I am sitting above Trout Pool falls, the waterfall at the bottom of the Kaituna river. My heart rate is 169 and I am not moving. Nervous? Yes. I haven’t paddled this particular waterfall in over a year and not at a river level this high. There is no backing out, in my mind I have committed and I can visualize every stroke needed to clear the dangerous water at the bottom (it could potentially suck me back in and throw me and my kayak around at its mercy).
Bad thoughts cleared, it’s all on!
The approach is crucial. Wide to the right then using the small wave to slow the boat, angle it back left with some speed. Aiming left of centre, right stroke, left angle, patience …. patience and now! Just as my kayak is over the edge of the drop, I strike with strong, well-timed paddle stroke to get me through. Mandatory fist pump, I am buzzing.
There is always huge pressure in having to perform when it counts and paddling the length of the Kaituna in my plastic kayak, (where there is consequence for not being on line is costly) is great practice for Canoe Slalom racing. I feel these pressure situations are good practice in addition to my other training and make me tougher, mentally.
Putting the plastic kayak away, my Canoe Slalom boat and I are taking some time out from the record water levels in Rotorua and kicking off 2012 with a weeks training camp on the Sydney Olympic (white water) Course. This artificial course is not as big as the one in London, but built in a similar fashion and is a great place to paddle. It is fantastic having this facility just across the ditch and I will be back here again in February to race the Oceania Championships and Australian Open. Training is going well and I am looking forward to these upcoming events.