The first competition of the season dawned as one of the best days we have had in Cornwall for a long time. Not much wind and the sun was coming out and I hadn’t packed any sun cream! The surf was small as has been common with this competition but was reasonably nice. After the sign in and the brief in which I found out that the heats were to be 13 minutes long. I saw that I was on the last heat so I had time to catch up with friends and to have some breakfast! I wandered around watching the surfing for a while as well and then it was my turn to judge which gave me an idea of how things were looking.
My heat came and I was hoping to do quite well but unfortunately I was trying out some smaller thruster fins and I wasn’t ready for the difference they made! I lost the tail a couple of time but the difference they made when I slashed was amazing. It started to all come together towards the end of the heat but I only managed to get a 3rd place. Everyone were shuffled around in their heats according to where they placed in their previous heats. I was on again about half way through the second round so I stayed in my kit and judged a heat.
The tide had come in by the time my next heat arrived and the surf had got better and I really enjoyed my heat in which I managed a large lip move but unfortunately I didn’t land it fully. I did well though and came 1st which I was really pleased about! I stayed in that heat because I won my last one while the other people in my heat were replaced and so I had a while to wait before my next heat. I again stayed in my kit as it was wet and I don’t like getting into wet kit! My next heat again I did well in and came 1st. Which was great although it wasn’t good enough to get in the mens semi final as I needed to have had two 1sts and a 2nd instead of the two 1sts and a 3rd that I got. I was pleased with my result though, a good start to the year! After the mens final and the prize giving for that and the handicap event we packed up and moved off to the campsite where we were staying the night. We set up our tents had a shower and then headed down to the village where we had a meal booked at an inn with all the competitors.
Unfortunately the inn didn’t open the restaurant on time so we had to wait around and I was getting very hungry! At last we went in and at least there was a lot of food that we could help ourselves to! We didn’t stay long after the meal as we wanted to get an early night in preparation for the next day. We heard though that several people carried on partying till quite late as it was someone’s birthday.
Sunday dawned nice again but it was colder and cloudier than the day before. We got down to the beach and signed in and I was on one of the earlier heats in the mens long. I didn’t do very well although I thought the surf was quite enjoyable. It was a reasonable size but one had to be careful which wave one took as a lot of them were closing out. I got third place in that heat. I went through to the reps because of that placing so I had another heat to look forward to towards the end of the day. Next I had the two junior finals. The junior short was first and the tide had come in a bit so the waves weren’t as dumpy as they had been earlier. I got on the water but unfortunately had to wait several minutes as someone was late turning up which was annoying. I had several good waves but I had no idea of how I had done compared to everyone else.
A few heats later I was in the junior long final. Unfortunately in my first heat of the day I had broken my boat. I had tried to pan-am and had got too steep and nosed dived straight into the sand and split my boat along the seam either side of the nose. It was still surfable but it was taking in water so I didn’t do as well as I could have done but I got several good waves and I was happy with what I had done. I was getting a bit tired by the time my next heat the mens long rep came along. I thought I might not give everything into each wave as I usually do and let someone else go through to the semi final but as soon as I was on the water competition mode switched on and I gave it everything! I had what I think were my best waves of the competition and won that heat which meant I was through to the semi final. I had a heat or twos rest and then I was on in the semi. I had some nice waves but the tide had come in close and it was a bit messy and was closing out. Never the less I did reasonably well coming 4th out of 5. This wasn’t good enough to go through to the final so I was able to get changed and warm. I hung around watching the final and then they set everything up so the prize giving could commence when everyone was changed and ready. It was an interesting prize giving, several people had already set off home. I got a 2nd place in both Junior categories. I was happy with this but of course I would have preferred to have come 1st! Anyway for the first competition of the season I felt I had done reasonably well and I had a good time which is always the main thing! Next competition is the Cornish Open which is being held at Godrevy, it’s one of my local breaks so I don’t have to get up very early which is nice! Till then, Good Bye!
A few weeks ago my buddy Shaun “shifty” Hazel contacted me to ask if he could make a short film about me for his uni course.
Heres the end result -
See you on the water,
This last weekend the Plattling Eurocup Freestyle took place under some extremely stormy skies. Ever changing water levels and tough conditions meant lots of ups, downs, success’s and upsets for the competitors.
All together this made for an exciting and fun event to be a part of.
Myself I was one of very few plastic boats competing in a sea of Carbon, so it really goes to show how good the Jitsu is that I ended up in 3rd place, ironically 1st was also won in a plastic boat by the new German Champion Paul Meylahn.
