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March 20, 2007

The past 5 days of training has been good, with the highlight being our last world championships on Club Wave, where we did a prelims, semi-finals, and finals, and I won every round, and had my highest average scores, and except for my first ride, I had no low scores.

The World Championship rides were:

0, 100, 81 for prelims (Nick had a 72, 84, 74 for second in prelims)
Semi-finals: 132 points and then used my second ride to try my blunt mcnasty, since I already won the semi-finals on my first ride ( Stephen was second with a 74)
Finals: 82, 92, 132- I won with each ride, but the great thing was not only were my scores high and consistent, but the reason they weren’t higher was lack of time, not flushing or missing moves. I nailed another two or three moves immediately after the time was up and my score would have been in the high 100’s with just another 10 seconds.

My mental approach was- get excited before peeling out, look at the guys in the eddy, remember “victory in competition” and then remind myself what move and how to do it. “Helix left, snappy” In the middle of the ride, I focused on each move, looking around at the wave briefly, set up, and then threw. At the very end, nearing the end of my time, I threw moves as hard and fast as possible, knowing that something is better than nothing, and I got those moves too.

My energy levels were improved, but the food situation was still not replenishing me enough and I no longer have enough fat on my body to pull from. One week here at Nile River Explorers will get my levels back up and the last two weeks should be good.


Today we spent with Jessie Stone and Soft Power Health. Our first stop was a first for Jessie’s malaria education program, a factory education session and net sale. A friend of mine from Washington, DC, formerly a student of my kayak school, and then an apprentice, and instructor there back in the mid 90’s, is now married to AJ a wonder girl who was Jeff’s student at Adventure Schools (I was there the day he met her, very cool). Jeff organized this visit with the factory. Since Malaria of employees or family members of employees is so disruptive of a factories production line, they were very excited for Jessie to teach them to prevent malaria in their homes. As per usual for everything here in Africa, it seemed to be disorganized to the point of failure at first, but then everything came together as usual as well. The number of people there for the session was over 200 out of the 2,000 that work there. They listened attentively, asked intelligent questions, and then rushed us for their low priced subsidized mosquito nets. (subsidized by Soft Power Health). We ran out of nets in very quickly and it became clear that this factory alone could prove to be a great way to lower the malaria rates and have it be trackable. We ate lunch and then headed out to a rural village for another session, which is much more intimate than the factory visit. It was too late to paddle when we got back so we all saved our energy for tomorrow.

March 21, 2007

Today is our first day at the top of the Day 1 section. We will be running down the river and filming our training session at the Ugly Sisters Wave. You can find a short video by Stephen on that wave on the website, very cool. We are also doing a zip line ride here that goes across the entire river and will film from it to get some cool aerial shots of our team below for the promo video, sweet! After two days of solid food in larger quantities, everyone seems to be back up to full power for this week, perfect! Joel Kowalski, a new member of Team JK is fitting in perfectly and will also be adding his touch of creativity to the new promo video!

The Zip line (Nile by Wire it is called) was awesome. It took us about an hour and a half to all do it, but the plan was to have those without cameras do it first (zip line from 100 feet up in the air to the other side of the river) get in their boats and play around in the little wave right at the put-in so those of us with cameras can shoot them playing from the zip line. This made for a great aerial shot, like in a plane, but smoother. After we all got in the water, we headed down the river for the first run of the Day 1 section. We didn’t know what to expect at Ugly Sisters. This would be the only great training wave on this section, but only if the water was right. It was AWESOME! Nike and Joel liked it better than Club Wave or Nile Special. Joel was immediately ready to do a “World Championships”. Behind the wave is a big pourover that covers 2/3rds of the river and it rocky and shallow as well. The wave behind the surf wave is breaking and tries to surf you to river right, and you need to get to river left to catch the eddy. It is a wave where if you miss a roll, you may be struggling to get to the eddy and avoid the pourover. It is hard enough that the girls didn’t really try any moves, but they were talking after the run like tomorrow is a go for it day.

