Monday, September 29, 2014

Home Again … for a little while

It's good to be home 

I have now been back in the UK for just under a month and it already feels like i've been home for a very long time. Things have not stopped since I landed and my amazing sponsors the VW Van Centre West Yorkshire handed me the keys to a shiny new VW Transporter T5. My new van kitted it up by Exploria has once again been the perfect travelling machine.

Amazing welcome home presents from
my awesome sponsors

I have been up and down the motorways like a yoyo. Training with Den, doing a sports massage course, a first aid course, visiting family and friends, coaching and competing in,  judging and supporting the youth freestyle and club championship events.

Back to school

 It has been strange being back but it also feels like the norm. Non stop madness and action, with familiar faces and old friends, in the typically british climate intermixing occasional days of beautiful sunshine between several days of grey and torrential rain. 

Sunsets over the river

Training into the night

This weekend I got to spend a cold sunny windy weekend at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. It was a big weekend of freestyle festivities. The weekend kicked of with the youth freestyle 'Young Guns event'. Loads of kids from across the UK came together to show of their skills. The standard of the young paddlers was ridiculous. There was under 18, 16 and 14 year old kids throwing Mc'Nastys, Phoenix monkeys, tricky wu's and numerous combos and links.

These kids really know how to fly

Loading up a big mcnasty

 Under 12's throwing space godzillas and split wheels. And under 10's!!! throwing massive loops and surfing some of the biggest waves on the course. Seriously these kids some as young as 9 are throwing and nailing tricks I've been working on and trying to master for years! 

Judging the Club Champs Freestyle event

The new boats, the features, the sport everything suits youngsters and this weekend it really showed.

9 years old and styling it

The kids all had massive smiles on the faces as they competed late into the night under the floodlights. Then bright and early they we're up again and showing the adults how it was done in the clubs champs. Competing against the pro's, training with their heros, coaching and helping each other and cheering each other on and rescuing anyone who took the occasional swim. 

Prize giving at the Youth Freestyle Event

Highlights of the weekend for me had to be making the super finals and competing against local senior GB team paddles Rob Crowe, Gav Barker and James Weight. Joined and beaten by 16 year old GB junior and pure talent Jake Norman. 

Local legend Rob Crowe lays down a 1,600+ ride

Showing 9 year old Ben and 11yr old Asha down the course for their first ever time and then racing the boater x and slalom as safety buddy for young Ben and watching the novices rip it up in the new feature and seeing everyone cheering them on. 

Kids waiting in line for their ride
All in all it was an awesome weekend. It's been good to be back. Now its time to head to the Lake District to do some coaching for Carnegie Great Outdoors and earn some penny's before I fly down under for some winter training in the sun.

The aftermath of a great weekend (Bibs by Rhona Dempsey)

Massive thanks to Dale Meares, Dan McGaley and Rhona Dempsey for the photos.