Highly respected amongst the international raft race fraternity, Team Palm have high expectations placed on our shoulders following our performance at the International Rafting Federation World Rafting Championship in Al Ain, UAE last year where we were crowned overall champions.

The big difference this year is that we compete in the R6 category – that’s six in the boat rather than the more manoeuvrable R4. To gain new (and experienced) squad members we looked to last year’s under 19 squad – they were crowned overall silver medallists at the same competition. Where better to source a strong squad? We asked two of their members to join the squad this year – Amber and Molly obliged and we’ve already enjoyed great successes this year.

Team Palm were once again selected as the top GB Women’s Raft team at the British Rafting Selection event at Holme Pierrepont in March this year. 

As the top GB women’s raft race team, we were given the opportunity to represent Great Britain at both the European and World Rafting Championships. Read more about our Georgian adventures where we were crowned overall silver medallists here.

We’ve just been crowned British open champions in September this year and now our sights are set on Japan for the World Rafting Championship.

Team focus and drive at the British Open

But what’s it like to be part of the squad and live in another country? Relative newcomer Molly tells us her journey to Japan:

After the European Championships in Georgia, I felt devastated to be leaving the team I’d become so close to. But I was also looking forward to a season raft guiding in Austria.

The IRF Europeans was my first competition as part of the open women’s team. As I left Georgia for Austria instead of returning to the UK to train with the team, I was not sure I would have a place in the boat for the World Championship in Japan. Nevertheless, I was determined to improve my fitness even more, pushing to earn a place – I think being in Austria helped this massively.

Working for Area 47 as a raft guide and safety kayaker five days a week, my fitness improved throughout the summer. Having fun and training at the same time worked very well for me. In my spare time pull-ups and hiking were a perfect way to stay active. When rafting, I changed my usual stance from that of a guide to a racer. I would not use sweep strokes to turn the rafts, I would use repeated forwards paddling strokes. Also, by sitting lower in the raft, it made it much more difficult to guide, but great training for racing. Much fun came from telling my clients why I was paddling the way I was. Frequently the right side of my rafts would compete with me to see who could turn the raft further, this worked great for my sprint training. Also, convincing my clients we were racing the other commercial rafts helped with my endurance training.

Having been working on the glacial fed River Inn, I can’t thank Palm Equipment enough! I would sweat a lot when training, but the water temperature was between nine and eleven degrees Celsius. My NeoFlex leggings and tops are my favourite choice for the river. The Thermospan liners of NeoFlex worked to quickly take away the sweat from my body AND do a great job of keeping me warm when I was immersed in the water. When I threw on my Palm dry trousers and cag, cold days were not a problem. Having a selection of Palm kit to guide and train in helped me immensely in my job – the changes from ten to thirty-five degree days weren’t an issue.

I’ve had an amazing season in Austria, missed my teammates terribly (and was always the last one to the party on the group messenger chats) but am very excited to return to the team and be back training in preparation for the World Championship in Japan in October.

It doesn’t always go according to plan

Photos – Phil Hutchinson Photography