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Crana Fest 2015 – The best all inclusive kayak event in Ireland

On Friday the 16th of October most of the Irish kayaking community descended on the wee town of Buncrana in Donegal to battle it out for the top spots in their chosen disciplines. Having not had any rain in what seems like forever the event couldn’t have come at a better time.

Crana river flowing into the sea. Photo: Ken Ansell

Crana river flowing into the sea.
Photo: Ken Ansell

Crana Fest is a two day event of all levels and disciplines of kayaking including rafting. This exciting event is now in its 7th year and has attracted participants from all over Ireland, the UK and Europe. The event is run on the Crana River which includes a small freestyle feature, a Grade 4 rapid known as The Claw, a lovely little Grade 3 section which then runs right into the sea, all in less than 1km. So when they say there is something for everyone there genuinely is!

Throw Bag Olympics Photo: Adrian Durrant

Throw Bag Olympics
Photo: Adrian Durrant

I headed up to the event to coach, race, and maybe to do just a little bit of socialising 🙂
My favourite part of going to any event is meeting up with kayaking buddies who in this case I hadn’t seen all summer, meeting new people and generally just messing about on the water. The racing itself is just a small part of it. Though I really do enjoy the buzz of it, the butterflies in your tummy beforehand and the feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins as you cross the finish line.

Photo: Elaine Alexander Shooter

Photo: Elaine Alexander Shooter

After spending the day coaching, meeting some lovely new people and rafting with my besties my 1st race of the weekend was the Palm Night Race which is also the 1st event in the Irish White Water Race League series.
It’s a time trial event run under lights, music and cheers from the crowd, the atmosphere is fantastic. You start off down a sudsy ramp onto the run-in rapid of The Claw then onto a flat water sprint around a lit up, upstream gate to the finish.

Susan Doyle Photo: Fernando Ayuso

Susan Doyle
Photo: Fernando Ayuso

The Claw is a double drop, a small boofable ledge into a short ramp, but get this wrong and you either run it on your head or get pushed right into the Room of Doom: a double drop with a very sticky hole at the bottom, this is the crowd-pleaser and the line that gets the biggest cheers 🙂
This year Kris and the Slalom committee were in charge of timing using their new laser system, very posh ! The whole event really is very well run, all its missing is a hot tub 😉

The Claw Photo: Fernando Ayuso

The Claw
Photo: Fernando Ayuso

After heading over to the Sickline in Austria but not being able to compete this was my 1st race in my new Pyranha 9R and I was feeling confident, it is the fastest creek boat I have ever sat in so I knew it was just up to me to get the line right, luckily I did ahead of some very tough competition and took home 1st in the Ladies Race. I later loaned my 9R to young slalom paddler Oisin Farrell who if not for a touch on the upstream gate would have had the fastest course time by well over a second. The 9R’s were in flying form that night with David Doyle and Cian McNally taking 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Senior Men’s Race.

9R v 9R - Cain McNally and David Doyle Photo: Maria McNally

9R v 9R – Cain McNally and David Doyle
Photo: Maria McNally

Next up for me on Sunday afternoon was the Expert Boater Cross, it starts roughly 200m up stream of The Claw, so plenty of distant to feel the burn in your lungs before you try to set your boat up for that all important entry ledge into the Claw. We had enough ladies for two heats with the top two progressing to the final. I had a great battle with good friend and pocket rocket Ms Laura Griffin in the first heat just managing to tag the banner before her. There were then 4 of us in the final and while I was in 2nd place coming over the Claw I had to throw in a roll at the bottom with the final result being Aoife Hanrahan 1st, Laura Griffin 2nd and myself in 3rd. Aoife had clearly been training hard and it was a well deserved win!

Aoife 1st, Laura 2nd and Susan 3rd in the Ladies Expert BoaterX Photo: Maria McNally

Aoife 1st, Laura 2nd and Susan 3rd in the Ladies Expert BoaterX
Photo: Maria McNally

Just to finish I’d like to say that the standard of the juniors paddlers who were out on the water over the weekend really would put a smile on your face, the future of Irish Kayak is surely safe in their hands! 🙂

Big thanks to Adrian Harkin and the Inish Adventure crew for a fab weekend and to Paul McNally and his rescues rangers who stood on the riverbank all weekend keeping us safe.

If this event isn’t already in your calendar for next year, it should be… ! 🙂

The Rescue Team Photo: Maria McNally

The Rescue Team
Photo: Maria McNally