side of the seam flush out meaning no way back up to the top of the seam after a mystery! I think i need a bit more exploring before I can see what the best level is for this spot. Still with it only being 10 minutes drive from the house that isnt exactly a big deal.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Day Two

With water levels still high in Wicklow I headed out for another day of boating. I paddled with the same people I had on Saturday plus a few additional paddlers from UCD. The water was still high though a good foot lower than Saturday if not more. There was still fun to be had all the way down but unfortunately once again I had to walk Jacksons. The drop was runnable for those in larger boats but even the shorter creekboats were getting backlooped and recirculated so there was no chance of my tiny C1 playboat making it through.
The river was really busy with at least 5 groups getting on at Lough dan at the same time as us. At times it was impossible to tell where the groups started and finished with a continous line of paddlers down the river as far as you could see.

Unfortunately that is my last session of paddling for a week or two but at least it ended on a high note!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Annamoe, high water

Due to massive amounts of rainfall in Wicklow over the last few days I decided to have a go at the annamoe. We paddled from Lough Dan down to Lynhams in Laragh. I had never started from Lough Dan before but will be doing so from now on as it was a lovely section. Due to the massive amounts of water a lot of the drops were completely different. Guinness's rapid was unrecognisable completely being a very continous train of holes rather than drops, similarly the 2 boulder gardens and trooperstown were very large and bouncy.
Jacksons unfortunately was completely unrunnable. There were several groups on the water and I don't think anyone I talked to even considered running it! I will get some photos up as soon as my internet stops being so rubbish.
I think I need to get myself a larger boat, running stuff in the agent is good fun, but I got badly backlooped in a few holes. A C1 river runner or creekboat is definitely next on the wish list.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Rain at last

In the last week or 2 we have finally had decent rain in Ireland. Last weekend I was up north getting some paddling in. I had never paddled the annacloy before and decided to tag along to a UUJCC trip down it. It's nothing spectacular being a grade 2 run with a single grade 3 section but was perfect for the group we brought down it with some less experienced paddlers in the group. Due to the high water levels anything else would have been pretty dangerous. The river still has some nasty enough wiers. In particular the new one built last year seems to have been designed to kill kayakers! It consists of a double horseshoe wier with the towback from the first horseshoe reaching the 2nd wier. Unfortunately I did'nt manage to get any photos of it but I would not reccommend paddling it under any circumstances. Our test football did not manage to beat the stopper and only got out of the wier after several minutes due to it being forced so deep it came several feet out of the water and flew over the top of the stopper!
The face of the wier itself also has rocks embedded in it for some unknown reason. I really don't know what they were thinking when this wier was built but surely it could have been made so much safer.
On the Sunday a small group of us went to paddle the Roe. It seems it hadn't rained as hard over in Derry as the river was running at a medium level but it was still a good run down. We ran the lower section a couple of times, getting off the river in the dark.

There has been about 60mm of rain in the last 48 hours with more on the way and everything flooded out. Hopefully there will be some excitement this weekend also.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I finally have a photo of me doing a mystery move! I always forget to bring a camera with me or bring it and dont bother taking any photos. Thankfully in Thun someone took one for me, well in this case resurfacing after one.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Sluice fun rodeo and C1/Squirt training day

This weekend was the sluice rodeo and the C1/Squirt training day.
On Saturday I headed down to the sluice for the last round of the Irish Freestyle league for this year. There were quite a few people entered in the event, especially in the Junior classes so I ended up helping out judging and scribing for most of the day due to the numbers involved. This event was very different from other league fixtures as it was run as a fun event with a jam format rather than the usual 45 second run format and a different scoring system to the normal one. This proved to be good fun. There were only 4 of us paddling C1 so it was a good atmosphere during the competition.
There was also other aside events like the old skool rodeo and boatercross events which were good craic. Then everyone headed out to Blessington for the presentation and fundraiser for the Irish freestyle team. The results for the Irish League and National Championships were announced at this event. I was happy with my results coming 1st in the League and joint 1st with Orky in the National Championships, apparently this is the first time that has happened with a National Championship fixture. I also came 2nd in the squirt boat national championships event.
After a night camping in Blessington I headed in to help out with the C1 and squirt boat training day. We had a really good turnout for these events with most of the juniors turning up to get a go in the C1s and squirt boats. It is nice to see new people giving these disciplines a go. A few people are already rolling and cartwheeling the C1s and there was a few of the juniors managing bow screws, party tricks and even attempts at switchwheels already.
There is definitely a couple of budding squirt and C1 boaters out there!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Worlds photos

I finally got a few of the photos taken of the worlds so thought I would post a few up.
All photos thanks to Adrian Durrant

Sunday, 27 September 2009

First week back paddling

This was my first week back paddling after the worlds. I gave it a week or 2 to recover from the various minor pains etc after 2 weeks of solid paddling! Even my elbow injury seems mostly recovered though I still have to wear a bandage.

