Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Crana BoaterX

I went up to the Crana Boatercross at the weekend, unfortunately I missed day one due to having to be at home but I made it up for the Boatercross.

Having done very well in it last year I was very disappointed to get knocked out in round 2! I am still incredibly weak from being sick after the liffey descent. No speed and power and paddling a Kayak is hard work! I've paddled nothing but C1 since march apart from 2 playboat sessions so it was mad hard trying to drive a creekboat.

Also found a load of sluice rodeo photos courtesy of Niamh Cleary!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sluice rodeo

Thus ends my last freestyle competition in Ireland for a considerable time. It will be at least a year before I am in the country for another one.
The sluice rodeo is quite a fun event, run very differently to normal competitions, it has an open heat of 4-6 paddlers and 15 minutes in which to attempt your moves rather than 2X45 second runs. This sees a lot of bigger moves thrown as paddlers are not afraid to go big and risk flushing. It is also a lot more friendly and much more fun to compete in. However it is an absolute nightmare to judge!

In the comp itself I didn't do particularly well, only managing roundhouses, the odd loop and dodgy cartwheels! I wasn't expecting to place much higher than I did though as in a flushy feature like the sluice it is very hard to initiate or land moves when you can't backpaddle!

In between heats we had the Old Skool rodeo and the boatercross events which are always fun to watch. I decided not to compete in either but had good fun watching them, then onto the party in the rough stuff factory. This was great craic and I would very happily go to a party there again!

Now I only have one more competition to go before I leave, the Crana weekend. Hopefully I will get some surfing in beforehand but we will see how we get on.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Another update

Finally found another image of me on the liffey! This is post boat breaking so I am very full of water and extremely tired. Finished repairing the boat yesterday so while ugly it is stiffer than it was when i got it!
There has not been much paddling done since the Liffey. I competed in the Cork rodeo a few weeks ago, managing to win the C1 heat, I also competed in K1 for the 1st time in well over 2 years and managed to win my heat!
Apart from that the only paddling I have managed is a couple of indifferent squirt sessions. Oh well, surf competition, sluice rodeo and the crana boatercross to look forward to before i go to australia! Cant wait.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Liffey Descent 2010

Last weekend was the 51st Liffey Descent. This is the first year I have ever been in the country for it so decided to head down for the laugh. I managed to get my hands on a C1 WWR, which I decided to take down. I love paddling this boat and it's great fun but I regretted it a little on some of the flatwater sections. While it is really fast on moving water I struggle to make it go on the flat.

The liffey race itself proved pretty eventful, I started well back from the pack as I am still not entirely happy in the boat and had no intention of going in on the start line. I then had a decent enough race making reasonable time ( I could see the proper C1 paddlers still), until someone capsized me in the jungle trying to overtake me. This was an absolute disaster! The jungle has no way to get back into the boat and I had also managed to get wrapped around a tree stopping me rolling. It took me around 15 minutes to get back into the boat and racing again. The race again proved uneventful up until lucan wier where I managed to break the boat very badly. I was unable even with an entire roll of duck tape to stop the leak and ended up paddling with a half full boat of water for the rest of the race which was an interesting experience. This slowed my time down even more. Very annoying as I hit every other weir on the race apart from wrens really well and to then break the boat on one of only 2 I screwed up wasn't particularly nice. I also managed to swim on Wrens nest after taking a real silly line.

This left me finishing the race in a very slow 3:19 however can't wait to patch the boat up and get back on the water! I love paddling it and at least now know what to expect.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Toome session

With a complete lack of water everywhere I decided to make the trek to toome. This is a low water feature that works when nothing else does, in other words it's perfect. The feature itself is shallow, resulting in more than the odd scratched boat and broken paddle!

On Wednesday I headed up on the bus, I've never seen the feature so busy with 11 other people in the eddy. It had been months since I had been there but was still throwing roundhouses, very occasional blunts and cartwheels. The feature is very hard to intiate and stick in a C1 as it is so fast and it is very hard to get enough speed to stay surfing.

On Thursday I headed up again with Vix from LCP. This was a real fun and productive session for me, still no real spectacular moves but I am starting to get the hand of initating moves here, just not landing them yet!

