Sunday, December 22, 2013

Uganda Winter Training Camp

The White Nile, Africa

After an incredible year of hole boating it was time to head back to Uganda and hit the waves once more. Technically I have been focusing on developing my hole boating skills for as long as I can remember only getting out on waves for a few days or weeks here and there, as and when I could. But now, having finally completed all the individual hole boating moves, it is time to really think about starting to develop my wave boating skills. So a few weeks ago Den and I set out to Uganda with a plan... to learn to wave boat well. Arriving on a beautiful 27 degree African day there was no break as we set out straight on to the waves. 

Theres something very special about the Nile

A young local kid watches on as I train

It's so easy when boating just to go out and do the moves you can do. Learning new moves generally means a lot of repetitive practice, wipeouts and on big waves painful crashes. However it is what is needed in order to progress. We had chosen to go out earlier than normal in order to miss the crowds and this worked really well as for the majority of the trip there was only four or five of us at the wave, meaning a short que and lots of time to train.

Claire O setting up for a big move

The trip started awesome. Fresh and keen we threw down hard nailing a whole variety of moves. Last time when we were out here I spent a lot of time working on pan am's, flashbacks and back blunts and it was great to find that these were all still working really well. During the first few days I spent a lot of time familiarising myself with the waves again and working on trying to access moves of the first bounce. Utilising all the energy and maximising on the shape and height of the waves. This is always quite tricky as everything’s going so fast. I find you get to the top and want to get balanced and see the ramp and the release point and think about what you are going to do. But in doing this you use vital milliseconds and before you know it it's too late and your back down at the bottom of the wave having missed the opportunity to go. It definitely takes a little while to tune into the shape and timing of the wave, and the fact that you just have to feel the bounce and go.

Den throwing down a big back blunt

As we moved into the second week we really started to make progress on the new moves. It was great being able to start working on and getting a better understanding of the bigger moves. I made massive steps forward with my clean blunts, helixs, pistol flips, back pan am's and airscrews. It's funny training on big waves as progression and success with moves seems to constantly change. One day your beginning to master and feel happy with a new move for example the airscrew. Then after a few big wipe outs or feeling tired after a few big sessions it completely goes and you find your self back to square one, not even able to throw down the beginnings of the move that seemed to be going so well.

Den sets up the camera as we film our training sessions

As we headed towards the last few days of the trip everything was really flowing well. Den was throwing quick successions of moves linking loads of complex combos and random mixtures of moves. KY's (blunt to pistols), bread and butters (blunts to back blunts), side kicks to airscrews, airscrews to helix's, you name it he was giving it a try. I was even trying some new combos too, nailing my first ever KY and hitting the occasional bread and butter as well as regular flip turns, helix's and clean blunts left and right. 

Claire O going for a big helix

Then before we knew it it was time to head home.

Claire O throws a big airscrew

It was amazing looking back at how much we progressed during our 3 weeks on the Nile. My understanding of the moves and wave boating has increased massively and now it is just a case of getting more time on waves. It's going to be really exciting to see how we can apply what we have learnt onto other waves across the world. For the first time ever I feel ready for wave boating and i'm looking forward to my next wave competition. Which will probably be at the Kelly White Water Park in June.

Claire O and the kids from the local school

Thanks to Den, Tom, Paul, Brendon, Emily and Sam and everyone at the Hairy Lemon for making this such an awesome trip.

A surprise break from training at an awesome resort in the middle of the Nile

Here's a quick highlights video from our trip.

Thank you to Den and Tom Zach for the amazing photos.

Den paddles out at Sunrise

Tom captures the sunsetting over the trees

Extra special massive thank you to Peak UK for making this trip possible