In the womens Palm’s Katya (my wife paddled really well to take 3rd spot also. Not much separated the top 5 paddlers in either mens, or womens, due to the tough water level. However GB’s Claire O’hara came out in 1st of the ladies.
Palm’s Anne Hübner was doing really well earlier in the comp, even winning Semi’s with an impressive score but just fell short in the finals.
Below are my day to day updates for more on how the event unfolded.
Mens & Womens Prelims are all done. Weather has made for some challenging high & changing levels meaning a few upsets and surprises.Both me & Katya survived to reach Semi’s. I had a horrible first ride then a good 2nd one that saved me.My Dagger Jitsu was the only plastic boat to make the top 10…:-) Tomasz Czaplicki had great rides to place 1st in Mens, Nina Csonkova placed 1st in Womens.
Saturday Semi Finals:
It’s been long day here, rain, rain and more rain, hard water levels but girls kayaked very good…. Palm’s Katya Kulkova made Finals in 4th with a good score of 353, Palm’s Anne Hübner got an impressive 1st with 450, GB’s Claire O’hara also made it in 2nd with 390.
In mens we seemed to struggle more than girls Scores were lower than prelims, the best one was GB’s James Weight in 1st with 626, 2nd Ryan Liquorish with 610 and me in 3rd with 550. Bartosz Czauderna got 4th and Paul Meylahn 5th.
Many paddlers were very close to making the cut, there wasn’t much between us really, feel very lucky to be in the final with such inconsistant levels.
The Plattling Eurocup is all over. incredibly tough water levels today made for a very tough final.
Mens was desevedly won with a great ride for the level of 600 points by Paul Meylahn from Germany, 2nd was Bartosz Czauderna 3rd was me Less than 100 points (one move) separated the top 3.
Womens was won by GB’s Claire O’hara with 276, 2nd was Nina Csonkova with 206, and 3rd my lovely wife Katya Kulkova with 190, all paddled very well considering the difficulty of the hole at this level.German paddlers did very well winning all but 2 categories…
Congrats all winners and those who came close and a big thanks to all the organisers!
What’s up next?
Now though it’s back to training hard, and luckily for me just after the event finished my secret weapon arrived from Dagger….a Carbon Jitsu!!! No more competing in plastic now. I love the Jitsu shape and have been amazed how well the plastic version has paddled. Last night I took my Carbon one for it’s first spin.
It’s the best kayak I’ve ever used by a long way, I think it’s going to be winning a lot of medals this year, it;s simply incredible. Stand by for a little teaser and promo over the next month
Competition, it’s a strange beast – it has the potential to allow you to perform at a higher level and achieve you’re “dream ride” or perform far worse than you normally would. All the while magnifying you’re emotions to a state where sometimes it’s hard to breathe before you’re rides. According to a couple of people, competition gets easier with time…. Personally I disagree; it becomes less and less about achieving and far more about not failing.
I became severely bogged down with this mentality of not failing over the past few years. To the point of throwing up before competition rides, not wanting my family to come and watch me and struggling to sleep the nights leading up to the event. Winning the European championships released me from this mindset, I’ve proved I’m a good boater and now I feel free to do my own thing and paddle the way I want to. My paddling has increased dramatically since winning the euros and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved, but far from content.
My name has been thrown around by a fair few people as a contender to be world champion this year, which is flattering but to be completely honest it has no effect on me, Being World Champion would be an amazing experience and it would be a great way to repay my sponsors, friends and family for their support over the past few years but measuring myself against other people is not what I’m about. I would much rather be remembered as the guy that came along and threw down the best ride ever seen in a competition, as opposed to being the guy that beat everyone else.
This is the beginning of my journey towards “The dream ride”. To performing the highest scoring, most fluid competition ride possible.
See you on the water,
Had a chance to test Palms new rash vest in Baja . Not quite warm enough over here !
Also my partner lissie had one of the new Halo B.A.She thought fit was good allowing freedom of movement and front pocket large enough for essentials . A rehydration would be useful as its on the male versions particularly as it was pretty hot.
The rash vest was comfertable and sizing seemed right.I often wear a rash vest under a neoprene top as its easier to get the neoprene vest on and off .