I spent 3 days canoe camping around Strangford lough in the North. The weather was perfect for it with plenty of sunshine, clear skies and little rain. The only problem was the strong enough tides in the area I was paddling in! Strangford was rich with wildlife, there was seals and various seabirds everywhere though spotting a black swan was a very wierd experience. I would love to know how that ended up there.
I then moved up to the North coast for a day of surfing at whiterocks in my C1 playboat. The surf was pretty clean for most of the day with waves between 4 and 8ft depending on what part of the beach you surfed on. The only problem was occasionally the waves dumped resulting in some very long and deep wipeouts, the C1 does not have the speed to power through waves meaning I got hit much more than usual. I wish I had brought one of the squirt boats with me, it has been a long time since I surfed in one and it is nice having the ability to duck-dive and carve almost as well as the surfers.

Today I went down for the session planned on the sluice, it was planned as a freestyle development day with free coaching and was great craic with instruction happening and music at the feature. Having 3 C1 paddlers there for a change was also nice.
Now all that remains is getting the new squirt boat out somewhere decent and getting some downtime!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

End of the worlds

The freestyle worlds is unfortunately over :-(
All the medal ceremonies etc happened today along with all the finals for the various events. It is amazing how quickly everything just shuts up and ends. The boat store which had held hundreds of boats is now entirely empty and all the stalls were gone a matter of hours after close of play. It is very strange after 2 weeks of solid boating and competitions for it all to be over. The rafting high ender competition was good fun with team Ireland coming 4th. Unfortunately I missed the big air ramp due to having a stomach bug but saw the footage of the Irish guys throwing huge moves.

We did try to check out a seam that was rumoured to be within reach of thun as the competition squirt venue was not offering decent downtime. 4 of us went out to look at what seemed to be an amazing seam. It did turn out to be pretty decent offering up head under mysteries even for those of us using paddles but was too much hassle due to a complete lack of an eddy to be much fun. Looks like I will have to wait till I am home for some decent downtime. Its a pity as I quite enjoy confluence seams (my home spot is a confluence). The guys decided to name the spot wishful thinking as it is so close to being a good spot but just not quite good enough!

Anyway I should really start packing. We fly home in the morning unfortunately, I really don't want to go as the worlds has been a great experience and Switzerland itself is an amazing country. On the other hand some stress free boating with no competitions involved is certainly in order. Lets hope I get plenty in during the next few weeks.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

worlds results

I am now finished competing in the worlds. I had a pretty poor go in the C1 event, however considering how difficult I was finding the wave and how much trouble I was having catching it I am happy enough with my performance.

In the squirt event I managed to make the semi finals, the only Irish competitor to do so! Overall I finished 9th. The finals are tomorrow so the top 5 places are yet to be decided.
Now all the less serious events get to be tried like the big air ramp and the rafting high ender etc. It is good being finished with the competing finally. It has been a tough few days running up to 4 training sessions a day and will be nice now to go kayaking without the stress of worrying how I am doing.
Anyway now I am free to celebrate! Having spent the last few nights going to bed early and watching what I am doing it will be nice to go out and have some fun and enjoy the rest of my paddling time in Switzerland.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Competing at last!

I just got off the water after a small night session. The queue is still ridiculous with 30 minute waits between goes on the wave. This is pretty crap for me as in the C1 I spend little time on the wave, I dont have the power to muscle my way onto the wave or to stay on it if I start flushing.

Today was the Senior men's K1 prelims with some pretty good rides from the Irish guys and some very loud supporting!

Unfortunately now I am quite tired, I had 4 sessions on the water yesterday 2 of which were C1 and 2 in squirt. This culminated in a midnight squirtboating session on the main wave which was great fun. Squirt boats did really well on the crappy green wave, its probably one of the most fun days of paddling I have had.

Anyway I am being sensible tonight and heading to bed early. I have a 10:25 heat tomorrow for the C1 event which is great as I can get it out of the way early with little faffing about. I compete in the squirt event on thursday at some stage.

