The kayak sections in this sprint adventure race take place on Killary Fjord which is a sheltered inlet flanked on each side by the steep slopes of the surrounding hills. Co Galway is on one side and Co Mayo on the other. The kayak course is a looped course. Conditions can vary from flat calm to choppy and windy however this is the shortest part of the race and one you can definitely manage.
The kayaks used are mostly 2 person sit-on-tops which as per their name allow you to sit on top of the boat rather than having your legs enclosed in a cockpit. You will not be alone in them which is reassuring if you are wary. They are also very stable and do not capsize easily. All good news so far for the beginner kayaker!
The following are a few tips for those of you who are new to kayaking and below are our top tips to help the more experienced kayaker improve their time:
1. Take your time getting in and out of the kayak – there can be a tendency to rush at this point but it is the time when you are most likely to end up in the water so slow down and stay dry.
2. Get in a practice session at your local kayak club or adventure centre if you have never sat in a kayak before just to settle the nerves and give you the feel for it
3. Get comfortable before you go anywhere – legs should be bent at the knees, back nice and upright and hands placed wider than the shoulders on the paddle
4. Take your time especially if there is a wind or a bit of choppiness and keep an eye on maintaining your direction. Better to be slower and dry than ending up in the water with all your gear on!
5. Communicate with your paddling buddy. Let them know your level and what you are comfortable with and keep talking as you paddle and steer the boat – you are now working together, not competing.
For the more experienced kayaker who wants to paddle faster and more efficiently here are our top tips:
1. The effort should be coming from your core rather than arms and shoulders, the rotation happens in your torso
2. Your paddling should consist of a push-pull motion, pushing on the opposite end of the paddle as you pull the blade in the water towards you
3. Keep the paddle as vertical as possible
4. Side-to-side movement should be avoided, i.e. rocking the kayak
5. Get a continuous, flowing rhythm going with your paddling partner early on and stick with it