My Paddling on the wave was not motivated by desire 100%, but had the fear element. Not so much about the hole, but about missing the eddy and having to hike back up (a hassle there to say the least). I did moves that I could stick or stay upright on. So far I can do Pan Ams, Flip Turns, Backstabs, Blunts, mediocre flashbacks, a left clean blunt, and I never stuck a helix or air screw. Nick and Joel had the best rides, getting moves faster and better than most of mine. They were immediately gung ho for the wave and didn’t worry about missing the eddy, a good lesson. Flushing off the wave has enough of a negative element to it that I want to keep that feeling during training, only because flushing off of Buseater during the worlds means game over and that will be on the back of everyone’s mind. Whomever can balance the best and biggest moves, with the best chances of staying on the wave for 45 seconds will have the best chance of winning. Many of the best boaters will flush after one or two moves in prelims and it will scare them into conservative rides if they aren’t careful.

We paddled for 3 hours before arriving at the take-out. I wasn’t super tired, but am feeling really sick at my stomach. I needed to lay down when I got back and didn’t do a second run. Joel and Dane did a second run. Tomorrow I hope to feel better and do two hard sessions. I talked to Kristine again by phone tonight. She is the smartest person I know, and I am very lucky to have her as my partner in life and love. As “open book” as I am in my personal life and business, there is still plenty of room for mis-communication if not careful with people that are important to me and nobody is better at cutting through any issue and going straight to the heart of it, getting to know both sides of the equation with equal intensity and success. Even when things get tough, Kristine has the ability to keep things moving in the right direction and prevent me from losing focus on what is truly important. Right now is the only time I can train for the world championships properly, film for the new promo video, and spend quality time with the team. This is the time for me to be doing what I am doing. Kristine is making that possible, along with the rest of the team at the factory that knows what their job is, and can get it done without my input. I am very lucky to have a great group of individuals that work together as a team at the home front.

March 22, 2007

My stomach feels a little better but not 100%. I hope to have breakfast and feel good enough to forget about anything but the “World Championships” on the Ugly Sisters Wave. We will watch the water level during breakfast and get on the water as early as possible. Here at the Nile River Explorers “Black Lantern” deck you can see the river from a perch about 100 feet over it. It is beautiful. The water is low in the morning and then they open the dam between 8-9am until 7pm or so. It is erratic, however, so we have to time it for the wave. I think we’ll be lucky and find that it is good all day while we are here. Ruth has been asking about mental approaches to the worlds and will be trying some ideas out today. I will be competing on a wave that I have one session on yesterday, and two sessions on last year. This will be similar to Buseater. I have had about 6 days of surfing on Buseater in my life. This is quite a bit less than Nick and the other Canadians, as well as Moe Kelleher, and others. A test today that tries to eliminate a “home court advantage” by simply performing my best on the wave with little training on it is the goal. The method is a combination of a more broad focus than normal (I will talk to the guys on the shore during my ride), and going for a ride that will be in the order of moves I am more comfortable with first to nail them, and then go to the harder ones. I think that it is important that I have eye to eye contact with someone from shore before each move.

My ride for today:

Pan Am both ways

Back pan am both ways

Clean blunt both ways

Flash back both ways

Helix Left

Helix right

Blunt McNasty

Results: joel won prelims, and I was second, nick was third. My rides were OK but I missed numerous passes and had a 15 second set-up period at the end on my best ride.

Finals: My first ride put me in second, then my second ride I didn’t catch the wave, but they started my time. My third ride was pretty good, but I was in position to helix but hesitated, then I was in position to clean blunt but hesitated. The theme of the day was hesitation. I need to throw when it is available.

Nick won with a 124, then Joel with a 96, and then me with an 86.

Go for Helixes at the beginning, then Back pan ams, flash backs, clean blunts.

Took Boda Boda’s back and arrived at 1:30pm. We ate a good lunch (tuna sandwich, French fries, and mango juice). I captured footage from the day and get ½ of the tape don before we headed over to Jessie’s clinic and the education center to check it out.

Second session: We were all excited to do a second session (the boys), and ran down to the river at 4pm. I realized that nobody brought a camera and lost the “odds or evens” game to have to run back up the hill get my camera and dry bag, and come back down. We ran the river and got to Ugly Sisters quickly ready to paddle hard. The water was a little higher also, which made the wave awesome! Taller, greener, and smoother!

First we worked on Bread and Butters (we were going for the Pan Am, to Back Pan Am combos). I nailed a good one on my first run and it was apparent that I just needed to get more experience to be able to nail this combo predictably. Most of the time I got air blunt back blunt combos, which isn’t a terrible thing, but the Pan Am combos are worth double.

