Freestyle Training Trips

Learning to loop with Lowri

A while ago I saw Lowri from FlowFree advertise a ‘Looptastic’ course at HPP. Having bought a playboat in lockdown, learning how to loop it has been one of my goals over the last year. Whilst I have made improvements off the back of tips from kind friends, I still have a long way to go. Having considered getting some freestyle coaching for a while – this course looked like the perfect one for me! This weekend my highly anticipated day of learning to loop with Lowri took place and I wanted to share it on here!

I arrived at HPP to find Lowri and the only other participant on the course – a lovely lady called Emma. We had a quick chat at the start and it was very reassuring to find that me and Emma were well suited in terms of ability and personality. We both wanted to primarily work on our loops and were at a fairly similar starting point. We were all laughing before we had even got on the water which is always a good start!

Some flat water to warm up. Emma on the left, Lowri in the middle and me on the right. Photo: Tom Clare

After a short flat water session and a quick blast down the course to warm up, we headed to Inlet gate to give our first loops a go. Being a June weekend, we were not the only playboaters to head to Inlet. Jacko was also there with Burners (freestyle coaching community for kids) and it was the busiest I have ever seen Inlet! I am always amazed at how talented the young freestyle community is and watching them throw moves in Inlet was extremely impressive.

Jacko with the UK’s young talented freestylers from Burners practicing some loops off the side! Photo: Tom Clare

With the long wait to drop into Inlet, I had managed to make myself a little nervous with so many people around. Dropping into Inlet, my nerves got the better of me and I immediately capsized and flushed. I then had to have a few roll attempts as I got stuck against the wall. Not the greatest start! I got out, laughed it off and went for round two. Both mine and Emma’s second attempts went much better and I was glad to be able to show Lowri what my standard loop attempt looked like.

My first attempt looked a little like this! Photo: Tom Clare

We then spend the morning session repeatedly running Inlet gate and working on the first half of the loop (getting the plug right). In between each go, Lowri would show us a video of our attempt and point out things to work on. Her particular advice to lean forwards earlier and leave a blade trailing in the water to keep myself straight really helped. By lunch, my plugs were getting more consistent and the pop outs were getting bigger.

What a plug by Emma! Photo: Tom Clare

After a lunch break, we got back on the water and carried out some flat water drills. I have done relatively little flat water freestyle so it felt good to have a go at some flat water sternstalls and get closer than I ever have before! We then floated back over to Inlet gate and started our loop practice up again.

Felt nice to feel that my plug was getting more consistent as the day went on! Photo: Tom Clare

The afternoon’s session was mainly focused on the second half of the loop which I definitely found harder. The first part with plugging is easier to observe and easier to feel yourself. The second part of snapping your body back to bring the boat round is harder to observe and even harder to feel yourself! I felt that I was getting closer but also as the session went on, my energy levels were dropping which made things more challenging.

Quick bit of surfing to end the day! Photo: Tom Clare

We ended the day with another lap down the course and some surf practice. By the time we got off, me and Emma were well and truly tired out! We had a quick debrief to go over the learning points from today and then whilst me and Emma got changed, Lowri was able to have some personal time to flippyflop down the course! Watching her of course was mesmerizing – particularly with her famous sparkly boat!

Excellent Loop demonstration by Lowri in her sparkle boat! Photo: Tom Clare

Overall I would say I had an excellent day. I did not get a loop but I got significantly closer and now have a heap of pointers to take away and work on. For someone who does not find kayaking intuitive, having that kind of personalised feedback is so valuable. It was a lot of fun and having such a great lady like Emma to share it with made it even better. I just hope that next time I see Lowri at HPP, I’ll be able to show her that her coaching has paid off! Thanks Lowri!

Three happy ladies walking back to the top! Photo: Tom Clare

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