Merry Christmas

So we have just finished our last stint of training up in Scotland. The Tay river levels have been generally very high which has provided a lot of fun paddling but has made it difficult to execute our ideal training plans. It was fun improvising and adapting the course designs but it made training very time consuming as we had to spend a lot of time setting the gates. On an average training day we would spend all the hours of daylight (9am - 4pm) either setting courses or paddling with an hour for lunch.

We also did the two classic river trips when the river was very high, Aberfeldy to Grandtully and Stanley to Thistle. On these we practiced our wave surfing, which is both fun and physically intense. Some of the waves we surfed were smooth and glassy, others bouncy and crashy. It was a bit tough for me when Tim used his top hand to control the boat, sending a jet of freezing cold water directly into my face. I got my own back though, when we 'accidentally' buried the bows and Tim got a good blasting!

We also did several sessions of full runs, which were really fun too. The river was very wavy and extremely powerful so we had to carefully use our energy at key moments to surge onto waves and make key waypoints in the wide river.

For the whole time we were staying in the Kenmore Hotel. It was an excellent training base. We could dry our gear and relax after heavy days setting course and paddling them against the ticking clock of short Scottish days. They looked after us very well and the food was brilliant. We owe many thanks to them and wish them all a Merry Christmas!

We also had a nice break from the 'fresh' waters of the Tay on Saturday afternoon, when we competed in the SCA Pool Slalom. Tim and I were entered in both C2 and K1. We raced through the rounds in both categories and made it to the finals. We faced Turnbull and Pitt in C2. They were quick over the first part of the course, but we managed to get ahead in home straight where we had to do a 360degree spin and a roll.

We faced each other in the kayak final and, as usual when we are racing in C2, I finished slightly behind Tim. He was leading for the opening stretch but I clawed back some time in the last turn and 360, only to squander it with a botched roll. Tim surged through to claim the title by three tenths of a second.

The pool slalom was really good fun and an excellent chance to catch up with old friends before christmas. It was also really cool to see so many new young faces racing in a variety of classes. Thanks very much to Kev McHugh the organiser, all the volunteer officials and the event sponsors: SCA Slalom Committee,, Glossbrook Engineering, Stirling Canoes and David Dickson.

All that remains for us to do is to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas! 2009 is just around the corner and I hope that you are all looking forward to it like we are. Hopefully, it will turn out to be a great year. We'll see you somewhere on the river!

Cheers Tim and Etienne

(Posted on the 24th Dec 2008)
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