Dewerstone Ambassador and UK top 3 freestyle kayaker James Weight fills us in on the British Champs...
Words: James Weight
Pictures: Jack Gunter
Last weekend the British Freestyle Championships were held in Nottingham to crown the best freestyle paddlers in Britain. This year with the white water course at Holme Pierrepont (The National Watersports Centre) being a little different it was decided the event would be held at the Muncher. Once upon a time - and certainly when I was a junior - the Muncher was used loads for competitions like this but after the 2009 changes to the course it became less frequented by the competition scene, so it was nice to return to a feature that hasn’t been utilised in recent years. The Muncher allows both wave moves and hole moves but also a lot of frustrating flushes due to the nature of the small eddies.
Due to being at Lee Valley for most of the season rafting I had actually had little time in my freestyle boat this year, and any time I did have was in my plastic boat so it was good to be wiping the dust off the carbon and taking it back up to Nottingham for paddling on some good features!
After catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and watching the other classes it was time for the mens heats. Being in the first heat I didn’t actually get to see any of my competitors rides but with rumours of Rob Crowe and Gav Barker throwing KY’s and airscrews both ways I knew I had to do something reasonable to get through to the finals. After three rides of solid moves I was into the final in 4th place with Rob, Gav, Bren and Richard Chrimes.
So after seeing that Rob and Gav were both obliterating the feature and were miles ahead of anyone else in the heats my attention turned to trying to secure a 3rd Place position. This wouldn’t be easy having to contend with Bren’s combos and Richard’s experience and knowledge of this feature. Luckily my first run was pretty solid gaining over 500 points with a Backloop/McNasty thrown in for good measure. My other two rides were pretty hopeless though - both flushing - so it was down to whether my first ride could keep the 3rd place position I was in after run one. As expected Rob Crowe wiped the floor scoring over 1000 points, which in the Muncher is pretty unheard of. Bren’s paddling was silky smooth as usual but got unlucky with some flushes. Richard went huge on some wave moves in his last run and I thought he would have easily snatched 3rd from me. Gav was going huge with some crazy wave moves but couldn’t quite snatch 1st from Rob. An epic final on a tough but rewarding feature and the results were in. Rob had convincingly taken the win with Gav close behind; I had just managed to hold onto 3rd place ahead of Richard and Bren.
1st place; Rob Crowe
2nd place; Gav Barker
3rd place; James Weight
Overall with the sun shining and lots of people out it was a great event and as I mentioned before it was cool to use a feature that hasn’t been used in recent years. Thanks to GB Freestyle for the organisation and of course Peak UK and dewerstone for keeping me warm on and off the water!!
Until next time,