Kayaking Disciplines

Long Distance


This discipline is for all you speed demons out there! Long distance or marathon racing is carried out on flatwater or whitewater courses over a certain distance (usually 4-28 miles). The annual Liffey Descent is the biggest marathon kayaking event in Ireland and one of the largest in the world. UCC canoe club has a long history of success at this event with past and current members winning numerous medals in different classes. The final day of the Irish kayaking intervarsities involves a long distance race that everybody competes in to earn points for their club.

Long distance is a great way of keeping fit and improving the all-important forward stroke. There are a number of paddlers in the club who train and compete regularly, if you think long distance is for you then get in touch with us and we will point you in the right direction!




Canoe polo is an intense team sport which started in Britain during the early seventies. It combines the skill and fitness of high-pace kayaking with the tactics and positional play of field sports. The sport is very similar to water polo with the obvious addition that everybody is in kayaks. It can be played in a swimming pool or outdoors on a 35 x 23 metre pitch with five players on each team (with up to three substitutes). A game lasts 14-20 minutes made up of two 7-10 minute halves. At the start of a game the players on each team line up touching their goal-line until the referee blows the whistle, where one player from each team sprints to take possession of the ball.

Canoe polo is a great way to promote the team aspect of kayaking as it is the only discipline where you really work together as a team to win. It involves lots of crashing into each other and capsizing your opponents to win the ball! Our highlight of the year is the Irish kayaking intervarsities where we compete against all of the colleges around the country. After the first few weeks of learning to paddle and once you think you’ve got the hang of moving the boat around we will be starting our polo training sessions on the Lee. These will be great craic and something different to your ordinary ball sport. Get in touch with us via email or Facebook if you are interested in playing.


Seán Cahill Looping

Freestyle kayaking or playboating is best summed up as gymnastics on water. It is the pinnacle of boat handling skill and can be done in a hole, on a wave and even on flatwater! Freestyle involves numerous kinds of flips, spins and turns so a solid roll is an essential skill to have. Once you’ve learned to roll however the world of freestyle kayaking opens up and you’ll even begin to enjoy spending time upside down!

There are numerous freestyle competitions around the country where our members compete. There is a freestyle competition at varsities every year made up of teams of four paddlers from each club. Past and current members of UCC canoe club have travelled all over the world tearing up the best river waves and holes, a few have been or are currently on the Irish freestyle kayaking team and compete regularly at international competitions.

As freestyle involves lots of spinning and flipping, playboats are designed to be tippy to help initiate moves, these involve a steeper learning curve when compared to the bigger whitewater boats. If you’re up for a bit of flipping around look for someone in a short stubby boat at a Friday session who seems to know what they are doing and they will be delighted to help you out.

Here is a taste of freestyle kayaking from ex-captain Kevin Cahill in Nottingham


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Does dropping over waterfalls and charging through big rapids sound appealing to you? If so you might want to check out whitewater kayaking. At the start of the year we teach all of our beginners the basic strokes in the pool, we then move to the river Lee where we have manageable rapids to teach moving water skills. Once you have some moving water experience we move on to proper whitewater rivers all over the country and even abroad.

In Ireland we don’t have a regular snowmelt season so we must rely on rainfall for our rivers to run properly. You will find a strange love for the sound of rain battering your windows and will eventually realise that it doesn’t actually rain an awful lot here! Our local stomping ground is the Upper Bandon river just outside Dunmanway. This is where we run the majority of our river trips and the fabled whitewater team trials for varsities. Once you’ve reached the required skill level, some of the best whitewater in the country can be found in Kerry.

Of course as with the other disciplines there is also a competitive side to whitewater kayaking. There are races run all around the country on rivers such as the Flesk, the Clare Glens, Buncrana, Ennistymon and many many more. The biggest event on the whitewater calendar is Galwayfest which is held in March every year. We always have a few of our members travel up to take on some of the best whitewater and freestyle kayakers in the country, even winning a few medals along the way. If you want to try whitewater kayaking come along to our Friday river sessions and keep an eye on the Facebook page for any river trips which will happen regularly throughout the year.

Club trip to the gates of the Flesk just past the Cork/Kerry border: