Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Latest News

A lot has been happening over the last few weeks and Canada now seems like a distant dream as I am quickly settling back into the routine of work and training in the murky green water of the National Water Sports Centre.

Claire O (photo by Dales Meares)

Here is a quick review of what’s been going on over the summer and since I’ve been home...

Claire O’Hara wins
British Squirt Boating Championships 2010

Over the last few weeks the boys at the course have been working hard to improve and develop some of the freestyle features and in doing this they have greatly improved the squirt boating mystery seams. This meant this weekend’s event saw the Championships take place on in old location but with a new character of seam.

Chris Jones coming up for air (photo by Dale Meares)

The newly shaped seam and boily eddy really tested the paddlers, but in no time the boys had figured out the new spot and began to maximise on its power and strength with Chris Jones going super deep hitting several 10 second + mystery rides and Jamie Austin tearing up huge flat water rides in the eddy. In the end it was World Champion James Reeves took the men’s title putting together both the mysteries and flat water to rack up a huge 106 point ride. After the men’s class it was the ladies and I took to the water for my first run. Having just seen Chris taking some massive downtime I was keen to replicate his rides and with a shout of ‘focus on the mystery’ from my Dad I set into the seam and dropped a 7second head under mystery ride followed by a flurry of freestyle manoveres to score a massive 110 points which gave me my fourth British Championship title.

Claire O relaxing after a hard days competition

With over 15 competitors taking place this was one of the biggest British National events for a few years. Well done to Islay, Portia, Seth and Paul for taking part in their first major squirt boating event and to everyone who helped organise and run the day.

The 2010 British Freestyle Championships Series has started...

This year the British Freestyle Championships are being held as a four part series. In which points are awarded to paddlers in order of their place in the heats at each event with each paddler’s top two results / points being ranked on the British Championships league table to decide who takes home the title.

We are already 3 events in with final event planned for the 22nd November at Hurley weir.

Hurley Weir (photo by Dave Whortly aka Scout)

Here’s a quick recap on what’s happened in the series so far...

I missed out on the first event at the Tryweryn as it clashed with my squirt boating trip to WV but I do know that Emily Wall paddled really well and took 1st place in the ladies.

The second event took place a Boulters a man made pour over on a London weir, a feature I had never visited before the event. It was a beautiful sunny summer day and a fun little event with a great atmosphere. The moves at this event were very basic due to the nature of the feature and I was very happy to come away with the win.

Boulters Weir (photo by Dale Meares)

Claireo and Kim prepare for their runs at Boulters (photo by Dale Meares)

The 3rd event was held on the Top Hole at Nottingham this weekend and was a spectacular event. Everyone had been training very hard for this event and as such the standards were immensely high.

Pringle threw down some incredible rides that words really can’t quite describe starting at the hardest end of the score sheet he seemingly effortlessly not only nailed every single move but also linked them together and threw them all aerial and huge. In the ladies I had been really looking forward to this event and had been training very hard for it with Den. Things went really well and I scored one of my all time highest combined score rides. But by failing to score a few of my high risk higher point moves I just missed out on first place piped at the post by Emily Wall who took the top spot with some very consistent, well choreographed and excellently completed runs.

Claire O going big at the 3rd Brit Champs Event (photo by Dale Meares)

This was a fantastic day for British Freestyle as today’s event showed how much the sport has come on and how focused the current British paddlers are in pushing the limits and pushing the development of the sport.

Full results and write ups from the events and more details on the British Series can be found at

Canada Video

The lads have been busy since returning from Canada making a video of the trip. Please click on the link below to see some footage from the trip. I am paddling the blue, white and red boat.

Apologise in advance for the contents of the first few scenes.

Sunrise at the Ottawa

The Peak UK Sausage Sizzler

A fun event for all (photo by Pete Astles)

2010 saw the return of freestyle legend event organiser and Peak UK director Pete Astles and his team to the UK freestyle event scene with the launch of the 2010 Peak UK Sausage Sizzler event. This fun freestyle event took place on a beautiful sunny summer days at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham and saw almost 100 paddlers of varying abilities take part in a fun freestyle event followed by a fun evening of festivities including fun yet chaotic game of rounders and volleyball and massive bbq and sausage sizzle. This is definitely an event not too be missed next year.

Claire O going big during the freestyle competition

(photo by Pete Astles)

Meanwood Village Association Talks

In the lead up to the World Championships I received a huge amount of support from the people in my local community in Meanwood, Leeds who raised over £1000 to help pay for my new squirt boat and travel costs to the Worlds. Over the summer I was invited to do a couple of talks to people from the area about my success at the competition and to attend a festival in the local park as the guest of honour. I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone in Meanwood who helped me. Here is a short video which shows our journey. Thank you.

Training with Sweetwater Coaching

Over the last year Dennis Newton has been putting me through my paces, setting me up mentally and physically with all the skills and knowledge to be at the top of my game in time for the forthcoming 2011 World Freestyle Championship selection events. He has been working with me on the water every Wednesday at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham as well as supporting me through the week over email and on the phone.

Claire O training at HPP under the watchful eye of her coach

(photo by Pete Astles)

Den is an extremely qualified and experienced coach. Den is a Level 5 coach and a leading figure in the UKCC / BCU freestyle coach development programme and star award scheme. He has years of experience working with several national freestyle teams and he has coached a number of British athletes to World, European and British titles; including current World Champion David Bainbridge and 2008 European Champion Fiona Jarvie. Over the last 12 months Den was hugely instrumental in helping me win the European Silver medal and helping me to be ready to fight for the British Freestyle title this year, after I had a year out of competitive freestyle last year.

If you are interested in developing your white water paddling or freestyle skills check out the Sweetwater Coaching website for details on coaching for paddlers of all ages and abilities.

Back in Training

Here is a short video showing some my training from the last few weeks...

2011 World Freestyle Kayaking Team Selection Event

October 23rd & 24th October 2011

National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham.