A TRIO of Thomastown Paddlers flew the flag for their club when competing at the Nottingham Sprint Regatta over the weekend.
The regattas are held at the UK’s National Water Sports Centre on the outskirts of Nottingham, which will play host to all the water-based sports at the 2012 Olympic Games. The centre is a state of the art facility, where all the canoeing sprint events are held on a purpose built man-made lake which, like a swimming pool, is divided up into nine lanes.
There are classes to suit all level of ability kayakers, over distances of 1,000, 500 and 200 metres. These are a test of one’s strength, speed and endurance all in one.
Races began with a series of heats, out of which the fastest nine finishers qualified for the final an hour later. From the Kilkenny club, Michael and Donnacha Brennan competed in the senior classes in Men’s B and C divisions respectively, while Anthony Forristal took on some of the UK’s best juniors in the boys’ B group.
On Saturday both the 1,000 and 200 metre races were decided, while the focus switched to the 500 metre events on Sunday. Michael Brennan made his training pay off as he cruised to a place in the 1,000 metre final, by far his best race of the weekend, where he finished in a credited fifth place. He also had good showings in the 200 and 500 metre events, despite not making finals in these. He will now have to wait and see if his result in the 1,000 metre event will be enough to earn him a promotion to the coveted Men’s A class.
Donnacha Brennan, who raced in a division below, made finals in both the 1,000 and 500 metre races, setting a new personal best time over the 500 metre distance when finishing sixth. Again he will be hoping that this time will be good enough to see him earn a promotion to the Men’s B class for the next regatta.
Anthony Forristal, who normally is known for his long distance marathon paddling, also tackled the Nottingham Sprint course at the weekend. In the individual (K1) class, Anthony had his best result in his heat for the 1,000m final, when he finished in second place. He went on to take seventh place in the subsequent final. Anthony also paddled in the two-man (K2) events over the same distances. For these he teamed up with Iomhar MacGhiolla-Padraig from Kildare’s Salmon Leap Canoe Club. Their best result was in Sunday’s 500m final when they crossed the finish line in third place.
This was the first trip abroad for the Thomastown Paddlers Canoe Club during 2011 but they certainly hope it will not be the last. It is hoped that a larger group of club members will make the trip to one of the remaining Nottingham Regatta or possibly the British Marathon Championships in Worcester, England towards the end of the Summer.
For now the club focus has moved back to the domestic racing scene, which continues with a junior 8km race on the Liffey this weekend followed by a race on the Grand Canal in Celbridge on May 12.
Newcomers to the sport are welcome, with anyone able to join the club once they have completed one of the beginner courses. Participants can be as young as fourth class (ten years old). Full information is available from www.thomastownpaddlers.com