Well done to our K1 lads for some great paddling in a very tough event today!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Worlds update

After a week at the worlds I finally have the time for a wee update.

The entire team is staying in steiffisburg just outside Thun. We got a pair of houses which are really nice and there is decent public transport into the City centre, it takes about 10 minutes on the bus. Our house even has a nuclear bunker for some reason! Apparently this used to be required by law but it was pretty funny to find. Apparently the swiss team is staying in one.
The weather is pretty hot, it was 34 degrees when I arrived in Switzerland and has gone up as high as 37, even at night it is very hot but seems to be cooling down in the last few days. Hopefully it will stay that way as paddling and sleeping in those kinds of temperatures is pretty difficult.

Thun itself is a lovely city, it is pretty small and does not seem to have changed much in hundreds of years. There is still ancient castles and churches everywhere and it is very close to the alps. The water is not that cold at all, I was expecting cold glacial melt but as it flows out of a lake it is warm enough. The water is crystal clear and the bottom and fish are easily visible! It is nice after years of paddling in brown peaty water in Ireland. There has been a lot of complaining about the wave. It seems to go completely green at times and is not particularly big or retentive which is a pity as the location is pretty much perfect with viewing stands and convenient boat storage. The big names are still throwing huge moves though.
It can be very difficult to get time on the wave, each team is allocated about 30-40 minutes on the wave to practice and outside of that it is very difficult to get any time as everyone wants to get used to such a difficult and changeable feature. Even at stupid times like 0400 there is still a queue of about 20-30 people waiting for a go meaning 20 minute gaps between rides. However some of the team have been lucky and gotten times when there is significantly less people on the water. I have yet to be so lucky!

I am personally really struggling with the wave and it is only in the last 2 days or so I have been able to consistently catch it. It is an offside ferry on which I found difficult to begin with as I have always been very weak at offside ferrygliding and combined with the speed of the water I was thrown completely. However now I have hopefully cracked it. I am also really struggling to stay on the wave after doing any moves. It seems for this wave anyway one of the new Jackson boats or a composite boat is the way to go. Anything else seems to be too slow to be practical. Anyone in slower designs is pretty much out of the game on this feature.

Thankfully I am having a bit more luck with the squirt event. The squirt feature is also pretty poor with no real downtime being offered up yet. Most of us are getting chest deep mysteries of only about 4-5 seconds. Some guys are going for longer but not very many. My new boat came over with the GB squirt boaters which is great. I was worried the boat might be a bit big but it seems to be a pretty good cut so no problems there! Its definitely a better boat than my old one for competition as the old one was difficult to throw around on flatwater. The new boat seems slightly harder to sink but is a much better allrounder. It is great seeing other squirt boaters on the water. In Ireland there is only maybe 4 or 5 regular squirt boaters and we are spread right across the country. Having 4 times that many in the one place is great! I am certainly learning lots off some of the other boaters.
Its a much nicer place to be than the main wave I think. Over at the squirt boating spot everyone is much friendlier and more helpful. At the main wave everything is governed by specific times and peoples training sessions whereas the squirt spot is open and people just come and go as they please.

Unfortunately I broke my helmet strap yesterday too. I now have it fixed but spent the day wearing a purple flowery sweet strutter borrowed from one of the GB girls. It looked and felt pretty silly and it feels good to have my own helmet back. I was glad of the lend though as It only broke literally 5 minutes before my scheduled training session.

Anyway I have to rush off to the squirt boating meeting as they are changing the rules slightly and want to meet the paddlers to get a consensus on it. I have some photos and will try to post them up once I get some more spare time.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Freestyle world championships

Tomorrow I head to Switzerland for the freestyle world championships. I am competing in the Squirt and C1 categories!
This will be my first time competing on an International level, I am very excited at the prospect of getting to compete at the worlds and can't wait to get over and start competing.

Unfortunately along the way I picked up tendonitis and combined with the lack of rain I have not been able to train for a few days so I am not quite as well prepared as I hoped to be by this stage. However I think it should be fine given plenty of Ice and painkillers.

