Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Big Question!!!

So how's my training going? 

Well the quick easy answer is great

But what's the truth. How much hard work, sweat, energy, air miles and tears has gone into getting me to where I am now, 5 days out from my 5th World Championship event. How am I actually feeling? How ready am I really? How has the build up gone to the big event next week?

One and a half years ago I realised, on the announcement of the Worlds being potentially held on the Ottawa river, that I had a lot of work to be done. Having grown up surfing holes and for the last 4 years focusing on training for hole worlds I had not spent much time surfing on waves. Now as many of you know I am competitive. It's in my nature to compete. In a fun way. I like to challenge myself to be as good as I possible can and try and beat my friends at everything and anything but all the while whilst enjoying it having fun and not being afraid to fail or lose or to be beaten. It's a funny way to be and it happens without me realising most of the time and has been part of me my whole life growing up. From being a kid playing football (soccer) every single week to battling with my friends and sister, to coaching and living every day life. I constantly want to be better and do well. It just the way I am. 

Carving out to set up for another big trick on Garb

The number of times me and Jez finish lunch with a first pump and a call of 'I beat you' or I find myself watching another paddler throw an epic trick and find myself saying ok 'I can do that, I want to be able to do that, I'm going to learn to do that' and then the days, weeks and months that are then spent crashing and flipping as I try to learn the skill or re challenging myself in that outcome is too many too count. So hearing that it was a wave worlds set me a massive challenge. It was an area of boating I was less familiar with and one that I wanted to try and excel in and be competitive at. I could see what the wave boating athletes could do and I wanted in. I wanted a bit of it. As a result I spent the last 18 months travelling the world surfing and training on waves. With an awesome crew of friends helping me out I have pushed my wave boating beyond what I even thought possible. Hitting on several stages every single move on the ICF score sheet. 

Throwing a massive flashback

With the help of course from the awesome Dennis Newton who travelled with me to train in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Uganda and Canada over the last 8 months alone. (Insane for a volunteer coach but perfect for me not only as my coach but also as my best friend) There has literally been a mix of sweat, blood and tears and massive smiles and adrenaline and emotional highs and lows as we have worked towards my goal and taken on this challenge of excelling in a new element of the sport. 

Den watches, cheers, critics and help me reach my goals

My progress has been huge. Ridiculous in fact and the journey to get here has been unreal, a dream and adventure that I would never take back. I have learnt so much about myself as a person and as a paddler. Some good some, bad and made so much progress on and off the water.

And now it's almost time to put it to the ultimate test. With all this hard work, training done and the ultimate drive still deep within its time to put it to the test out on the water. Next week I will have four 45 seconds rides in freestyle and three 1 minutes rides in squirt to shows case everything I've learnt and make the first cut!

Dropping for a mystery move

Will it work? Who knows? I hope it will but who knows for sure. Some challenges are perfect. Some challenges are sometimes just too big. Some competitions are for me to take home the gold. Some competitions are for me to experience but never win. Sometimes the goal timelines are perfect and sometimes so challenges will just take a little longer. Sometimes I will know I am ready sometimes I will need the fire up of a competition to bring me up that extra level and put me to the ultimate test. But regardless either way they are challenges. Challenges I want to be part of and I choose to accept.

Will I ever be able to beat Jez at a finishing a sandwich? I doubt it! Will I be able to open up this years worlds competition with an airscrew, airscrew opening combo? I doubt it. Will I be able to hit a 30 second mystery move at Smoothie during the worlds comp or break 2000 point ride with the perfect combination of all the moves I have working on? Maybe? But will I still try and build to it and give my 100% into seeing if I can do every and any of the challenges and go into it 100% fighting for the win. Yes, yes I will. I will I keep challenging myself to one day get to these life goals. Yes

Why? Because it's fun
Why? Because it makes me better
Why? Because why not I enjoy the process of learning

Throwing a massive helix 
and losing the grip on my paddle mid move.
When one things goes great another may not!

