Paddlefest 2014

Paddlefest 2014 was based in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh. The Share Centre was full of 240 paddlers eager to go boating with guest coaches Etienne Stott and Ross Montandon. Due to some personal bad news Ross Montandon had to pull out from attending Paddlefest. CANI would like to say a big thanks to Steve Millar for stepping into do the Friday evening talk. This year the usual strong contingent of CANI and Canoe Ireland coaches ensured that everyone got the highest quality tuition.

And so it fell to sea paddler Steve Millar from Tollymore National Outdoor Centre to get the ball rolling on the Friday night with some stunning images of his expedition to Norway.

On Saturday a large number of whitewater groups departed the centre and set off for two different rivers. One group went to the Mourne River and the other went to the Blackwater. Both groups had a great day. The open Canoeists went to the Ballyconnell Canal to look at moving water skills. The sea group went to upper Lough Erne, as weather conditions were too rough at sea. The surf group went to Rossnowlagh and had a blustery day in the surf. A group of paddlers stayed on site to avail of sea kayak and open canoe workshops. It was evident through chatting later that evening that many skills had been developed throughout the day and many new friendships had been formed.

Also on Saturday the Share Centre, on behalf of CANI and Waterways Ireland ran come and try it sessions in the morning and afternoon for 75 new participants to the sport!

After a lovely barbeque at Share, Saturday night began with Etienne Stott sharing his journey to winning a gold medal at London 2012. He spoke of the highs and lows that he encountered on his Olympic journey along with his crew Tim Bailey. His story was very inspirational to all and he showed that with hard work and dedication how anyone can achieve their goals. After Etienne finished his talk, he presented Erne Paddlers with their CANI Clubmark Certificate. The evening finished off with a raffle to raise funds for the RLNI. Prizes were generously donated by the traders. There was lots of posing with Etienne and his gold medal! Many then headed to the bar to socialise. Swifty was on the guitar and great craic was had until the wee hours of the morning.

After some sore heads and slow starts on Sunday morning everyone headed to the lough for their morning session. There was a cool breeze blowing on shore for the morning and afternoon sessions. The performance squads met for an all day performance conference. They had workshops with Etienne Stott and the University of Ulster. Everyone had a great weekend at Paddlefest 2014 and we look forward to travelling back to the south of Ireland for Paddlefest 2015.

The 240 paddlers that took part in Paddlefest 2014 consisted of Paddlefest participants, Come and try it participants, staff, traders and the development squad. CANI would like to say a huge thanks to the traders that came along and kindly donated prizes for the raffle. CANI would also like to thank all staff that volunteered, without whom Paddlefest would not be the success that it is.

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