"I love a good sticky party hole, especially when everyone gets flipped onto their back-deck"
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand what they're all saying, so here is what you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.



Airbags: Inflatable bags put in the back of kayaks. It stops them filling with water and keeps them afloat in case of a swimmer.

Airwheel: An aerial Cartwheel. Freestyle Move.

Alps: The best place in Europe to go kayaking. Every kayaker worth his salt wants to get there sometime, the club runs an annual trip each summer.


Blades: See Paddles.

BA/Buoyancy Aid: Equipment used by paddlers, among others, to help them stay afloat in case of a swim. Also provides insulation and impact protection. Also known as a PFD/Personal Flotation Device.

Bow: The "nose" of your kayak.

Bow Stall: Balancing vertically on the bow of your kayak. Expect to capsize loads!

Breaking In: Paddling a kayak from an eddy into the moving water.

Breaking Out: Paddling a kayak from the moving water into an eddy.


  • (i) A tonic wine made by monks in south England. Buckfast has shown amazing market penetration in recent years.
  • (ii) The traditional drink of NUIG Kayak Club.


Cag (Cagoule): Waterproof top especially made for whitewater kayaking. Available in a wide range of tastefully luminous colours.

Capsize: Flipping the kayak upside down, with the paddler under water. On purpose of course.

Canoeing Ireland: The Irish governing body for paddle sports. A great bunch of lads.

Carnage: Something you never want to be apart of, but can be amusing to watch instead. Usually involves bad swim(s) on a river

Cartwheel: A freestyle move performed on whitewater, though sometimes possible on flatwater. It involves rotating a kayak while vertical, by twisting the torso in the direction the boat is turning.

Canoe: An open boat paddled by Native Americans(think Pocahontas). Few people paddle canoes in Ireland.

Chick Paddler: Female Paddler. Not a baby hen as widely believed.

Claddagh Basin: The end of the Lower. A large filthy expanse of water. But we love it really - 'cos otherwise the Lower would bring us out to sea (still possible)!

Costello's: The Galway coach company who have driven us everywhere since time immemorial.


Dry suit: An elaborate piece of gear that allows no water in, a one piece suit with latex seals. Like a "onesie" cag.

Donegal: The location of the NUIG Kayak Club's legendary semester one weekend trip. Takes place every October/November, which involves a weekend of debauchery and a load of kayaking. Now available in a range of locations, none of which are in Donegal (still called Donegal for historical reasons).


Earwig: A neoprene cap used by kayakers. Sometimes known as a skull cap.

Eddy: An area of relatively still water on a whitewater river. Usually found behind rocks and along the bank, where the flow of water is blocked.

Eddy Line: The interface between an eddy and the moving water.

Ender: A basic kayaking trick performed on whitewater. It involves shoving the bow of your boat into a downstream current, so that your stern goes in the air.

Eskimo Roll: See Roll.


Fishermen: People with whom paddlers try to maintain a policy of peaceful co-existence...

Flat Spin: A type of freestyle move where the kayak spins 360 degrees without leaving the water.

Fleece: The obligatory uniform of outdoor kayaking types. Every self respecting kayaker has a least one piece of clothing made of this material.

Flip A very quick capsize. Can be quite funny. See Power Flip.

Flood: When rivers are at their most dangerous... And fun.


  • (i) A competition involving a whitewater feature, a hole or a wave, and a kayaker. The aim is to perform as many freestyle moves as possible in a fixed period of time.
  • (ii) A form of paddling involving freestyle moves.

Freestyle Move: A trick taking advantage of the way water moves a kayak. Like skateboarding on water. But not wakeboarding.


Gower: A standing wave on the Shannon in Limerick city, favorite new play ground for the clubs budding play boaters.

Goat Boaters: A derogatory term used by surfers to describe kayakers in sea surf. Same as Yak Monster.

Guru: An old, usually male, paddler who has progressed past the OFB stage. They give the impression that they know everything there is to know about the sport.


Hand Roll: Uprighting a capsized kayak using just your hands. It doesn't count if you're standing in the water beside it! Used in kayak polo and showing off.

Hole: A feature of whitewater. It involves recirculating water and a breaking wave. Freestyle Competitions take place at these.


ICU/Irish Canoe Union: What people stuck in the past call Canoeing Ireland.


Jungle Juice: Potent brew mixed only under skilled supervision in Donegal. Known to cause blindness/nudity. Downfall of many a paddler.


Kayak: A small boat you sit into, which is covered over. Propelled by a two bladed paddle. What we use in NUIG Kayak Club. Often (stupidly) confused with a canoe.


  • (i) A county in southern Ireland
  • (ii) When NUIG was UCG, the Donegal trip was the Kerry trip.
  • (iii) Location of a new years party with other university kayak clubs.


Leitir Mor: A section of tidal rapids in Connemara. The last place you can go kayaking when nothing else is working.

(The) Lower:

  • (i) The lower section of the river Corrib which flows through the city. During the winter, assuming it rains, the level of this rises greatly providing some big waves to play on.
  • (ii) The scariest, but most exciting, experience a beginner has during the first year of kayaking.
  • (iii) The single most important reason why paddling in NUIG Kayak Club is as good as it is.


