Have you seen how many canoeing related nominations feature in this year’s Outsider of the Year awards? Have you voted yet?
Best Outdoor Escape (outdoor/adventure provider/destination) 2015:
https://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/form/pwkpjz – Atlantic Sea kayaking
Best Outdoor/Adventure Event 2015: https://poll.fbapp.io/dxmxdh – Junior Paddlefest 2015
Best Outdoor/Adventure film 2015: https://poll.fbapp.io/yyqmkd – Athena Media – Extreme – An exploration of adventure featuring athletes Fergal Somerville, Easkey Britton, Conor Heelan, Aileen Mann, Ricky Bell, Heather Irvine and John O’Regan & Jon Hynes and Sean Cahill – Round Ireland Sea Kayak & Leon McCarron – Karun – karunfilm.com
Best Outdoor Adventure Photo 2015: https://poll.fbapp.io/pgftbo – Liffey Descent by John Shiels.
Get voting! Get sharing! Make sure your favourites win!
Below are a list of the canoeing related Outsider of the Year nominations from the site.
Susan Honan and Sonja Ewen, round Ireland kayakers
Susan Honan and Sonja Ewen join the ranks on these pages as this summer they became part of an elite group of women who have paddled around Ireland. Paddling between 35km and 65km a day, the 1,600km journey took just over seven weeks and the pair was storm bound for 10 days of that time.
Highlights along the way included a 53km non-stop dawn crossing of Donegal Bay. “We got out on the water at about 4am and paddled into the sunlight.” Another standout moment was seeing an orca whale, a minke whale and a massive pod of dolphins leaping out of the water in Kerry. “That was really incredible,” says Susan.
The pair undertook the 1,600km journey to raise money for Headstrong, which provides confidential, professional youth focussed counselling services. “Kayaking is very much a mental sport and that is why I chose it, along with my passion for sea
kayaking,” says Susan.
Mick O’Meara, round Ireland paddler
Waterford paddler Mick O’Meara turned 50 this year. While others might think it’s time to put the feet up, he turned his attention to paddling 930 miles around Ireland – for the second time! And this time he did it solo – and smashed the previous record by a whopping two days – despite miserable and sometimes treacherous weather. But Mick says his main goal wasn’t the record but rather to prove to himself that he could do it solo and to inspire others along the way.
No stranger to long journeys, in 1990 Mick made the same trip around Ireland in 33 days. Four years later he circumnavigated Iceland in six weeks. Since then he has won the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race three times, the International Liffey Descent seven times, and in 2010 set a record for the fastest crossing of the Irish Sea.
On this journey, Mick spent 12 to 14 hours a day alone, and the circumnavigation was achieved without the help of a food and gear support-van following him on land. “In my opinion this is what makes it a true expedition,” says Mick.
Crossing the Shannon was one of Mick’s scarier run-ins with the weather. Waves broke in every direction followed by 7m swells, the sea throwing all the power and confusion it could muster at his boat. Mick was reminded of just how vulnerable he was. “This is what you always have to be aware of,” he says. “You’re not bigger than the sea. You’ve always got to expect that the sea is going to crush you.
While weather troubles made some days miserable and discouraging, Mick held frequent pep-talks and reality-checks with himself: “I just decided look, you decided to do this, this is your idea, either do it, or go home.” Mick credits this mindset as crucial to his achievement.
Mick says the support he received from his wife, Una, and three kids was crucial to his success.
Jon Hynes and Sean Cahill, round Ireland paddlers
From 16 June to 24 July, kayakers Jon Hynes (Cork) and Sean Cahill (Clare) paddled 1500km+ around Ireland. Their expedition, which was sponsored by CH Marine, involved 34 days kayaking and five days storm bound.
When asked about the hardest part of the expedition, Jon states, “Certainly our first week was not quite hell but very challenging. We had 3.5 days of thick fog and had to navigate long open crossings in difficult conditions. Mizen Head was huge, followed by a 28km open crossing into force 4 winds and then straight into a cauldron of raging mess at Dursey Sound with big waves and force 6-7 down-drafting gusts. We were never so glad to hit shore that evening.
“Even though I’ve paddled for over 30 years, I had 17 blisters on my left hand in the first two weeks of the trip…plus I had to cut off my wedding ring due to swollen hands.”
The pair undertook the circumnavigation as a personal challenge and also to create a resource for anyone else looking to attempt a trip in the future. As they paddled, they raised funds for a disabled hoist for water activities in Cappanalea OETC, Co Kerry. They also made a documentary about their trip and have been it around the island to any club or society that are interested.
Despite very challenging weather the pair agree that it was the adventure of a lifetime. “We met so many great people…and experienced wonderful hospitality and generosity,” says Jon.