Peak UK News: October 2015

October 27, 2015

Clarke and Pennie win kayak events on final day of Olympic Selections

The last two boats for the provisional Great Britain slalom team to be nominated to the British Olympic Association for ratification for next summer’s Rio Olympic Games were decided today after two gripping kayak races at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

Day three of competition came down two head to head races in the K1 with Joe Clarke taking the men’s slot whilst Beijing 2008 Olympian Fiona Pennie won the women’s.Twenty two-year-old Clarke has improved dramatically since his third place in Saturday’s opening. He was unbeaten yesterday and was fastest again in today’s first run, stopping the clock at 88.17 seconds.

But that time was beaten by Bradley Forbes-Cryans in run two, the young Scot’s time of 87.39 including two penalty points.


Clarke replied with a run of 86.84, whilst the last-to-go overnight leader, Huw Swetnam’s time of 89.72 put him out of the challenge.

But the drama did not end there after a dispute by Forbes-Cryan’s over his penalty points was upheld. It moved him into top spot in the final race, putting Clarke on level points with Swetnam.

However, Clarke emerged from the tie break, a countback of points from race one, as the selections trials winner having held a slim margin over just two points over Swetnam.

“I really can’t put into words how I feel right now,” said a delighted Joe Clarke after his race

“It was a three day event which came right down to the wires on the last race of the last day.

“I didn’t exactly start off the best this weekend, having finished third on day one, so to come through really meant so much and it took a lot of mental strength.

“I won back to back yesterday with fantastic runs in both runs yesterday.

“I came today with a similar plan to put one down in the first and I did that. I knew it was beatable and we saw that with Bradley on his second run; he took the time so I thought I’ve got to do this again and took a few seconds again and fortunately that was enough for the win today.

Second place Swetnam takes the provisional reserve slot on the Olympic team and, subject to ratification, he will compete on the Great Britain senior team along with Clarke and Forbes-Cryans in 2016.

Four years ago at the London 2012 selection trials it was Lizzie Neave who beat Fiona Pennie to take the sole K1W berth. But today, in the last run of the final race, Pennie turned the tables to beat Neave.

Pennie had put down the fastest run of 102.78 seconds in the first race of the day. On her second run she picked up 58 seconds in penalties, leaving her at the mercy of Neave who was last to come down the course. Neave set a blistering pace, her time of 102.60 seconds good enough to win the race, but she missed a gate and with it the win went to Pennie.

“It’s a massive relief and it was all down to how Lizzie performed on that final run because I messed up on the second and was relying on my first,” said Pennie.

“The minute 2012 was over I remember standing at the back gate here and saying that now we start for 2016.

“Ever since then I have put in three years of hard work and have had some medals along the way and now it’s come good.

“Since 2012 I’m a much better paddler. Since Beijing the sport has changed massively and I’ve grown with it; I’m a much better both in the head and on the water physically too.


The provisional Great Britain canoe slalom team for the Rio Games is David Florence (C1M), David Florence & Richard Hounslow (C2M), Joe Clarke (K1M) and Fiona Pennie (K1W).

The team bound for the Rio Games will be confirmed by the British Canoeing International Panel and nominated to the British Olympic Association for ratification and selection to Team GB, which will be announced on Wednesday 4 November.

Whilst the athletes for the Olympic team in C1M and C2 were provisionally decided on Saturday, the contest continued today for the senior team in the 2016 European Championships and the ICF World Cup Series.

Adam Burgess won the battle for third slot in the C1M having beaten his rival Tom Quinn today.

“I loved that run and I knew I was in a good position after the first run,” said Burgess afterwards.

“It’s been such a long season and it’s been quite hard to refocus from the Worlds to come back here so I’m really happy I’ve managed to do enough to make the team for next season.”

The competition to find who will take the C2M Olympic reserve spot was decided today with but Mark Proctor and Olympic Champion, Etienne Stott beating Rhys Davies and Matthew Lister on the final race.

“It was an extremely tough weekend and we hoped to push it further down the line then we did on Saturday,” said Stott.

“We really wanted to race hard across six races and we did and I’m pleased to have got a win there. Credit to David (Florence) and Rich (Hounslow) and also to Matt and Rhys who showed their true quality especially in the way they pushed David and Richard.

“I’m just really proud of the C2 category for being so strong, I’m really glad to have been a part of it and I’m grateful to Mark and the support staff because we wouldn’t have been here without everyone.”