So I ask myself once more how's training going for worlds? Great I have done everything I possibly can this year to be in the best position possible to go out and give this my best shot. Would I like to win? Yes of course I would. Will I be opening my ride with aircrew / aircrew? Possibly not this year but some day in the future yes. Would I like to put down some epically massive rides containing all the moves I've been working on? Yes of course I do.

Will I win? Who knows? There are some awesome female paddlers out there who have also been training hard and are paddling super well who have every chance as much as me to do well and take home the top spot. But I sure will give it my best shot

Am I excited? Yes. Am I ready? I'm as ready as I've ever been for this a worlds wave event!

Bring on the 2015 ICF World Championships Let the games begin!

The Road to Worlds

The Worlds are coming

The Agenda

And theres more

It's crazy to believe that there is now only 5 days left to Worlds. That's only 5 more sleeps and 5 more training sessions until the show begins and all the hard work of the last 2 years gets put to the test. 

Flying high on Garb

6 weeks ago I flew to Canada to start training. Garb had just come in and the levels here were prime. I arrived to find the river surprisingly empty with with the exception of the usual suspects (the Jacksons, the locals, Bren, Courtney and a collection of other friends and pro boaters from around the world). We almost had the place to ourselves for the whole summer and with Garb in. Albeit is at constantly varying levels the worlds wave was in for almost 8 weeks!!!

Travelling in style thanks to Hunt Club VW

Then a week ago things changed. Everyone started arriving the Frenchies, Swiss, Norway, Australia, New Zealand every day a new country arrived. The lines increased and the river got busier. Off the water things also started to develop fast as infrastructure began to be built. Stands started popping up, bridges, flags, kayaking displays outside a lot of the local houses and towns. The Worlds adverts began to appear and some local press coverage. As the excitement and Stoke begun to commence.

The local town showing their support for the athletes

The Athletes arrive in force

As the excitement began to build the weather turned and we had some super heavy rain and severe storms for a few days. Were we may normally have sat out and waited for the sunshine and storms to pass we would instead paddle out under the roaring thunder to find the wave still busy with a line of 12 or more. Despite the crowds though the atmosphere and vibe was great. Everyone was here for the same reason to surf this epic wave and prepare for the big event. 

Walking up early for a sunrise paddle

Training with Jacko, Bruce and Den
This picture says a thousand words and could mean the
difference between 1st and last place

Then this week as the final few athletes rolled in and the lines began the max out at 30+. The official schedule was released and the Worlds team training slots began.

Mitch trains for his first worlds

Den showing us how its done

Jez throwing around the OC1

With the wave in prime conditions each team was allocated a specific training slot. Approx 3 minutes per athlete of uninterrupted training.

The builds to Worlds is coming.... Only 5 days left to show time.

Opening Ceremony coming soon


Jungle Fever... Jez's battle with Leptospirosis)

Amid all this build and excitement for Worlds Jez arrived back from and epic summer in America and expedition to Costa Rica with Falling Creek Camp. Full of stories of crazy adventures it was amazing to have him back to train with and hang out. He arrived tired still from his big adventure and we thought nothing of it until only a couple of days in he suddenly took a turn for he worst. He got sick, like really sick, fast. In just a couple of days he went from just feeling tired and low energy to hitting crazy fever, a massive headache, got super super tired and had crazy muscle aches. He felt sick, couldn't eat or drink and would constantly switch from cold sweat and shivering, to high temperatures and sweating with fevers on and off throughout the day and night. We tried to ride it out for a day or so before realising he needed help. With red eyes (almost heavy blood shot style) and struggling to breathe I drove him to Renfrew hospital where he was put straight on an IV drip and had a chest X-ray and loads of blood tests. It was a horrible experience as nobody knew what it was for sure.

