Sunday, 30 August 2009

Worlds update

After a week at the worlds I finally have the time for a wee update.

The entire team is staying in steiffisburg just outside Thun. We got a pair of houses which are really nice and there is decent public transport into the City centre, it takes about 10 minutes on the bus. Our house even has a nuclear bunker for some reason! Apparently this used to be required by law but it was pretty funny to find. Apparently the swiss team is staying in one.
The weather is pretty hot, it was 34 degrees when I arrived in Switzerland and has gone up as high as 37, even at night it is very hot but seems to be cooling down in the last few days. Hopefully it will stay that way as paddling and sleeping in those kinds of temperatures is pretty difficult.

Thun itself is a lovely city, it is pretty small and does not seem to have changed much in hundreds of years. There is still ancient castles and churches everywhere and it is very close to the alps. The water is not that cold at all, I was expecting cold glacial melt but as it flows out of a lake it is warm enough. The water is crystal clear and the bottom and fish are easily visible! It is nice after years of paddling in brown peaty water in Ireland. There has been a lot of complaining about the wave. It seems to go completely green at times and is not particularly big or retentive which is a pity as the location is pretty much perfect with viewing stands and convenient boat storage. The big names are still throwing huge moves though.
It can be very difficult to get time on the wave, each team is allocated about 30-40 minutes on the wave to practice and outside of that it is very difficult to get any time as everyone wants to get used to such a difficult and changeable feature. Even at stupid times like 0400 there is still a queue of about 20-30 people waiting for a go meaning 20 minute gaps between rides. However some of the team have been lucky and gotten times when there is significantly less people on the water. I have yet to be so lucky!

I am personally really struggling with the wave and it is only in the last 2 days or so I have been able to consistently catch it. It is an offside ferry on which I found difficult to begin with as I have always been very weak at offside ferrygliding and combined with the speed of the water I was thrown completely. However now I have hopefully cracked it. I am also really struggling to stay on the wave after doing any moves. It seems for this wave anyway one of the new Jackson boats or a composite boat is the way to go. Anything else seems to be too slow to be practical. Anyone in slower designs is pretty much out of the game on this feature.

Thankfully I am having a bit more luck with the squirt event. The squirt feature is also pretty poor with no real downtime being offered up yet. Most of us are getting chest deep mysteries of only about 4-5 seconds. Some guys are going for longer but not very many. My new boat came over with the GB squirt boaters which is great. I was worried the boat might be a bit big but it seems to be a pretty good cut so no problems there! Its definitely a better boat than my old one for competition as the old one was difficult to throw around on flatwater. The new boat seems slightly harder to sink but is a much better allrounder. It is great seeing other squirt boaters on the water. In Ireland there is only maybe 4 or 5 regular squirt boaters and we are spread right across the country. Having 4 times that many in the one place is great! I am certainly learning lots off some of the other boaters.
Its a much nicer place to be than the main wave I think. Over at the squirt boating spot everyone is much friendlier and more helpful. At the main wave everything is governed by specific times and peoples training sessions whereas the squirt spot is open and people just come and go as they please.

Unfortunately I broke my helmet strap yesterday too. I now have it fixed but spent the day wearing a purple flowery sweet strutter borrowed from one of the GB girls. It looked and felt pretty silly and it feels good to have my own helmet back. I was glad of the lend though as It only broke literally 5 minutes before my scheduled training session.

Anyway I have to rush off to the squirt boating meeting as they are changing the rules slightly and want to meet the paddlers to get a consensus on it. I have some photos and will try to post them up once I get some more spare time.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Freestyle world championships

Tomorrow I head to Switzerland for the freestyle world championships. I am competing in the Squirt and C1 categories!
This will be my first time competing on an International level, I am very excited at the prospect of getting to compete at the worlds and can't wait to get over and start competing.

Unfortunately along the way I picked up tendonitis and combined with the lack of rain I have not been able to train for a few days so I am not quite as well prepared as I hoped to be by this stage. However I think it should be fine given plenty of Ice and painkillers.

Assuming I can find a decent computer/internet over there I will try to make a few updates over the next couple of weeks, hopefully with photos also.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Cork Rodeo

On Saturday Kevin and Myself travelled down to compete in the Cork rodeo. It was my first time paddling in Cork so playing in the hole for the first time was a bit of an experience! The hole itself is a steep, retentive feature so cartwheels were very easy, but I found it difficult to do much else. I managed a loop or two (none in competition unfortunately) but apart from that I was not able to do much at all. The hole was not very C1 friendly and served beatings out to several paddlers. I got a couple of nasty ones too with a couple of intimate moments with the left hand wall.
The event was great craic, I can't wait till the next one!