Leeds kayak champ goes for world glory
Claire is delighted with the support from VW Van Centre in West Yorkshire.  This will make a huge difference to her efforts to be a world champion.  She is using the VW Transporter, the best selling van in the world, during the World Championships in Switzerland.  Claire said, "What a van.  I love it and I know I'll be the envy of all the other competitors in Thun.  I am so grateful to the team at VW Vans for their support!"

Claire with Andrew Caygill (right) Managing Director of the VW Van Centre and John Blanchfield, Van Rental Manager.  They are holding Claire's new squirt kayak.

See the press release here

UPDATE - VW are sponsoring Claire again in 2011!

Meanwood supports Claire
Claire is being supported by Meanwood Village Association and Meanwood Institute in Leeds.

The picture shows Peter Bewell, President of the Meanwood Village Association  congratulating Claire on her achievements to date and offering her support in her campaign in the world kayaking competition.

Both organisations supported a fundraising event in which local residents and members of the organisations raised £800 to support Claire in her efforts to become a world champion.

Claire was brought up in Meanwood and still lives there.

Leeds kayak champ goes for world glory
Leeds kayaking champ Claire O'Hara is hoping to be on the crest of a wave when she goes for glory in the world championships.

Check out the full article from the Yorkshire evening Post - 17 August 2009

Claire meets squirt boat founder Jim Snyder on trip to the home of Squirt Boating, West Virginia
Claire has just returned from a fantastic training trip to Squirt Boat’s homeland, West Virginia, USA. Claire travelled out to America with British paddler Tom ‘Maverick’ Bailey to take part in the ‘Bubbler’ downtime squirt boating competition and Gathering of Friends on the New River in Virginia.

Whilst they were there they were taken on a Magic Apple Tour of West Virginia’s best squirt boating locations by USA squirt boating ambassador Steve O’Keefe, and squirt boat founder and white water kayak pioneer Jim Snyder. Jim treated the pair to a fantastic wilderness tour at the start of the trip before introducing them to his local spot ‘fascination alley’ and passing on some well kept mystery move secrets.

Check out Claire’s Blog for more details, photos and videos from the trip.

GB Freestyle Team Selections
Claire O’Hara has secured her place on the GB Freestyle Kayak Squirt Boating Team 2009. Claire will be heading out with Team GB to the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships 2009 in Thun, Switzerland from the 29th August 'til the 6th September.

See a Peak UK write up by me on the GB team selections link

Live coverage from Thun 2009

Sports Woman of the Year
February 2009 - Claire was voted Sportswoman of the Year at the Leeds Sports Federation's 2008 awards at Headingley Carnegie.

Click here to see Yorkshire evening Post coverage

Peak UK article

Claire gets a new river running kayak - a Dagger Mamba 8.0.

Freezing temperatures, low water levels and a new boat to play with…

This weekend I took my new boat a Dagger Mamba 8.0 over to Wales to test it out.

Despite the lack of rain, and with snow and ice everywhere, we had a fantastic day on the River Llugwy at Pont Cyfng falls on the Saturday and joined up with what must have been most of the paddlers in North Wales for a leisurely paddle on the River Dee.

I found my new boat great as it handled really well, it was very responsive and carried its speed well. I can’t wait to test it out more when the rain comes.

British Championships 2008
Claire O’Hara - British Squirt Boating Champion 2008!

On the 4th and 5th October 2008, Britain’s top freestyle and squirt boat paddlers came together to compete in the British Championships at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. The event was a difficult test for the paddlers as the river level was high and there was heavy rain and strong winds. These conditions along with the high standard of paddling being shown made the competition extremely tough and competitors fought hard all weekend to try and win the title.

Despite the bad weather I had a fantastic weekend with all my hard training helping me stay strong. In the freestyle event I finished a very respectable 3rd place, with Fiona Jarvie current European Champion winning the British title and Jennifer Chrimes former Junior World Champion finishing in second place.

However, my main success was in the Squirt Boat Competition where in a very tiring battle in a flooded magic roundabout I once again became British Squirt Boating Champion, this time not only winning the ladies title but also beating all the men.

World Cup Series 2008

The 2008 World Cup Series was held in Prague, Ausberg and Thun and brought over 250 paddlers from across the world together to compete on some of the best competition play boating locations in Europe. I managed to get out and compete at two of the events Ausberg and Thun where I finished 9th and 14th respectively.

