Andrew Regan 14/03/2017 | Posted in Ireland, Uncategorized
GalwayFest 2017, aided by perfect flows and the elusive Irish sunny weekend really kicked onto another level this year. It also finalised in my head what I (we) want the event to stand for moving into the future.
Despite being asked many times, I find it almost impossible to describe why I love this sport so much to any non-kayaker. The remote outdoor experience coupled with the friendships garnered through shared good and rare bad experiences on the water is amazing but also quite isolationist. Whitewater kayaking is rarely on display to the masses. Additionally the people who decide to push onto harder whitewater can easily become separated from the grassroots element.
The Afghanistan talk certainly inspired many to think about an adventure beyond the realms of what they deemed reasonable while the Saturday event on the Boluisce brought together the elite of our sport with the rest. A race course which challenges the ability of the intermediate while testing the elite to hit the perfect race lines, one rock touch can be the difference in winning (Just ask JK paddler Lucien). The informal team race and no-spraydecks boatercross finale highlighted our desire to show that at the end of the day GalwayFest is not so much about winning, it is much more about having a great time.
Insert Saturday night party….
The three new events on Sunday put on display the best of our sport in a unusual city environment. After the high number of competitors looking to take on the difficult freestyle feature we had two hundred kayakers racing in different heats down an urban big water river. There was fierce competition until the finish line where hundreds of spectators to this new sport saw the competitive side of the races instantly switch to high 5s and camaraderie at the finish line. They saw huge encouragement and very competent rescue of those who are learning. Most importantly they saw the enjoyment and excitement of whitewater kayaking in its purest form and they saw it in their hundreds.
I’d like to thank every single person who helped us out this weekend, you are all responsible for showcasing the very best of our sport. There is no secret how myself and JK paddler Barry Loughnane manage to pull it out of the fire every year.
It was a great year overall for JK at Galwayfest with Aoife Hanrahan taking top spot in women’s expert. While Barry, Lucien and myself finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th after newly crowned expert champion Bren Orton who ended Barry’s great record in a showcase Palm Boater X final. Only 4 more to go to equal his record now Bren.