Friday, September 27, 2013

Home & the 2013 British Championships

Back to the UK

After all the excitement of the World Championships it was time to head back home. A quick stop in New York and my 88 day USA tour came to an end, as I landed in London and hit the road north. Its strange coming home after a big event and coming back after such a long time on the road and such a big event definitely hit hard. Arriving home to a big welcome and a number of celebrations and gatherings with friends and family helped my settle back into UK life.

Battle Back Centre, Lilleshall

Then a week of work at the Battle Back Centre; a Help for Hero's and British Legion funded project that works to help rehabilitate injured, wounded and sick soldiers through a week long adventure activity based residential; really helped me put things into perspective and value even more the incredible life I am currently so fortunate to lead.

Working with some very inspirational coaches and soldiers
on the Battle Back Programme

Inspired by the Battle-backers determination and drive, by the weekend, I was well and truly ready to get back in the water and back into training again. After 8, yes 8!!!, full days off the water I finally hit the water again, this time back at HPP with good friends Rob Crowe, Brandon Hepburn, Matt Chadder and Islay Crosbie on Friday night, for a last minute floodlight lit training session ready for the British Championships.

Warming up with Islay and Kim (photo by Eric Walters)

The weekends action kicked off on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning with the Club Championships. Paddlers from clubs across the UK came to Nottingham to take part in a weekend of freestyle and whitewater kayaking based fun. Starting with freestyle coaching sessions led by myself and Alan Ward the day then moved on to an array of competitions and events including cartwheel and big air comps, an extreme slalom and boater cross race and an 'Iron Boater' triathlon style race and even a photography comp.

Smiles allround (photo by Dale Meares)

Paddlers battle head to head (photo by Dale Meares)

Fun stuff (photo by Dale Meares)

Then on Sunday in 28 degree's of heat with blue skies and bright sunshine the British Championships took place. Starting with Jam style heats on the twin waves, the top five were then selected to take part in a Super Final on Inlet gate. Whilst the heats took place the Club Championship Freestyle event took place on the Inlet gate followed by the Squirt Boating British Championships event at the Pyramid pool. Then mid afternoon all the action moved back to the top of the course and with a big crowd watching and cheering the Super final took place.

Kick Starting my run (photo by Dale Meares)

All Action (photo by Dale Meares)

The standard across the whole day was very high with athletes in most classes setting personal bests and new British records. By the end of the afternoon the seven 2013 British Champions had been crowned. Rob Crowe (K1M), Claire O'Hara (K1W), Brandon Hepburn (JM), Kim Aldred (JW), Josh Wedgewood (C1), Ben Aldred (SqM) and Claire O'Hara (SqW).

British Champion 2013 (photo by Dale Meares)

The event finished with a big prize giving with awards for novice, open, Club Championship and British Championships events. In the end it was Sudbury Canoe Club who won the overall Club Championships event, for their 3rd consecutive year, taking home a brand new Wavesport kayak. Full scores, photos and results from the event can be found on the GB Freestyle Kayaking facebook page

Photographers at the ready. Photo comp results will be out soon
(photo by Dale Meares)

I had an exceptionally great Sunday with friends and family coming down to cheer me on and support me at the event. Thank you to my Dad, my Aunty Catherine and Uncle Mike, my cousins Rebecca, Maria and Steve and mini judges Indie and Rohan and Olivia and Sooty, Lindz and Jakey for making the journey to be there with me.

Indie enjoying the day (photo by Dale Meares)

Watching the sunset over the lake whilst taking my young cousins Ro and Indie on their first kayaking adventure was a great way to finish the weekend.

The sun sets behind the new British Champion Rob Crowe
 (photo by Dale Meares)

Special thank to Peak UK, Squarerock and Wavesport for sponsoring the official event, Head Judge Shep and everyone else involved in organising and running the event.