Paddle Power Prevails: Endurance Test at Ireland’s Eye

17 April 2024
Paddle Power Prevails: Endurance Test at Ireland’s Eye

Attrition, grit, and determination are the most appropriate words to describe the second running of THE EYE RACE, which took place on 13/04/24 in the waters of Howth Sound and Ireland’s Eye, Dublin.

As the final event (of 5) in the 2023 - 2024 Irish Winter SUP Race Series, organised by Discover SUP and hosted at Howth Yacht Club, it attracted 16 stand up paddle board racers from all over the island of Ireland to this eastern seaboard location, ranging from members of previous Irish World Championship teams to first-timers.

In the days leading up to the race, an ominous forecast developed, predicting high winds from the West bringing intense gusts, which was exactly the opposite of what SUP racers wanted to see. However, race management spotted a window, albeit a tight one, and made a wise decision to move proceedings to earlier in the day. This schedule change had the knock-on effect of putting everyone on the challenging side of the local tidal streams, meaning the final leg of the course would have wind and tide against the racers, a true test of endurance.

12 racers lined up on the start line, divided into two classes: Class 1 for boards 11’6” - 14’ over a 10.5km course and Class 2 for boards 11’6” and less over a 5.5km course. From early on, the Class 1 Males were led out by Ross McGarry, who developed a very commanding lead over his nearest rival, Patrick McCormack. In the Class 1 Females, Mary Dowling led out Carla Milne; however mid way through the race, Milne found some extra speed and strength to reel Dowling in and swap positions. In the Class 2 Males, Colm Kenny, who has had great success across the series, was seriously challenged from early on by Olan Savage, a new racer to the series and THE EYE RACE. Unfortunately, due to illness, the sole official entrant in the Class 2 Females was unable to compete.

After starting in benign conditions alongside the West Pier of Howth Harbour, midway through the race the wind speeds changed significantly, increasingly exactly as expected. With this change, the sea state developed a severe chop. As a result of both, retirements started to happen, even if they were through gritted teeth.

In the end, 7 racers crossed the finish line, pushing hard against the wind and tide. McGarry held onto his commanding lead unchallenged to win the Class 1 Males. After a retirement by Milne, Dowling paddled on to reach the race time limit to take victory in the Class 1 Females. In the Class 2 Males, Savage crossed the line just over 6 minutes ahead of Kenny to take first place. With everyone safely ashore, a prize-giving for both THE EYE RACE and the overall series was held in the comfort of Howth Yacht Club.

Find out more and experience paddleboarding this season with DiscoverSUP.



Class 1 - Female

1 - Mary Dowling - 02:15:00

RET - Carla Milne


Class 1 - Male

1 - Ross McGarry - 01:00:51

2 - Patrick McCormack - 01:19:41

RET - Steven Bishop

RET - Martin Rowe

RET - Patrick Murtagh

DNS - Darren Cox

DNS - Morgan Bushe


Class 2 - Female

RET - Karen Concannon*

DNS - Sinead Murphy


Class 2 - Male

1 - Olan Savage - 53:33

2 - Colm Kenny - 59:42

3 - Iain Hall - 01:17:58

4 - Ciaran Shorthall - 01:39:15

DNS - Declan Gordon*

*Unofficial class participant due to board size


Racing images by Annraoi Blaney

Prize-giving images by Rodney Simpson