In the non-Olympic C1W Eilidh Gibson emerged as selection series winner. Joining her in the provisional senior team for the 2016 World Cup circuit are Kimberley Woods, Mallory Franklin Jasmine Royle. Gibson, Woods and Franklin are the provisional team for the European Championships.


Day 3 results (top three):

K1M: 1st Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats), Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone), 3rd Tom Brady (Stafford & Stone)

K1W: 1st Fiona Pennie (CR Cats), 2nd Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District), Lizzie Neave (Stafford & Stone)

C1M: 1st Ryan Westley (Lower Wharfe), 2nd Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone), 3rd Tom Quinn (Lower Wharfe)

C2: 1st Mark Proctor (Stafford & Stone) / Etienne Stott (Viking), 2nd Rhys Davies (Bala) / Matthew Lister (White Rose), 3rdRyan Westley (Lower Wharfe) / Zach Franklin (Windsor & District)

C1W: 1st Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan), 2nd Jasmine Royle (Stafford & Stone), 3rd Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats)

For full results and live results click here.


October 20, 2015

2016 Olympic Selection Showdown for Canoe Slalom

The test at which canoe slalom athletes will compete for Team GB at next summer’s Rio Olympic Games takes place this weekend when Lee Valley White Water Centre hosts the three-day Olympics Selection Trials (Saturday 24 – Monday 26 October).

The London Games canoe slalom venue hosted last month’s World Championships, a successful competition for the British team which finished as top nation and qualified all four canoe slalom Olympic quota places.

This weekend will be an equally fierce contest to decide the single entry for the Olympic Games in each of the Men’s Kayak Single (K1M), Women’s Kayak Single (K1W), Men’s Canoe Single (C1M) and Canoe Doubles (C2) in a best of three race format.

Some of the athletes competing have a head start with points accrued in major championships this season: David Florence for winning the C1M World Championships; Ryan Westley, who won C1M bronze in the World Championships; Lizzie Neave, having finished seventh in the K1W at the World Championships; and Florence and Richard Hounslow, who finished fifth in C2 at the World Championships.

Florence needs to win just one race in each of the C1M and C2 (with Hounslow) this weekend to see him selected for both boats in Rio.




“To win any race at selection is a big ask,” said Florence. “Obviously if things had gone otherwise at the Worlds I would have had to win two races this weekend.

“Selection is always tough and our team is strong at the minute so there is definitely a lot of competition there. It’s tough for everyone with only one place to count and a lot of people who want to go and deserve to go.

“The Olympic Games is a very big deal in our sport and for me personally and I’m really keen get there and race in Rio and have a chance to try and win Olympic medals. So a huge amount has gone into this so far and selections to get there is absolutely crucial.”

Britain’s Etienne Stott, who partnered Tim Baillie to C2 gold at the London Games and now partners Mark Proctor, has a huge task ahead of him to qualify for the C2 spot, but he is looking forward to the test.

“It’s been a really challenging few weeks being injured through the Worlds and struggling in the weeks since,” Stott admitted.

“We’ve made the best of that situation and pressed forwards whilst keeping focussed and making the best decisions towards getting a good performance out of the weekend.

“So it’s a very big challenge which is what makes it interesting. Whoever comes through it in all the different categories will have had to go through the most intense test of their career, short of the Olympic Games itself.

“It’s the race I’m looking forward to most in the whole of my entire life so I’m really psyched for it.”

In the C1M, the only paddler with an outside chance of challenging Florence is Ryan Westley whose bronze at last month’s World Championships accrued him the same number of points as gold medal winning Florence.

But gold for Florence still weighs in his favour and Westley would need to win all three races this weekend to take the Olympic spot.

“I will give it my all but at the same time David is the better paddler, so I can accept it if he goes instead of me,” said Westley.

“At the start of this Olympic cycle I didn’t have plans or hopes of going to this Olympic Games. And if you’d told me two months ago that I’d need to win a medal at the Worlds to give myself a chance then I’d have laughed




Adam Burgess, who had doubled up in the C1M and C2, last week announced his retirement from the C2 boat he has shared with Greg Pitt. Both athletes will now focus on the C1. Burgess, who became C1M under 23 World Champion this summer, admits it is unlikely he will threaten Florence this weekend but he is determined to use the competition to secure his position on the senior team next season.

