Merry Kerry 2016

By Evie Moloney

After a very successful 2016 of paddling, polo and the pursuit of new aquatic adventures, we finished the year off with a lovely trip to Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry. This annual pilgrimage is regarded as the highlight of the club’s calendar by many, with fresher, current and oldie club members alike joining up for a week of merriment, socialising and the opportunity to explore the beautiful scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way. For me, this was my first “Merry Kerry” trip and I absolutely must say that it most definitely lived up to the hype accredited to it, with many new skills learned, techniques perfected and friendships forged.

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Photo credit: Naddy Jones

Despite the low river levels due to suppressed rainfall coming up to Christmas, we successfully managed to run the Lower Caragh River and there was very much fun had by all. As my first experience of paddling in a watercourse beyond the Liffey and the Baltic Boyne I was stunned by the gorgeous scenery and very much enjoyed the peaceful drifting of the native wildlife, with several exciting heron sightings logged. This was the largest group I’d paddled with before and it was a great experience to get to run with a group of paddlers consisting of Level 5 expert paddlers (who were always on hand with accidental swim survival tips), seasoned polo players and newcomers to the river.

19243996_1850319368518311_995368559_nHappy paddlers after running the Lower Caragh!
Photo credit Simon Grennell

A huge attribute of Kerry is the opportunity to meet up with all the other canoe and kayak clubs, including UL, UCCC and NUIG. It offers a great chance to meet like-minded kayak enthusiasts before the rush and bustle of the February Intervarsities Kayaking Competitions.
UCDCC’s Merry Kerry is a wonderful way to finish off the Christmas holidays, and allows for the opportunity to get out on the open water for a week (a rather nice alternative to the conventional post-Christmas slump of a food induced coma supplemented with idle family bickering).

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Photo credit: Naddy Jones

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Photo credit: Deividas Rainys

On the third day of Kerry, we got the opportunity to participate in a RSR1 (River Safety and Rescue 1) course, very kindly provided by Kieran McKevitt. This was my first experience of river rescue, apart from lifesaving and, despite the rather nippily cold water; it was a very enjoyable and informative day, with lots of experiential learning for all involved!

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Most evenings involved an enthused crew of varying participants preparing a lovely dinner for all, with Deividas’ Tikka Masala becoming a very happily received hit amongst ravenous paddlers.  This feasting was then followed by a night of delightful drinking and mandatory merriment, with most evenings resulting in a trip to the Towers pub.
This public house, our then captain Sara Griffin (a proud Glenbeigh native), can verify, is simply absolutely fabulous. Warmly greeted by Breda and the legendary Patch, a dog caught in a rather compromising drinking-from-the-toilet-bowl-position one night by a bemused Naddy Jones, the Towers is highly regarded as the absolute Mecca of Glenbeigh. It was great place to mix and mingle with both other club’s paddlers and the locals, with the latter having a political moment one evening when they proclaimed the virtues of a certain Kerry native politician to me, subsequently finding myself the proud owner of a rather lovely Michael Healy Rae 2017 calendar.
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Photo credit: Deividas Rainys

A major highlight of Kerry is the annual Pub Quiz in The Towers. This highly competitive event is organised by the club’s PRO, who was the wonderful Niamh Delaney this Kerry. In teams of five we battled it out through rounds of music, medicine, general knowledge and a round of dingbats too.

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Photo credit: Naddy Jones

After every couple rounds we had a challenger event where a task had to be completed. The first task involved a prize for the first two teams whose elected members swapped outfits with each other first. This saw various stages of frantic undress and exchange of garments, with a very proud Yvette and Simon as winners. Many compliments on Simon’s lovely shoulders ensued, and he even rivalled Ross Kerrigan on who wears skirts the best.

