#Canoeing: An international contingent will take on the Liffey Descent this Saturday, September 23rd. A Spanish crew who are determined to beat all comers in the canoe race will contend with a world champion from South Africa in a field of over 500 competitors. The Irish resistance will include a first time pairing in the race of world championship medallist Jenny Egan with her brother Peter – a winner last year.
Top competitors will be fitted with GPS trackers so the public can follow their progress down the course.
The race from Straffan in Kildare to Islandbridge in Dublin is one of the most spectacular events of the Irish sporting calendar. Kayaks and canoes will hurtle down the 30-kilometre stretch. They will find their way over 10 weirs, and paddlers must scramble out and carry their boat down the bank at Leixlip. Spectators can view the speed and the spills from the bridges and the banks. The start is at 12 o’clock.
The line-up for the K2, the racing kayak which is set to be the fastest boat of the day, should make for an exciting race.
Ireland international Barry Watkins teams up with Jon Simmons, who has been coaching developing paddlers in Ireland system. They take on the accomplished Spanish pairing of Luis Amado and Miguel Llorens, who took fourth in the World Marathon Championships in South Africa earlier this month. From South Africa comes Sean Rice, a world champion in surfski racing, who teams up with Briton Tom Sharpe.
Last year Peter Egan was in the front of the K2 which won – this time the paddler behind him will be his sister, Jenny, in a mixed K2. “We’ve always wanted to do it, but the circumstances were never right before,” Jenny said.
The Egans come directly from the World Championships, where Jenny took a bronze medal. But they will be tested on Saturday. From Germany comes Andreas Heilinger and Inez Bauerle; from the Netherlands, Pascal Lucker and Eef Haaze.
Ireland international Tom Brennan will hope to retain his title in the K1 (individual racing kayak). He fell in at Straffan last year and then got back on track to win. Ronan Foley, who was the fifth best junior at the World Championships in South Africa, could test him.
They will be competing for silver trophies, back as rewards in this race after a time when they were not presented.