Clifden Beach Party

The best weekend of the summer has just passed and with it the world premier of Too High, a kayaking film put together by Joe Rea Dickens and Jamie Conn. But first back to the weekend. The Clifden beach party weekend is the highlight of the not so packed Irish summer paddling schedule. With a guaranteed working feature , a rare rare occurrence in anywhere but Galway during the summer months, the Clifden beach party draws Irish paddlers starved of some good playboating from all corners of the country. A tried and tested formula, two days of boating with a night camping at Dunloughan beach thrown in for good measure, this weekend has been a staple of Irish summers for as long as I can remember. This year we had the addition of premiering Too High on Saturday night to make this unmissable weekend even better.

The weekend kicked off on Saturday afternoon with some flat water coaching on the salt lake before the tide began to rise and everyone headed for the hole. With a packed eddy every second of the tide was put to good use with paddlers still throwing down on the flat at the back of the queue. After a few good hours paddling in the sun the tide fell, the hole disappeared and with it everyone headed for the beach and the bbq.

With well worn tracks over the sand dunes the drive to the beach can be a little tricky at times for loaded cars but with a bit of luck everyone made it with cars and roof racks intact. With Andrew getting off the water early he had everything ready for the bbq when all arrived. Tents went up and chairs came out and the crowd began relaxing for the night.

With the sun gone the scene was set, the night sky providing the back drop to our bed sheet duct taped to the side of a caravan. Add in a borrowed projector and sound system courtesy of UL and our make shift cinema was complete. The Film Too High went down a treat with some amazing whitewater segments from all corners of the globe. Too high will soon be available online and with proceeds going to charity there is no reason not to grab yourself a copy of this awesome paddling flick.

The party went on into to night but Sunday morning came and with it some slow starters for the surf comp at Dunloghan beach. With not much expected from the waves we were pleasantly surprised by some reasonable sets rolling in. The format took on a mass jam session with the line up getting steadily stacked as the afternoon drew on. Aidan McElhinney took top honors with some nice rides making the most of the waves before the crowd descended.

After the surf comp the tents came down and people slowly made their way to the hole for the evening tide. With the eagerly anticipated inflatables class due to close the show the onus was to get everything run off nice and quick for the main event. The women took to the water first followed by junior men, men’s sport and senior men with old faces making some reappearances to battle it out against the new young guns.

Marie Harrington took top spot in the women’s class followed by veteran freestyler Jackie Ferguson in second and Jayne Stephens rounding out the top three. In men’s sport Aidan McElhinney once again took top spot with an impressive tally. Aidan being only 16 is sure to be one to watch for the future.

Senior men was the final warm up act for the inflatables with some big moves thrown down by all . Len Kelleher was on laying it down in his heat along with Shane Little, David Higgins and myself. I managed to throw together some moves as the heat wore on taking the lead by the smallest of margins in my rockstar followed by Len Shane and David.

Finally with the kayaking out of the way the main event got under way with inflatables off all sizes and varieties taking to the water. A race of two heats with bonus points for getting a surf went down and after some retrospective judging Cormac Roche took the coveted title of Clifden Inflatable Champion.

A big thanks to all involved in helping out over the weekend with UL providing most of the make shift cinema, Jamie and Joe for giving us opportunity of premiering Too High and to I-Canoe and Kokatat for providing some awesome prizes for the weekend.

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