I remember meeting Lowri many years ago in the Happy Eater eddy at the Tees barrage with her Dad. Since those early days Lowri has progressed from competing in the largely fun non-competitive PeakUK events to representing the UK on the freestyle kayaking scene. Lowri has achieved both the British and European freestyle championship titles since those early days. It’s fantastic that Lowri has agreed to take part in the Unsponsored 2011 Q&A series.
When and how did you first start paddling?
My parents paddled as far back as I can remember, so I have always been around the sport. However I didn’t get into it properly until I was about 13 years old, as before that the boats and paddled were just so huge on me! Luckily I grew and boats shrunk at about the same time. Once I realised that I could now move the boat around a bit more easily, I joined York Canoe Club with my Dad. YCC were a fantastically active club with some very good paddlers to inspire me.
What is your current location?
I live in North Wales: 5 minutes from the Conwy, Lledr and Llugwy and within a short drive of many other classic rivers!
What scares you the most?
Sketchy partages where you are clinging to a rock miles above the valley floor!
What was your biggest hurdle in kayaking when you started out – finding people to paddle with, nailing the third end, lack of rivers etc?
I suppose I answered that earlier: when I first started the kit was very basic and only really designed for adult men. These days there are all sizes of boat, including several designs for kids. Kit is much better designed, warmer and drier than ever: with sizes and designs to suit almost all sizes and shapes!
What has kept you in the sport?
The desire to travel, challenge myself and some good friends!
Who is your biggest source of inspiration within the paddling world (and why)?
Anyone who manages to live out their dreams and ambitions. At the moment my friends James Bebbington, Sara James, Emily Wall and Sam Ward are particularly inspiring to me.
Given the choice where would you want to paddle?
I have an ever growing list. Twice I’ve planned expeditions to Tibet only to have them dashed by things outside of our control so I’d love to get out there. Bhutan and China also look amazing. For many years I’ve had a grand plan to spend several months following the paddling season up through South America, Central America and then up through North America – ending in British Columbia. And there are endless other places I’d love to go… but I’ve come to the conclusion that any experience is better if you can share it with good friends and people you love.
What do you dislike most about the competition scene, the industry and media, and what you’d change if you had a blank cheque or God like powers?
I’d like UK freestyle competitions to have more of a friendly, welcoming and give-it-a-go feel. When I started out the Peak Challenge series really got me into competing gave me an opportunity to meet lots of other paddlers who then became some of my best buddies. Many of my mates who aren’t very competitive use to come along because the events were all fun to do and doing silly, fun stuff was encouraged with spot prizes. There are people trying to make this sort of spirit return to Uk events, which would be fantastic.
It would be great if more big, spectacular events such as the White Water Grand Prix could take place. An open-to-all big wave freestyle event that all the big name paddlers got support to attend and had big media coverage would be amazing. Especially if it managed to keep fun as the focus, rather than people getting really serious about minor points of the rules. I guess the Nile River Festival was almost there with this!
What kit are you currently using?
Palm Equipment gear, Dagger Mamba, Jackson Star and on the bank Plain Lazy clothing. I’d like to thank all my sponsors which also includes PGL and Performance Kayaks.