Sunday, May 18, 2014

Reno River Fest

The Reno River Festival kicked off the 2014 USA freestyle kayaking competition circuit this weekend. Held at the Reno White Water Park in downtime Reno, 'the smallest, biggest city in Nevada', the Reno River Festival is a big music, shopping and kayaking festival that draws in massive crowds to this awesome little urban park.

An awesome view over the park

Young and Old. Nathan 12 watches new mum Amanda train

The kayaking events started on Saturday with the freestyle. The weather wasn't great so the crowds were small but the standard was very high. Hole 5 was selected for the competition and is one of the best small freestyle holes in the world. Every hole move can go there, however it still takes precision, understanding and skill. As there's only a couple of deep spots in the hole . But with the right timing and technique things can go and go massive. Even the complicated new moves and combos. The heats went pretty well. In the cold, wind, snow and hail everyone battled to get the points to go through.

Claire O and Ruth wait for their rides (photo by Scott Sady)

As the heats wrapped up everyone hit the hot showers and hot tubs in the local hotels to warm up before heading back out to the water for round two. It was during the afternoon session though where the action really kicked off. The sun came out and with it came the huge scores. In the mens it was a Jackson v's Pyranha battle.

Stephen and Jason chat before the finals (photo by Scott Sady)

Jason Craig dominated the first place spot with some massive 1,300+ point rides and huge huge huge air on his moves. 
Jason Craig goes huge (photo by Scott Sady)

Jason celebrates his win (photo by Scott Sady)

That left the battle for 2nd and 3rd and it was well fought by Stephen Wright, on his first day back using a paddle in weeks due to an injury, Alec Vorhees, Dave Fussilli and Matt Anger. In the end it s was the 'Dem Boys' who managed to pull out the big moves and combos and secure the top 2 spots.

Dave Fusilli sets of into a combo of moves (photo by Scott Sady)
In the womens finals the battle was first place. I took the lead at the start with a solid first run. Then Emily Jackson threw an epic 2nd ride putting her clearly in the front with a massive 740 points. I chocked on my 2nd run scoring a new personal best low score of just 10! Before finally getting into my groove to nail a 780 point ride right at the last minute in my very last run. It was awesome to take the win but even cooler that me and Emily had been able to set down such big rides with all the big tricks. Ruth Gordan came in 3rd closely followed by Sage Donnelly and Jessica Yurtinis.

Claire O in action (photo by Scott Sady)

Claire throws a massive loop (photo by Stephen Wright)

Claire O celebrating after a good ride
On Sunday was all about the races with non stop action in the park as kayakers raced down through buoys first in Slalom, then in Boater X and finally in the inflatable tubeacross. There was carnage and swims. Great display of athleticism, tactics, speed and power. Slalom trained young Sage took the wins in the ladies and Colin Kemp got an awesome sneak round the bouy to cut in front of the lead two guys and power his way to the men's BX win. I had fun racing the slalom in C1 and taking out the JK Karma for the first time in the Boater X. I was stoked to make the finals in Boater X and even more happy to survive my 2 C1 runs hitting 4 rolls and over a dozen buoys whilst being heckled the whole time by Hoeve on the mike.

Claire O racing slalom  (photo by Jason Lighthall)

Claire and Amanda Race it out in the Boater X heats
(photo by Jason Lighthall)
Opps!!! (photo by Jason Lighthall)
Colin Kemp takes the inside line and the win in the Boater X
(photo by Scott Sady)

With the sun shinning and the music blaring the prizes were awarded in front of the main stage.

Mens medal winners (photo by Phillip Robert)

Jason and Claire O Reno Freestyle Champions 2014 

Thanks to the City of Reno for hosting a great event and great weekend, for the awesome Cowboy / girl style hat trophies and for the prizes and cash purses for the winners.

Thank You Reno

What a great weekend of competition fun.

Thursday, May 08, 2014



In March, Steve O invited me to join him on a trip to Canada to paddle Skook! 3 weeks later i'm sat in his van in BC, Canada waiting for the wave to come in so we can head out for our second session on this incredible tidal wave.

Current Destination…
Skookumchuck, Northern Vancover, BC. Canada

Years ago, Pete Astles first told me about the famous Skookumchuck wave. He spoke about this big, glassy tidal wave that was perfect for freestyle and said I had to go. Since then I have been dreaming of surfing it. Waiting for the right opportunity to come along and now here I am. I have finally made the trip and I am here and it is just as good as it sounds. 

Oh and the scenery heres pretty stunning too

Views from the ferry ride to Skook

Arriving at Egmont, the put in point for the wave

Stopping on my way over to visit Ed and Mariola at Murky Water I spent a few days float testing my new Slip squirt boat and picking up my new composite JK 2014 Rock Star.

Float testing my amazing new Murky Water Slip

Custom graphics designed by Jason Searle (NZ)

Expertly built by Ed and Mariola

All packed and ready to go 

Now after a slight diversion to Vegas, thanks to some custom delays and a missed flight, I am in Canada having just had one day of epic, and I mean epic, surfing in my brand new composite boat on Skook!


