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Friday, September 5, 2014

Euros Wrap Up

The European Championships  finished up almost a week ago now, however this trip will not fade in the memory fast. A closely knit group coupled with the largest support group seen in years made this the most enjoyable competition to date. This year the team was made up of a lot of new faces with a strong presence of Galway boaters coupled with some great paddlers from Cork, Laois, Killkenny, Wicklow and Dublin. From the start there was a great atmosphere in the group as everyone videoed, coached & helped out in any way they could. That coupled with the perfect location to hold a competition that Cuvono is made the trip for everyone.

Prelims took place last Thursday with most of the Irish Men off in the early heats. Team training had been going well in the preceding days keeping confidence up and settling the nerves. David McClure was first up for the Irish in heat two putting together some good rides that would eventually leave him in 30th place. I was also up towards the end of heat two. Having been getting through most of my ride in previous days I dropped in feeling good. I managed to score some of my bigger moves to edge through to quarter finals in 17th place.

Aran Kilroy and Andrew Regan were up next in heat three. Some strict scoring left them a little further down the order then their rides deserved coming in at 33rd and 40th position. Shane Little was the last of the Irish Men having to wait until heat seven to put down his rides. Throwing down some big moves Shane was just short of the cut to quarters placing 24th.

Senior Women were up next with both Aisling's and Niamh paddling hard to get all they could into their 45 second rides. The progression that they all made during their training was clear to see with a bright future ahead for all. Aisling, Niamh & Aisling finished up in 22nd, 23rd & 24th position.

Junior men were the last to go on Thursday afternoon with Calvin O'Brien and Sean Cahill flying the flag for Ireland. The junior men's class was hotly contested with Max Karlsson breaking 1000 points for a single ride during the competition! Calvin and Sean put in solid rides to place in 26th & 28th Position.

Friday morning saw quarter finals kick off at 9am with some rowdy Irish support the envy of all nations. Going into quarter finals I felt better then the previous day with some pressure off having made it through a round. Having three rides with the best two counting allows a bit more leeway then prelims were everything counts. I was able to throw down some good moves improving my overall score and placing from prelims moving up one spot to 16th.

Friday evening saw the semi finals produce some of the best paddling ever seen with Peter Csonka laying down the highest scoring ride of all time. The ride was a none stop combo linking trophy moves to every other move to set Peter well apart from the rest of the field . Coming in to finals on Sunday there was little doubt in anyone's mind who was going to take top spot. Peter laid down 1500 points in his first ride to ensure he was crowned European Champion for a second time.

Next up is the World Championships on Garberator wave in Canada next summer. Its been over five years since the last ICF wave competition so there is sure to be a big shake up in the usual order of things. Team trials are less then two months away and with lots of old faces planning on making a return to action it could be a very different Irish Team that heads to Canada next year. Hopefully the rain will return soon so the rivers return to good flows to get some training in!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

European Championships

Team training is in full swing here in Cuvono for the European Freestyle Championships. Prelims start on Thursday morning with only one more day of training for Men, Women and Junior Men. Training has been going well with everyone progressing while being able to train everyday on what is a deceptively tricky feature. The whole team has been here a few days taking as much time as they can to get used to the feature here. The hole is quite shallow with regular hits off the bottom common place, however it is quite retentive without being to violent giving you plenty of control to set up for your moves.

Our last training session tomorrow morning will be used to put the finishing touches on our rides, aiming to get every move in before the buzzer sounds. With a ten strong team our team training slots have been just under an hour long allowing everyone to get in six or seven ride. The water on the course is turned off at eight o clock every evening taking away any opportunities of training under lights but despite this everyone is looking well prepared.

Unfortunately it does not look like there will be live streaming for the event but with a strong crew of supporters out here updates will be coming thick and fast as prelims unfold. Keep an eye on Irish Freestyle Facebook for updates on Thursday morning!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Right Channel Cunovo

First few days have been quiet here at the course however everyone seems to have arrived today with queues getting long. Luckily if you don't fancy waiting around in the eddy at peak times there is two awesome channels to paddle. Here's is quick look at the river right channel where the feature for the European Championships about half way down.

River left channel to come in a few days.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

First Look – New Typhoon Equator Drysuit


This autumn Typhoon are launching a new drysuit called the Equator.  It is still a 4 layer breathable material but it is a much lighter weight and spec than their Multisport 4 drysuit.


The suit features latex neck and wrist seals along with latex socks.  There are no over-cuff protectors which means extra care will need to taken when bush-whacking.  It also features a unique, above waist positioned, hinge zip which can take a while to get your head around at first.  Braces are also fitted as standard which are pretty essential to donning the suit with ease.


Entry is gained through the back of the suit, legs first and then flipping the top part on and doing up the zip.  There is no denying it feels odd at first and it can bunch under the PFD when first put on but once on the water, I didn’t notice it at all.


On the water the suit was comfortable and well cut with plenty of freedom of movement which it being excessively baggy.  The zip is certainly less restrictive and obvious than either chest or back zippers and can easily be open/closed on your own without being a yoga master.  I can see this suit appealing to two main user types: 1) It will make a great whitewater racing suit due to it’s lightweight material and freedom of movement and, 2) It will be good for beginners on a budget.  It will not be as durable as the likes of the Multisport 4 and for prolonged immersion use (SRT/RSR courses) I would still go for the Multisport 4 with it’s metal zipper and gasket covers, but this is a deliberately a lightweight suit, at a budget price and it would be unfair to compare the two directly.


