Saturday, December 30, 2006

The 2006 Round Up
A quick summary of my year, where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to

Photography by Robert Piwko
Competing has gone down on my list of priorities this year and I have only entered 2 events, my home event at Hurley, UK, and the International FishSteps Festival in Holland, I was lucky enough to win them both.
Photography by Timmy Raaa
I spent a lot more time in the judging tent at events this year; highlights being head judge at the Euro Cup in Augsburg, Germany, and head judge for the Euro Cup finals in Thun, Switzerland, ensuring fair play and high standards in the sport that is my life.
I secured a monthly feature in Canoe Kayak UK magazine, promoting open canoeing and good paddling techniques for open canoeists. I have had reports and photographs published in several international canoeing magazines from the following events; Teva Mountain Games, Bremgarten Waves ‘n’ Wheels, Thun Euro Cup Finals, International FishSteps Festival, Rhone River Challenge for Children with Leukaemia and the Hurley Classic. I featured in a “Very Important Paddler” interview with my girlfriend Lilli for Kanu Magazin in Germany.
I lead a team on a source to sea descent of the Rhone River to raise money for the charity Children with Leukaemia as part of the Magnificent Seven challenge; we successfully completed over 600km’s in just 11days and raised over £15,000.
A months holiday on the White Nile in Uganda with Lilli checking out the big waves and rapids and the crazy party place that is NRE.
Now I am back in Germany with Lilli waiting for it to snow so we can get out on our boards and rip up the Alps. Reflecting on the year gives me a chance to really appreciate all the beautiful places I have been and the lovely people I have met, thank you to everybody who has made my year what is was and of course a big thank you to my sponsors for supporting me and my crazy antics for another year, long may it continue I don’t wanna be a grown up!
Bring on 2007, peace out and happy new year world,

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hurley Classic 2006

Finally after 2 ½ years of drought in the Thames Valley, the Hurley Classic was on. With more than enough water, all gates on the weir were fully drawn; we were set for a Hurley 4 gate classic. Many paddlers are intimidated by 4 gates and seemingly more so by a high 4 gates, so the turnout was lower than expected, only 65 competitors. This led to a jam session style rodeo that brought back memories of the old days.

Organised by Kayakojacko and supported by SAS, who hosted the competition on the river left bank, which is the home to their UK headquarters, the competition was run in heats of 10 paddlers each lasting approximately 30mins, with your highest scoring 4 moves counting and a maximum ride time of 30seconds.

This new style format is proving again and again to be a hit with paddlers as it leads to a far more relaxed environment to compete in. Paddling over with it was time to return to Longridge in Marlow for the first Nookie Glühwein party, armed with gallons of red wine and other secret ingredients, the first vat of wine was warmed.

Soon dozens of cold and thirsty kayakers were gathered under the tarp sampling to delights of free booze. Very soon everything was stained red and everybody was smiling, dancing and merry making.

Sunday morning came around all too quickly and slowly everybody made their way back to the river for bacon sandwiches and cups of tea. Many paddlers had struggled to get to grips with the big 4 gates of Saturday and so by some clever magic the lock keeper was able to close the weir down to 3 gates. Although slightly too high for the legendary green centre wave the level was definitely less intimidating and everybody threw down hard.

Many thanks to Kayakojacko and staff for organising a superb event, SAS institute for letting a load of kayakers take over their headquarters for the weekend, System X and Whitewater the Canoe Centre for supplying demo boats, the caterers for awesome bacon sandwiches, the Environment Agency for letting us play on their weir and finally to Nookie for sponsoring an crazy Glühwein party.

Full results can be found here, see you all next year.