Tuesday, May 31, 2011

21 days to go .... finally my boat sinks

Today I had the most awesome squirt boating session.

Whirlpool filled eddyline

Plattling is renowned for its freestyle venue but it is rarely talked about as a squirt boating destination despite it appearing to look like an almost perfect squirt boating competition spot with its calm yet flowing deep eddy and whirlpool filled eddyline. I remember being here last year and hearing stories of the Japanese team paddlers getting epic downtime in the floods. I remember there being talk about fast, deep, long beautiful rides that slammed you around the whirlpool eddyline before eventually spitting you back up for air.

Practising my flat water routine

Excited by the prospect of a powerful mystery spot I set about testing it in low water and found that despite its appearance and potential power the first few feet didn’t have the dynamics to allow a good drop. But there was defiantly something down there, as it had been providing entertainment to a number of boaters through the week who had jumped in for a swim and found themselves on deep long rides that saw them having to swim up gasping for air.

Tom's wallet and its contents drying in the sun after a swim mystery session

A little disheartened I set out again today in the hope that a little more water would allow me to finally tap in and find the charc and I wasn’t disappointed. In not a lot of time I had begun to figure out the spot and had an awesome mystery exploration session cumulating in a 6 second ride.

The ultimate ab workout

The seam surges and you have to be on it with your position and timing. It is a very quick drop entry spot, if you get it right, that takes you deep, fast and then allows one of the smoothest and most controlled rides in which you can change direction of your spin and play as you cruise down the eddyline.

Smooth eddyline will allow some good flatwater routines to be performed that will really showcase the sport at this event

Just this short little session has filled me with a lot of excitement and left me eagerly awaiting more. There is scope to go deeper, to ride for longer and to roam. I look forward to more squirt boaters arriving so we can really explore this 3 dimensionally plattling playground.

Check out this little video from the session ...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

22 days left ...

With only 3 weeks left until the 2011 World Freestyle Championships begin, I cannot believe that two weeks of training have already flown bye.

Checking out the Bavarian Forests from the T5

Training has been going really well out here in Plattling. Everyday there is a different water level and a different set of people, as competitors have started to come from all over the World. So far we have British, Irish, Polish, German, Slovakian, Norwegian, Swiss, Russian, American and New Zealand paddlers training at the wave.

Huge clean air loop at higher water level

The atmosphere is great and everyone is supporting each other as they try and learn how to paddle this quite tricky wave.

Water Gauge shows recent low levels and then the sudden peak

For almost 2 months the water levels out here have been pretty low, meaning that most training has been done on a very tricky, shallow and flushy wave. But this has all just changed. On Thursday after 3 days of 30 degree + heat the heavens opened and we had 2 days of non stop rain. This has brought the ‘real’ plattling wave into play and we now have a fantastic feature that offers longer rides and allows alot more moves to be thrown.

Hitting rocks at a low water level

Mixing it up with a bit of C1 fun at low water levels

I have really enjoyed being out here the last few weeks, despite the low levels, as it has allowed me to get an understanding of the wave, town and life that will around at the Worlds. I look forward to everyone arriving and the competition starting but at the same time I am quite enjoying this relatively quiet, friendly training camp we have going on at the moment and will miss it when the crowds appear.

Jumping in to cool down in the mystery seam at low water. Note the lack of ques and people in the eddy!!!

Check out these great little videos posted by New Zealand paddler Polly Green.

Freestyle Friday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPhumk6H3HM

The girls are killing it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH8a6gE4aQA&feature=related

Loving the sun


Photos and thanks to Laura ' Sooty' Sutcliffe

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Only 33 days left ...

I cannot believe that there is only 33 days until the start of the 2011 World Freestyle Kayaking Championships.
Training over the last few months has been going really well as I have been able to find a balance of life, that has allowed me to maximise on my training time helping me develop my strength and skill quite dramatically in a relatively short period of time. This of course has not been done all on my own there has been a team of individuals and organisations who have had a massive part to play in helping me getting to where I am in time for the forthcoming event and once again this year I have been amazingly lucky to have alot of support from my sponsors and friends back home.

