GBR Master’s team – ready for the challenge in NZ

This is the first time that Great Britain will be represented in the men’s Masters division at a World Rafting Champs. And this honour goes to Chris Dalby, Paul Gray, Lee Hopkins, Tony Pape, Richard Procter and Mark Steel who all embark on their first major competition.

From the rivers of Canada through the U.S.A., Europe … and all the way to the Zambezi, this team’s experience in rafting is big. And don’t be fooled by their age. This is a team that lies second in the Open category as well and so will be able to attend the next European Champs in 2014 in that division as well as in the Masters division. This means that they beat the multitude of young teams that fought for this opportunity, showing experience does count.

Chris Dalby will help us to get to know this Masters Men’s team better.

gbm teamChris, your team has a lot of experience on the rivers around the world, but have any of you been to New Zealand before?

– “No one in the team has been to New Zealand before. Once there it might be difficult to leave!” – And that is a truth!

What does this competition mean to you?

-“As a team, we are extremely proud to be representing Great Britain in the Masters category at the World Championships. It really is a dream come true and something that we didn’t expect would happen.”

How is your team preparing for this competition and on which rivers are you preparing?

-“As a team we meet up for team raft training on the water once a month. A training weekend normally consists of a mixture of technique and raft fitness sessions for the specific events like endurance or sprint. The rivers we use range from the Olympic canoe slalom course at Lee Valley in London, River Wye, the slalom course at Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, or simply flat water on a canal. We also had a team training camp in the French Alps during May, which was an incredible week of training on stunning alpine water. In between the training weekends, team members are responsible for their own individual fitness training which is monitored via monthly fitness tests.”-

Alps training camp

Which discipline does your team like the best? Is there one that you might say you are best at?

-“Traditionally, slalom and endurance have been the events that we do best at.”-

Great Britain is well known for their successes at Euro and World competitions, and also as great friends. So far, the success has come from the Open teams, we wonder if the Masters will follow in their footsteps.

Do you have any expectations related to the results …. and what are your expectations generally for this WRC?

-“We have spent a great deal of time talking and discussing this at the start of all this process. We started this process as great friends and we hope to be even better friends at the end. Apart from that, we hope to put in a good performance that we can be proud of.”

The team, on the whole, is made up of old friends that worked together paddling open canoes down the Ardeche River in the south of France. They stayed in touch from the early 90’s and have continued to share great times together in the outdoors, paddling open boats, bivying and going to fetes.

In addition to strength and technique, the power of the team comes from the relationship between the members, and how stable the team is. When six people understand each other, then they just need to work on technique and strength. Something which is not easy to find.

gbrm 2Will you be able to stay on after the WRCs?

-“Most of the team will be staying and supporting all of the GB teams at the World Championships and many of us will also be staying on for a holiday.”- It is great that almost all the teams will extend their stay on this beautiful island.

Of course, as a female writer, what always interests me is this: Do you know whether there is a women’s Masters Team in the country? Are there any ladies interested in this category?

-“We are constantly trying to build interest in the sport in this country, and hope that some more media coverage of the WRC and the attendance of five GB teams will increase participation and help us to get more women keen to compete across all the age groups”-

I hope that for the next world competition I will have the opportunity to write about a GBR Women’s Masters Team!

It is not easy to break the ice, but for this crew that will not be a problem. Certainly this will be an unforgettable experience that will strengthen them and their relationship even more, and the teams at the WRC and next year at Euro Champs will find them something to contend with.

Welcome GBR Masters team, we wish you all the best.


Article by Nada