“The Olympic C1 spot is not mathematically impossible but it might as well be,” admitted Burgess. “Ideally I would like to put a performance in that would have secured me a first or second boat position had it not been for the points that David and Ryan have at pre selection.

“But I want to secure myself some races on the senior team next year so it’s all on this.


Adam Burgess


Meanwhile both the men’s and women’s K1 selection events are still wide open. Only London Olympian Lizzie Neave carries 28 points having finished seventh in the World Championships.

Underlining the strength in this category, the 2014 World silver medallist and 2013 European Champion, Fiona Pennie, finished ninth, whilst Kimberley Woods, reigning European Champion in the non-Olympic C1W, came tenth.

“I’m stronger, technically better and more consistent than I was at the beginning of the year, which all came from the experience of being on the senior team this year,” said 20 year old Woods, who, along with Mallory Franklin, a World Cup C1W gold medallist this season, is one the young GB competitors challenging the established guard of Neave and Pennie.

“Lizzie has 28 points, which counts for more than a second place but not a first, so it’s still completely open for the Olympic spot.



Kimberley Woods


Joe Clarke has been Britain’s most consistent performer in the K1M over the past two seasons. But all the male K1 competitors – Richard Hounslow and Bradley Forbes-Cryans are his nearest rivals – will start this weekend’s trials effectively on a blank sheet of paper.

“Nobody has any bonus points so it’s anybody’s game at this moment but I’d suggest that from previous games and previous Olympic selections that to guarantee the place you would have to win two out of three races,” said Clarke, a silver medallist on the 2014 World Cup.

“It’s good to know you have been the most consistent out of the GB boats all season but it comes down to three races over three days and it’s the end of the season so anything could happen.





The winners of the Olympic selection trials will be confirmed by the British Canoeing International Panel and nominated to the British Olympic Association for ratification and selection to Team GB, which will be announced on Wednesday 4 November.

The Olympic team will then head out to Rio later in the month for the test event to be held on the new Olympic course at Deodoro from 26-29 November.

The trials will also be used to select the Great Britain senior team for the 2016 European Championships and the ICF World Cup Series, based on the top three finishers in each of the four Olympic classes plus women’s Canoe Single (C1W).


October 7, 2015

Jen and Joe at Sickline 2015

Last weekend Jen Chrimes and Joe Morley once again headed out to the Adidas Sickline World Championships in Austria, the most coveted prize in the extreme racing calendar. Sickline sees the best whitewater paddlers from all over the world descend on the Wellerbrucke rapids to take on the course and each other.


Image courtesy of Jens Klatt

Former World Junior Freestyle Champ Jen had a storming competition, taking the runner up spot behind the legendary Mariann Saether with Ukraine’s Alona Buslaieva finishing third.


Image courtesy of Jens Klatt

Sickline champ for the last two years, Joe has had a couple of nasty injuries this year and so hasn’t paddled as much as normal, but still finished an impressive 8th, beating some seriously strong contenders in the process. Spain’s Gerd Serrasolses took the 2015 title, with Britain’s David Bain having a great competition to take the runner up spot. Former champion Sam Sutton (NZ) took the third place on the podium.



Image courtesy of Manuel Arno
Image courtesy of Bert Willer

A huge well done to Jen and Joe from all at Peak UK!

October 7, 2015

Weighty at the British Freestyle Champs

British Freestyle Championships 2015


Last weekend the British Freestyle Championships were held in Nottingham to crown the best freestyle paddlers in Britain. This year with the white water course at HPP being a little different it was decided the event would be held in the Muncher. Once upon a time, and certainly when I was a junior, the Muncher was used loads for competitions like this but after the 2009 changes the new features were mostly used so it is nice to return to a feature that hasn’t been utilised in recent years. The Muncher allows both wave moves and hole moves but also a lot of frustrating flushes due to the nature of the small eddies.


Due to being at Lee Valley for most of the season rafting I had actually had little time in my freestyle boat this year, and any time I did have was in my plastic boat, so it was good to be wiping the dust off the carbon boat and being back up to Nottingham for paddling in some good features!

After catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and watching the other classes it was time for the men’s heats. Being in the first heat I didn’t actually get to see any of my competitors rides but with rumours of Rob Crowe and Gav Barker throwing KY’s and airscrews both ways I knew I had to do something reasonable to get through to finals. After three rides of solid moves I was into the final in 4th place with Rob, Gav, Bren and Richard Chrimes.


Finals time….