Hitting up 2000ml of IV

As we were dealing with it we heard word that others from his Costa Rica trip were also sick. It became an International Challenge to get them fixed and figure out what this crazy bug was. Everything about the symptoms pointed to Dengue fever and a new bug called Chikungunya. However as we were all pre occupied by these crazy tropical diseases, luckily one of the doctors at the hospital read the signs differently and said I think it's Leptospirosis!!! As soon as the nurse mentioned it she was surprised to find I knew exactly what she was talking about. Paddling for many years in the UK on urban rivers we are very familiar with this horrible bacterial bug. It's comes from stagnant or flood waters polluted with animal facies. One of its tell tale signs being the red eyes as well as all the other symptoms. Unfortunately I have known several kayaker a who have contracted it over the years but didn't even think about it in this situation. Luckily even without the blood test results the doctor wanted to start Jez on Doxcyclin to treat it just in case. If caught early it's just a horrible illness. If left a long time it can become fatal or have long lasting side effects. Pumped with fluids and started on the antibiotics. We were sent home to ride out the fever some more in what Jez now calls 'the worst week of his life'. 5 days later on the way back to hospital once more after another horrible day the fever finally broke and Jez got to enjoy his first food in almost a week. And then feeling a tiny bit better celebrated his birthday out of bed (for an hour or so) and begin the road to recovery the following day. Now almost a week later we are super happy to say it was Leptospirosis. Jez and all the others who had been sick although super tired are now on the mend.

Training... sleeping hard between wave sessions

No matter where in the world you kayak, take care around dirty water. If you get sick after paddling let the doctors know to check you for Leptospiriosis (Weils disease).

Oh and is you ever have to take Doxyclin. Take it with something dairy and sitting up... and Good luck  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

This is Squirt Boating Part 4 - Its all about the Mystery!

So with the ICF World Championships now less than 2 weeks away its time for the elusive 'This is Squirt Boating' Mystery move series.

Never heard of a mystery or unsure what is going on then check out these 5 videos. Looking at the mystery, mystery multiplier and the 3 levels of exit move. This should give you a real good insight to what is happening on and above the water during this part of an athletes routine.

The Mystery Move

The Mystery Multiplier

Mystery Exit 1

Mystery Exit 2

Mystery Exit 3

Follow all the action online on the 30th August here at


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Columbus White Water Park

Hot water, big waves and loads of sun. That's the best way I can describe the Columbus White water Park. Set in the deep south of Georgia there's a new play park that's got some epic features in it.

Claire O throwing a massive flashback 
I took a quick road trip south last week to join Jez and the Falling Creek Camp kids at the park for an epic day of surfing. I caught a flight to Atlanta and then jumped on a shuttle bus that dropped me right at the park. I meet up with Jez, Joey and Joe and 12 very excited kids. They gave me a quick intro to the park and then it was time to jump on. The local news crew were there ready to film it all and capture all the fun. 
The water rising by the hour turned a super friendly mid size wave into a massive powerful world class training feature. The weather was boiling hot as was the water. In an attempt to cool down you would flip into the hot bath temperature water only to resurface into the warm heat again. The only way to slightly lower in heat was to surf and use the breeze from your movement and the splashes from the wave to break the heat. We surfed the wave feature all day long into the night.

Young paddlers flying out on the wave

The Falling Creek Kids check out the other rapids too

These waves are big yet friendly 
The main wave we surfed was epic and on it everything went. Helixs, blunts, pistol flips. You name it, it could be done on this wave and this wasn't the only feature at the park. There's hole and waves of various sizes scattered across the park as well as big rapids to paddle, raft and swim. As the sun set the temperature began to drop and before we knew it we were surfing in the night under the floodlights. A whole community of bodyboarders, river surfers and kayaker a came out to join us and loads of people from the town came to sit in the banks and watch. 

Jez sets up for a big move
At 11pm we were finally done. The wave was still running and the lights were still on but we were officially burnt out. So we drove the short ride to our camp spot and watched the stars and shadows of the sky from our hammocks as we passed out exhausted from the day on the river.

Launching a helix
I would highly recommend this park to every freestyle kayaker out there from beginners through to Pros. It's a super fun place to learn new waves and test out the skills you already have in clean warm water and in a beautiful town. At a spectacular spot with an incredibly welcoming and friendly community. All in all it was a fantastic road trip. I look forward to going back.