After an early 6am start from home we arrived at the course for about 9am ready to start the briefing. There was a surprisingly large turn out this year with most of the competing as well as many novice’s new to freestyle. We collected our bibs and waited for the heats to be announced. Unfortunately I always seem to get an early heat, this time it was no different! After a relaxed walk back up to the top of the course it approached my heat so hence I got ready into my kayaking kit and started to warm up.

The competition heats were run in a jam style format promoting a variety of moves. On top of this it is a lot more relaxed as everybody had about four runs where (through the whole heat) moves only count once. After a fairly intensive work out running back from the bottom of the feature to the top again the heat was concluded. I can second with the score of 1305 and in first place was Harry Price with 1655. I could tell that the finals later in the evening were going to be close.

After the lights had dimmed the finals begun with junior men being first. After a short while in the top eddy the numbers dwindled with only myself and Harry left in the top eddy. I was called down to start my run. The runs were judged to full ICF criteria with the best of three runs counting. I played my first run safe which worked out well giving myself a solid score giving me the confidence to go for a more ambitious run next time. My second run approached with a different plan but, also with more risk. I dropped in and after move number 2 I had just flushed off the back – that was the end of that run. Finally run 3 came around and after a couple of good performances for Harry I knew I had to step up my game in order to win. For run 3 I went back to my safe run which worked out brilliantly. My technical accuracy was good, if anything towards the end of the run my tempo slowed down – it was going to be a close result.

The rest of the evening was passed by watching the other competitors put down some huge runs and chatting with friends. A BBQ was lit , after not too long prize giving begun. As the results were read out I became more anxious. In second place was Harry Price with 770 points and in first place (just) was myself with 845 points. As predicted it was was close but I got just enough points to claim the title of Junior British Freestyle Champion.

See you on the water

Alex Walters