The following report was provided by CANI Slalom Squad member Jake on his experiences during the British Open earlier this month
With British Open being the last race of the season for Ali McCreery, Elliott Davidson and myself, the end of a long season was in sight. However, this did not mean we could switch off. We had to stay focused and have a clear plan of what we needed to do.
Ali joined Elliot and myself in Nottingham the Monday prior to the race weekend and we training here until Wednesday evening, getting some really good quality time on white water. Nottingham is where Elliot and I are based so it was good for Ali to get the time on the course with us. On Thursday Morning we headed down to Lee Valley to get a session done on Thursday and Friday on the course. Lee Valley is a hard course to just rock up on race day and put some decent runs down as it is one of the hardest courses in the world. Ideally we would have liked to have been down there all week but that wasn’t viable as I had university. After these two sessions we were feeling as prepared as we could for the task ahead.
Race day came and we arrived early on Saturday morning so we could watch the course demos at 8am. The course set for qualifications/prem race on Saturday was a pretty decent course with only a couple of tight sections in it.
Ali had a bit of a bad time on his first run picking up a half head on the second upstream and a few touches. On his second run he ran the boat a lot smoother and put down a better run time but he picked up four touches which really affected is time. He finished 59th on the Saturday. Elliot’s first run was a clean run which is positive but the was offline in a few place which affected his run time a bit as there was definitely a good bit of time to be made up in there. His second run was a quicker run by 3 seconds but unfortunately he picked up a touch in there so was only a second quicker overall. With a couple of places where he lost time he knew he had it to do in the mornings semi-finals. Elliot finished 31st on the Saturday. My first run on Saturday was a pretty solid run, hitting most of the lines that I wanted to but had two touches on my run. My second run I was a lot more focused and felt really confident on the start line. I put down a really fast run, 7 seconds faster than my first run. Also the 7th fastest time in C1 of the day but I had three touches which pushed me down to 15th overall for the day.
Sunday morning was the same deal as the day before with demos being at 8am. The course for finals day was a little tighter than the day before which meant a clean technical run was going to be key for today. Ali was up first again and his first run was a bit off line in a few places and one touch on his run. He finished 57th in the semi-final which meant he would be going through the Final B. His Final B run was a lot better, 12 seconds faster but unfortunately picked up 4 touches. He finished 39th in Final B, and 49th out of 71 overall. This is a decent result considering it is his first time racing at Lee Valley. Elliot had the same sort of story with his first, he was off line in a few places costing him a fair bit of time. He had a much better second run, his best run of the weekend. He put down a competitive time of 107 plus a touch which meant a 109. This was enough to put him 13th in Final B and 23rd out of 71 overall. My semi-final run was probably my best race run that I have done all season. I put down a really solid run, and my first clean race run ever! This was an achievement in itself! I was even happier with this when I looked at the results and found out that I had made the Final A in 9th place. This was the confidence I really needed. I went into the Final with loads of confidence after knowing that I could put down a quick run and that I deserved to be there. Unfortunately my final run wasn’t as good as my semi-final run, being off line in a few places and picking up two touches. I managed to finish 8th overall.
It was a great race for all of us and a big learning experience. Big thanks to Matt McKnight for coming and coaching us over the weekend.