The Grand National of Kayak Races
This years Liffey Descent took place on a lovely sunny autumn day last Saturday the 5th of October. It was a relief to see the sun out as the day before winter raised its head and it rained for 10 hours straight, which would have made racing and spectating very unpleasant. A full flood release by the ESB from the Poulaphouca Reservoir topped up with the rain over night made for excellent river levels and some quick times.
Offering 30km of fast moving water and 10 weirs to negotiate the Liffey Descent is the Grand National of canoe and kayak races in Ireland. It is the biggest race in the country and attracts competitors from all over the world. This year saw a large number of British paddlers as well as Spanish, South African and a number of other countries well represented.
This year I got offered the front seat in a K2 that is usually crewed by Jim Mescal and James Clarke for the Liffey. Unfortunately for James he picked up a chest infection the week before the race and had to pull out. I had planned to race K1 this year but I was happy to take the seat when I got the call from James two days before entries closed. This would be my first attempt at the Liffey in K2 and only my 3rd race having missed a few races in the last few years.
We had a great race making it down all the weirs without any capsizes. Unfortunately we did have a mishap at Anna Liffey weir which resulted in Jim breaking his paddle. Thankfully a very nice girl doing rescue on the weir gave Jim her Werner whitewater paddles. Not ideal for use in a K2 racing kayak but it allowed us to continue in the race. We trundled along for about 5km and got a good line down Wrens Nest before we met Aileen Horkan who was able to get another set of wings to us at Wild Water Kayak Club just above Palmerstown weir.
With proper paddle in hand we were now able to charge hard to the finish about 5km down river. We crossed the line in a 2hrs 06min which we were very happy with given our little breakage. This time was good enough for 8th place in the senior racing doubles. The K2 race was won by Irish crew Mawer and Watkins closely followed by Spainiards Amado-Perez Blanco/Llorens Lopez and the Daniels brothers from the UK in 3rd.
Full results HERE
Well done to everyone who competed and especially the organisers and all the rescuers who did a great job.
See you next year!
Kayak instructor, athlete, business owner and outdoor enthusiast from the west coast of Ireland.
Paddle & Pedal Blog HERE