Somersaults, airtime, barrel rolls – welcome to the world of freestyle canoeing.
The aim of freestyle is not to navigate a tricky course but to show off your skills. It’s a new discipline and one that’s hard to master.
“It’s taking a feature like a wave, or a big drop waterfall, or a hole, and doing somersaults and forward rolls in your kayak,” explains Major Tony Hellier, who heads up the Army Canoe Union.
Freestyle is a fairly new discipline and Hellier says it’s the hardest to master. “It’s not an entry sport,” he admits. “The ability to roll on white water is absolutely essential; you’re going upside-down by design.”
“It’s not about fighting the water – it’s about technique,” Hellier insists. You also need great balance, robust core strength and intuition to master the craft. “a lot of practice” to learn the feel of the water, and that means being confident enough to take the plunge.
“White water can be quite daunting,” he adds. “But the team spirit engendered in the Army means you’re just going to give it a go.”