If you don’t already know, I am a massive kayaking enthusiast. I love running white water rivers as often as I can and love a good down river play day. What I really don’t do much of however is actual freestyle kayaking. 6 months ago in a post Christmas – New Year haze, I was tagged in an online post. The post was from GB Freestyle advertising an introductory ladies freestyle day at Hurley, coached by world renowned freestyle kayaking coach Jacko Jackson and previous junior world freestyle champion Ottie Robinson-Shaw. Their aim was to spend the day with 10 female kayakers who had little experience of freestyle kayaking and introduce them to Hurley (one of the best freestyle features in the World). What an amazing opportunity! I put my name down straight away, thinking that is was unlikely I would get picked. So when I received a message a little while later saying that I had got a space, I was equally surprised and delighted! This article is an opportunity for me to share what happened that day and the positive impact it has had on me.
When it comes to head games in kayaking I am my own worst enemy. One of the greatest obstacles that I have to deal with is when negative thoughts about my kayaking or even myself come into my head whilst I am on the water. These thoughts have the potential to affect my river time so greatly that two things usually occur. The first is that I stop enjoying myself. The second is that my paddling actually gets worse because of it. My whole motivation for kayaking is because I enjoy it so if something gets in the way of that, it needs to be addressed. I came up with a list of my most frequent negative thoughts and how I dealt with them. I then asked people what negative thoughts they themselves experienced whilst on the water. I was amazed at the response I received to this question. It was clear from the replies I was getting that there were some strong common themes and many of the answers actually matched my own list. So I decided to address three of the most prevalent negative thoughts along with how I have learned to deal with these thoughts whilst kayaking.
A few weeks ago I had a call from a friend at Pyranha who asked if I would like to borrow a small Ozone for a while and write a piece on how I had found it. I could not have said the word ‘yes’ any faster than I did! Afterwards though I asked my friend if they were sure. I did this on the basis that it was possible the only moves I might achieve were the classic ‘capsize and roll’. He laughed and just said that it would be a more realistic review then! 24 hours later my living room floor was set up to outfit the new boat that now occupied it. I should point out now that I am proud owner of a Z.One and so a lot of my following reflections on how I have found the Ozone come from my comparisons between the boats.