A bit about Isobel.

We’ve all got our story of when, why and how we started canoeing as a sport and I was interested to know a bit more about Isobel’s paddling history.

So what got you started in canoeing?

It’s a bit of a weird story, but my Dad and I were walking next to a river and we saw some paddlers doing white water “that looks fun!” we said, and the next thing I knew I was on the water completing a one star canoeing course at Wokingham Waterside Centre!

After that, my sister Naomi and I decided that paddling was something we wanted to continue so we joined Basingstoke canal canoe club. we quickly found that going as fast as possible in narrow boats was our preferred canoe discipline!

Who were your main influencers?

Charles Hicks, Richard Somerset and Brian Gandy were very influential in getting me into paddling and I am eternally grateful for their encouragement.

I still remember the time I paddled Richard into the willow tree! We used to train in the evenings in K2s on the canal and we paddled straight into it because it was dark! The best sessions were when we were paddling back and ice started to form on the boat, our clothes and as a thin layer on the canal, it was just really weird to think it was actually that cold when we had got warm after paddling!

Brian gave me the first technique tips and taught me wash hanging, and helped me enter my first lightning races. I remember when we had just come off the water after Pangbourne Hasler and Brian was discussing the possibility of going up to the Nationals! It was so exciting!

Charles was really encouraging; I remember him running along the towpath in front of us on Waterside B and showing us where to get in at a portage. We also did a paddle to the local pub from his house. Some years later Jason, Mike, Kathryn, Naomi and I were paddling past his house and ran in to get biscuits!

What sort of canoeing have you done?

Well mostly flat water, but with a few deviations into white water and sea kayaking. I went to France with B3C (Basingstoke canal canoe club) on a white water trip, it was really sunny so didn’t matter when we fell in!

I also went on a sea kayaking trip with the club when I was 14 around Old Harrys Rock, which again was really sunny!

Last year, Megan, Giel , Ryan and I went on a sea kayaking trip where we paddled from Fowey to a secluded beach and camped overnight.

What other types of water have you paddled on?

Training on the canal at Basingstoke, also the River Wey and the Thames at Elmbridge. In Denmark I paddled huge, massive lakes during the Tour De Gudena.

You clearly enjoy competition; tell us about some of the most memorable races.

The first race I ever did was the Basingstoke Hasler Race in lightning’s when I was 11. I think I came 4th, but mainly I remember having loads of fun! There is nothing quite like racing on the canal! All the boats around you, clashing paddles and random washes!

I have gained a few national titles, but the one I am most proud of was when I was 16 and Naomi and I ended up winning. It was the best as we were on the podium with our closest paddling friends. Megan and Marthe had second and Kathryn and Becca had third.

The first Junior development trip I went on was the Loire trip when I was 14. It was so exciting because the river got shallow in places so you could run aground!

Then Tour De Geduna is probably the best junior development trip I have been on. It was an amazing place to paddle, the lakes were huge and at the end of the lakes were tiny canals leading into much bigger lakes. It was so alien to anything Naomi and I had ever paddled on so was really fun and exciting! One of the best things about it was Naomi and I were in K2 together- in Tim[Muller] and Fred[Reif]’s k2 in which they had paddled DW so many times! We came third in the junior ladies category which I was pleased with as we had capsized twice!

Another junior development trip I went on was the Gent Marathon, which I was lucky enough to go on three times. I won it the third time, with Naomi coming second behind me.

I have completed three DW’s:

– The first one I was just 16. Naomi and I wanted to do it as a challenge but we didn’t realise how addictive it would be! We paddled to third overall and won the ladies.

– The second DW I hit my head on a low bridge and got concussion! We came second by 40 seconds. It was so exciting to be part of such a close fought race and was a privilege to be that close to Amoret [King] and Amelia [Churnside], who I aspired to be like.

– The third DW was with Megan. We won the ladies again, but I really struggled on the tideway which bought the overall time down.

Which of your results are you most proud?

The main ones are:

– Waterside records, (19 waterside mugs!) [NICK: I am lucky enough to have two.]
– 5 times winner of the ladies waterside series with Naomi
– Won DW twice
– Won the Nationals K2 in under 16, and gained 4 other national titles
– Third in the Tour de Geduna with Naomi
– Won Gent marathon (Another development trip)

Waterside winners commemorative mugs

Waterside winners commemorative mugs

Which canoe clubs have you paddled for?

I paddle for Basingstoke canal canoe club but train at Wey to take advantage of the heated floor!

You’re nineteen, have been competing since you were eleven and have enjoyed considerable success, what are you paddling objectives for the future?

My personal objectives have never changed and they are simply to have fun!

I’m hoping that Isobel will also have fun on the dark side and you can keep up with her progress on her blog at: http://paddlingonthedarkside.wordpress.com/

DW 2014; bring it on!

Isobel and The Darkness

Isobel and The Darkness

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