Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 World Championships - The Final Preperations

 3 days to go - The Atmosphere builds

The Infrastructure is going up

Things are beginning to take shape here in Argentina. After a few weeks of training in the middle of a desert on a feature surrounded by mostly dirt, gravel and dust it was hard to imagine that a major event was about to take place. But now stands are up, there's spectator stadiums, judging platforms, coaching stands, media areas, VIP stands and loads and loads of big white tents. Its all completely changed. Food trucks are out selling awesomely selected foods such a fresh made cold smoothie, toasties and for many an eagerly awaited coffee truck. Boats and kit are everywhere, friendly faces from all over the world everywhere I look.

Athletes from around the world watch on as I train

Team GB wait for their training slot

 Its a stunning venue for a worlds 

Lewwy helps me feel at home

So many friends from around the world

It's awesome and then the crux World indicators that the event is soon to start ICF guru Terry Best and his team of World Class Judges have started to roll in. But there's still two major faces missing Sneaky Pete (Head Judge from the previous 2 World Champs) and off course my hubby Jez.

The ICF crew working hard to put together the final pieces

Jez flys in Saturday night. Despite the fact that he is lead announcing the whole event and competition and helping on the ICF committee organise the whole thing. His work commitments back home have meant his is (I think) official going to be the last piece of the puzzle to arrive to complete the preparations for the event. I can’t wait to see him and show him around and help him prepare during his 1 training session for the World Champs.

Calm rest spot at Del Bono Beach

Stunning mountains and desert surrounds us

The view from my bedroom

Crazy cactus everywhere

Other key people missing this year are my Mum and Dad ad my Mum friends and my key support team (Laura, Angie, Mary, Carol) from the last 10 years of major events. These guys I know are watching me from home and will be cheering me on every step of the way and I know will come visit me in Sydney soon to share the excitement and stores from the event.

Although there not here in Argentina I know my mum and dad are supporting me the whole way

Love these guys x
Luckily two key members of my personal Worlds teams are here Islay and Den. Den flew in last week and has been working with me daily helping me get ready for the event. Despite working with the whole GB team and competing himself he has been able to be there for me overtime I have needed him keeping my boating and mind on track. Islay has been with me on my major international competition adventures since 2008. A big smiley bundle of energy she helps keep me positive and grounded and also helps provide me with a playlist of awesome tunes at ever event. This morning we have been downloading like crazy making sure I have a good collection of tunes to see me through the event. Islay and Den are both competition at this event so i’m excited to share with them this journey and see what awesome rides we can all produce.

The one and only Dennis Newton
Awesome to share another worlds with Islay

Consistency - Extra Practice v’s Rest & Being Fresh

Training wise things have been going great I have been out here over three weeks now and really understand the dynamics of the freestyle feature and the squirt boating venue being used for the event. Training has been varied as i’ve been trying to juggle committing time to my base moves and routine whilst also playing with my newer bigger moves in case I need them during the event. In reality I would love to go out and just throw down my newer big moves as they are super fun but, thats a risky strategy as a mistake on these could lead to a flush and losing a lot of time at a stage in the competition where every second counts. So i’m going to be sensible and tactical and stick to my base routine during the early stages and then add in the big tricks where possible as the completion progresses. All this kicks of next Thursday from 2pm.

Training conintues

But before that on Monday opening up the whole event I have the Squirt Boating comp. So once again this year the squirt boating will be a one day competition right at the start of the event. It is an interesting squirt boating venue as its is quite shallow in many places and doesn’t really have a mystery seam in the main section of the event. With that in mind yesterday the ICF judging team arrived and decided to extend the venue slightly to include the two mystery seams downstream which is awesome. It will allow slightly more of a true squirt boating event to take place and will allow athletes even more options and variety to put into their routines.

Team GB's Dave trains for the Squirt Boating event

They also included a slightly deeper eddy section which means I now have a choice of small areas just deep enough to perform my routine in. I already have a plan based on the old arena zone and my training last week and this close to the event won’t be changing my plan for prelims but I might play further downstream during the event. It’s a one day event kicking off at 9am and finishing at 8pm!!! Its going to be mental but awesome. It will be nice to get it out of the way but also tiring fitting 7 x 1 minute rides on a super challenging venue into the one day. I’ll then have two days off before my first freestyle comp.

Loading up for a Mcnasty as World Cup Champ Hitomi watches on

The Team :)

So to maximize on my energy level and to make sure I am as fresh and explosive as possible for both events I have made the decision to take the 4 official team training days off. Most people might eb surprised at this but competing in two different disciplines I really need to be fresh so I am saving my energy ready for the massive Squirt Boating World Championships day and then i’ll have just enough time to re-energise again before the freestyle comp.

Training  - The Plan

So training has been going awesome. The month in Nottingham training with Den has really paid off in getting me in shape and my tricks at their best prior to arriving. Then since I have been here I have had to adapt them a lot to suit the feature here. It is an awesome feature that allows everything to be thrown and at times super fast but its also not very forgiving. If you get it right its goes perfect and often massive. But if you throw in the wrong place or with your timing slightly off then you are quickly flushed out of the feature with only a limited chance of saving it and a long paddle back up. It is attainable which is awesome so unlike Garb at last worlds this time if you flush off the feature and have time you can sprint back up the eddy and take another shot if you still have time on the clock. But the standard up here is really high so you will ideally want to try and stay in the feature the whole time and keep scoring as 15 seconds in the eddy paddling back up scores 0 points and the rides are going to be massive so the trick is going to be to score high points and make sure you don’t mess up.