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Photo credit: Naddy Jones

The next task was announced as the first team to buy a bag of chips from the local chipper. Utter calamity ensued with frantic scrambling through the pub and jostling into the chip shop. The scene visible was less than a far cry from the canoe polo battlefield as rival teams begged, bartered and battered each other to be served first. While wrestling with relentless opponents, and (successfully) bribing the lovely chip shop owner with a very pretty pen (which he has since framed), our team hastened back to The Towers, chips in hand, and then victory for that task was ours!

19369831_1850318608518387_649151179_nOverall Quiz Champions 2016!
Photo credit: Naddy Jones

New Year’s Eve was a really lovely evening with UCDCC! After a most delicious meal in The Towers, we headed back to the hostel to don appropriately festive attire before a little predrinking and then heading back to The Towers for New Year’s celebrations! It was most definitely the first time everyone was wearing something other than a jeans/ joggers/hiking boots/ the lovely UCDCC hoodie combo and the girls were just gorgeous and the boys most handsome.

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Matching shirts on NYE!
Photo credit: Naddy Jones

A fabulous evening of festivities and fun ensued with a big Happy New Year countdown at midnight as UCDCC welcomed in a new kayaking year!
Merry Kerry was, and promises to continue to be, an absolutely amazing experience, with new friends made, old friends reconnected with, lots of partying, lovely paddling and an entire metric tonne of wonderful, wonderful memories to treasure for years to come!
All made possible by the wonderful 2016 committee! ❤
Special thanks to Naddy Jones, our Camera Queen Extraordinaire!
Go Go UCD Disco Paddlers and roll on Merry Kerry 2017!

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19369681_1850318505185064_1818286586_n.pngHappy New Year!
Photo credit: Naddy Jones

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Freshers ‘Fun’doran 2015

The annual freshers trip was not something I had intended on going to. I didn’t think I knew enough people to go on a club trip yet. I was convinced by fellow club members only two days before the trip that it was absolutely unmissable! I’m happy to admit, they were 100% right.
The fun started before we even left UCD campus and the party flowed straight off the bus and into the houses in Bundoran. After a brief scattering to claim beds, everyone gathered in the party house. It wasn’t long before I definitely couldn’t claim I didn’t know enough people. After a long night of chatting, drinking and laughing, the party was paused as everyone headed to bed.

Bus Banter Begins! Photo Credit: Derv McAuley

Saturday started with a delicious breakfast of sausages and toast. Then we got down to the
beach to learn how to surf kayak. We spent the day chasing and catching waves, occasionally capsizing when the waves caught us instead! We even had time to explore the sand dunes before we packed up and headed back to the houses to get ready for the night.

This way to Bundoran???- Ailbhe Touhy (Credit: Derv McAuley)

Hungover Surf … Nothing better! (Credit: Derv McAuley)

The party was soon back in full swing as everyone got out their costumes for the night. The houses were soon filled with an array of cats, parrots, roman soldiers, Harry Potters, hen
partiers and even Pac Man with his entourage of ghosts. Eggcup shots of Club Hooch were
freely distributed and before long we were ready to join Bundoran clubbers. We walked to the club and livened up the usual Saturday night crowd.

Pacman and her Ghosts feat. The Drunken sailor (Credit: Derv McAuley)

We got up the next morning to another great breakfast. There was a match on that Sunday so we were soon packed up, houses cleaned and on the bus back to Dublin. As everyone piled off the bus, and most went straight into the Clubhouse to watch the game, my first weekend trip with the Canoe Club came to an end. I was absolutely exhausted, but so glad I’d gone.

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French Alps 2016

by Diarmuid Ryan

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Ross, Ailbhe, Diarmuid, Derv and Greg posing in the Guil Valley. Photo taken by Simon.

For two weeks between May and June 2016, UCD Kayakers (Ailbhe, Derv, Diarmuid, Greg, Ross, and Simon) invaded the French Alps. We travelled there for the (pretty much) guaranteed water, great rivers and, as a bonus, some beautiful scenery.The trip was a great learning experience for us (and a great holiday to boot), running rivers none of us had been on before and experiencing how different French rivers are to their Irish counterparts.

