Beautiful BernieÕs Blast in Bochum, Duisburg and Poznan

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Beautiful BernieÕs Blast in Bochum, Duisburg and Poznan 

Hey Currumbin kickers, my name is Bernie Wallace, first recipient of the Currumbin Creek Canoe Club Pelican Award.

 I started off kayaking at the Creek under Newtdawgs and Amy Burgins guidance with my initial goal, ‘to make it from PBC to the other side of the Creek dry’. After plenty of falls and never winning the prestigious ‘Sinkers Award’ away from the legends of Newton or Hoppit (and I probably wonÕt ever after new comer, Pasha ‘Celeste’ Bulka’s submarine efforts) I set myself a new goal, to finally fit in as a Wallace child.

 This meant find a sport and become a ‘freak’ at it ( my bro is Ken Wallace, he won Junior Worlds in 2001, is a current Olympian and broke K1 500m world record 2 weeks ago. My sis is Frances Wallace, she was in numerous Aussie swimming teams…National Champion medley swimmer…hard to live up to???).

I’m not a freak at kayaking yet..but I feel I’m on the long journey. I’ve won quite a few National kayaking medals from 2005 till now, last year winning 7 from 8 in the Junior division. I’ve been on 3 National kayaking Teams and have been in the QAS squad since 2005. So I say embrace the rivalry.

This year I was chosen in the U23 Aus kayaking team, racing at World Cup 2 (Duisburg Germany), U23 Bochum International Ruhr Regatta and World Cup 3. Though I was in the U23 team, we travelled and raced with the opens. Five girls and six boys of who some I was great friends with and some I had rarely or never spoken to. Though within the 2 hours of waiting half dead at Singapore airport we were all mates, having Lani’s 19th birthday party (yes, I packed pass the parcel, lolly bags and party hats for everyone in the bottom of my bag). 16 hours later we were messes in Essen Canoe Club in Germany (our accom) trying to keep awake till the night to avoid jet lag as we raced at a World Cup in 2 days, kind of a HUGE deal for me!

The day had come and I was at the Duisburg course, where I watched Senior World Championships last year with Mr Newton and Dane Wilkinson, never thinking I’d be racing on this course so soon and with my brother cheering for me! “Go Turd!”…lovely. My first race was the K4 500. Going for my warm up, I see Katrin Wagner and Josefa Idem (legends, google them girls. Olympic/world champions) paddling next to me. I have now been scaled, and I am a tiny little fishy in the big (muscley) world of kayaking.

 My k4 crew made the semi luckily, after the lack of any starting call. We assumed we should go after the gate dropped and every other crew was a boat length in front. Lesson learnt, GO on anything. My second race was the final of the K2 1000m and I was stoked my crew drew lane 5. Amy Peters was my partner and we came 8th. Amy and I had never paddled a boat together and fortunately it felt great. We adapted to each other very quickly.

The whole team paddled very well with some great results even in an Olympic Year. Our Olympians were very professional and inspiring, they didn’t aim for anything less than 1st and although they were under some pressure to perform, they still had time to have a chat and help us out. The Sunday night of the comp, we were all buggered, went back to Essen, ate dinner, got some ice cream/chocolate and sat on the pontoons for some quality bonding time…or just to watch Reece lift up Steve and try to dunk him in the water. 

 During the week we trained with coaches Guy and Ramon, ate a lot, had a look around, played some poker and spoons, watched movies, soccer, caught trains, went shopping (H&M in particular). The team checked out the city of Koln (highlight- Lindt chocolate factory and playing dodge! where you run as fast as possible through the incredibly crowded tourist strips to your destination…first one there in one piece wins), Essen centre (highlight- dancing in the rain and the goodies in the bakery) and Werden (highlight- finding a supermarket and the best coconut ice cream). 

 And before we knew it, it was Friday and I found enough courage and thermals to brave the cyclonic surf at the Bochum Regatta Course. I raced the K1 1000m, K4 500 and both K2‘s. All the races were straight into this crazy head wind and through huge lumps of weeds that engulfed your paddle (and in one case the Junior girls German K4). But our team went to race and we did with minimal complaint because we couldn’t do anything about it.

 Lani Belcher and I both made the K1 1000 final, Lani placed third while I placed 5th. I also put on 30 seconds to my P.B due to the head wind, good job I say. My K4 crew placed 2nd behind the Germans with a time equalling 4th seat paddler, Jo Brigden Jones’, K1 500m P.B. Jo won the K1 500m with club mate Murray Stewart winning the mens K1 500. Muz also placed 2nd in the k1 1000 with Matt Urquhart close behind in 4th. Canoeist Mick Beaver smashed his P.B times for both distances into the wind. The team had some great results! And at the end we celebrated by playing Frisbee with the Canadians and packing up while it hailed.

The following few days again, we trained a little, I got to hang out with my brother a little, went into Bochum centre (highlight- the cake store and learning enough German to find out our train was never going to come), played Guitar Hero and started to pack up all our gear, preparing for the 11 hour car drive to Poland. The car rides had to be some of funnest/funniest parts of the trip. If you found yourself in Jesse Phillips car you were guaranteed a sing-a-long. If you were in Jake Michaels car, you were guaranteed to stall…though his skills did improve with the mullet hair cut Lani and Jo gave him. Alana Nicholls was formerly in charge of Jake’s car until she left the handbrake on going down the autobahn at 150km/hour…easy and stinky mistake. All drivers got the team to Poland in one piece. Even though Poland is right next door to Germany, the scene changes straight away. You can tell Poland isn’t as well off as Germany.

 Within the 2 days we were racing again. By now, I felt comfortable with racing, we had done it every weekend. I still got nerves after all it was a World Cup but it seemed so simple, get from start to finish as fast as you can. None of the messy stuff like the what ifs. I raced K2 1000, 500 and 200 at this World Cup paddling with Amy again. Every race we set out for a new P.B and we did it.
 

 My brother’s new P.B broke a world record though he still got 3rd. It was crazy to think I was racing people like this, people setting world records and going to the Olympics. You get to see what you want out of kayaking when you line up for your race or warm up next to Olympic Champions and world champions. This season I didn’t train as hard and as I should have but I know now I want to paddle, and I know I want to be the best. I wanted to go on this trip to see how much I like kayaking, and I went with 5 weeks of training under my belt as I made up my mind real late. I had so much fun, and loved the racing. I have friends from all around the world now and some of my best friends sit in my team boats. I couldn’t imagine giving that up. The trip was a challenging and growing experience, I can’t wait for next season now.

Thank you to Mr Newton, Vincenzo Fehervari and my surf club BHMP.

Bernie Wallace