Assuming I can find a decent computer/internet over there I will try to make a few updates over the next couple of weeks, hopefully with photos also.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Cork Rodeo

On Saturday Kevin and Myself travelled down to compete in the Cork rodeo. It was my first time paddling in Cork so playing in the hole for the first time was a bit of an experience! The hole itself is a steep, retentive feature so cartwheels were very easy, but I found it difficult to do much else. I managed a loop or two (none in competition unfortunately) but apart from that I was not able to do much at all. The hole was not very C1 friendly and served beatings out to several paddlers. I got a couple of nasty ones too with a couple of intimate moments with the left hand wall.
The event was great craic, I can't wait till the next one!

Thursday, 30 July 2009


I ended up in the North for a few days so I decided to go for a paddle while I was there. Unfortunately due to the series of buses I had to take I wasn't able to bring a boat with me. That left paddling Kevin's Crazy-88. It had been quite a while since I paddled a K1 playboat so I had a little trouble at the start with the 2nd blade getting in my way when I tried to do anything. This was especially true when I was surfing the wave below the bridge. The first couple of times i was surfing on my left side I kept tripping over my left blade because I was so used to just sticking my hand in the water like I do in C1.
The river was at a low enough level but there was a couple of decent waves running further downstream. One of the nice things about the benburb is it can usually be run in either high or low water.

There was a huge amount of fishermen out on the river. Coming down through the triple steps one of them was giving me a real hard time about how we were disturbing the fish and scaring them off the bottom, despite being water that is 8ft deep and full of silt! I didn't even bother arguing back.

It amazes me how narrow minded fishermen can be sometimes. Having fished myself for years it is clear that kayaks do not scare fish in the slightest, certainly far less than some guy running around in the water wearing waders!

Myself and Kevin played on the water for about 3 hours before getting off, we then got a text from some of the Jordanstown lads saying they were heading to the same river after work so we got on for another 2-3 hour session. When we finally made it off the water it was almost completely dark having spent most of the day on the water.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Team Training

On Saturday I headed down to Curragower for the team training session. However as it turned out only six people turned up to paddle including three of us from the team. Because of this we all got plenty of time on the wave!
The wave itself was great for most of the session, with the wave only dying off after 5 hours of decent running. The weather was also quite nice. I spent the whole day in a shorty cag for a change.

For the first hour or so of the session I was having no luck at all. I am still coming to terms with the agent, it is far more responsive than my old boat and I think it will be another session or two before I am fully comfortable with it.

However for the last 3 or 4 hours of the session I got some pretty decent runs and threw some decent modes, but also had some absolutely horrible wipeouts. I think the problem is the rails are far sharper (The wheelboy has round rails!) so i am tripping over myself, particularly on the offside.

Unfortunately I had to head home early and missed today's session. Hopefully gower will work in the next while as I could really do with the wave time.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Squirt boating

After It finally rained enough to bother, I headed to the meetings
of the waters in wicklow.
The river was running at a medium-low
level so I decided to try checking the meetings out
to see if it offered up any kind of decent downtime.

I got consistent shoulder deep mystery moves of about 5 seconds.
Unfortunately i got nothing deeper at all but then again I only
spent around an hour there so I hope that ill get deeper on future

The margin for getting a mystery seemed very
tight but with further exploring hopefully I will get a better
understanding of the spot.

At least the spot seems relatively deep, I didn't strike the
bottom at all during the mystery moves though eddying out
is difficult due to the fast flow downstream and much shallower

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Boat testing

Having finally completed my new C1 (Dagger agent) I brought it out on flatwater to check the trim etc before I try running anything in it.
I was actually pleasantly surprised! Its very stable which surprised me considering it is such a narrow boat in comparison to anything ive paddled as C1 before. It is also very easy to roll.
Thankfully I got the outfitting right pretty much first time. The trim is all correct all I need to do is adjust the knee padding slightly as my knees are able to lift slightly when I cartwheel.
My only complaint with the boat itself is there is a lot of volume in the back so it is difficult to flatwater cartwheel, which is a non issue anyway as It will be pretty much only used as a wave boat.
I can't wait to get it out on a proper feature and test it out for real.

I also got to test out the new spraydeck. Snapdragon made up a spraydeck for this boat for me. Because the seating position in C1 is so far forward in comparison to how the boat is normally paddled the deck had to be custom made. I am very impressed with the deck too. It proved very dry and comfortable and fits perfectly.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

And now for something different

Due to lack of water and being on the wrong side of the country for any surf at the moment I decided to do a bit of sailing for the weekend. On Saturday we took the yacht out for a race. The race took the best part of the day due to lack of wind for most of the race. At the start of the race visibility was down to 30 metres and it seemed we wouldnt get to race at all. However halfway into the race the weather completely cleared up and it almost seemed like a different day completely!