Monday, 30 August 2010

C1 training

Due to absolutely no whitewater and no surf I have resorted to flatwater paddling. With the liffey descent looming I borrowed a C1 WWR from the wild water racing committee.
It's the first time I had paddled one so it has proved very interesting so far. It is quite a difficult boat to paddle, the combination of offside lean and J-stroking has proved difficult to get used to!
However I am starting to get the hang of it, I will still be terrible at it by the time the descent comes round but at least ill be able to get down the river.
I have been paddling on the broadlough in wicklow which is a tidal estuary of sorts. In the last few days you couldn't move for fish! Hundreds of mullet coming up the river and then trout once you got into the freshwater part of the lough. Wierd feeling having fish bumping off your boat.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Paddling road trip

Eddie, Colin and myself headed off last Friday for a road trip. The aim was to head to Clifden and surf till the Sunday when Clifden hole started working. On the way we decided to stop and have a look at Ballisadare falls. This is a 7metre drop but at this time of year it isn't a brilliant plan to run it as the salmon fishermen at the bottom (paying 100euro a day to fish there) get a bit annoyed if you drop in on the pool.

We decided to head to Easkey instead as there was no real rush to head all the way to Clifden. This turned out to be a very good move with 3ft surf in Easkey. This has to be one of my favourite breaks to surf in Ireland and I was very glad to get a session in here again.
Having finished with Easkey we headed onto Clifden on the Saturday, arriving just as the feature started working. I always find Clifden a big challenge as it is difficult to get into even more so when you have only 1 paddle blade and youre unstable! However I did manage to get some stuff done in it.
A lot of the local Galway paddlers turned up along with a few dubs and then us. There was quite a lot of Current and Ex team paddlers so was nice to see so much talent on the water and pulling big moves. We spent a very wet night camping on the beach with Tom and Paul. Great craic was had all round though, without the van we would have been pretty much screwed. Tom and Paul's tent had blown away during the day so the other 3 of us decided not to bother and sleep in the van.

The next morning we went back to Clifden again for another session before heading home via Easkey again. I unfortunately had to go back to Dublin after this so was forced to go by bus from Sligo across rather than going back to Belfast with the lads.
Really can't wait to get another road trip done though, hopefully I will manage to get another one done in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Portrush Surf Trip

On Thursday myself and Vix decided to head up and do a bit of surfing. I was very excited as I haven't had a decent session in months! When we arrived we found the surf was about 3-5ft and pretty dumpy which suited me fine. I decided to concentrate on freestyle moves rather than just surfing normally. I was trying to get clean blunts sorted (which still isn't consistent but getting there), also I started working on airscrews. I am getting there but need much more air! I was getting the full rotation but I am not getting high enough out of the water and am completing the move with my head and shoulders in the water which obviously dosent count! Any advice is appreciated.
I also spent quite a while messing in the mush as I found it was great for trying out hole moves. I managed to get Phonics monkeys sorted which was great, actually surprisingly easy in a C1. Maybe I should have started trying them a long time ago, however I have no idea how I am going to manage right handed ones yet but will get around to it at some stage.

Typically for Whiterocks we got some abuse off the local surfers. At one stage I had one to tell me to move off the beach as I was "out of control" and a danger to myself and others apparently. Yes I agree that I can't carve properly in a playboat seeing as it can't grip the wave properly but out of control? I had just had one of the best runs of the day having managed backblunt into clean blunt followed by a mcnasty in the mush after the wave broke! This narrow minded attitude annoys me, there is plenty of beach at whiterocks and more than enough room for everyone and certainly no need to be acting like that.

Having had a bit of fun in my C1 I decided to give K1 a go for a laugh. Vix had her Bigdog Kaos down with her so I jumped in that for a surf. It had been 18months-2 years since I last paddled a K1 playboat so it was a very interesting experience. Once I finally stopped tripping over the extra blade and got used to the lack of leverage I actually had quite a bit of fun. The boat is actually really nice to paddle. Very easy to get release off of and very slippery on the wave. My only complaint is it is much harder to carve than my current boat. Though this may be just that I am not used to paddling with so little leverage. I need to get a go in this boat outfitted as C1 ASAP, though the chances of finding one are pretty slim and people are unlikely to let me rip all their nice outfitting out.

Having went off for dinner we came back to the beach as Colin had come up for a surf so I got a few more hours of surf in. This was great as after having had a break I was able to retry all the moves I had been messing about with earlier on in the day.
Now to dry everything out for our freestyle road trip at the weekend!

