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My 2018 Paddling Season
The start of 2018 kicked off with some lovely surfs with the winter swell coming into beaches that usually will not pick up a wave. This is one of the reasons I like the winter surfs as it is something special to surf breaks that are not always there. Don’t enjoy the cold so much. In terms of freestyle it was a bit of a strange winter. Tuam hole never really came in properly and did not really seem to settle at all. The few trips there was a lot of work to land anything. Cork weir came up but the weir wave on river left that we love never showed up either. Ended up spending a lot more time at sluice as was the feature that had the most water.
Before long we were rolling into March with some lovely surfs and the kick off to the surf kayak season. Some lovely spring swells came in and was a lot of fun getting some clean steep waves. Headed to Nottingham the start of April marking my first trip of the year. Signed myself up for some coaching with Sweetwater coaching. Had a brilliant week with a gang of rippers. Felt I got a lot of the week and was great to know the break downs of a move. Came away from the week really excited with a lot of tools to work on my freestyle.
It was May before I knew it and another surf comp in glorious sun in Cork. Something special to compete at home. A lot of fun that day and great to have a comp in a new spot. With such a good summer the rivers dropped off and not a lot of surf due to the calm weather. Due to this team trails were in HPP. Great experience to have a competition on two features. Had found troll hole a bit tricky but pulled out some moves in Inlet gate. Had hoped to pull out some more but angles were not so great so missed scores on a few things. But knew it was going to be a good summer working towards squeezing more moves in the 45 second rides.
Due to the dry summer training consisted of flat water sessions and the tidal features. Surfing wise we made the journey as far west as possible to pick up some of the small swell. The Clifden beach party was a lot of fun and was great to see a gang of women on the water getting stuck in. Fitted in a few more trips to HPP. One of the highlights was the trip just before the Europeans, the sun was shining with loads of people around getting those last few training sessions in. The atmosphere was electric and buzzing. Such a fun few days.
In Bratislava found the feature really tricky and shallow in the lead up. Not many moves were coming off which I was a little disappointed with. But that is the way of it, kept on trucking enjoying the sunshine and the atmosphere. Finished up 22nd just about managed an air loop but didn't quite manage to finish some of the other moves. That’s it, that what it comes to what you fit into two 45 second rides. From the all competition I know that if moves have not been coming in training the chances of it coming together on the day are low. But on a positive note it was good to see the difference in my freestyle since the last visit.
A few short weeks later I found myself back in HPP for the European Open. It felt so good to drop into inlet gate and pull a big loop. Great to catch up with people again. There was a gang of Irish women pumped and ready to compete in the sun. Weekend really energised me and we had a lot of fun paddling in the sun together laughing and encouraging each other.
Before I knew it was September and the joy of the Autumn swell came. It was pure joy to have the waves back after the tiny to flat summer. We got some great waves for the Irish Open in Easky and as always had a great weekend. Also Autumn meant Home Internationals for surf kayaking. Unfortunately, due to the dates we would be unable to field an Irish Team. But lucky for us we were allowed have a Rest of Team. Team made up from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. So after a small 14 hour spin we found ourselves in Thurso.
The Homes were held at Farr Bay, can’t remember the last team comp I took part in that the waves were that good for both rounds. Tight fight on the day we won the first round dropped to third in round 2 just shows even if the odds are stacked against you can still rise. In my homes heats had two 1st in R1 and 1st and a 3rd in R2. A lot of fun surfing on "The Rest Of Team" great team to be a part of what an atmosphere on the day. A lot of highlights Brigette winning the masters heat and our team working together and surfing so well and having a lot of fun. Back to Thurso on sh*tpipe for Brits where we had some class waves also. Finished 3rd in IC & Hp. Well done Emma and Meg for taking the win and to Brigette for taking out Master IC and HP!! Some great waves for finals steep walls with great atmosphere, was unreal to see the number of women competing here long may it last. The spin was worth the great surf and atmosphere. Massive well done and thanks to Ian & Tracy and all the Scottish crew for putting on a great show.
The Freestyle team trials were going to be on in HPP in November. So found myself back at HPP to fit some training in for the long weekend in October. It was a tough weekend due to it been freezing. It times like this glad to have good gear to keep me warm. Once you were geared up and on the water was not too bad. Before long we were back again for trials and was much milder. Was feeling the season catch up with me a bit that weekend which was bound to happen with such a busy year. But in spite of this went and gave it my best. As always found troll hole a bit tricky but feeling a lot more comfortable in there so eventually more moves will come in that feature. Put down some moves in inlet gate and improved my best ride by just by 5 points!!! Ha ha.
There it was back to winter again and back to enjoying some winter swells in all the different spots. To all freestylers delight, Tuam has come back in and it has settled. So much fun to have it back such a great spot. Gower is also playing ball so great to remember that river wave surfing is such a fun thing to do.
Some of the best things about competing is that you get to go to amazing places and to get to meet some great people. Also, for me competition motivates me to get out there on water and with competing you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone which helps you improve your skills. Competition is a lot like life sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it does not. All part of the game and something to take on board if you competing. As always you learn so much from competing and it always makes you stronger win or learn.
So there you have it the highs and lows of 2018. Another year on the surf and freestyle merry go round. Relishing the process; picking yourself back up after the lows, that feeling when finally you pull a move off or get that tiny bit closer to sticking something big. That feeling of paddling in some of the most stunning places on the planet with all the amazing paddlers you know.
So 2019 roll on I look forward to surfing some great waves and paddling some fun features with some great people. Massive thank you to all my family and friend for all your support throughout the season.
See you on the water