For the travel over, the six of us split into two groups, Derv left two days early, directly from the RDS, driving with her passenger, Simon, across France, having a fun-filled (and totally not uncomfortable) experience sleeping in an over-packed car somewhere outside Poitiers. Their deep-set hatred of Poitiers’ road network and parking availability has absolutely nothing to do with their inability to find accommodation for the night. The rest of us had a nice couple days rest following exams, and flew to Bergamo in Italy. Upon arrival Ross and I set out on a sweaty walk along some dodgy Italian roads to reach the car rental place, only to find that it had moved back to the airport (oops). Eventually, the car was rented, overpriced roofracks were bought, boats and gear were collected from the airport and we drove to Vallouise in France where we’d spend the night in a hotel, awaiting keys for our apartment.

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Got to be ready to go from Exams. Photo by Steven Mulrooney.

The following day we eventually found the Immobilier, hidden in a corner of the abandoned (in summertime) ski resort, and collected the keys of our fine apartment which turned out to be on the 7th floor of a block in which one other person lived. The resemblance of our new accommodation to the set of a million horror movies was quite apparent so we decided to go paddling for the day.

They say “start as you mean to continue”, so Greg broke a set of paddles on the slalom course in L’Argentière-la-Bessée. We then decided that the slalom course was too long of a walk back up and just ran the rest of the Middle Durance instead. Day 2 continues as before, while Derv and I are off doing the car drop, Ailbhe finally decides to outfit her boat. Unfortunately, Ailbhe’s from Clare where they don’t have knives so she never learned not to cut things towards her own hand (you see where this is going). Following plenty of duct tape and bandages, the hand is cleared as “grand” and we got a nice paddle in on the Sunshine Run (the Lower Durance).

On Day 3, we decide to step it up a notch to push the group and head to the Upper Guil. After a bit of leapfrogging practice on the relatively flat first section, the river narrows into a more technical gorge and Ross takes the lead as we eddyhop and scout our way down. There’s a few nice rapids in the gorge, which then slowly opens back out into a nice wavey river again. As is expected when pushing a group, we have a couple of swims in there but the two paddlers are out of the water nice and quick and boats and (almost all) gear retrieved. Unfortunately, we lose a set of paddles (which were later found). The local kayak shop did pretty well out of us.

Day 4 sees us step back a little bit to let everyone relax after the previous days antics. We run a flat section further up the Upper Guil and Simon takes a chunk out of his boat flaring an unusually spiky rock. We continue to a nice handy Lower Guil where, for once, nothing eventful happens.

Day 5 is Derv’s birthday so we try to get done nice and early so there’s time to go to a restaurant and shop for drink before they close, but we’re back to eventful again. We decide to step up again and run the Upper Guisane, followed by Briancon Gorge. The Guisane is a nice straightforward run with only one major rapid, the S-Bend. At the get on we met some nice German paddlers who offer to do the car drop for us. On to Briancon Gorge which starts out nice and bouncy, followed by a slide down the right of a dam and then the river gradually narrows into a gorge. As we’re coming into the gorge, we spot a girl hanging out on a gravel bed in the middle of the gorge with no boat or group. Eventually it’s discovered that she swam on the way into the gorge and her group chased her boat down the gorge. She wasn’t able to climb out (it’s a gorge) and was pretty stuck for options until we arrived. We found a way out for her on the other side of the river, roped her across the river (including having to provide her a rescue harness) and while Ross and Ailbhe waited in case her group came down the river again, Greg and Derv climbed out of the gorge with the girl and Simon and I ran the rest of the river to collect the car and meet them when they got out. The girl’s group were eventually found much later. The whole scenario made us much happier about how we run rivers in comparison to those guys. We eventually get on our way again, stop in the shop for some snacks, cake and drink, then try to find ourselves a nice restaurant that won’t ruin the bank accounts, a task that proves rather difficult so late in the evening. Restaurants are either full, expensive or closed. Eventually, we find a restaurant in L’Argentière-la-Bessée, pretty much our last hope and our non-french-speaking paddlers struggle to order dinner. Following a delicious dinner we head back to our apartment for a “quiet” night…

