The dust has settled from the Surf Kayaking World Championships hosted by CANI in Portrush Northern Ireland. There were many highs and lows over the the week of competition with a huge variety of swell conditions. Waves changed daily, sometimes 2ft, one day they hit almost 20ft.
The World Championships has a Individual competition as well as a Team Competition.There are two types of surf kayak classes High Performance (HP aka short surf kayaks with fins) and International Class (IC aka long surf kayaks no fins)
In the individual Junior Category Jamie O'Brien was best of the Irish. Jamie finished 3rd in the HP Final and got crowned the Junior IC Champion! This is an amazing achievement for Jamie showing his hard work and dedication. This was definitely one of the highlights of the week. What an atmosphere there was on the beach that day cheering Jamie on to victory. When the final finished there was not a dry Irish eye on the beach. Ireland has a new IC World Champion!! Next year I am looking forward to Jamie moving up to Senior to rattle some cages.
I made it to the Women's IC Final and finished 4th. I was a bit disappointed with that but as always I learned a lot from the experience. Brigette Egan made Semi Final of the women's HP and was very unlucky to make the final missing out by a 0.02!! Kieran Mcdyre with some lovely moves made the Semi Final of Men's IC and Men's HP.
Round 1 of the team event was held in dropping tiny swell. It was disappointing to have such tiny conditions. But it's the same conditions for everyone so all you can do it make the best of it and get on with it.Team Ireland went out and gave it their best. We managed to nab 4th by 1 point which was enough to advance us through to the Team Final.
A great team effort from all. In Juniors Jamie O’Brien and Nathaniel surfed very well. Nathaniel who is new to competition in surf kayaking surfed well showing great potential. We were delighted to welcome back Brigette and Sean Egan to the team. They are no strangers to competition. They were both a huge asset with their great surfing and experience.
In Senior Men Mike Barry and Kieran McDyre put down some lovely moves in both IC and HP. They both make surfing look so easy and effortless. They both have very unique style to their surfing and set the bar for us all leading the way forward. Jordan Collins who is also new to the Team surfed well in IC. Jordan who is a GMIT student has progressed greatly over the last year and his work rewarded him with a place on the men's team.
Darragh got some nice waves showing all his has learn since the last worlds.Rowan a former junior from the last worlds moved up to Senior Mens taking a place on the team and getting himself some lovely moves.Anthony Coyne did Mayo proud and surfed well in his red long boat. Ant has a classic flowing style in the longboat. Its great to watch. Sean Egan had good heats showing some nice moves.
The team Final was moved to West strand with onshore winds and fast closeouts. During the Team final no results were given throughout the day so it was difficult to know where we placed. We had to wait for the closing Ceremony for results. We placed 4th coming a mere 3 points from 3rd. We were a bit disappointed with this result which I think shows how hunger we are to do better next time.
Another Worlds Champs newbie was Alan Dorgan, he had a great highlight reel on the first day. Alan who is relatively new to the sport caught some nice waves gaining valuable competition experience. Robbie O'Driscoll also his first World Champs did himself proud. He sailed through his round 1 heat in Junior IC, keep it up Robbie you are flying.Jerry O Driscoll and Alan O Brien brought to the comp something they excel at. A genuine sense of fun and camaraderie.Both surfed well and added great entertainment and excitement throughout the week.
Conor O Driscoll, another former junior at the last world champs in Spain, put on a great show to prove he’s able to mix it up well now that he’s in the Senior events. Donie also surfing well showing his progression from the last worlds. Also well done to Sheelagh Hennessy it was great to watch her figure out the IC moves and surf well in HP. There will be no stopping her now in her new surf weapon the Zenith HP.
Competition got all run off and finished on the Thursday as there was a question mark over whether or not there would be sufficient swell for Saturday. Unfortunately for the competition some of the best swell of the week turned up on Saturday. Nothing left to do but free surf with all our friends from all over the world at East Strand. For me this was a great reminder what it is all about getting in the ocean and catching some steep fun waves with your friends cheering you on with nothing but insane grins on every face.
With the worlds so close to home we had some great support. Definitely some special moments with our families and friends making the journey offering huge support. Unfortunately with the finals not on Saturday some people had a wasted trip. A massive thanks you to all who travelled.
With the worlds so late in the year it made for a long season for us all. Lucky for us we had Lisa of https://www.facebook.com/pilatesbody.lisa/ on hand to give plenty of advice and sports massage to keep us going. Big thanks to Lisa for keeping my old bones moving this year. I would definitely recommend some Pilates for any paddlers as its a great for posture and strengthen up the body.
Overall it was a good World Championships for the Irish Team. We can hold our heads up with those results. As always I am very proud of the Irish Team. We are so lucky to live and surf in a country with world class surf on our door steps. This is such a great resource and gives great opportunities to perfect our craft.
Putting in so much time in the water this year between surf and freestyle the body is feeling it. Nothing a bit more physio and Pilates will sort out. But looking forward to some winter swell coming in and to surfing some nice waves outside the lines of competition.
I would like to say a massive thank you to all my Friends and Family for all the support throughout this long season. Also thanks to CANI and the Ulster Paddle surf Club for running the event and social evening. The next World Championships will be held in Peru 2019.