(Photos thanks to Vix)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A small update

Unfortunately for the last 2 months there has been practically no rain whatsoever. At least not in the quantities required to bring up any of the rivers or playspots. Similarly there has been no surf any time I'm near a beach! Instead I have been concentrating mainly on sailing, with squib and cruiser sailing at least once a week. Probably the only good thing to be said about recent weather is it has been perfect for sailing! The last couple of races have had perfect wind (10-20 knots) and very warm conditions, meaning racing mostly in boardies, which is great after so much of the year spent in dry gear.

Unfortunately today the wind is too high and the swell is far far too big for the squibs so there is no racing.

Last weekend I went up to Clubfest. This is the first event of it's kind for CANI and involved getting the canoe clubs of the north together and doing some paddling.This was all based in the Share centre in Fermannagh.
After a mess around in the squirt boat and a session on the Friday night we all went for a paddle from Crom to the Share centre (approx 5 miles), I don't really do much rec paddling so its good for a change to borrow a sea kayak and have a bit of a mess around.
When we returned from the paddle, the share centre had a barbecue organised which was great followed by another social.

On the Sunday all the clubs showed their various talents, with BKC doing sea kayaking, MUCK doing polio to name a few. Myself and Kevin got all the freestyle boats and tried to run a session but ended up spending most of our time messing about with Harry's waveskis! I really liked the feel of them and will definitely be trying to borrow one next time I go surfing.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend playing about in my squirt boat, trying to learn new moves. My conclusion from the weekend is I need a small amount of feather on my squirt paddles. I love using Zeros but for one or two moves I am finding the disengaged blade is catching so will be adding a very small amount of feather just to make sure it releases better.

(Photos thanks to Colin Bankhead and Derek Stephenson)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


At the weekend I went down to the national championships at Curragower in Limerick.
It was quite a while since I was last on gower so I was looking forward to getting back onto it.
I judged the other classes which was good fun as I got to see all the other rides, due to low water and a poor wave the event was much lower scoring than usual but with people still putting in some very good and consistent rides.
Unfortunately by the time the C1 class came around the wave was practically dead and it was impossible to do anything without flushing off. I was quite disappointed not to manage a decent ride but such is life.
On the Sunday Orky, myself and Kevin went to try out a new squirt boating spot. Kevin managed to rip the seal on his cag so elected to take photos from his OC1 rather than squirt boat. Despite the very low flows there was some sinking to be done. I can't wait to go back to this spot in proper water levels. It was quite a productive session, it has been a while since I paddled a squirt boat so I was a little rougher than normal, I did manage to spend a bit of time practicing light loops and finally nailed washouts! A trick that has defeated me up until now for some reason.

Messing on exit moves

Orky drops in while I resurface

Mush moves!

Trying to surf a dying wave

Monday, 19 April 2010

Freestyle road trip

About 2 weeks ago myself and Kevin decided to do a few freestyle features around the country. We started in Wicklow where we intended to try kevin's new OC1 out on the Avonmore but unfortunately it was completely dry
The plan was then to head to Gower but we were told (wrongly) that it wasnt working to headed to the sluice instead for a session. The sluice was much lower than the releases website said but was still at a reasonable level. I wasn't too impressed with the OC1 as it was not outfitted and I fell out. Was doing reasonably well in the C1 though, however the wave was quite flushy so sticking moves proved difficult.
Following the sluice trip we headed to Clifden, arriving just in time for the evening session. This was a little too difficult to get into in C1's and I had to resort to dropping in for much of the session.
The next morning myself and Kevin were back on the water at 7 for the morning tide. The hole was at a much nicer level, getting in was easy and the hole was pretty decent so I could concentrate on trying to get my offside moves more consistent. Strange being off the water and ready to go home for 10 am!
We then went to try out Toome, however it wasn't working correctly so we had to give it a miss and just head back to belfast.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Glenarm High water

On Friday Eddie, Peter and myself decided to run the glenarm. On arriving at the river we found it was at a nice high level, the normally scrapey first rapids were running fast forming a nice technical Grade 3 section all the way to the first large drop.
The river continues like this for a few kilometres with nice continous sections followed by large pool drops, however there is a mandatory portage about halfway down thanks to a large tree right across the river and completely impassable. Once we had reached this portage it was raining heavily and the water was rising fast. In the time it took us to reach the 2nd last drop on the Lifford tributary the river had risen by about 2ft. This meant the drop was incredibly retentive with Eddie's boat recirculating for 10 minutes in the stopper on the waterfall, only coming out in the end because we live baited it. Eddie and Peter both took nasty swims here, but thankfully all the gear was recovered and noone was injured apart from a lot of water swallowed by everyone!

