Uganda: Road to the 2015 Worlds

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headshot smTeam NRS Member, Alec Voorhees, recounts the stoke and hard work of a month-long training trip in Uganda. A repeat trip, Alec discusses his strengths, goals, and what he needs to accomplish to secure a spot for the 2015 World Championships.

Uganda Training Agenda: wake up, eat breakfast, paddle; play volleyball, or ultimate frisbee, or disc golf, eat lunch, paddle; eat dinner, go to bed.

Repeat (times 30 days).

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How does that sound? Along with the amazing activities and hospitality, The Hairy Lemon Island is just downstream from a world class section of river. Paddling on the White Nile in Uganda is nearly as good as it gets. The Nile Special and Club Wave are among two of the best surf waves you will find anywhere in the world. After a spectacular trip in 2014, this February was amazing as well. The main purpose for the trip was to get ready for the Team Trials and Worlds.

In June 2015 the USA Freestyle Team Trials will be held in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Participants compete for a spot in the World Championships at Garburator on the Ottawa River in Canada this fall. The trip to the White Nile was very beneficial; it allowed me to get the necessary training on a wave for Team Trials, which, hopefully, leads to Worlds. Although I’ve trained for the Team Trials before, this year is different—it’s my last year competing as a Junior and the first year my brother, Hayden, is eligible to make the team. It was very cool and important that he was able to come along on this trip to get the training he needed also.

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I’m decent on waves, but after spending a lot of time in holes preparing for Worlds in 2013, my strength lies in holes. One year older and more experienced, there are still some important things to keep in mind during training:

Technique. The better I can execute the technical aspect of moves is as important as the move itself.

A solid routine. I want to use what I have learned and put together a smart routine that will showcase my strengths and help me succeed.

Fun. This is the most important one, but sometimes the hardest! In the past I’ve had trouble with that. I put so much focus on the end result that my enjoyment and performance decline.

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I ‘ve made the team before, and even podiumed at Worlds. That experience can only benefit my future training and competitions working toward 2015 Worlds. As far as I know, Canadian Kalem Kennedy and I are the two returning juniors from 2013 in the top 20. Having lived near the Ottawa, Kalem and his brother, Quinton, are extremely talented on waves, and they will both be top contenders. For the USA there will be a strong depth for Team Trials. Besides Hayden and me, David Silk, Jacob Walker, Brody Kellogg, and Kaito Roemer to name a few, will be tough competitors for the USA. My experience should help me out, a touch.

Nile Special and Club Wave are two awesome, but different waves. Club wave is good at lower water and is medium sized with a good surfer’s left shoulder and foam to the side. Passes are consistent with a good runway. Nile Special is a taller, greener, and faster wave. It’s harder to do tricks, but offers more potential for bigger air. Overall, the water was higher during the trip so we only had five or six sessions of prime Club Wave, but Nile Special was good almost everyday! Special is definitely a little tricky to work on moves, but in the end makes for worthwhile training.

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During the course of my month in Uganda, I tried to work on as many moves as possible. My Pan Ams and Clean Blunts, both ways, are very solid, as well as both backstabs. I spent quite a bit of time working on right Flashbacks (clean backstab), left Airscrew, right Back Pan Am, and Left Helix. Those are all moves that I can do quite consistently and will be solid tricks to have in my repertoire. This summer I plan to master my left Back Pan Am, right Airscrew, and Right Helix too.

Not only is the Hairy Lemon amazing for training, it offers a relaxing and tranquil environment. (Even as a teenager I can appreciate the absence of internet and cell service.) The island is barely an acre in size. There are great hangout areas, tons of activities, and the three meals included with your stay are unique, local, and delicious.

My favorite down-time activities on the island are disc golf and volleyball. The disc golf course is short, but technical—it takes skill to bank discs off certain trees or objects and to land the disc in optimal position for the next throw. It’s challenging and anybody can have fun throwing a disc or frisbee. Next to the island is a calm shallow channel with a volleyball net. With the temperatures raising into the 90s, accompanied by full humidity, you’re constantly wanting to cool down. Stretching across the channel, the net is raised high enough that players wade waist deep in the cool water. Games are always super fun and competitive.

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A huge thank you to Paul and Nikki at the Hairy Lemon who were kind enough to sponsor my trip. Their support is greatly appreciated! I strongly encourage people to travel to and experience this awesome destination. You can find all the information on their website if you have any questions.

I am definitely looking forward to this upcoming year. Closing out my Junior years will be great motivation to paddle with enthusiasm and surpass my goals! I have a pretty action-packed season ahead with a lot of great rivers and events on the calendar.

See you on the water!