Following a nice rest-day trip to a glacier feeding into the Onde and some intestinal rumblings from an accidentally spicy dinner, it’s back to paddling. On our way to the glacier we had a little look at the river and a read of the guidebook. It seems like a friendly little run. It is quickly apparent that this assessment is completely inaccurate. The river starts out rocky and awkward as it braids through gravel beds. Following this, lots of shallow rooted trees appear on the river bank (and appear to be in the river at higher levels) with some down in the flow. After cutting one tree out of the river, we spot more around the next bend and decide to give up on it and walk off instead.

The next day is another unsuccessful trip to a river. We make the long drive to the Upper Ubaye to scout it out and maybe have a run at it. The river turns out to be horribly flat and while I have a nap in the car, the rest go play in the playground. On the trip back we spot a beach on Serre-Poncon Lake and go for a swim and take some lovely embarrassing photos. Simon decides to fly his underpants out the window like a flag on the trip home which definitely resulted in more than a few odd looks.

Our last day’s paddling before Ailbhe, Derv and Greg leave us, we decide to head back to the Upper Guil, hoping that a better run down the section will be a nice boost before the split by conquering a river that had caused a little trouble before. This was 50% successful. There were no incidents to note but Ailbhe elected to walk off the river after the first rapid in the gorge, feeling to nervous to continue. Everyone (or at least most normal people) have those nervous days where being scared causes them to make mistakes and it’s just a better idea to not go paddling. The rest of us continued down the river and had great fun plugging holes! We had a few drinks to celebrate after this and the following day the guys headed off early to the airport.

Simon, Ross and Myself were a bit at a loss for what to do that day afterwards. We had a scout of a couple of Park’n’Hucks (or rather one Park’N’Huck and the wrong section of another river), the Bayass and the Fournel. Both looked nasty and not worth running so we decided to go for a scout of the Middle Guil. As we arrive at the get off, we meet some Scottish paddlers who appear to be shit hot. Scottish Guy #1 recognises my Magnum just by the hull (like wtf) and as I turn around to confirm, I notice an unusual bulge in the bottom. Time to go back to UL and borrow a heat gun, I’ve sprung a leak. Following some very ill informed repairs to the boat, it’s good to go. Now we had nothing left to do so we just went home, had dinner, played with trains and organised to go paddling with UL the next day.

We got out on Durance Gorge the following day, being led by the lovely lads from UL (thanks Conor, Howie and everyone). The guidebook I think has the best description of this river “a class 4 river with a class 5 portage”. There’s a nice couple of lead in rapids to get settled on, then there’s a nondescript eddy beside a clump of trees that signals the get out for the portage. This portage is the most terrifying walk I’ve done, a path the width of your two feet along a slidy scree slope, twenty feet above the “Crack of Doom”, the rapids that are being portaged for good reason. To top it all off, you have a boat on your shoulder and a paddle in your hand, not to be recommended for dodgy hill walking. There’s also a nice goat skull along the path to remind you that you’re way out of your depth, “if the goats can’t survive here, what are you doing?”. Eventually, the portage is over and you breathe a sigh of relief, the paddling no longer seems that scary, you can’t shit your pants paddling if you’ve already done so on the portage. The slot is the major rapid on this river, a squeeze past a boulder followed by a 4 foot drop that has a nice towback and then a run out rapid that bends right then left with plenty of diagonal holes to throw you off into the next one. The rest of the river is nice and straightforward barring constriction. This is an incredibly beautiful river, due to its location in a 12km long, very deep and steep gorge.

