Belfast Kayak Club

About us

About our club

The club is open to all members of the public and is intended to promote kayaking and canoeing in a cross community environment.

We are mostly non-competitive and we aim to encourage people to feel safe and confident and able to enjoy paddlesports in a white-water or sea environment.

Over 1000 paddlers hit the water every year on over 200 trips across the North of Ireland, and occasional trips further afield.

Although mostly a sea kayaking club, our members enjoy participating in several of the canoeing or kayaking disciplines: open (canadian) canoeing, white-water, playboating (freestyle), surf and sea kayaking are all catered for.

The Club is a registered charity (Charity No. 106851), is affiliated to CANI, the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland (Reg. BCUNI/477/club/2002), and has been awarded Clubmark, the Sport-NI quality standard for Sports Clubs.

The Club Officers for 2023 are as follows:

  • Chair: Patricia Scovell
  • Vice-Chair: Olly Mars
  • Secretary: John Stuart
  • Treasurer: Carl Minshall
  • Training: Malcolm Vincent
  • Child Safety: John Cunningham & Patricia Scovell
  • Website: Malcolm & Jordan

Getting started

Getting started & Learning the basics

Taking your first steps in kayaking can be daunting. We want to help make it enjoyable! You can come and try paddling with us a few times before you join officially.

To build confidence and help develop good basic skills, we encourage as many people as possible to obtain British Canoeing personal skills awards.

We run a number of training courses every year, and can assess most of these awards in-house when you reach the relevant level. We can also teach you to roll in the pool.

To help us keep the equipment in working order and cover the costs of training coaches we ask for a donation of £5 if you need to borrow club equipment or attend a training session.

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History of the club

Belfast Kayak Club was founded by John Napier and Mike Totten in early 2000, but was not formally constituted until 2003, when it was recognised as Charity XR60023 by the Inland Revenue. However, in many respects the Club is significantly older dating back some 12 years when Paddy Boyle and Brian Maguire began to run canoeing sessions in the Robinson Centre.

In recent years the pool sessions have been run by John Cunningham and Malcolm Vincent, with Greg Miller, Robert Montgomery, and Patricia Scovell taking people from the pool to the sea.

The Club funds and runs introductory canoeing courses for beginners and new members, working towards two and three star awards for club members. We run white water training paddles, and where possible organise white water safety and rescue courses for the more advanced members, and VHF courses to enable club members to get radio qualifications. Every two to three years we run a Rescue & Emergency Care (REC) First Aid course.

We organise simple afternoon & evening trips and multi day trips for club members, mostly in Northern Ireland – but we range further afield.

We aim for two weekend paddles a month that will include every discipline of the sport.

During the summer we continue our Tuesday Evening / Thursday Evening sea paddles around the North Irish coast.

We try to venture further afield when possible. Locations we have paddled include the River Barrow and the Spey River in Scotland, the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Mull. Paddlers have ventured from Belfast across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man and to Scotland. The furthest trip has been a 14 day sea-kayaking expedition to Alaska.

Those of us who stay closer at home have fun on the Slalom Course at Shaw's Bridge, and on the Strangford, Blackwater and Bann canoe trails, and on Lough Erne.