At last the AS exams are over and I can get back in my squirt boat!! I have been able to train in the pool at Abbeycroft leisure centre over the past few months which has helped me no end with learning and perfecting moves and has also been a far more appealing option than the river over the winter months (especially when a shortie cag is involved!) But up until last week, I hadn’t properly squirt boated on white water and as a result, was yet to experience what must surely be the most exciting move– the mystery move!

My dad and I are now members of the Lee Valley Paddlesports Club so last Wednesday evening we headed down to the course for some squirt boating! I started off in the eddies at the bottom of the course with all the moves I’d been working on, in particular bow screws and switch wheels, before heading for the conveyor belt to try out the top of the course. I was surprised at how easily the boat shot through drops that would have stopped me dead had I been float boating and also how cool squirt- surfing was (I usually ended up in the wave as oppose to on it but it’s good fun all the same!) The Olympic course was running which meant that the small stopper at the bottom of the course was there…. time to mystery!

I’d been studying countless videos of the top squirt boaters (the likes of Claire O’Hara) making mystery moves look ridiculously easy (and all the other moves, for that matter) so I had a rough idea of what I was supposed to do but applying it can be an entirely different thing altogether. However, that said, it wasn’t too long before I found myself resurfacing after successfully sinking!! I wasn’t sure as to whether I’d just capsized but the slightly startled/ bemused look on the faces of the surrounding paddlers and the grin on my dad’s face told me otherwise! From there on in I couldn’t get enough of it and was desperate to stay down longer than the couple of seconds I was managing at the time.

The following Saturday was the Lee Valley freestyle event which was at the same time as the slalom world cup which was going on at the Olympic course. The weather went from truly British with rather a lot of rain (to put it lightly) to amazing sunshine in the afternoon! We all spent the morning having a great time on the course and in my case, trying to get as much downtime as possible and also working on exit moves which at the moment strongly resemble face plants…
The competition was in the afternoon and it soon turned out I’d been entered for K1 as well as squirt. However, as I had no playboat or normal deck with me I promptly ended up in the recirculating eddie of the top feature with four float boats… not exactly the most comfortable of places to be when in a squirt boat. In the end though it wasn’t too bad as I managed to avoid taking anyone’s head off with the slicy ends of my boat, remained unscathed myself and even managed to get a move in! Overall it was a great day and I can hardly wait to get back on the water!!


By Jen McGaley