The 3rd WW race of the season was held on the River Lee at Ballincollig on 22nd Jan 23. The race ran from the Graveyard just below Inniscarra damn, down through Ballincollig regional park and finished at the venerable Anglers Rest Pub. Thanks to a generous release by the ESB the normally placid Lee was fit to burst adding significantly to the challenge of the main feature of the race – the broken weir at Ballincollig. Once a relatively innocuous straight bar weir, Ballincollig weir broke back in 2014. Nowadays, all of the (not inconsiderable) flow from the Lee is funneled into an 8 ft split in the weir face with some spectacular results – normally when running a weir in a WWR you can breathe a sigh of relief once you are past the main wave train, on Ballincollig Weir you then have to watch out for a monster of a boil perfectly positioned to catch an unwary paddler by surprise. More than one racer found themselves suddenly facing back the way they came – indeed, rumour has it that some bystanders thought they were watching a slalom race. The rest of the race was a surprisingly technical run down to the Anglers. There were plenty of opportunities to gain a lot of time (or lose even more) as racers threaded their way down the fast flow and big eddies of the lower Lee in flood.
A big showing from local paddlers lead to a clean sweep for Cork in the Wavehopper division and 4/6 podium places in the WWR divisions. Trish Holland took home her 2nd win in a row in the Womens GP division.
Huge thanks to Simon Kenny for organising, Sean Lynne and Ciarán Usher for providing rescue and John Kenny for running the start line. Keeping to the Munster theme, the next race in the 2023 season will be held in Castleconnell Limerick on 26th Feb. The site of the 2005 WWR World Cup, Castleconnell is always a highlight of the season, big water, bouncy wave trains and twisty turny race lines inevitably leads to exciting paddling.
The second Wild Water Race, and first Sprint of the year was held on the River Claire at Milltown County Galway on 27th Nov thanks to Galway Kayak Club. The Milltown Sprint is always a great little course with consistent white water coupled with a very pleasant walk back to the top along the Milltown Riverway. The 2022 edition was made all the more fun thanks to a sunny November day coupled with high water – it’s rare to have an Irish sprint race with such consistent bouncy wave trains the full length of the course.
The upper section constituted of a wave train across the river width. With the river gently bending to the left most racers went with the centre right line focusing on keeping the boat speed high avoiding a couple of small stoppers. The lower section was more complex with a significant bend to the right. Racers were faced with a tricky choice: the far-left line kept the paddler in the fastest water but required a longer overall paddle. The other option, a centre right line, had a shorter overall distance but requiring keeping the boat speed up through some slower water and skilfully avoiding a stopper with the potential to kill all momentum. Much debate was heard with a couple of paddlers opting to switch lines between the 1st and 2nd run.
1st runs ran without a hitch with fast times posted across all boat categories. Particularly competitive was the Women’s GP category with a dead heat between 1st and 2nd place and also between 3rd and 4th.
2nd runs followed quickly after, interestingly all paddlers in Senior K1 Men’s had faster 2nd runs than 1st as racing lines were refined between runs – potentially proving the centre right line was faster after all.
For a bit of fun after the individual races an unofficial team run, and Boater X was held to make the most of the conditions.
Huge thanks to Aoibhín and the GKC team for putting together a fantastically organised and very enjoyable race day.