Hey this is new Nookie Team Rider Sam Stephenson checking in with my first blog post.. I'm a 17 year-old freestyle paddler on the British Squad who loves paddling and can be found at a different playspot almost every weekend! Last weekend was the British Team Selection Event at HPP - probably the most important competition of the year for me as it decides who gets a spot on the team for the Euros next year. I've spent the past few weekends paddling lots both at Cardiff and Nottingham in preparation for the event, trying to perfect some of the harder moves such as the McNasties and Phonics Monkeys which would give me the high scores I need to place in the top 3 and get my place on the team.
The first half of the competition, held on Saturday, was in the Inlet Gate - a very even, predictable feature in which I'd had lots of practice over the summer. This all paid off as I put together my best ever competition ride, getting McNasties, Space Godzillas and maybe a Phonics too totalling at about 750 points! My following two rides didn't go quite as well, but it was enough to give me 3rd place for the day - just behind James Benns and Bren Orton - who as usual both laid down some seriously impressive runs!
On the Sunday the competition moved to twin-waves, which is a much trickier - less predictable hole compared with the inlet gate, making it harder to do all the moves both ways. This put me in a slightly difficult position - with some of the easier, usually bankable moves like Space Godzillas being much harder to do in this feature - instead I had to resort to going for a Switch McNasty instead, something I hadn't practised much but that would really boost my points if I pulled it off. Luckily I hit my first ride almost perfectly and scored about 600 points, which made up for my slightly lack-lustre second and third rides - this was just enough to put me in third again for the day, closely followed by Tom Goddard in 4th and James and Bren taking the 1-2 again.
Overall this was a really good weekend for me, getting the results I was looking for and setting me up in a good position for the Team selections. I also had lots of fun messing about on the course afterwards, paddling with my little brother and working on a new combo-move, the Splitwheel to McNasty - not working yet but still pretty fun to try!
I also did a bit of filming over the weekend so I'll put a short edit together with that and some other footage from the summer - expect to see that on the Nookie blog fairly soon!
In the meantime though check out this video from Jonny Williams with some of the highlights of the weekend...