Monday, October 26, 2015

British Championships 2015

The sun was shinning, the weather was hot!!! British Freestyle Championships? Surely thats not right!!!

Sunshine at the National Water Sports Centre

The 2015 Brit Champs took place at HPP and this year it had a bit of a twist. Great weather and a new course formation meant it felt like a completely different place. Paddlers flocked from across the UK to compete. GB freestyle team athletes, Young Gun kids and recreational club paddlers all came together to take part in this British freestyle kayaking festival. This was my first and only UK event this year so it was awesome to see everyone again. Every year I come home its great to see all the familiar faces and also to see how much everyone has progressed. this year once again it was amazing to see how many young kids are coming up.

Paddlers young and old compete in the novice event
(photo by Ottis Robinson-Shaw)

The event started with the Club championships. A big trick and cartwheel contest on Jaws, then a downriver boater X and extreme slalom race. There were boats everywhere and a great atmosphere. Squarerock had a fleet of demo boats available for people to try for free so everyone had the chance to try out all the new designs. The GB team athletes took part in some of the events and also judged. Cheering on and supporting the next generation of kids. I entered the big trick and cartwheel competition. Nailing a big mcnasty and hitting loss of ends left and right. But in the great nature of Club Champs my score got smashed by some massive pop outs. With only 1 hour practice on the course in the last 5 months I spent the afternoon training for Brit Champs. This year the K1 and C1 freestyle Brit Champs were held on the Muncher. An awesome but extremely difficult feature near the bottom of the course. I knew the locals had been practising loads so I set about trying to figure it out.

Practising in the Muncher
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

Great to be back on the water training with Den again

I quickly realised my big tricks were going to be risky so I needed to adapt and come up with a safer more consistent routine. By the end of the day I had a plan. Entry, loop, cartwheel, spin, blunt, back blunt, then if there was time left a back loop or mcnasty.

I mixed up the freestyle with a bit of squirt boating as mid afternoon the British Championship Squirt Boating event took place. The turn out was amazing as was the crowd. My mum and her friends and Den and Lisa had made the journey to cheer me on and the great weather meant loads of locals came out to watch. We all gathered acround the looping pool and took our turns to take our 3 rides. It was a tactical venue as the flat water on river left was better but the mystery on river right was great but there wasn't enough time in a ride to do both.

Helping Charlee Aldred learn to Bow Stall mid comp
(photo by Dennis Newton)

British Squirt  Boat legends Ben White and Jamie Austin and I judged. In the mens fresh from worlds Alex Edwards and Sam battled it out at the top with Alex clamming the top spot. In the ladies I, Claire O'Hara had fun in a borrowed boat and kit (thanks Sam) to take the win. But the real battle was for 2nd, 3rd and 4th spot. Dee, Lotty (13), Kim and Charlee (12) showcasing their tricks. (Jen McGauley was missing from the line up as she has just started University and been dropped off this week).

Stoked to win the British title again
(photo by Dennis Newton)

After hours of fun on the water everyone moved to the campsite for a BBQ gathering. Again the weather held and on October 3rd 2015 we had a BBQ outside! Insane, but great fun.

My great friends Sooty, Lindz, Bells and Scarlett make the trip
down from Leeds to cheer me on

Sunday came and the Brit Champs kicked off. I got to watch all the action in prime position from the judges stand. The standard was great but the feature was tough and quickly divided the field into those paddlers with experience on the Muncher and those without. Juniors Sophie McPeak and Jake Norman, flew high to take the top two spots, Adam Ramadan, smashed out some big waves moves in the C1 event and after a very tight battle I, Claire O'Hara, took the ladies win and Rob Crowe smashed out some huge scoring and very impressive rides to win the mens; to become the 2015 British Champions.

Rob Crowe styling his way to the win
(Photo by Alex Wilkinson Photography)

Jake Norman loads up a big McNasty
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

I land a solid loop
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

Jake Norman
(photo by Jake Norman)

Islay Crosbie throws a massive Space Godzilla
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

By the end of the day everyone was shattered and the weekend came to and end with big cheers as the prizes and winners were announced. Young paddlers Ben (10 JM) and Charlee (12 JW) took home loads of prizes. Then with a massive turn out Lee Valley Canoe Club took home the 'Club Champions' trophy for 2015. Nikki Beeby was awarded the 'Most Improved Female Paddler of the Year Award' after another amazing season competing across the UK, Canada and the US.

Lee Valley Canoe Club Club Champions 2015
(photo by Lee Valley Canoe Club)

WIth sunshine, warm weather, loads of paddlers and big tricks it was a fantastic celebration of British Freestyle. I look forward to seeing everyone again next summer and I hope even more clubs and paddlers come along and join in the fun.

Claire O'Hara British Champion 2015
(Painting by Sarah Eadie)