So after seeing that Rob and Gav were both obliterating the feature and were miles ahead of anyone else in the heats my attention turned to trying to secure a 3rd Place position. This wouldn’t be easy having to contend with Bren’s combos and Richard’s experience and knowledge of this feature. Luckily my first run was pretty solid gaining over 500 points with a Backloop/McNasty thrown in for good measure. My other two rides were pretty hopeless though both flushing so it was down to whether my first ride could keep the 3rd place position I was in after run one. As expected Rob Crowe wiped the floor scoring over 1000 points, which in the Muncher is pretty unheard of. Bren’s paddling was silky smooth as usual but got unlucky with some flushes.


Richard went huge on some wave moves in his last run and I thought he would have easily snatched 3rd from me. Gav was going huge with some crazy wave moves but couldn’t quite snatch 1st from Rob. An epic final on a tough but rewarding feature over and the results were in. Rob had convincingly taken the win with Gav close behind; I had just managed to hold onto 3rd place with Richard and Bren behind. Overall with the sun shining and lots of people out it was a great event and as I mentioned before it was cool to use a feature that hasn’t been used in recent years. Thanks to GB Freestyle for the organisation and of course Peak UK and Dewerstone for keeping me warm on and off the water!!

Photos courtesy of Jack Gunter

Until next time!

Weighty J


October 5, 2015

Norwegian Adventures

This year I was lucky enough to spend my summer in the land of fjords, trolls and of course amazing whitewater! And what a summer it was!


Back in March I was fortunate enough to be selected by Gene17 Kayaking to be their 2015 intern. This was an amazing opportunity for which I not only learnt a vast amount about being a professional kayak guide and coach, but also the opportunity to explore and discover a country I had dreamt about visiting for a long time – Norway.

Many whitewater paddlers visit Norway on a yearly basis, some even more frequently and now I definitely understand why. This country will amaze you with spectacular natural beauty but also supply you with plenty of adrenaline no matter what grade of whitewater you’re after!


Boofs on the Lăgen


Expect spectacular views pretty much everywhere you look!

Many of the trips were based in the Sjoa area, near Otta. The local river, the Sjoa, is a fantastic place for all abilities as it has sections from grade 2-4+ (5 at some water levels). The local favourite is the Ămot section – a very short run, consisting of only a handful of rapids, but great fun and a good challenge at most water levels. Awesome for an after work blast! There are also races held on this section throughout the summer, known as the Ăwesome Ămot Race. Myself and the Gene17 boys took part in this and had an awesome time, even bagging some prize money to fund our end of season road trip!

The Store Ula is also near to Sjoa, which is well known for its super fun slides!


One of the first rapids on the Upper Jori

Some of the trips were more road trip style, visiting rivers such as the Rauma, Lăgen, Jori, Lora and many more! Offering a variety of grades and styles, ranging from big volume wide rivers to steeper creeks, drops and slides: something to suit every paddler and get excitement flowing on a daily basis!


A tricky drop on the Lăgen river

A favourite destination on the Gene17 road trips is the Valdall area- famous for its strawberry cake! Here the Valdula river offers several sections depending on water levels, mostly slides and pool drop fun! The style of whitewater, as well as being out in the mountains and moors really gives you the feeling of being back in Scotland, particularly as it was pretty cold!


Myklebust, also known as the Micky Mouse Run!

Another classic in the Valdall area which guarantees a lot of fun is the Myklebust- a.k.a the Micky Mouse run! Again this is a short section, with a handful of great rapids on it- mostly very fun slides, that you can run over and over again!


Good times on the Lăgen with Matt Blackwell and Jakub Sedivy

Somehow the summer flew by and it was suddenly coming to the end of our season with Gene 17 trips. So we celebrated an excellent season by making a road trip to Voss, which involved driving over snow covered mountains and through stunning valleys. Voss is an amazing place, especially if you’re into your whitewater kayaking, rafting, hiking, paragliding, skiing and probably most other sports! We spent a lot of our time paddling various sections of the Randelselva, each challenging and a lot of fun!


Me, Jakub Sedivy and Jake Holland during our hike at Besseggen on our end of season vacation!

Many thanks to the Gene17 Kayaking boys and everyone else I met for an amazing summer and of course Peak UK for keeping me warm, dry and looking good on the river!

Until next year Norway!


Article by Sal Montgomery

Photo credits: Simon Westgarth, Jake Holland and Louise Capel.