We had another day off the following day, after travelling to the Ubaye Racecourse to meet UL, who unfortunately had a little accident on the Upper Ubaye, the trip was cancelled. Nonetheless we scouted the river for future reference, and had a nice trip back from the river trying (and failing) to outrun the Wolves vans.

Our last day’s paddling did not start out well. We arrived out in the morning to find Derv’s boat missing from outside the apartment. The cable lock was still present and locked, so we simply assumed Derv had moved it. Upon her arriving down to join us it was immediately apparent that this was not the case, the boat had been robbed. The most unusual thing was that someone had robbed the locked boat (requiring unscrewing three grab-handles) instead of the three unlocked boats on the roof of our car parked directly beside it. Eventually deciding that there was nothing to be done bar go kayaking, we head to the Middle Guil with UL. This is a brilliant, continuous, Grade 4 river with big holes everywhere. A difficult enough run, but very rewarding. We then had a nice drive down to the Slalom Course at Saint-Clement and then to Roubaix wave with UL to watch the guys rund down first and then the girls have a ladies day on the water with Derv, some great new paddlers coming on there, we’ll hear of them soon I’m sure!

Thus ended our trip, we headed drove back to the airport the next day, returned the car, furiously reorganised bags to distribute weight from the boats and flew back to lovely Ireland.

I can’t recommend a trip to the Alps enough to anyone considering it, it’s a great place to learn and advance, it’s not all tough paddling either, there’s everything from Grade 2 to Grade 6 to be done.

Before I finish, I’d like to thank the lads from UL for accommodating us so much, they were happy to take us out on three rivers and were even going to feed us the last night (sorry for not taking ye up on the offer, we were just tired).

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Mike’s First Merry Kerry with UCDCC – December 2014/ January 2015

By Mike O’Malley (MOM)

All anyone ever talked about coming up to Christmas was Kerry, Kerry and Kerry. Seeing everyone was talking about it so much I decided to skip my usual new years at home and head down down to Kerry. I have to say I have no regrets

Getting down to the houses was quite the challenge as i didn’t have a clue where they were. Turns out when I finally called for the directions I had passed the houses about 5 times. When i got there turns out everyone had already claimed all the beds but there was still a bit of floor space for me which became my bed for the next week.

The first day of kayaking we headed on down the Lower Carragh which was pretty different from anything i had done before. Before this I had only gone on the Liffy and the Boyne which were mainly just made up of flatwater. The rapids on the Lower Carragh were so much more fun although the water was low  so we literally got stuck every two seconds.

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My next river trip Kerry was the Upper Carragh an extremely hungover trip. Probably the most challanging river I’ve done yet. Finally discovered where the famous kayakers fear of trees comes from, the first section of tress seemed fine until the last branch which attacked me and made me capsize thankfully rescue  was there waiting so i got straight back up. The second set of trees caused carnage, an empty boat got stuck on a tree and even with our 8 or so engineers we struggled to recover the boat. After about half an hour we finally recovered it and headed on down the river. Then we met blackstones which looked extremely scary. It doesn’t look half as bad when you end up backwards though as you cant see ahead of you, I learned this the hard way.

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Anyways, after all the fun nights and blurry mornings, it was finally time for the big clean up. We slowly became aware of how much we had abandoned the state of the houses and with some encouragement from committee, gave us the necessary energy to get out of our hungover comas and make them look presentable again. All in all, Kerry was  a great trip and I’d highly advise everyone to go; great craic and kayaking experience. I just hope you don’t experience ALCOOL!

everyonekerry

(All photographic credit goes to Naddy Jones)

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Sara and Niamh’s Banterful Bundoran – November 2014

By Sara Griffin and Niamh Delaney.

