The road to Llandysul is a long and perilous one, but in fact once you’re off the M4 its not actually that bad…
On arrival at the Llandysul paddling centre, Team Oarsome was informed that there was availability for the team to stay in room 3 in the bunk house (which was later officially renamed to the Oarsome Suite), rather than enduring the freezing conditions that were bearing down on the small Welsh village.
Once the accommodation was resolved, the team assembled at the Gwesty’r Porth Hotel to regroup, check that the appropriate level of branding was being worn (which is a minimum of head to toe branded gear) and to sample some of the local beverages, which included getting a taste for the ‘wizard’s sleeve’.
Battle ready, Team Oarsome made its way to the lake to see if any other teams needed saving or general guidance on rafting best practice, instead the team found that the extreme weather conditions had frozen the lake. Team Oarsome grabbed two of British Rafting’s finest Bull rafts and set about smashing the ice to enable the Llandysul event to start without delay.
First up was the time trial. The men’s team started and with paddles of fire and glory they fought hard against the best that the Afon Teifi river could throw at them. Digging deep the team pushed their way into third position, which instantly led to inquiries being made with the new British Rafting Committee and International Rafting Federation as assurances needed to be provided that the scoring was being accurately recorded – such an early glory for Team Oarsome is unheard of (instead preferring to attain glory at the final hour). The all-powerful ladies team also demonstrated their capabilities in the time trial, as the seasoned warriors they truly are, showing such ferocity that their paddles could barely take the strain.
Everything’s better with head………to head
The head to head saw both teams pitched against those worthy enough to attend the Llandysul event. One of the greatest battles of the day was the Team Oarsome Ladies pitted against great friends and one of our fiercest nemesis – the Red Rose ladies. Watching as the two teams battled against each other, was like a clash of greatest titans. However, with the power of Poseidon flowing through their veins, Team Oarsome pushed into the lead and paddled with unity until the end; unleashing a battle cry so strong it struck fear into the hearts of the other teams.
The Men’s team also paddled hard and utilising James Cooper’s beginner luck, they managed to win all but one of their races (which just goes to show how much of a beginner James was…).
The rafting slalom is a test of a team’s steering, collaboration and power – a demonstration if you will of the hours and dedication to training that teams have put in – as such it is not Team Oarsome’s event of choice (as they believe unquestionably that training and collaborative rafting is the work of Hades).
The Men’s team made a classic Oarsome error and opted for a practice run before their timed heat……the practice run was near perfect – the team’s gate strategy was flawless, gliding correctly round gates and nailing the upstreams as if they were walking. However, the run was so perfectly timed and delivered that it clearly angered the gods and Team Oarsome Men were punished as a result during the timed run (hence the large number of gates that were recorded as missed due to forces beyond their control).
The Women’s team provided a demonstration in slalom excellence, with Mojo and Rosie Cripps (OBE) dynamically steering the team round the gates and the engine room of Emma, Anna, Clemmie and Lucy’s powering them to glory.
The winter wobbler
The brain child of Matt Blue, the winter wobbler would test the full range of skills of the British Raft racers – the coordination of the slalom, the strength of an endurance and the ferocity of the head to head.
The Oarsome men set off on the course and nailed the first few gates without hesitation and having played Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries perfectly on the xylophone section of the course, the team took a controversial line back onto the river. However the line paid off (thanks to Adam Sambrook) and provided Grandad an easy opportunity to head the hanging football (where so many had failed) and take the next gate without concern.
The Team Oarsome ladies hit the winter wobbler with gusto, carving through the water like sharks after their bait. Their prowess on the water was impressive, but then a freak current of extreme strength hit the raft and dragged them off-course. As the team heroically paddled to shore, Rosie Cripps, jumped from the raft and despite a bad fall, dragged the ladies’ raft to safety with the strength of a thousand horses.
Time to get your baubles out
With a courageous day of rafting complete, Team Oarsome adorned its Christmas themed attire and returned back to the Gwesty’r Porth Hotel for indulging in more Wizard’s sleeve. After a hearty feast, the team prepared itself for the testing games of strength and dexterity that were ahead, using modern performance techniques (developed in Germany) known as das Jägermeister Technik.
As the trials of balance, poise and dexterity started, beginning with the obligatory table traversing, Team Oarsome unleashed the mighty duo of Lucy Tidmarsh and EeeWee, who took the games to new heights with their unorthodox and unregulated moves.
Returning to the bunkhouse, the bartering skills of Lucy and EeeWee came to the fore and enabled them to make the outrageously negotiate the swap of a pot noodle for a bottle of wine, though it is fair to say that the pot noodle lasted longer.
The power to endure…
This year’s endurance race could have been designed for Team Oarsome. A starting sprint saw both Team Oarsome Men and Ladies fly into the lead, smashing out press ups and sit ups like their lives depended on it. Recognising the unfair advantage, Team Oarsome Men faked a ‘technical malfunction’ with their throw-bag, enabling the other teams to catch up and take a lead onto the water. The Ladies and Men’s team paddled epically enabling them to close the gap with the other teams who had tried to sneak ahead, but unfortunately for them, they hadn’t counted on the fact that Team Oarsome’s off-water speed is equally as fast as the on water speed and in the run round the lake the Livingstones helped Team Oarsome push ahead.
At the end of the event the usual prize giving ceremony was held, but 6 years after Team Oarsome first rafted they were now not only participants, but proud sponsors of one of the world’s greatest rafting events.