This past season has been the third year of the Irish whitewater race league . The league has gone from strength to strength over the past few years with Jackson Kayak coming on board two years ago to support what they saw as a thriving whitewater community. For me personally the races have provided a way to meet new boaters and catch up with others, who I otherwise might only run into a few times a year. It is this side of the race league that will have me coming back year on year to each and every race.
This past season we managed to fit in six races with postponements, cancellations, too little water & sometimes too much water! With the fickle nature of Irish paddling we will probably never have a year where we get every race in, but when are we ever happy about the amount of boating we get done! With the number of solid races, organisers & sponsors involved, we will always have a base for the whitewater community in Ireland.
This year saw races in Donegal, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick & Galway, with some great turnouts at these races. Crana Fest & Galway Fest have attracted the biggest crowds over the years with the lure of dam released water giving little excuses for not making it to both races. It is however, the races that are organised on short notice are those in which you really see the community rally together. Between time keeping, race starting, safety teams and general helping out, there is always people stepping up to lend and hand and make race days run smoothly.
This year Eoin Keyes was the man to beat, taking wins at Ennistymon, the Flesk and the Clare Glens. A sixth place finish in Galway Fest being his one and only blip on a other wise perfect season. A first, two seconds, and a forth place finish left me tied on points at the top of the table with Eoin on 295 points, however Eoin takes the crown having more race wins. Shane Little rounded out the top three with some solid performances over the course of the season.
In the ladies , Laura Griffin took top spot in the three races she competed in but had the title stolen from her by Roisin Millard who put in a solid showing all year to take the league honors.
Rob Kierans took the juniors class by storm, putting in times that would have him placing well with the senior men. He will have no problem making the switch and stepping up to the senior ranks in the coming years!
This year David Higgins & Aran Kilroy battled it out for the top unsupported paddler and brand new Jackson Zen that was up for grabs. After a close battle, David Higgins came out on top with a 5th place finish in the overall ranking, just a few points ahead of Aran, who finished 6th in the overall rankings.
The big news for the coming season is the switch of the free boat to the women's league for the top unsupported female. There is going to be a requirement that at least ten women compete in four of the races for the switch to happen but with Crana, Galway Fest & Wacko all surpassing this each year it should only encourage more Ladies to get out there and start racing!
Full league results can be found here & anyone interest in coming to Ireland for some races keep an eye on our league page here