April 15, 2009

Springtime and Sunshine

Spring had finally sprung here in the UK and there’s been lots going on. At the end of March the annual National Student Rodeo took place along side a new show, Paddlefest. Held at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, the two events had had to be combined, as the winter’s refurbishment to the slalom course had not been completed in time for the NSR planned for three weeks earlier. The site had been shut since December and everyone was eager to see what changes had been made. Some 600+ competitors turned out the student competition and many more came to visit the various trade stand and talks at the Paddlefest. I spent the weekend busily working for Love it Live it on their stand.

Sam Ward (founder of LiLi) surveying the scene - hundreds of students from all over the country

This year's Rodeo was space themed

Leeds University - the overall winners

It was love at first sight for Jenny the MOP monster and the NSR boat

I stayed an extra day to paddle the ‘new’ course without all the crowds. Since the slalom site open in 1986 there’s been a few changes here and there but this was the first time it’s been fully closed and revamped in it’s history. The aim was to create faster flows and generally make a better course for all users, and I think they actually have. Some people weren’t keen on the idea and were concerned of what the changes would bring, but having had the course the same for so long, I think it was about time. The course now has more small features providing more opportunities for play and quite a different overall feel.

McNastying in the top hole

Looping in the muncher -
where you no longer hit the bottom all the time and there's an eddy on surfer's left too!

Going clean

This past weekend, for the long Easter break, I had my mum and my sister visiting in my current residence in North Wales. Somehow I agreed to hike up Snowdon with them and my boyfriend’s mum, for a girls’ day out. It’s the highest mountain in Wales lying at an altitude of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level. With tons more experience than me, the other 3 were keen for the circular Horseshoe path, which involves going up the Crib Goch route. Turns out this is quite tough, you have to scramble along a crazy arête with scary drop-offs either side. Not my usual idea of a fun day out! My legs were killing by the end of the 8 hours walking but it was quite rewarding for the views we got.

It seemed everyone in the whole of Wales had had the same idea as us; we were actually queueing to get on to the ridge!

The next day, much to my relief, I was back in my boat. This time, over in the far west of Wales, on the Isle of Anglesey. I hadn’t been to Stanley Embankment before but had heard a lot about it and was keen to check it out, especially it was so warm and sunny! As the tide rises, the water flows through a tunnel into an inland sea and forms a lovely wave. Although it wasn’t very steep, it had a nice retentive pile and various wave moves were possible. There were quite a few people out enjoying themselves, including a few paddlers also trying to bodyboard the wave, but it didn’t feel too busy and the vibe was ace.




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