Looking forward to trying the new Kaituna short sleeve vest, its something i suggested on one of the Gear development meetings,so its good it has been included in the range
You can see why Baja is on one of the 12 best seakayaking destinations , Warm waters , amazing scenary and wildlife, we saw Sperm Whales, Orcas ,Pelicans Frigate birds and Tarantulas!
Last week there was sunshine. In the UK. Even in depths of North Wales! Well, what better time to get out and put the new FX PFD to the test?
I’m so impressed with this buoyancy aid, the freedom of movement is incredible and the amount you can fit in the pocket while it stays out of the way blows my mind! OK, that’s perhaps a little dramatic… but seriously, it’s like Mary Poppins designed this!
It’s proper safe too (and not just cos it keeps to the first rule of safety: Look Cool), the shoulder straps are sewn right down to the waist making them integral to the whole system and less likely to fail when you really need them. Most other manufacturers just sow to the top seam, even on their top spec “rescue” buoyancy aids!
And all that for just £74.95! That’s less than a tank of petrol these days…
I’m looking forward to a summer of fun and adventures in mine. Where will you take yours?
Soča Katarakt from above.
A quick wrap up: I have been in the White Salmon, Washington State, for ten days now and I have yet to see a single cloud. I hit a big jackpot this time. Well, I have been on a roll for quite some time now I guess. I spent a winter in Slovenia, which had one of the longest coldest and snowiest winters in a long time. I spent a lot of the time skiing, but in the end I just couldn’t wait for the kayaking season to start. Prospects were just amazing and when that one rainy and warmer day came in March, the season started big straight away. My first run of the season was the elusive Učja creek, which felt like a gift from above. Ever since then Soča has been running on high flows and I presume it will continue to run high well into June. If you’re around the place, now it is time to go!
I have been so lucky to live in Bovec for the last two years, but it felt like a time for a change. To make it short, me and my girlfriend moved out and we are moving to Squamish for the summer. It has been amazingly hard to move in the middle of the great season, so I really wanted to do as much paddling in Slovenia as possible, before I left. Everyone who has ever done the Soča knows how magical that place can be. Of course it is a lot more than just a place that I was leaving. All my kayaking buddies and other friends made it that much harder.
Slovenian Times from François Hemidy on Vimeo.
Except for an annual SRT course where I teach, I was lucky to be able to go kayak once or twice almost every day. I am posting some pictures from the last week I spent in that amazing valley. Thanks to Fabian A. Bonnano and Francois Hemidy for the photos. Thanks to Francois for a great video memoir of that week as well. He really caught the atmosphere of it and I’m so happy to have such a good reminder of how things were that perfect springtime. Thanks to all the friends for all great time we spent together. You know who you are.
Weather on our yearly SRT course was cold, windy and rainy. Stikine drysuit made it quite bearable.
Vertical descent in a canyon of Soča.
Now… I guess I really am still on a roll. I’m doing laps on the Little White Salmon and White Salmon rivers and I met so many good people. Thanks especially to Max Blackburn for taking care of me. This place is amazing and really helps me do the transition with a smile on my face.
Thanks to Fabian and Francois for great video and photo work – and some great times we had together.
The Soča Broken Bridge – start of the Katarakt section.
Photos by Fabian A. Bonanno and Andraž Krpič.
Video by Francois Hemidy.
Before this weekend had even started, we knew it was going to be epic. We were going to be down two members of our squad leaving us with only 5 to train with on Saturday, and 5 on a raft usually means lots of going around in circles. We needed a 6th paddler, and with Coach Dave not wanting to get his hair wet ( ) our friend Kim from one of the youth teams stepped up and valiantly filled the place! We had the first warm, sunny training day we had had for months on the Saturday morning and we were all ready to soak up the sun!!
One of the Youth Men’s teams joined us for some team development and we put them through their paces as we did 2 endurance sets down the Dee from Horse Shoe falls to Trevor.
Trust me it WAS sunny.
Showing the Youth team how to warm up properly (and look like an idiot in public – a very important skill!)
The sun disappeared quickly but our determination didn’t. With Sunday came rain and lots of it, but also some lovely new presents from Palm!!
Nerys models our lovely new Wairoa Neo-flex Tops, Energy Strides and BEAUTIFUL rash vests, whilst Rosie does her best impression of a crazy person!!
Winter had definitely returned but we were so warm in our fab new bits of gear. Check out the tight leg wear!! It is compulsory for rafting by the way, and we love it
Quote of the weekend from Nerys ‘I love these strides they fit so well its like rafting in my leggings!’ – she wasn’t even paid to say that!