Martin: One of the bus drivers with Costello's and the one most in need of mental care.

Minced: To get badly smashed around in a stopper


Neo Shorts: Shorts made out of neoprene. Useful for summer paddling. Chick paddlers need not know of these things.

Neoprene: The material wetsuits are made of.



  • There is no such thing as oars in kayaking. They are called paddles. Only used by rowers
  • O'Brien's:

    • (i) The first bridge you pass under while shooting the Lower.
    • (ii) The best wave on the Lower, formed on the downstream side of O'Brien's bridge.

    OFB: Old Fat Bastard. Anyone who has left the Club and University to get a real job. They aren't necessarily old or fat. They are usually seen on the larger trips, especially Donegal, hoping to relive their glory days. On the up side they usually have a car with a roof rack.


    Paddles: What kayakers use to propel themselves and their kayaks on the water. They are not called oars!

    PFD/Personal Flotation Device: See Buoyancy Aid

    Pirouette: A more advanced freestyle move. During an ender, the boat spins on its nose. Looks pretty cool.

    Playboat: A short whitewater kayak which is used to perform freestyle moves.

    Pop-Out: See Ender.

    Power Flip: An extremely quick capsize. Normally happens when the edge of your boat catches the upstream current.


    Quiet: What NUIG Kayak Club isn't.


    Rain: The most important element of the Irish Climate. Contrary to popular opinion, it almost never rains in Ireland. Kayakers have been known to pray for rain.


    • (i) Sections of river where the water speeds up and/or flows over and around rocks. Great fun in kayaks.
    • (ii) (The) Rapids: A large set of big waves and holes that appears at low tide in the Claddagh Basin. Gas masks and Hepatitis shots doubly recommended.

    Rescue Pint: A rescue performed in exchange for a pint from the victim. Usually only enforced on river trips.


    • Any freestyle move which ends up with with you back in the hole.
    • (ii) A popular kayaking instruction video. Famous for such legend quotes as "too much penetration is a bad thing... In a kayak"

    River: Now you're just being silly.

    River Deep, Mountain High: A shop on Middle Street, Galway, where, it seems, half the Club either works or visits on a regular basis.

    Roll: To perform a self-rescue by uprighting a capsized boat with the paddles. Remember, its an achievement to learn how to roll. From then on, having to use it is a failure.

    Roof rack: A metal frame which sits on top of a car. It allows kayaks to be brought around to different rivers. Guarantees you'll always have "friends" - assuming you've a car as well, of course.

    Rowers: Our friendly neighbours down in the Fisheries Field. Very pleasant and always stopping for a chat. Sometimes always that is.


    Sea Surf: Waves on the sea, that surfers ride. On the sea, the water stays in the same place and the waves moves.

    Spag Bol: Short for Spaghetti Bolognese. The obligatory meal eaten by NUIG paddlers on every weekend trip. Under threat from Lasagna.

    Splitwheel: A very advanced freestyle move, that I'm not even going to try to explain on paper. Suffice to say it involves doing a cartwheel.

    Spring Tide: Tides are formed by the gravity of the sun and the moon... And stuff. When the earth, sun and moon are aligned in a certain manner, extremely high tides come in. To check tide sizes, check the Irish Sailing Association's Website.

    Spraydeck: A garment worn around your waist and attached to the kayak to form a watertight seal. Made in both Neoprene and nylon.


    • (i) An extremely low volume boat used for performing stunts. Modern playboats borrow a lot of ideas from older squirt boats.
    • (ii) Turning your boat into the current so that the stern sinks and bow goes up in the air.

    Standing Wave: A wave on a river. On a river the water moves and the wave stays in the same place. This is different to sea surf.

    Stern: The end of your kayak

    Sticky: When a hole is likely to hold your boat and make it difficult to get out of. Great (to a point) for freestyles.

    Stopper: Recirculating water, like a continually breaking wave, which can stop a kayak in its tracks and keep it there - can happen to swimmers too!

    Suicide Block:A foam block that is jammed between your knees to enhance contact with your boat. If something goes wrong, you might not be able to get out, hence the name.

    Swimmer: A victim of those water demons who grab the paddles from your hand, pull your spraydeck off, and kick you out of your boat as you're about to roll. It happens to the best of us. Punishable with a Swim Bootie.

    Swim Bootie: An offering to the river gods in reconciliation for a swim. Involves chugging alcohol out of a filthy kayaking shoe.


    Tanking: In flood, plenty of water flowing. e.g "The Lower is tanking"

    Throw Rope:

    • (i) A portable washing line carried by paddlers.
    • (ii) A rope, contained in a bag, used in whitewater rescue.


    Underwater: Where you don't want to be... Most of the time


    Varsities: A huge competition between all the college kayaking clubs. It's also when the intervarsities trophy gets its annual airing from the NUIG Trophy cabinet.


    Waterfall: Technically, any drop on a river over eight feet high.

    (The) Wave: Newly discovered wave on the salmon weir... Shhh!!!


    Xylophone: Because X is always for Xylophone.


    Yak Monster: See Goat Boater.


    Zzz: Usually heard from most houses in Donegal by 6:00am Sunday morning. Not a hard and fast rule (OK, we were stuck...)

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