Arriving at Skook with my awesome new Composite Rock Star

Tearing up Skook (photo by Steve O)

Steveo styles it on Skook with Hand Paddles

How cool is this wave (photo by Steve O)

Bring on 4pm and our second session on the biggest Skook tide of the week later today :)

This is what its all about… Steve O gets Air Time.

2 weeks on and the fun just hasn't stopped. Skookumchuck lived up to every expectation and more. We spent three days just loving every minute we had on and by the wave. What a peaceful, mellowing, naturally beautiful place. On our last day we arrived earlier to watch the turning tides and were unbelievable fortunate to not only see the tides turn and the waves form but also see a whole array of wildlife as we sat waiting for our surf. We saw dolphins, sealions, seals, purple starfish. octopus, a black bear and Orca's… Killer Whales. What an amazing place.

Skookumchuck on an outgoing tide.
Trust me about the wildlife the video is coming soon

What an incredible place

Since then we've spent a lot of time on the road. We stopped on route at the Chillwack Festival and met some awesome BC boaters including old friends and ran some awesome rapids in the pouring rain. Then our journey continued south. Hoping for sun and warmth we instead found mountains and snow. Before eventually pulling into Reno for some insanely good freestyle hole boat training.

Its 'Reno Time'

JK Team boats all set and ready to go at the Reno White Water Park
Then tonight I went to my first ever Hometown Throw Down where I paddled the epic new JK Karma Unlimited. And now in the sun I am only two days away from my first ever Reno River Festival.

Great fun blasting down the Truckee

Celebrating race lines with Ruth Gordan at the finish line

Check out the link below to this weekend Reno River Festival.

More photos of my new boats and video of our Epic Skook trip coming soon. 

Kayak Session Article - Claire O’Hara on the Payette River Games

Claire O has been a leading force in freestyle kayaking for a number of years. Since winning her first World Championships title in 2009, she has now gone on to win 5 ICF World Championship titles and the Mystery World Championships making her the most successful female freestyle kayaker in the world. With over 20 years of experiences paddling whitewater on rivers and coaching all around the World, Claire started her competitive freestyle career in 2001 and made the Great Britain tema in 2006. Winning numerous national and international titles and has since become a regular face, void and figurehead for the sport. Here she gives us the lowdown on this summers Payette Rver Games, the Idaho event boasting the largest prize purse ($50,000) in kayaking history.

Check out the full article here….

2013 ICF World Championships live on TV in the USA

Last years World Championships was an amazing freestyle kayaking competition and there was a huge team from Jalbert Productions capturing every bit of the action with their high speed cameras and flying video helicopters. They have created an amazing hour long production on the event that is now being aired live across the USA and will be coming to other countries worldwide soon.

Check out this link to find out where and when its on in the USA. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Last week in Oz

Seriously! Saw this sign after an awesome ocean swim

Before I knew it my season in Australia was almost over and with only a week left it was time to finish it off with one last mad week of Aussie Adventures.

Former awesome adventures; an epic Fancy Dress Party

The Lion King Sydney Style - Amazing

Starting with a few great days in the Blue Mountains, in my last week I had the chance to spend some time wake boarding, mountain biking, hiking, boating and enjoying great food with new friends.

Hitting up a different type of fitness session with Abel

Rich did say we we're going cycling in the Blue Mountains!

Awesome swim spot and falls on our hike

Then back in Sydney I got to take one last trip into the city on the Sydney Ferry, do several more amazing training sessions at the Dojo with Abel and eat all you can eat free Ben and Jerry' s Ice Cream and go on a couple more laps of the Olympic Park and harbour on our 30k bike loop with Jez and our awesome roomies Pete, Maddy and David aka 'America!'.

Ben & Jerry's Free Scope day. Lap no 2 of 5

Then with only one day left in Sydney, I got to go on another amazing high adrenaline Sydney Harbour trip with the Taylor's in their awesome powerboat. There was some massive swells and we quite literally flew over wave after wave as we made our way to the beautiful Balmoral beach for a picnic. Chilling in the sun for a few hours we relaxed before jumping in the boat and blasting our way back at high speeds to the Olympic Park. Smashing our way through the swell. Flying past boat after boat as we took in the magnificent views of the city, opera house, boats, harbour and bridge.

Cruising under the Harbour bridge

What an amazing day with an amazing family :)

A stunning day on the water.

Recovering from blasting over the big swells.

What a way to finish my Sydney stay 

Amazing lunch

Goodbye Sydney, for a little while

Then all packed and ready to go. I jumped on a plane back to the Gold Coast where my trip had started 4 months earlier, with my mum and sister for a family friends wedding. This time join Jez for an amazing Easter weekend of sun and surf before boarding my first of three planes and beginning my long journey back to the UK.

Beauty beaches on the Gold Coast

Seriously stunning

Taking some well earned rest on the beach

Back to life and enjoying life on the coast

Quick stop on my early mooring run for a selfie shot

Quick stop on an early morning run to take in the views

Surfers Paradise crazy urban / beach mix

Classic Aussie Lifeguard Flag (photo by Jez)

Jez and Claire signing out from Australia