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After my first session of slalom paddling with comedian and paddler Craig Aytes, he dropped me off at 10pm at a B&B. Little did I know that this place would feel so much during my stay. Kathy, the owner, runs it all on her own and is always looking to help you out in any way.


I awoke well rested and headed out to the course to see what times I would be paddling. I met up with the other US team members at the course. Got the schedule of water releases at competition level and was excited to get one a routine of slalom paddling.


The course was tricky at first as the course is narrow so you find yourself up near the cement walls often and the eddies are rather boiley so no two runs ever feel the same.


If you are from Wales and you have never paddled the Cardiff Whitewater Course I highly recommend it!

I was having fun and everyone said I looked better than I did at Charlotte already so that was super nice of them and gave me a confidence boost that I needed to work hard at getting faster.


The water was not running more than an hour a day for the first few days  so I did flatwater work outs as well, working on edge control, and speed. My sprints were ten seconds on, ten off, ten times. Then I would repeat that 3-5 times depending on how I felt.


This lead to tendonitis in my forearms so that didn’t last very long as I was un able to paddle well on the water without pulling hard out of the swirly eddies.


Luckily the timing worked out perfectly as the water wasn’t going to be running form Friday morning till Sunday night. Ashley Nee (one of the top US slalom Ladies) was planning on heading to Dublin as her family heritage is from Ireland and she had always wanted to go. So that morning I brought all my stuff with me down the river and asked to jump in! I messaged Neil Gibson (fellow irish friend) and asked if he lived near Dublin, little did I know, all the Irish guys I know live in Dublin and all of them said they would take care of me when I got over. Talk about score!

We had a good session and headed out for a three hour drive to Holy Head where we would hop onto a ferry to cross over to Dublin. The ferry ride is worth a story all on its own but to give you an idea, we were one a huge and fast ferry, with the biggest ocean waves ever crashing into our sides! I mean terrifyingly huge! The boat rocked so much people were flying out of chairs, bleeding, vomiting everywhere and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was amazing! I watched this poor ten year old girl sit up and vomit all over a random lady passing form head to toe, it was gross but so funny at the same time! I had to see how windy the roof was and literally just flew against the railing the second I got onto the deck. Next time remind me not to wear a skirt!

Liam enjoyed the ride almost as much as I did but Ashley was stoked when we arrived.

Neil was amazing and picked us right up! He then drove us to the center of Dublin where I saw the famous Hairy Lemon (the bar the Hairy Lemon Island in Uganda was named after) and visited a couple pubs with Neil, Kellehers and Ashley and Liam.


The next day Neil took us to see a water fall called Powerscourt. It was beautiful, certainly not runnable, but a fantastic hike non the less. We also saw a hand written sign at the put in for a local river that was hilarious, it was a kellogs box ripped up and duck taped to a tree… it let everyone know there was a landslide making the gorge currently un runnable due to debris etc! Funny communication tactic for sure!

Afterwards I dropped Liam and Ashely in town so they could sight see and Neil and I headed to I-Canoe- our local dealer to say hey and pick up a demo boat! Yepp I had say I went kayaking in Ireland! Sure enough they had a pretty pink rockstar waiting for me! Big thanks to Colm and I-Canoe for making that happen! I paddled Sluice with a  great group of Irish, Moe was there as well as Colm, Adrian, Neil and two other guys!  Incredibly tricky feature, probably one of the hardest I have ever surfed, but that did not stop them from throwing some amazing moves!


Here is a video of Me there:


And a video of the Amazing Billy Brett (thanks for making it look so easy- bully….)

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We were late to get back to Liam and Ashley as I really didn’t want to get out of the water! I was having so much fun! When we arrived we heading to a make your own burger joint that had every topping you could imagine! Mine was absolutely incredible and tasted great with my gluten free beer!

When done we visited a pub, one of the oldest ones ever, and had some rounds while listening to great live music and talking about kayaking!

Going to miss these two…..

The next morning we got up super early, took a much calmer ferry, got back to Holy Head and sped back up to Cardiff, big thanks to Ashley for doing all the driving!

It was great to be back in the Slalom boat and I was so happy to be fully relaxed and ready to rock!


Over the next two weeks I ended up heading to events in London, but that’s going to have to wait to part 3 of my European adventure!


Happy Paddling

Emily Jackson