A few months ago, I was asked if I was keen to be involved in the East Midlands (EM) ShePaddles weekend that was happening at Broadway’s Meadow on the first weekend of September. I love paddling and sharing that love with others so of course I said yes! It turned into a brilliant weekend with amazing weather and lots of happy paddlers. I wanted to share that through an article so please do have a read.
In honour of International Women’s Day 2023, I want to showcase a massive development that has happened recently in the world of competitive paddling. This is the creation of a women’s C1 category in paddling competitions. Previously women have had to compete in an open category with men. This has happened in all disciplines of paddling but for the purpose of this article I am going to focus on the introduction of women’s C1 in freestyle kayaking.
Earlier this week I received a message from a man I had never met – we will call him ‘Mr Grumpy’. The message said ‘God this sport is easier for women 😂 and you just show it 😂 wow! How disappointing 😂’.
I had to read it twice before I could take it in. What was the message in response to you might ask? Absolutely nothing as far as I am aware. My most recent post had been about a kayaking festival I had attended the day before and how I had enjoyed competing in the ladies boater-x with my friends. But I struggle to see how me enjoying a white water weekend with friends could make this man so angry.
My initial response was to ignore it but after discussing it with a few friends, I decided actually I wanted to address this message and the deeper-rooted issues that underlie it.
At the start of May, I was lucky enough to get to attend the first-ever She Paddles festival at Plas y Brenin in North Wales. It was one of the most enjoyable paddling events I have ever attended and certainly one I will be attending in the future. The weekend was incredibly well organised and the range of activities on offer was fantastic. 74 women attended as participants and the excitement and positivity throughout the weekend was infectious. I wanted to share my experience of the weekend in a bit more detail.
This week has seen international women’s day (IWD). This is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the globe. I love that on this day in particular my social media is filled with the stories of inspiring women. Many of these stories are shared by others and I appreciate learning about these women, some of whom I may not have come across before. I wanted to take the opportunity to share four more stories via my blog. The stories are of inspirational women, whose achievements everyone in paddling should know about.
Nobody told me when I started kayaking just how much gear is involved – especially when more than one person in your house paddles! A lot of people who start out in kayaking ask me what gear is worth investing in first or what my favourite bits of kit are. So this blog is dedicating to discussing 5 of my most favourite pieces of kit, from a woman’s perspective.
A year ago I received an email from the lovely Cadi at British Canoeing, letting me know that I had been selected to be one of this year’s ten #ShePaddles ambassadors. I had been happily surprised and equally humbled to find out I had been chosen. A year later and I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on why I applied to be an ambassador in the first place and my experiences so far.
When I wrote my #shepaddles application, I wrote about some of the women in kayaking who inspired me. I wanted to acknowledge how these women, my role models, had made a huge positive impact on both my kayaking and myself personally. This week I want to share with you 5 women who inspire me in the paddling world. Some of them I have no doubt you have heard of or are even role models for you. Some of them you will not know. Each in their own way makes a positive difference within our community. That is something I felt was worth sharing.
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.