I wasn’t convinced by the “urban” styling (grey/yellow colour) when I first saw the suit on a hanger but it looks surprisingly good when worn.

Two points I would make are the lack of a relief zipper (you might be able to use the entry zipper if you are very creative with a shewee and a length of hose!) and the entry zipper causing a “cold” spot across the back (may not be an issue when using heavier fleeces in winter).

Recommended Retail Price is 450 euro and it should be available for October.  Pre-order yours now before the end of September and get a free Typhoon fleece undersuit.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dagger Stratos 14.5s Sea Kayak Review

I just spent the last few days paddling the Dagger Strato's 14.5S.  Its dubbed as a high performance ocean tourer that is ideal for beginners and expert alike which is a pretty broad spectrum to cover but I think they have pulled it off. I was in the market for a new sea kayak recently and I had decided I wanted a 14-15ft boat that surfs well has good speed and would be comfortable for doing daily tours, rock hopping and some day touring. After a bit of searching online I had a few contenders to consider.(The P&H Delphin, Venture Jura, North Shore Aspect and a few more.) Then I gave Colm in I-Canoe a call to see what he had available and he mentioned he was paddling the Dagger Stratos and really liked it.
To be honest I was a little surprised as I never think of Dagger and touring/sea kayaks. Anyway the feedback was good and it sounded like it was worth a try. The next day the boat arrived and a soon as it came out off the truck you could tell there was something good wrapped up. As soon as I got it opened I was impressed, the rocker profile and sleek lines looked great. I have failed to find a picture that does the boat justice and give a good sense of the rocker profile so I didn't include one. It really has to be seen in the flesh.

Full review and video HERE

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Clifden Beach Party

The best weekend of the summer has just passed and with it the world premier of Too High, a kayaking film put together by Joe Rea Dickens and Jamie Conn. But first back to the weekend. The Clifden beach party weekend is the highlight of the not so packed Irish summer paddling schedule. With a guaranteed working feature , a rare rare occurrence in anywhere but Galway during the summer months,  the Clifden beach party draws Irish paddlers starved of some good playboating from all corners of the country. A tried and tested formula, two days of boating with a night camping at Dunloughan beach thrown in for good measure, this weekend has been a staple of Irish summers for as long as I can remember. This year we had the addition of premiering Too High on Saturday night to make this unmissable weekend even better.

The weekend kicked off on Saturday afternoon with some flat water coaching on the salt lake before the tide began to rise and everyone headed for the hole. With a packed eddy every second of the tide was put to good use with paddlers still throwing down on the flat at the back of the queue. After a few good hours paddling in the sun the tide fell, the hole disappeared  and with it everyone headed for the beach and the bbq.

With well worn tracks over the sand dunes the drive to the beach can be a little tricky at times for loaded cars but with a bit of luck everyone made it with cars and roof racks intact. With Andrew getting off the water early he had everything ready for the bbq when all arrived. Tents went up and chairs came out and the crowd began relaxing for the night.

With the sun gone the scene was set, the night sky providing the back drop to our bed sheet duct taped to the side of a caravan. Add in a borrowed projector and sound system courtesy of UL and our make shift cinema was complete. The Film Too High went down a treat with some amazing whitewater segments from all corners of the globe. Too high will soon be available online and with proceeds going to charity there is no reason not to grab yourself a copy of this awesome paddling flick.

The party went on into to night but Sunday morning came and with it some slow starters for the surf comp at Dunloghan beach. With not much expected from the waves we were pleasantly surprised by some reasonable sets rolling in. The format took on a mass jam session with the line up getting steadily stacked as the afternoon drew on. Aidan McElhinney took top honors with some nice rides making the most of the waves before the crowd descended.

After the surf comp the tents came down and people slowly made their way to the hole for the evening tide. With the eagerly anticipated inflatables class due to close the show the onus was to get everything run off nice and quick for the main event. The women took to the water first followed by junior men, men's sport and senior men with old faces making some reappearances to battle it out against the new young guns.

Marie Harrington took top spot in the women's class followed by veteran freestyler Jackie Ferguson in second and Jayne Stephens rounding out the top three. In men's sport Aidan McElhinney once again took top spot with an impressive tally. Aidan being only 16 is sure to be one to watch for the future.

Senior men was the final warm up act for the inflatables with some big moves thrown down by all . Len Kelleher was on laying it down in his heat along with Shane Little, David Higgins and myself. I managed to throw together some moves as the heat wore on taking the lead by the smallest of margins followed by Len Shane and David.

Finally with the kayaking out of the way the main event got under way with inflatables off all sizes and varieties taking to the water. A race of two heats with bonus points for getting a surf went down and after some retrospective judging Cormac Roche took the coveted title of Clifden Inflatable Champion.

A big thanks to all involved in helping out over the weekend with UL providing most of the make shift cinema, Jamie and Joe for giving us opportunity of premiering Too High and to I-Canoe and Kokatat for providing some awesome prizes for the weekend.