Here is a quick breakdown of the many aspects involved in my preparation for the World Championships event...

Fraser and the team at Carnegie Sports Physiotherapy Centre have set me a daily physio conditioning programme that has helped make sure that I am in the best physical condition in the lead up to the event. They have focused on ensuring that I am using the most efficient movements and remaining balanced throughout my training. It is very easy to become imbalanced when training especially in freestyle where you tend to predominantly work just on your stronger side and tend to skip / neglect warm ups, stretching and any gym work!!! Fraser has been moulding me back in to shape every couple of weeks which combined with the daily programme has made a massive difference to my flexibility and all-round strength.

Gio and Mark have been working with me in the Gym and at the GB freestyle team trainings putting together a strength conditioning programme that has helped me develop my fitness and power ready for the big competition.

Photo by Emily Wall

The team at Leeds Met University have been spending hours with me in the pool. Analysising every element of my squirt boating techniques and helping me learn even more of the very difficult moves on the squirt boating score sheet. Watch out for the super clean split wheel later this year :o)

Dennis from Sweetwater Coaching has been spending hours or I should really days and weeks helping me make massive steps forward in my freestyle kayak. Long gone are the days of cartwheels and loops as we have now entered a new generation of ladies freestyle competitions where space godzillas, mcnastys, helixs and tricky wus are the norm. This quick progression to the complex and difficult end of the score sheet is going to make for some high scoring, exciting and challenging competitions ahead.

Volkswagen Van Centre West Yorkshire have sponsored me again with the most amazing van ever. The brand new fully logo’d Volkswagen transported T5 is a kayakers dream vehicle., especially with the Exploria Kombi bed, Indel B Travel Box refrigerator and leisure battery fitted inside (thank you Exploria). It fits 4 boats, a bike and ludicrous amounts of kit and still has loads of space for living in and can comfortably sleep 2 people. It is amazing.

Mitchell Blades have made me a very shiny and funky blue set of paddles for the event and at only 185cm long these blades are perfect for freestyle and look super sweet.

Square rock have provided me with a New Jackson Rock Star S. This great new freestyle kayak has been specifically designed for this event and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Carbon Rock Star S later this month.

I have a new Sweet Trooper ½ cut helmet thanks to Robin Hood Water Sports for sorting this out for me. This year will be the first time in over 7 years that I will not be wearing a Blue sweet helmet as I change to this new smart Black lid.

Peak UK are currently designing some funky new cag decks for me which I will be getting in time for the big event.

Teva have just sent me the most amazing pair of shoes. These funky purple Gnarkosi's are amazing, did I say that already? These shoes are ace!!!

I have also been amazingly lucky to receive a Leeds Sports Federation grant and support from the Meanwood Village Association and from Angela and Keith Merry which is going to make a massive difference in helping me fund the World Championship event. And a massive amount of support from my employers at Notre Dame 6th Form College who have been super supportive of my training and competition commitments in allowing me the flexibility and time of to compete.

What with all this new kit and support it has been amazing lead up to the event so far and I am feeling pretty lucky lets hope the good training continues and I can do everyone proud.

As you can see it has been a very busy few months with loads of training, loads of new kit, work and a little live appearance on TV. But now the fun and hard training really begins. I have just completed the 18hour journey from Leeds, UK to Plattling Germany for the second time in a month and have now started training back on the site of the forth coming World Championships. The levels are changing daily and are still quite low making the feature very technically challenging and tiring. But with very little rain forecast and no snow melt left it looks like these could be similar levels to those at the event and therefore this low water training could be time well spent.

Photo by Emily Wall

With only 33.days left and a small matter of a World Championships title that I would like to defend I had better go and hit the water.

Whilst i'm out on the water here is a link to a short video from my last training trip to Plattling a few weeks ago.