On Sunday I tried racing squibs for the first time. They are great craic but seem very cramped and small after racing a cruiser the day before. However they are quite fast even in the light winds we had this weekend.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Irish freestyle league

Last weekend saw the Clifden fun rodeo being hosted in Galway. This event also formed event 2 of the Irish Freestyle league. Unfortunately I missed the first day of flatwater fun competitions and training but managed to get across to Clifden in time for the more serious competition on the Sunday.
Before the competition was running, I managed a couple of very nice head under mystery moves in the feature itself but having struck the bottom several times I left it alone to practice my flatwater moves.

In the competition itself, I won the C1 class. The C1 event was difficult as it was right at the end of the competition and due to the tide starting to turn the hole was extremely flushy making retentive moves difficult. The feature actually disappeared completely meaning that the C1 class didnt manage a third run.

The final event of the day was the squirt boat event. This is the first time there has been a squirt boat competition in Ireland since 2001 or so. It was run as a demonstration event to show everyone what squirt boats were capable of. They are extremely uncommon in Ireland with about 10 people paddling them at the moment.

Below are some photos of the squirt event.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

End of exams!

I have finally managed to complete my exams. I have to say it has not been easy and the last 3 weeks or so have been very testing. 12-16 hours a day in the library has taken it's toll. Hopefully it will be worth it but I wont know for another few weeks yet!
Today was the first day in several weeks that I managed to get in a boat, with a short sea kayaking session around strangford lough. It was great to get out in a boat again and Strangford is a pretty nice paddle with plenty of wildlife. Unfortunately I can't post any pictures as my camera leads all went home.

Now it's time to get a few quality weeks of paddling in and start getting fit after nearly a month sat at a desk! Lets hope it rains soon.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Bann trip

I had not managed to get in a boat in 2 or 3 weeks due to the amount of assignments I have had due, so as soon as I got them all in I took the first opportunity I could to get out paddling!

I got out on the bann for a few hours in very changeable weather. It was raining when we got on the water and most of the way down. However for a few hours in the middle of the trip the sun finally came out for a few hours. Typically it started raining again though as soon as we got off the river.

Due to a decent enough level most of the better features to play in were running, it was good getting back into the boat and having a play around, a couple of weeks out is too long! Apart from one member of the group having a freak injury involving a tree it was a relatively uneventful trip.
Now I have to get back to the books unfortunately, the exams start in a matter of days and due to the amount of assignments involved very little study has been done. Hopefully it will be easier now having been paddling. I hope my next opportunity to get out isnt too far away.

(Apologies for the poor quality images, I had to take screenshots from video)

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Junior slalom

Last Sunday was a slalom race to raise funds for the Northern Ireland Junior slalom squad. I went down as it had been a while since id been in a slalom competition. It was held in Shaws bridge , which had very little water despite all the rain.

I decided to enter C1, K1 and C2 classes, paddling C2 with Kevin. I had managed to borrow a C1 slalom boat for the day which saved me having to use my playboat again. The only problem was it had no straps fitted so I had to take a strap from my playboat, I paddled my first run with nothing and kept falling around inside the boat! Id a pretty good run in the C1 class which I was happy enough with, however I struggled with the K1 class a bit. It was the first time in quite a while Id paddled with two blades and I didn't enjoy the experience too much. Rather than making it easier, I found the second blade just got in my way. I think for slalom at least I wont be bothering with K1 again for a while.

The C2 runs with Kevin were great fun! It was only the second time we had paddled together so I was quite surprised how well we actually did. By the second run we were even managing to stern dip through gates. The two of us are very tempted to try getting one and keep it up.

Thanks to Navarat Turner for the photos. Her site can be seen here; http://community.webshots.com/user/aqua_invader/profile

Saturday, 25 April 2009


In an effort to avoid doing my aerodynamics project last weekend I decided to take advantage of the rain and go paddling.
On Saturday I met up with UCD canoe club, running the section from Trooperstown down to Bookies bridge. This was my first run down Jacksons in C1 so it was a little intimidating at first. Thankfully I made it down upright every time which was a bit of a relief.

On Sunday I ran the same section again, only this time with some friends from the North who had come down for the weekend to do some paddling as the North was dry. They were not disappointed as the Annamoe was still running at a low (but still runnable) level.

Paddling in Wicklow is always good craic, I cant wait to get back home and get paddling there again!