Maybe we were a bit too warm… Coach Dave had us doing 4 sets of stepped sprints again against the wind and the rain in the morning on the Conwy. This time we had only 5 of us so we rotated around the raft and into the rest position. Even with only 4 paddling at one time we felt powerful and balanced. All our training must be paying off.
Stepped sprints – 60 seconds feels like a really long time when you are giving everything!
In the afternoon we did some ‘corners’ work as a 4 by working on Slalom moves at The Brenin. But we couldn’t resist a few Ninja shots first!
Sunshine in North Wales? NEVER! it is better when it rains because you don’t get to over heat….and the hot chocolate afterwards tastes so much better!
Thanks Palm for the AMAZING new neoprene. Watch this space for a full review soon!!
Missing 2 but still loving the training.
And now…what you have been waiting for, we ask Miss Suzie Jackson one of the middle ‘engines’ on the team to answer some questions:
Suzie sits Middle Left or Right and paddles like a soldier! You should know that her chimp is called Lucy and she IS NOT TIRED!! (this is what Suze shouts when we are racing endurance – the affect is amazing – ZOOM!!)
So Suzie, you are one of 2 new members, what’s it been like so far?
It has been absolutely amazing. It has been hard work learning everything pretty much from scratch but the current girls in the team did such a good job at welcoming us newbies that I have enjoyed every minute so far!
Coming from a team sport such as rugby to rafting, what can that experience offer? Are there any similarities or is it completely different?
I played rugby for a few years at University which instilled a strong team work ethic in me, however up until I joined the team I was concentrating on triathlon. The dedication of time and effort that goes into training well for a triathlon has been good experience and prepared me (partly!) for the training regime required to be part of our rafting team.
Before joining the team had you had any previous white water experience?
Neither sports mentioned above prepared me for the white water element of rafting! I had to start from scratch on that one, luckily in my position (middle) I am not in charge on the lines we choose!
Phew, that’s a relief what is your most memorable rafting experience?
I think my most memorable rafting experience is the class 5 section of the Devils Streams in Czech Republic. It was the hardest section of river I had ever paddled, it was amazing, I absolutely loved it.
And what is your most memorable moment with the team?
This is a tough one, we have had quite few. I think mine is either Nezza doing a GB bikini run over a long row of rafts at the European Champs last year or on a more serious note the downriver race in that same competition. I was so proud of our performance and how much we had developed as a team. I was an emotional day for me!
What is the best and worst thing about being in an all girls team?
Best thing – It doesnt matter if you forget your shampoo (or in Bry’s case a towel!)
Worst thing – Getting into the bathroom!!
Awesome thanks Suzie!!
Next Month you will hear from another Middle person (there are 3 all together), Georgie Preston! And coming up in May we have our Training camp in the Alps!! BRING ON THE SUNSHINE! See you on the river – or hopefully we will be going so fast you will only see a blur…
Words Fran Kohn
Pics: Deb Cook
The first ever Younguns event took place on the Tryweryn this past weekend,
Taking up where the youth freestyle series left off, Younguns still maintains the original elements from the series; An extraordinary amount of young paddlers getting out on the water and having fun !
The Tryweryn is the longest venue the tour visits with an abundance of rapids and small features it allows the junior rippers to get a good experience of river running and down river moves.
The competition took place in the renowned “worlds hole” above the chipper. A deep but flushy hole proved to be both fun and challenging for the kids, some big moves where thrown, some flushes where had but all the competitors finished with a smile on their face.
Check out the video below,
See you on the water,
I haven’t spent a lot of time in my creek boat lately, but I have another awesome season coming up! It will be hard to beat last years season, but with a 2 month roady around New Zealand, an epic Mexico expedition and holiday in Vanuatu, I’m on the right track!.
Vanuatu has been great! It has been very interesting coming tot his country. Arriving in Vanuatu made me think of Africa, lots of jungle, humid, markets, dirt roads with heaps of taxi busses, warm weather and friendly locals who are very keen on making some money out of us.
We have done heaps of snorkeling, spending almost 3+ hours in the water each day. The water is beautiful blue and crystal clear, full of fish and sea life. One of the highlights in the water was to see a fully-grown grey reef shark on only 3 meters distance!!! Our accommodation came with glass bottom kayaks, which were awesome to take out for a short paddle over the km of reefs Vanuatu has to offer!
Only a couple more days before I’m flying back to Europe and start the Northern hemisphere season. Bring on the endless summer!