Monday, October 26, 2015

British Championships 2015

The sun was shinning, the weather was hot!!! British Freestyle Championships? Surely thats not right!!!

Sunshine at the National Water Sports Centre

The 2015 Brit Champs took place at HPP and this year it had a bit of a twist. Great weather and a new course formation meant it felt like a completely different place. Paddlers flocked from across the UK to compete. GB freestyle team athletes, Young Gun kids and recreational club paddlers all came together to take part in this British freestyle kayaking festival. This was my first and only UK event this year so it was awesome to see everyone again. Every year I come home its great to see all the familiar faces and also to see how much everyone has progressed. this year once again it was amazing to see how many young kids are coming up.

Paddlers young and old compete in the novice event
(photo by Ottis Robinson-Shaw)

The event started with the Club championships. A big trick and cartwheel contest on Jaws, then a downriver boater X and extreme slalom race. There were boats everywhere and a great atmosphere. Squarerock had a fleet of demo boats available for people to try for free so everyone had the chance to try out all the new designs. The GB team athletes took part in some of the events and also judged. Cheering on and supporting the next generation of kids. I entered the big trick and cartwheel competition. Nailing a big mcnasty and hitting loss of ends left and right. But in the great nature of Club Champs my score got smashed by some massive pop outs. With only 1 hour practice on the course in the last 5 months I spent the afternoon training for Brit Champs. This year the K1 and C1 freestyle Brit Champs were held on the Muncher. An awesome but extremely difficult feature near the bottom of the course. I knew the locals had been practising loads so I set about trying to figure it out.

Practising in the Muncher
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

Great to be back on the water training with Den again

I quickly realised my big tricks were going to be risky so I needed to adapt and come up with a safer more consistent routine. By the end of the day I had a plan. Entry, loop, cartwheel, spin, blunt, back blunt, then if there was time left a back loop or mcnasty.

I mixed up the freestyle with a bit of squirt boating as mid afternoon the British Championship Squirt Boating event took place. The turn out was amazing as was the crowd. My mum and her friends and Den and Lisa had made the journey to cheer me on and the great weather meant loads of locals came out to watch. We all gathered acround the looping pool and took our turns to take our 3 rides. It was a tactical venue as the flat water on river left was better but the mystery on river right was great but there wasn't enough time in a ride to do both.

Helping Charlee Aldred learn to Bow Stall mid comp
(photo by Dennis Newton)

British Squirt  Boat legends Ben White and Jamie Austin and I judged. In the mens fresh from worlds Alex Edwards and Sam battled it out at the top with Alex clamming the top spot. In the ladies I, Claire O'Hara had fun in a borrowed boat and kit (thanks Sam) to take the win. But the real battle was for 2nd, 3rd and 4th spot. Dee, Lotty (13), Kim and Charlee (12) showcasing their tricks. (Jen McGauley was missing from the line up as she has just started University and been dropped off this week).

Stoked to win the British title again
(photo by Dennis Newton)

After hours of fun on the water everyone moved to the campsite for a BBQ gathering. Again the weather held and on October 3rd 2015 we had a BBQ outside! Insane, but great fun.

My great friends Sooty, Lindz, Bells and Scarlett make the trip
down from Leeds to cheer me on

Sunday came and the Brit Champs kicked off. I got to watch all the action in prime position from the judges stand. The standard was great but the feature was tough and quickly divided the field into those paddlers with experience on the Muncher and those without. Juniors Sophie McPeak and Jake Norman, flew high to take the top two spots, Adam Ramadan, smashed out some big waves moves in the C1 event and after a very tight battle I, Claire O'Hara, took the ladies win and Rob Crowe smashed out some huge scoring and very impressive rides to win the mens; to become the 2015 British Champions.

Rob Crowe styling his way to the win
(Photo by Alex Wilkinson Photography)

Jake Norman loads up a big McNasty
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

I land a solid loop
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

Jake Norman
(photo by Jake Norman)

Islay Crosbie throws a massive Space Godzilla
(photo by John Isgar Photography)

By the end of the day everyone was shattered and the weekend came to and end with big cheers as the prizes and winners were announced. Young paddlers Ben (10 JM) and Charlee (12 JW) took home loads of prizes. Then with a massive turn out Lee Valley Canoe Club took home the 'Club Champions' trophy for 2015. Nikki Beeby was awarded the 'Most Improved Female Paddler of the Year Award' after another amazing season competing across the UK, Canada and the US.

Lee Valley Canoe Club Club Champions 2015
(photo by Lee Valley Canoe Club)

WIth sunshine, warm weather, loads of paddlers and big tricks it was a fantastic celebration of British Freestyle. I look forward to seeing everyone again next summer and I hope even more clubs and paddlers come along and join in the fun.

Claire O'Hara British Champion 2015
(Painting by Sarah Eadie)

Back in Blighty

The time has just flown by since I got back to the UK after Worlds. I have some home to the UK to catch up with friends and family and compete at the British Championships and earn some cash before I move back out to Australia to join Jez. I am based out of Leeds but on the road full time. When I first got back I completed my Level 3 qualification in Education and Training and updated my NUCO First Aid Instructors qualification. Since then I have been working for Carnegie Great Outdoors (Leeds Beckett University). I have done a week for them at the Lilleshall National Sports centre at the Battle Back Centre working with Wounded, Injured and Sick military personel and a week in the Yorkshire Dales with the NCS National Citizen Service working with young people from the North East of England. The rest of the time has been working with on the Leeds Beckett University residential programmes in the Lakes. It has been non stop but super good fun.

Hard day in the office (Malham Cove Yorkshire)

Not a bad view on the walk to work ;)

Another day in the office (Ulswater, Lake District)

Teaching basic river running skills to students
(Patterdale Lake District)

I have been climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing, caving and been to see Everest, Mexico and Mars, ok the last three were at the cinema but I think it still counts ;) It has been a non stop 6 weeks. The most important part, of being back home in the UK for the last 6 weeks though, has been the chance to catch up with my family and friends. I had an amazing weekend in the Lake District Sailing with my Dad, Grandad, Sister and family. A weekend in London watching War Horse and Alan Carr with my mum and friends, I have competed in and won the 2015 British Championships, supported and cheered on by my family and friends and now I am about to spend an awesome last week with my mum, dad and loads of my family and friends in Yorkshire.

Sailing with my Dad

Biking with my mum

My Dads family all together for a weekend in the Lakes

My sister and awesome little nephew on my dads boat

Scout serenades my mum with music on her birthday
(Kings Cross Station, London)
I've been loving being back in the UK and its been great to catch up and see everyone. Its crazy to think I have only 9 days left but at the same time I am ready and excited to head of on my next adventure and get back to Australia, to get back to training and to reunited with Jez and everyone in Australia again.

Double trouble. 9 days until the next adventure begins