Club Focus: UCD Kite-WakeA motor, a kite and some wind – what could possibly go wrong? David Kent speaks to UCD Kite-Wake[br]WITH the weather starting to turn a bit rougher, you would be forgiven for thinking that that would dishearten a lot of UCD’s sports clubs. For UCD Kite-Wake, it’s exactly what they need. The combination of wakeboarding (‘’being pulled by an electric cable and basically hanging onto a rope for dear life’’ according to club member Ivan O’Keeffe) and kitesurfing (‘’you hang onto a para kite instead, so it’s the wind that drags you along. A lot of speed!’’) require some blustery conditions.Being one of UCD’s younger sports clubs at just 11 years old, UCD Kite-Wake only started coming into prominence two years ago. Blanca Lenoci is on the current committee and explains: “Two years ago things were going pretty downhill. We had a small group of friends come together and said ‘hey let’s save the club’. We just introduced wakeboarding to it last year.”Kite-Wake is one of nine different water-based clubs in UCD but the growth in popularity has been sizable: “Kitesurfing is the fastest growing water sport in the world at the moment. It’s not that big in Ireland yet but around the Mediterranean it’s the number one water sport,” O’Keeffe points out. Ents officer Conor Burns also notes that membership for the club has doubled with numbers now touching close to 150.The club is proud of that statistic, as it now means they can increase their training times. “We train weekly at Wakedock, which is a wakeboarding park at the Grand Canal. So we’re there on Friday afternoons but there was such a big demand for it this year that we’re trying to set up a second session on Wednesday,” Lenoci says.
“A lot of us even on the committee are just learning how to kitesurf!’’Initially you would imagine that both wakeboarding and kitesurfing would require a bit of experience, but the club insist that this is not the case. “A lot of us even on the committee are just learning how to kitesurf!’’ says Lenoci. With all equipment provided by the club, anyone who wishes to join would only need a towel - and a spare change of warm clothes.Despite the two weekly training sessions, Aaron Coleman notes that this is a club that works hard, but plays hard too: “it’s the same as any other club, we still have the social nights. We had a night out with UCD Snowsports last week which was very successful. There’s a great social scene and good interactions with the other clubs.”On the competitive side while there hasn’t been too much success for the club, the growth in membership has led to hope for Coleman for the year ahead: ‘’Last year everyone went up to Queen’s in Belfast and it was just great to get all the wakeboarding communities together. We weren’t as big a club last year so hopefully with the double membership this year we’ll get a massive group going.” Lenoci agrees saying “our main focus competition wise is Celt Wake. It’s a competition between Irish universities with Scottish and Welsh universities. This year it’ll be held in either Dublin or in Ballyhass in Cork. That’s always a big event each year.’’As always, there’s a more light-hearted clash with the old enemy: ‘’we’re planning a friendlier colours competition with Trinity which we do every year. That’ll be organized at Wakedock.”Like the majority of the sports clubs in UCD, Kite-Wake costs €15 to join for the year. With no previous experience required, it is literally to all levels, from freshers to mature students. Trips are run throughout the year to a number of great spots on Ireland’s scenic coast. The first of these occurs on the 14th of October in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. ‘’Usually that would cost 20 or 30 euro if you weren’t a member of the club but if you sign up it’ll only cost you a tenner for the two days of kitesurfing’’ says Burns. So whether you fancy flying with a kite or ‘snowboarding behind a boat’, the UCD Kite-Wake club will fit you in. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message them on their various social media channels (UCD Kite Wake on Facebook, UCD Kite on Twitter with Instagram and Snapchat too). Alternatively, head down to a training session every Friday evening.