As we highlighted in our previous Women in Paddlesports articles. CANI believes that a diverse membership and participation base makes for a more enjoyable experience for all, and our current members – including women and men of all ages – come from a wide range of backgrounds. But research shows that significantly fewer women take part in all sports and physical activity as compared to men, and canoeing is no exception to this rule. Currently, our female members make up less than 25% of the total, which we believe is nowhere near enough!!
We’ve looked at sporting research, and there are some surprising results. Many women and girls, when thinking of taking up a new sport, will first think “I’ll be no good at that,” where men are more likely to think “Yes, that’ll be good fun, I’ll give it a go!” With something like canoeing, women may also doubt their ability to keep up with a group, or their physical strength, and then of course there are practical issues, such as time – and the ability to juggle the demands of work, family and personal time, with personal time often losing out!!
We’d love to see more women on the water, and in the hope of inspiring you to come along and join us, we’ve asked some of our female paddlers to share their stories – In the latest of our series of articles profiling females in paddlesports we turn to the young stars from the world of surf kayaking. 2017 sees the World Surf Kayak Championships coming to Portrush. Meabh Lynch, Megan Gamble and Sofia Lazarescu are 3 young women who have been training with the Surf Development Squad over a number of years and will be hoping to have a great year this year.
This month Méabh Lynch (age 17) shares her experience to date in paddlesport.
When did you start paddling, and what made you choose it as a sport?
I started paddling around the age of 10. I previously saw people paddling in the river Foyle and thought it looked interesting so I begged my dad to take me.
When did you get into surf kayaking, and what appealed to you about this discipline?
Originally, we all just had a bit of a mess around in boats out in the water but in 2013 I joined the Northern Ireland Surf Kayaking Development squad. It was the thrill of surfing a wave all the way into the beach that got me interested.
Describe one of your favourite moments in your sport?
I’ve loads of good memories in the sport between meeting new people, travelling new places and achieving different goals but if I was to keep it water-based I would choose the Europeans in Santa Cruz in 2014. I surfed really well in my women’s heat and replicated everything we did in training and after much anticipation I finally found out that I had won. It wasn’t even the winning that made it so great, it was just the first ever abroad competition I had been to so I had a lot to take in and everything just fitted together perfectly.
Have you had any scary moments?
Yes, I’m sure the squad members will all agree with me when I say I’m probably the biggest scaredy cat out of us all. Honestly, it’s not that scary, there’s always people out on the water so you always have people looking out for you and we always check out the conditions before we head into the water so there’s not much to worry about.
What is your favourite place to surf?
Ballyliffen without a doubt! It was one of the first beaches I surfed so have some really good memories of it.
What would you say to other girls who might be thinking of giving surf kayaking a go?
I would definitely encourage all girls to give it a go. It’s one of the best – if not the best thing- I’ve ever done. It keeps you fit, you get to travel to many new places abroad, you meet new people and I really can’t describe the feeling of getting a good wave but honestly it’s the best thing about the sport for me. You just have to try it out for yourself!