The 2015 Surf Kayaking World Championships were held recently in Pantin, Galicia, Spain. Northern Ireland had a strong presence at the event, being represented by one of CANI’s AIP athletes, Chris Hobson, as well as seven members of the Surf Development Squad.
The juniors were accompanied by their families (who are becoming accustomed to spending their summer holidays at Surf Contests!) and squad coach Marty McCann joined them for the week of the competition itself, to guide them through this major event – the first World Championships that any of them had attended. His mentoring skills were invaluable – having worked closely with the squad for the past two years, and understanding each individual’s strengths and needs, he was always able to provide the correct input.
The huge progress that the young people have made throughout this period was evidenced by their great performances on the water, and their ongoing development as athletes was also noted, by the positive way in which they managed the event.
All the athletes performed well in the varying conditions, with waves that ranged from super clean and glassy, very fast and fun to surf, to tiny ripples in the sunshine, and everyone gave of their best in an extremely competitive field.
Overall, Chris Hobson reached the semi-final in Open HP and the quarter-final in Open IC, having put in some very dynamic surfing.
Of the Juniors, Mathew Lamont also successfully made it through to the quarter finals in Open IC, having placed first in his heat, with a really high scoring wave – an 8.5, a wonderful achievement for him. Emil Lazarescu, Jamie Gamble, and Dualta Lynch also competed in the Open Event, which provided great experience, and they put in some excellent performances.
Meabh Lynch and Megan Gamble both competed well in the Ladies HP; Meabh also competed in the Ladies IC and surfed really well to progress to the semi-final, where she finally finished 3rd.
Dualta, Jamie, Mathew, Emil, Meabh and Megan also competed in either one or both of the Junior events. Unfortunately Sofia was unable to compete due to illness. They all put in very creditable performances, challenging well in their first round heats which were once again very competitive, particularly dominated by the extremely talented surf-kayakers of the Basque Country. This saw all of our juniors going into reps, to try to make progress through to the next round. Their performances in the reps showed great determination and skill, with some amazing scores being posted – including a 16.8 for Emil on his double wave count in the Junior IC rep, which unfortunately was just topped by Gorka Martin. After these rounds Mathew progressed to the Semi-finals in both HP and IC, and Jamie to the Semi-final in IC. Both kept up the pressure and surfed well, but it was not quite enough for them to make a final.
It was a long and rewarding week, with early starts and long days at the comp site, although the squad took advantage of training whilst the team events were running. The consecutive days on the water were very beneficial, and assisted in consolidating prior training at home. The young athletes had an amazing and very satisfying experience both on and off the water, making strong links with surf-kayakers from many countries, who they will enjoy meeting and competing alongside for many years to come. When coach Marty McCann reported on Facebook that all of the juniors were now out of the competition on Day 5, this was met by many messages of support and encouragement from fellow competitors and from home, with full credit being given to the Squad members on their achievements, hard work, determination and positive attitude. They most certainly showed themselves to be great ambassadors for the sport, for CANI and for their club.
The host nation ran a very well organised event, with a great welcome of friendship and top class entertainment. After the team event on Saturday, won by the Basque Country Team, there was a full athletes parade, an amazing fiesta of entertainment and a mediaeval feast. Many thanks to the whole organisational team for all the hard work they put into creating such a World Class event, from everyone in Northern Ireland.
A final wonderful piece of news was the successful bid made by CANI to host the 2017 World Surf Kayaking Championships here in Northern Ireland. We will be delighted to invite surf-kayak athletes from across the world to Portrush very soon.