Development Squads – News – Oct/Nov 2013

Sprint & Marathon

Through the winter months, when conditions on the water are less favourable for K-boat racing, the racing squad are working on an indoor Strength and Conditioning training programme using CANI Paddling Machines at Ardnavalley Scout Centre, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast. The racing squad coaches have done a lot of development work through the Performance Coach Project recently, and the sessions are receiving very favourable reports.

This training opportunity is also offered to other junior squad members from any discipline, who should contact the CANI office for further details if they still wish to get involved. Adult paddlers in all performance disciplines are also welcome, but will not receive direct subsidy through the performance squad budget. Cost per session for those enrolling for regular participation is £7.50 for adults, £5 for juniors. The fee for one-off attendance will be £10/session for adults and £7.50 for juniors

The current participants are working on one Coached strength and conditioning session per week, on Tuesday evenings, with other Ergo sessions, supervised by volunteer coaches, at other times subject to demand.

There are also monthly, full racing squad training days, which will incorporate some Strength and Conditioning work, and some on-water training. The next session will run in December date tbc.


Members of the surf development squad enjoyed their first full residential trip in Donegal over the weekend 1st – 3rd November. This was a great opportunity for the squad members, parents and coaches to spend quality time together. Two holiday houses were rented for the weekend, so that everyone had space and we were able to focus on creating a positive squad experience, developing friendships as well as knowledge.

surf dev squad.jpg

The coaches ran classroom sessions on some of the technical aspects of surfing, giving the juniors a much deeper understanding of what they were trying to accomplish in terms of skill development. The session on how to score well in competition also provided much greater clarity.

Land-based training and on-water sessions at Magheraroarty and Marble Hill were fantastic too, with surf, sunshine, howling gales, and hailstorms all adding to the atmosphere!!! The location was perfect, with stunning beaches and good waves.

All the juniors are coming on extremely well, gaining confidence and skill at every turn. Personalised training plans were put together at the end of the session, giving everyone goals to work towards. The next session will run on December 1st.

Surf development squad

Surf development squad

Our Slalom Development Squad have been over at Grandtully in Scotland for a training Camp. Here’s their report.

Slalom development squad Scotland

Slalom development squad ScotlandSlalom dev squad scotland

The half term holiday (26th – 29th October 2013) saw nine members of the squad head over to Grandtully in Perthshire for slalom training. Matt McKnight was the coach and some parents went along to chauffeur and provide the food!
Most of us arrived on the Friday night or early Saturday morning driving up from Cairnryan. Those that were staying at the hostel in nearby Aberfeldy, left off our stuff and headed straight for the River Tay to check out the slalom course.
The water was much higher than the previous Easter when some of the squad had competed there at the Pan Celtics. The four seniors (Eoin, Craig, Ali and Jake in C1) jumped on and ran down a couple of times to warm up and get a feel for the water. The course has several large stoppers, wave trains and rocks in inconvenient places. These four all had a secure roll and most used it at some point during the camp. There was also a crash course in boat repairs, the rocks were big!

Matt arranged for the squad to do split sessions to cater for the mixed ability and experience. Everyone did two sessions a day, with a break for lunch back at the hostel (or B & B for those in more comfort or those in the caravan who were the hardy breed!). The weather was mostly dry but very cold, so a warm lunch was welcome.

The junior paddlers (Kirsten, Conleth, Sean, Tiernan, Patrick) started their sessions at the bridge at the bottom of the river and during the week gradually worked their way upstream to some of the bigger features. The water rose a bit more on the third day so a session on the brand new flat water course at Aberfeldy was welcomed by most of the juniors. They were back on the course on Monday, rolls were improving and confidence was building. The seniors were pushed to use the water, even the bits that most of us paddle round or just straight through, to cross the river and to get the angles and approaches to the poles. The squad all worked well together. There were a few swims which gave the opportunity for some smooth peer rescues (and kept Matt on his toes!).

At the hostel, in the evenings, we self-catered and everyone took turns with dishes (with varying degrees of enthusiasm). Watching films, walking into the town, playing jenga and relaxing with a book filled the time until a much needed bedtime.

Matt gave everyone plenty of feedback during the week and all now have some new training goals for the winter season. The last day saw everyone complete a couple of full runs down the river, with the seniors getting a chance to practise leading. Nine paddlers made it down and there were plenty of smiles to show a challenge had been set and met to finish the camp. We all had a BBQ at the campsite nearby before we set off on the journey home.
Liz McCreery

Also keeping busy the Development Squad went to Cranafest October 2013

Cranafest, organised by Adrian Harkin of, runs in Buncrana each year. The River Crana runs on a release for this event, and the slalom course is ideal for both beginner and Division One levels with just a few adjustments.

Slalom development squad on the Crana

Slalom development squad on the Crana

At the 2012 Cranafest, there were two entrants in the Division 1 Slalom Race. One under 16 (Ali – CANI) and one adult (Paddy McGovern CI). 2013 saw this race with around 20 entrants, and the beginner slalom taking a record number of entries in all ages. Even our own Irish Internationally competing slalom paddler Ciaran Heurteau took his turn on the course. CANI and CI have been making a concerted effort to develop the performance squads this year, and to encourage more people to take part in competitive paddling. It was brilliant to see so many people enjoying this competition. There was a good turnout from both North and South. Some of those that had tried out the beginner’s race last year were now competing in the Division One level race. Great progress!

Seven members of the NI Development Squad travelled up to Buncrana to compete. Matt McKnight was up for some weekend paddling and was also on hand to give any last minute advice about the course. Everyone got a well deserved time and medal congratulations go to Kirsten Eatock (1st under 14 female), Conleth McClarnon (2nd Under 14 Male), Sean McClarnon (1st Under 14 Male), Ali McCreery (2nd Under 16 Male), EoinTeague () and Jake Cochrane (1st C1).

The weekend also provided opportunity to hone some white water skills, so some of the squad got in their river boats and took part in the Boatercross competitions, with Tiernan Gribben, Conleth McLarnon and Ali McCreery all gaining medals here too.

The weekend was a great chance to meet with high level paddlers in all disciplines and watch some exciting competitions in slalom, freestyle, wild water and the mighty boatercross. If you go next year – why not give slalom a go?
Liz McCreery

The next dates for the development squads are as follows:

Slalom squad – 14th/15th Dec, 4th/5th Jan, 1st/2nd Feb
Surf squad – 1st Dec @ Portrush, 12th Jan @ Portrush, 9th Feb @ Portrush, 22nd/23rd March – weekend residential training camp, Sligo or Donegal
Sprint/Marathon – 5th Jan, 2nd Feb

Any performance queries contact

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