Our first official UCDCC weekend trip, and boy, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Drinking was well underway before we had even left the Pale to start our journey Northbound and everyone already was in high spirits, buzzing for the weekend of Partying and Paddling ahead.  Due to the happy coincidence of the Hostel double-booking us, we had the rare luxury of Holiday homes, where one was rapidly declared ‘The Party House’ and the rest ‘no-go Partying ‘zones.  The usual All-out War for bed space was non-existent as everyone got their own bed, without having to battle to stay off the floor.  The Party continued non-stop straight off the bus, with banter and chats galore; a first taste of Kayaking Party life!

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9 o’clock the next morning meant a reluctant wake-up call, with Hangovers and blurry memories in full swing all round.  I was informed the freezing sea- water was the perfect ‘Hangover-cure’ and so it was. After getting a run through of the basic skills we would need to effectively ‘Surf-Kayak’, we were let loose on the waves. The swells were fierce that afternoon, with many a novice and advanced alike successfully catching waves both big and small.  A very important lesson learned was not to wave ‘hello’ to your instructor as he his wildly gesturing to you to get the hell out of the water as you are being merrily dragged out to sea in a Rip. Despite this no one was injured, and everyone was raring to go for the Disney -themed night of drinking ahead.

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Competition was fierce that night, with everything from Booze LightBeer, Mike and Sully, Winnie the Pooh, and our dear Captain Snow White, the list goes on. More new experiences were to follow, with our first taste of ‘Club Hooch’, the usual Kayaking singsong, and many a game designed to mess with us Freshers.

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A terror- inducing taxi ride into town to the local nightclub was to follow, as life flashed before our eyes. Bundoran became the new Disneyland that night, and suffice it to say many locals and non-locals were thoroughly amused by our display. The ending of the nightclub did not mean the ending of the night, with the festivities carrying on well into the wee hours in the houses. Eventually everyone stumbled to bed, collapsing into any available bed that could be found. In contrast to the bus journey up to Bundoran, the journey back found everyone tired and hungover (some still quite drunk) with the remnants of face-paint still in evidence, but no one could argue that Bundoran had not lived up to its well-deserved name of ‘Banterful Bundoran’.

Fundoran

(All photographic credit goes to Naddy Jones)

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Simon’s Fresher’s Experience in Tramore – October 2014

By Simon Grennell.

October 10th was set up to be my first weekend away with a college club. The trip that convinced me that this was the only club to spend a weekend with.

Having only really made friends with one of the only club members, we left for Tramore with me feeling slightly apprehensive. However my mind was changed within an instant. With parties both nights, having pre-drinks in the hostel before heading out to the pub and the nightclub the atmosphere was very much electric. There was no better way to break the ice between members than playing Cards Against Humanity with a can in hand. What craic was had those nights.

This weekend also had two canoeing outings. The first morning we headed out to Tramore beach to surf some waves. Despite having kayaked before, I had never surfed in a kayak, but the committee members were glad to share their paddle surf knowledge. This was really he first day I got to know the other members and committee as we attempted and quite often failed to catch these one-to-two foot waves. The next morning we headed home, stopping in Carlow to have our first ever club river trip! Great craic was had by all. Techniques were taught and we had many BoaterX races.

In the end we all had a well deserved sleep on the bus journey home. Getting back, we finally emptied the trailer and then tucked in to a delivery of pizzas we had just ordered.

(Credit to Steven Mulrooney for the epic video of our weekend trip!)

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Joining UCD Canoe Club by Kevin O’Flannagain

It was fresher’s week, and in my ultimate wisdom, like many other young fresher’s I took it upon myself to join clubs and societies until my money was no more. One of these clubs happened to be the canoe club. But could I be blamed? Who hasn’t had fun pushing people out of canoes in dodgy adventure centres?

The stand was one of the more impressive, with several colourful kayaks on show and the secretary doing her best to paddle her way across the hall (she never made it… probably due to the lack of water). So I paid the 15 quid and went along to the pool session later that night, determined to be awesome. Continue reading

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Merry Kerry 2013-2014 by Andrew Jeffers

Merry Kerry everyone! And where do I Start??

