Barrow Descent attracts top competitors

The hotly contested Barrow Descent marathon canoe race attracted racing paddlers from wide and far on Saturday.

The hotly contested Barrow Descent marathon canoe race attracted racing paddlers from wide and far on Saturday.

This is the second year of the 23km event sponsored by Waterways Ireland, and the spectacular course with breathtaking scenery was appreciated by all who participated.

The race start was at Goresbridge and the course continued through 11 weirs and two sets of tumultous rapids as it wound its way to St Mullin’s via Graignamanagh.

This is one of just two ‘descent’ type races in the country which are longer than 20km with more than 10 weirs.

While on race day overhead conditions were glorious, the water was made more interesting by heavy rain the previous days.

Easier to traverse

This made some weirs easier to traverse, while making others more challenging.

The extra flow added height to the rough water ‘rapid’ sections.

The race was hosted by Thomastown Paddlers who also provided rescue support at many of the weirs and great food in the marquis in St Mullin’s.

Rescue was also provided by Kilkenny Aqua and Tullow kayak club along with a number of individuals.

The fastest boats down were the racing K2s with Deaglan O’Driscoll and Tom Brennan from Leixlip leading in a time of 1 hour 18 minutes and beating their nearest opponents by just two seconds. Sean McCarthy from the same club led in the single K1 class.

Locals James Staunton and Alan Cullen, in their first race on this course, won the junior K2 class without a capsize.

They were the only Thomastown Paddlers competing with all other members providing rescue.

Fast time

Brother and sister Jenny and Peter Egan from Leixlip were the first mixed K2 crew across the line in a fast time of 1 hour 22 minutes. From Kilcullen canoe club, Mary Fitzgerald won the womens general purpose class.

This race has an exclusive ‘wavehopper’ section which are kayaks designed for rough water. Colin Wong from UCC followed by Mick Flynn and Tony Walsh from WIT led-in this section.

The open Canadian canoes which are great fun, but hard work and always likely to throw you into the water, came in about 40 minutes after the fastest boats. Glen Kelly and Craig Kenny from Barrowline canoe club were winners of this section.

After the race, the hungry and thirsty paddlers had plenty to satisfy their appetites in the marquee with refreshments provided by the Thomastown Paddlers support crew and by Cullen catering.