I have a plan which i’m excited with. Excuse moves precisely with perfection is going to be the trick. I’m excited I can’t wait to try and showcase what I can do and see where there puts me in the comp.

Huge loops

Its so much fun paddling out here

How to follow the action

There are several ways you can follow and support me and all the other athletes during the event. The events team have already put online a live stream feed so you can watch everyone training over the next few days.

The lsland

Charlie goes massive

Den training for his comp

Video cameras set to review our rides

Explosive power and precision the key to success out here

Then when the event kicks off you will be able to follow all the action live on the Olympic Channel. Announced by non other than our own Aussie superstar Jez.

If your not sure of what your watching check out my ‘This is Freestyle’ and ‘This is Squirt Boating videos’ and the ICF Canoe Freestyle Rules and Appendix which will give you all the info needed to have a good base idea on the main tricks to look out for during the event.

Also check out this cool article the ICF has done on me and the event.

I hope you enjoy watching all the action and cheering us all on.

Signing out from San Juan Argentina

Claire O

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Desert, sun and hours of fun

As the competition draws closer its time to take some rest days and check out some of the amazing desert around the lake here in San Juan. Check out the photos from my adventure with Islay and Gav yesterday. Cactus, desert, random photo of me in a pink boat and long boarders and the incredible lake view I have the pleasure to wake up to everyday here in San Juan.

The last few weeks have been non stop manic, a mixture of hours and hours of kayaking, loads of sleeping, eating steak, catching up with friends from all over the world, helping Jez with 101 logistical challenges of being part of the ICF team organizing the event and then trying to keep cool and out of the crazy hot desert sun.

Sorry for the lack of blogs. Good news is training has gone really well and with only 4 days left it is time for some well earned chill out time and rest. Time to re-energize ready for the big week of competition ahead.

Jez arrives Saturday night and the competition starts Sunday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Salmon River - A Boaters Paradise

There is one place that I never had on my bucket list and having just been this summer I now highly recommend every kayaker out there add this trip to their list. The Salmon river in Idaho is stunning. It is without doubt a boating paradise, remote, pristine, wilderness, whitewater everywhere, blue, clear, clean water. Its just amazing. Its like a mini grand canyon. In fact if your planning on a grand canyon trip this would be a perfect warm up. Or if your trying to learn to Macho move and need almost 100 miles of non stop perfect practice waves this is the river for you.

This summer I had the chance to lead a trip of a lifetime with Jez. Seven days of non stop adventure down this beautiful river with 22 kids from Falling Creek Camp. Super talented all these kids took the rapids in their stride styling it the whole way. A relatively easy whitewater trip, mostly class 3 with just a handful of super fun big water class 4's. It was the distance and remoteness that was the main challenge. Almost 100 miles in just 6 days. For most of us 100 miles in playboats!

We flew in our tiny planes from the Idaho hub of Boise across snow capped mountains and through stunning mountain ranges to a tiny airport in Salmon. We then jumped on a yellow school bus and took the only road into the valley as far as it possibly went and then meet our kayaks, guides and rafts to begin the water part of our trip.

On the water the days varied in distance with us hitting 3 miles the first day and then 28 miles the next. Yes 28 miles that is more than a marathon in just one day it was insane. On the water we mixed it up boogie'ing (loose formation) our way down the easier rapids and then training up (paddling in a super long line) down the rest.  Rapid after rapid there was boats everyone, flying of waves, boofing small holes, kick flipping and wave wheeling everything safe. Over the course of the 6 days we found hundreds of the most amazing macho move wave trains we had ever seen. It was like a downriver play boating paradise. Off the water our guides looked after us well finding us beautiful campsites and cooking up 5 star meals. They showed us really cool local mining areas, insane bridges and trading posts along the way talking us through the history of this amazing place. One of the guides paddled a classic Dory (a traditional river expedition boat) a unique experience in itself to be on the river with such a craft, the rest in kayaks and rafts. Along the way we saw several bald eagles, a dozen or so mountain goats, wild horses and loads of other wildlife including snakes. About 3 days in we paddled amidst the remains of a forest fire burning along the river bank for about 5 miles in the middle of the trip. Then on day 4 a massive lightning and thunderstorm huge storm hit. It really was surreal being deep in this remote canyon just paddling our way along.

The days although long on the water actually felt short and we had a lot of chill out time at each campsite on the beach. We swam, sup'd, fished, played frisbee, climbed mountains and generally just hung out and had time to chat. The 22 kids we had were teenage boys. All super talented gentleman who had earnt themselves a special invite to this trip. For everyone involved it was a very special experience, life changing in so many ways. Each night we would sit around a camp fire and reflect on the day. Sharing our favorite and stand out moments. It was very special to be part of this especially in modern society where modern, electrical items, internet and phones dominate. To be fully remote. Living this life was such an important reminder of how valuable these experiences and moments are in a young persons development and life.

All too soon the trip was over and we found ourselves at the take out and back to the reality of life, back in a bus and on the road again, with cell phone service and other people about. A quick stop for ice cream in McCall, followed by another to check out Jakes Rake (a white water extreme race section) on the Payette River and we were back where it all started in Boise once again. Just in time to grab some pizzas and head to watch the Boise Hawks (baseball game).

Luckily Jez went the extra mile to capture the magic of this expedition in a video. As well as shooting loads of photos along the route. Enjoy watching our expedition and if you can I would highly recommend you make your own journey into this magic place.