We then decided that it was time to consider walking off the river as the water level was getting stupidly high. We finished the Lifford tributary and walked off where it met the Glenarm proper. This confirmed that we were indeed right to get off the river as by the time we had walked to the first drop the river level had risen by 4ft! This made every one of the drops on the Glenarm completely unrunnable with large holes all over the features and massive amounts of water going downriver. The main falls looked particularly scary, normally it is a double drop with about 10ft between the 2 steps, at the time it was a single drop with a massive terminal hole at the bottom!

Having walked all the drops, we decided to get back on the water on what is normally a flat,boring and scrapey 3 kilometre stretch. Bad idea! It looked fine at the getout but the whole 3K had turned into a continous 3+ section, which was brilliant craic till I managed to find a large hole and got really badly beaten down, it's the first time I have been alternately vomiting and coughing up water after a swim. Even after I left the boat the hole decided I was going nowhere fast, the boat didn't help either as it came back in on top of me and pushed me even deeper into the hole.
We decided that finishing the river even if there was supposedly nothing else on it was a bad idea and walked the rest of the section, approximately a 7K walk out overall.
We got off the river several hours late with it getting dark. An very scary and testing experience all round, however it is great to see that our group seems to work well together despite everything that went wrong. I think we all learned something from the day and will be far more careful creeking in the rain in future!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Scotland 2010

After several weeks of no rain, myself and a few friends decided to plan a trip of some sorts over last weekend. It looked like this trip was going to turn into a surfing/camping trip to Donegal. However at the last minute we realised there was going to be plenty of rain and organised a boating trip to Scotland instead! Surprisingly there was very few people interested in going, the vast majority of people not being interested due to the potential for there being too much snow or no rain. Thankfully there was enough rain and the weather was warm though.

I headed up to Belfast a few days beforehand to arrange getting myself a larger boat etc as I currently use a Cascade as a creeker which is a little big to fit in the bus. 3 other people; Eddie, Kevin and Peter also came along, using Eddie's van and a scrambler for shuttle in an attempt to save money.

Having managed to borrow a GTX we set off for Scotland! On arriving in Scotland we headed straight for the falls of Falloch. The water was a litte low for running the river but the main falls (35ft) and the rapid afterwards were running. On this occasion I was the only one who decided to run the falls as everyone else thought this was a bit much for the first river on the trip! However Kevin and Eddie decided to join me for the rapid after the falls. We then packed up and headed for the Etive, which was running at a nice medium level. The trip was great apart from Eddie spraining his ankle on Letterbox and myself dislocating my shoulder while swimming out of the Crack of doom, thankfully the hospital thought we were Ok and neither of us had to stop boating.

Due to myself and Eddie being very sore we decided to take it easy and run the Roy however it was not running so we changed for a very scrapey run on the Spean, running from Monessie down so at least there was some fun to be had. Due to the success of this we decided to go back and Re-run the lower part of the Etive the next day.
Unfortunately though due to rain overnight the Etive was too high to run so we contented ourselves with scouting a very intimidating looking Dalness falls and a stupidly high Alt a caorunn before running a medium-low level Loy, I was hoping with so much water on the Etive that the Loy might have a decent bit also but unfortunately not. On returning from the loy we decided to have a look at the Nevis and to our surprise found it was running at a decent medium level! Not having the time or desire to run it at this stage myself and Kevin contented ourselves with Polldubh falls. It was Kevin's first time running this drop.
This then unfortunately left us at our last day of paddling.

Myself and Eddie really wanted to run the Etive again after our swims, both of us beating the rapids that gave us trouble last time. Was quite annoying for me to swim and get hurt the first time only to not even get my head wet on my 2nd attempt. We came off the river slightly early in order to head to Falloch as 3 of the 4 of us wanted to run it.

We very nearly didn't get home, when we arrived at the ferry terminal in Troon we were told that the ferry was cancelled and that we were supposed to get the ferry from Cairnryan 90 minutes later, lucky we came to Troon so early! The ferry company hadn't rung us to tell us the ferry was changed. We arrived in Cairnryan with literally minutes to spare, with the ferry doors closing as we drove through them.

In all a Brilliant trip, makes me wonder why I didn't return to Scotland sooner to paddle. Not bad at all for a trip that cost only £200 for everything.

I have video footage but haven't edited it yet, will post soon as I get it all sorted.