I tried one Mystery Flip and stuck it, but it wasn’t pretty. I also worked on straight Air Screws and am still shanking them. Too much body English. My lefty clean blunt is good, my righty back pan am is good. My Helix and Flip turns are not good there, but I rarely go for them. I need to throw them in the pit like on Club Wave instead of trying to throw them at the top of the wave. We had a great session, with no line. Dane offered to capture the footage on his computer, which was nice of him and was still capturing when I went to bed. We ate our final dinner with Jurge (Jessie’s boyfriend from Switzerland, who is heading back to lead some Heli-Skiing trips in Switzerland.)

March 23, 2007- sleep 8 hours (hot, I woke and took a long cold shower, but then I was awake and by the time I could fall asleep again, I was hot again, oh well) Feel good and ready to paddle again.

Stephen arrives today from the Hairy Lemon. We will likely wait until he arrives to get on the river for the morning session. There is plenty of tapes to capture still. (having elec. Makes it much easier than using the generator at the Lemon) We have three more days of paddling here before we head back down there. Emily has a bad ear infection and came to me last night in the middle of the night to fix it. I gave her some Advil for swelling and pain, and another Amoxicillin, and she used ear drops. I hope it is better this morning. No paddling this morning for her.

My body has rebounded strongly after the combination of more food and rest (one day off, plus several days with only one session). I think the food is the biggest improvement. I am feeling like a motivated athlete again, instead of trying to hold on and not use energy unless needed (I had 5 days like that or more). The Ugly Sisters is perfect for physical training because the line is short and the eddy is hard to catch, meaning a full sprint after each ride, and the rides are long.

Today’s Goal:

  1. Get my Helix down both ways back to back on Ugly Sisters
  2. Get some Clean Blunt McNastys
  3. Get my Flash Back off the water and Pan Am them both ways
  4. Get my air screw straight and fast
  5. Do my routine 5 times. (2 helix, 2 back pan am, 2 clean blunt, 2 flash back, 1 blunt nasty, 2 Pan Ams)
  6. Learn to do front move, back move, front move, back move to save time and use more passes.

Results: Workout #1:
We arrived and the water level was very low, making it mostly foam, little runway. It was hard to set up for anything by getting to the top. My best ride, a practice ride, was about 140 points very quickly. In the competition, I didn’t do as well.

Helix: I need to snap them faster, roll faster, and start more sideways. While I am getting them, the foam is giving me the time to complete them, and on a green wave I would likely flush.

Clean blunt McNasty: I did two of them, one was really good. I need to throw the clean blunt harder, and perhaps like a pan-am.

Flash Back right- I did one good pan am one, and got numerous ones that would count- the key was to push down the wave with little focus on the spin.

Flash back left- I didn’t do this.

Air screw- no tries

Routine: I was lost today, after my Helix, I ran out of moves and was indecisive.
Linking moves together better- I had one ride that was awesome for that, but mostly I would land a move and then miss a pass because I couldn’t think of what move to do next before it was too late- LEARN MY Routine better!


EJ: 62, 84, 59

Nick: 69, 96, 40

Joel: ????

I lost because of hesitation, and then flushing on my last ride. Lack of a specific routine hurt too.

Tonight’s Routine:

Helix left, helix right, flashback right, Back Pan am left, Clean blunt left, back pan am right, clean blunt right, blunt McNasty left.

Results: I had my best competition yet. I got a 140 on my semi-finals first ride, the highest scoring ride of the trip by anyone so far, followed by a 103
in finals to win both rounds today, sweet! I need to work on linking front to back moves better, but my focus was right on.

March 24th:

AM- worked on linking moves together and my Clean blunt to Back Pan am is going well, both ways, sweet! My Helixes are flushing more due to going to slow and not rolling quick enough. Clean Pan Ams are getting better too, as well as a few straight Air Screws.

PM: Rodeo: Nick crushed it today with a 135 and Joel with a 117. I had three rides, all low scoring (59, 68, 79) My Helix gave me fits and I never recovered for the rest of the rides.

I paddled Really hard for the past 4 days- two sessions per day and long ones! My ribs and abs are sore, my body fat is at minimum healthy level, but I am recovering quickly and able to paddle hard all day. This is the moment I have been training for. The opening few weeks I trained super hard but got drained and my body couldn’t handle it. That has all changed!