One of the most flourishing events around the Europe in the last years. If you love kayaking in any sense, great community to hang out with, taste of freestyle, whitewater and boatercross and all of it spiced up with few drops of buckfest – well, Galway Fest is dream to go! Oh. If you go – be prepared for weather changing from sunny and warm into hail into sun again and then into freezing snow that melts In another few seconds as sun comes out. All of that in land of sheep, Guinness and amazing whitewater!
This year it was massive with 280 competitors coming from all around the world to take a part in this amazing festival. Event tickets sold out in just 2 days! Event consists of three days. Starts on Friday with Freestyle, followed by ~1km time trial whitewater run on Saturday and final boater cross and mass start both made in centre of the city.
Freestyle feature is honestly one of my favourites – it has really nice circulation, deep enough for big tricks and allows you to throw all kind of combinations. It reminds an inlet gate from Nottingham but it is a lot easier to set up and do the moves. Also format is very encouraging as you have preliminaries with all the classes being mixed together and competing in very simple Jam Session mode where you get approximately 2:30 minute in a feature for each of the paddler with the rule that your ride can not be longer than 45 seconds. Also for preliminaries – bonuses do not count! Only the quantity of the moves to simplify everything. To the finals in Men and Women expert goes 10 people and those come with lights, music and huge crowd on the banks really making spot at Tuam feel like a amphitheatre. For Finals you are back to basic ICF final rules with 3 rides and best counting and all usual rules applying. This year’s champion was Quim Fontane, followed by Rob Crowe and David McClure. K1w
Saturday is a time trial at Boluisce. River is class II/III run that is around 1km long with top runs going under 6 minutes and best one going to Nick Benett with 5:33. Slightly slower was Lucien Schreiber and Jack Ledwith. K1w It is very interesting run as it is not very challenging however is entertaining enough to keep you occupied with both small technicalities and lines to pick yet at the same time it is accessible for all levels of skill which led us to huge numbers this year. Seems easy and fun but at the same time it is possible to make small mistakes that really influence your time! Definitely interesting one for those that are into racing and gosh, 6 minutes race can get you out of breath!
Saturday evening is the night that everybody is looking for. Warm up in local kayak club with Guiness and Buckfest – local wine which is sweet and has a lot of caffeine in it to get you running throught he night. For the highlight of the night – we have had amazing party at Arcades at Electric club with whole floor limited only to kayakers and on going back to 80’s costume dance offs and challenges.. well that was definitely worth coming just to see those stylish kayakers dressed up !
This year unfortunately due to high water levels mass start was canceled but I was so impressed about it last year that I will still spill a word about it here. All kayakers from your class starting in one place at the same time running into very narrow channels, small slides and drops, under the bridges, between 8 ball crew and finally joining the main flow – all of that craziness happening in the center of the town where casual people are walking around wondering who are those colorfoul, cherish people in weird water mobiles! That warms up all town for the boater cross which is final event of the weekend. Racing in groups of 5, starting off at flat piece, running through a narrow ditch that is narrow enough for two or three kayaks if you hug intensively and then joining main flow of Corrib river heading all the way to the other side, doing a downstream eddy and racing till the end.. all the way to the Docks by the Ocean! Finals of Men expert are taken even to the next level where
Check out RAW POV from Boater Cross to get a taste of in-town racing during the Festival!
Ending ceremony was held at University lecture hall with inspiring story from the legendary Dave Manby who has done it all from the heights of Everest and the Dudh Kosi to expeditions in Iran & Nepal which was warm up for final results. Overal K1W winner – Sage Donnely, K1M – Quim Fontane
It is an amazing event but definitely very intensive weekend. I can not wait to get back there next year.. If you want to come – Galway is just 3 hours drive from Dublin airport and community is amazing so I’m sure there wont be much problems with getting a kayak! Just be ready for Irish weather : )!