The members of the Thomastown Paddlers Canoe Club kick-started their Build a Boathouse campaign with their inaugural fund-raising race on Saturday.
The River Barrow in Graignamanagh was the venue for the event, which attracted a large number of competitors from around the country.
Canoeists were spoiled for choice as a number of courses were available on the day, ranging from 2km to 20km. Together with sunshine and high temperatures, it was a perfect day’s racing.
The host club was strongly represented, with the 2km course dominated by local paddlers. The doubles race was won by Senan Forristal and Aaron Varley, who were followed home by Anna Cass and Isabelle Ryan. Tommy Carolan and Isobel Varley took silver and bronze in the singles race. Pedro Roche, William Mulholland, Megan Aylward and Issy Evans filled fourth to seventh places, followed by Jack Kiely and Natasha Kiely.
The 5km course saw Thomastown’s Mike Jernigan put in a good performance in his first ever race.
On the 10km course, which had the largest number of participants, a win from Martin Walsh and Alex Broderick in the K2 class ensured Thomastown took home a gold medal.
There were strong performances from Dermot Forristal, Leigh Blackmore, Mike Evans and Jackie Walsh in the open singles race, while Dave McCormack scooped bronze in the K1 class over 10km.
Brendan Fitzpatrick also paddled well in the junior 10km K1, where Troy Walsh was forced to withdraw due to a capsize.
The Paddlers also had a very strong representation over the 20km K1 course. Donnacha Brennan was fourth, two places behind Tony Forristal. Kieran Varley and Eamon Forristal had a head-to-head battle for most of the race, finishing sixth and seventh respectively.
Thomastown’s Michael Brennan spent the last week competing in the World Wild-water Racing Championships in Valtellina, Italy. These races are run on a very technically challenging course with huge waves and many obstacles.
On Wednesday’s long classic race Michael finished 25th, 50 seconds off the winning time. Conditions became even more difficult later in the week for the shorter sprint race due to high water levels.
Brennan had two very strong performances in his sprints, finishing 31st overall, with mere seconds separating him from the top 10 paddlers.
The focus moves to Austria this week, where Michael will compete in a series of World Cup races against the top paddlers in the world over a number of very different, yet challenging, courses.
At home the club will hold their children’s Summer kayaking camp in July. Further information on the camp is available from www.thomastownpaddlers.com