As a fresher I had hear much about the awesome, crazy and liver dysfunction inducing trip to Kerry over New Year’s. Naturally I was eager to sign up and get with the banter.

There wasn’t much to mention about the first night, most people hadn’t arrived. However this didn’t stop Zog showing off his new ‘chriskini’. He found much to his discomfort that it chaffed much more than his Borat mankini (see the freshers’ trip 2014). Also Zog had just acquired his new boat and was busy fitting it out in the middle of the sitting room in one of the houses. That was until Marie decided she could fit INSIDE Zog’s boat. Yes ,inside, you read correctly! Continue reading

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Fresher’s Weekend by Ailbhe Tuohy

Dressed up for Saturday Night!

Dressed up for Saturday Night!

Before college, I remember looking through all the different sports societies that I wanted to join. Literally, no joke I had about 20 on my list. I knew that there was no way I would be able to join all of them, so I decided to take my time looking around the sports expo in September and choose a manageable 4 or 5 clubs (or so I thought). September came and I made my way into the sports expo, ready to look and choose carefully. My plan was to wander around, then go back and sign up for the few that grabbed my attention the most. This, however, was no to be. As soon as I reached the kayaking stall, I was greeted by friendly faces. I immediately felt at ease and was told all about an amazing trip to the Alps by Marie and Finch. I think I ended up chatting for at least 20-30 minutes! I went against my plans of “shopping around” and immediately signed up. I can honestly say, Best… Decision… EVER! Continue reading

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2013 Canoe Marathon World Championships, Copenhagen – Sean McCarthy

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Early Wednesday morning, all seven of us who were competing for Ireland at the World Canoe Marathon Championships flew out from Dublin to Copenhagen. The trip was fairly painless, we got down to the course by late afternoon so we got to catch the last few kilometres of some of the veterans races so we got an idea of what was in store for us.

The course consisted of laps of length 4.2kms and at the end of each lap you had to do a portage (This is where you get out and run with your boat for 100 metres.). After the last portage, you then had a 1km sprint for home. This made the final portage key.

On Thursday, we went down to the course nice and early and started our final preparations for the race. We all made sure that the boats were 100% in order; ensuring foot pumps and rudders worked, sorting out our drinks for the race and when we going to take them. All this was followed by a lap of the course and a few practice runs of the portage and later that evening, the opening ceremony.

On Friday morning, it was a case of eating like a horse and then waiting around until the afternoon for my race. Eventually, quarter to 3 arrived for the start of the Men’s Under 23 race and I was sitting on the startline with the nerves jangling. The start was totally chaotic and I was caught knapping. I ended up in no man’s land and had to chase hard for 6km until I caught the 4th group. We worked fairly well together until we started to shed people and it came down to a Swedish and I in the last few kilometres. Having been racing for 25km, he dropped me on the final portage and I finished 21st out of 32 paddlers in the end. The result wasn’t too bad but there’s plenty of room to improve for next year.

Despite being knackered, I was able to enjoy myself after the race. I had a bit more craic with the rest of the team and chatted with some of the other teams, a few of which I had met at previous international events. There was a buzz around the course for the weekend. A crowd came along to watch the senior Men and Women race over the weekend and there were plenty of stands selling the food of champions, hotdogs etc. The senior men’s K1 race was brilliant to watch, one of the favourites who was looking really ended up going for a swim and it was tight the whole way around until the last portage, when the South African Hank McGregor broke away and took the win ahead of last year’s winner Ivan Alonso. The only Irish competitor in the men’s race was Peter Egan who came 19th. The senior doubles races took place on Sunday. Denmark got a home win in the Women’s K2, while Spain had a one-two in the Men’s K2 for the 3rd time in four years. It was then time for us to hop on the bus and head home to look forward to the Liffey Descent.

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