Saturday, March 28, 2015

Island Life – Uganda Blog

Helix time

The lightening strikes, bolts bright sharp and electric, then the thunder roars. The wind is blasting the rain hard into my face. Smashing me over and over onto the rocks. I hold on tight and watch as two more lightening bolts strike. Then as I lift the peak of my helmet and look upstream I see its free. I push off the rocks, paddle hard, hit the hole, surf across the radial, cross the shoulder and hit the wave. Suddenly everything goes quiet and calm. Small rain drops bounce of the wave in front of me but the height of the wave blocks me from the wind. I carve up the face and wait as the wave turns green. I see the ramp opens up in front of me. Load up the boat, bounce and throw. As the thunder roars I fly through the air landing a huge pan am. I land with a big boom. Then everything is silent and calm. All I think of is my boat and the wave. The water feels warm, contrasting against the drop in air temperature with the storm.

The storm brews downstream of the wave

I throw move after move fully immersed in the moment. Then as I fly down the face once more I launch into the air this time too far to the left and land hitting the shoulder. It sends me fast off the back of the wave and back to reality. As the next wave smashes into me the wind hits hard. The rain blasting in my face once more. Each drop hurting with the power of the storm. I'm midway down the huge wave train yet hardly moving as the wind holds me back fighting against my paddle strokes and the power of the river. The lightening bolts strike again this time hitting the left bank just downstream and boom the thunder roars once more. In the distance I can just make out the shadow of Den on the bank and Nick holding into the rocks being pounded against the side of the river as he waits his next turn. I see a slash of a paddle as Gav throws down a massive move on the wave. Its decision time do I stay out and face the storm or do I head back to shelter on the Island. Its an easy decision I turn back towards the eddy and paddle hard wind blowing against my back. The wave is perfect. Its time to surf. I'm staying out.

Going big

Life by the river in-between storms

Since 2006 I have been heading to Uganda reguarly to surf the waves of the White Nile. An amazing paradise deep in the heart of Africa. Over the years I have joined many of the worlds top freestyle paddlers on these waves to train. This year is no different and Uganda has once again been one of the top winter training destinations from most paddlers as they prepare for the Garburator Worlds.

A lot of people out here

I am here with Den for a month and we are already 2 weeks in. We have 2 and a half weeks training together then we will be joined by Jacko and i'll be part of the World of Champions ASP training camp. We arrived to red hot african heat. Then a week ago the humidity caused a storm to break and we are now amidst the rainy / storm season. A mix of red hot sunshine and torrential rain and massive storms every day and night. So far the surfing has been going well I am trying to work on transferring my new wave skills I have learnt on the small waves onto the fast big powerful features of the Nile. I am way more comfortable on the waves than ever before and my list of moves available is so much bigger which is insane. I am exploring different ways of setting up and using the wave and trying to work on consistency and sequencing moves. There are moments of brilliance interspersed with moments of frustrations and epic crashes. As is the nature of surfing waves.

Figuring out the airscrew one crash at a time

Gav flys

The awesome Dennis Newton

Working on new moves

Everyday we follow a similar routine. Wake up, stretch or paddle, eat. Paddle, eat, paddle, eat and then sleep. This pattern repeated every day. Its a big change from the norm but we are settling well into Island life, an eat, sleep, boat, repeat routine. 

Morning Yoga with Emily