The main reason for going to the World Cup series for me this year was to check out the Thun site in Switzerland as it is the venue for the World Championships in September 2009. It was great to see the freestyle wave and also the proposed site for the squirt boating event. Thun is an amazing place with a river of crystal blue water running through a beautiful town surrounded by lakes and mountains. I really look forward to getting the chance to go back there for the event next year.

GB Freestyle Kayak Team 2008
To find out more about the team and future competitions check out www.ukfreestyle.com

European Championships 2008
Website and Info. Freestyle kayaking and squirt boating European Championships July 2008, Spain.

New PeakUK Kit 2008
PeakUK have just presented the team with the New 2008 kit. It will be hard to miss the PeakUK team this summer in the new PeakUK Orange, Ocean and Berry Topdecks.

New Freestyle Kayak… Jackson Star
Time for a change. This year I will be competing in a new kayak, a Jackson Star. I have had a fantastic time training and competing in my Riot Flair over the last two years but am now ready for a new challenge. Thank you to PeakUK for providing me with my Riot boats for the last two years and a big thank you to Big Aaron and Square Rock who will now be supporting me with my freestyle kayaks for the forthcoming season.

New Squirt Boat… Downtime Asylum
Having paddled my Downtime Hellbender at the worlds last year. I am now training in my New Downtime Asylum. This new boat is designed to achieve maximum mystery potential whilst still allowing the full range of freestyle moves. Thanks to Downtime Dave for once again building a glittery, stylish boat and for customizing it for me.

Robin Hood Watersport Dry Suit Tested Winter 2008  Based in Leeds Robinhood Watersports have supported me over the last few years. The New Custom Kayak Drysuit they made me for the Worlds last year has been put through to test this winter and has kept me safe and warm. A fantastic piece of kit, strong, durable and dry, every boater should get one.

Claire O’Hara World Freestyle Kayaking Championship 2007 Video Release
A short video showing the highlights of Claire O’Hara squirt boating and freestyle performances at the World Freestyle Championships 2007. Video Edited by Joe Bradley.

Claire has made the 2008 British Freestyle Team in both squirt boating and freestyle kayaking again. Claire wrote this piece (13/12/2007) describing the events leading to her selection.

"This Saturday I went to London to compete in the GB freestyle kayaking team selection event. The river was very high and despite having spent the best part of the previous two weeks practising at the weir, everything was now looking very different, with the amount of rain over the last few days effecting the level of water in the river and changing the shape of the surf features . The first event was the squirt boating competition which was held directly below a very powerful and dangerous weir just round the corner from the freestyle weir. I was first to go and set off into the very murky Thames flood water to do the first of my three 1 minute runs. The three runs went really well with all the practice of the last year helping me put up a strong performance.

I finished 1st in the ladies and too many of the male competitors, judges and spectators surprise scored high enough to place 2nd in the men's event. Next up was the freestyle I had a fantastic practise run but unfortunately couldn't quite pull it together in the real runs just missing my biggest scoring moves which left me finishing in 4th place. There are 3 places available in the ladies freestyle and squirt boating teams with your two days positions adding together to give the official ranking, so finishing 4th today meant I was leaving quite a bit of work to do tomorrow.

Sunday morning and the second days events were to be held at Nottingham. With the river levels across the country now really high the decision as to whether the event would be able to run was left to 9.30am Sunday morning, as the National Water Sorts Centre site of the competition was in flood. Luckily we got the go ahead and the competition began. Again the day started with the squirt boating. This course is renowned for its world class squirt boating locations on which we train all year round however with over a meter high of additional water coming down the course the existing squirt boating spots were deep under water and a new location and to be found. Luckily a new feature had appeared so we had ten minute of practise to adjust to the new spot before the competition began.

Today I was seventh paddler up so I got a chance to see how the others were coping with the new feature before my first run. I got a really nice run and deep mystery disappearing beneath the freezing cold mucky brown water to gain more points in each ride. Again I finished 1st lady securing my place on the team with Emma Runsimmon, World Bronze Medallist, and Poppy Layton a young up and coming junior whom I have spent the summer coaching finishing 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Next up was the freestyle yesterdays result meant that I had to finish in the top two today to make the team so the pressure was on. Luckily I had spent the whole of the summer training on this feature for this event. I threw down three solid runs scoring some really complex moves. Would it be enough? It was I finished 1st which meant I had made it in to the team in 2nd place behind fellow PeakUk team mate Jenny Chrimes in 1st and with British Champion and World Bronze Medallist Fiona Jarvie making the team in 3rd place.

What a weekend, an emotional rollercoaster on some murky brown freezing cold British rivers, the passport to the British team and the key step to a sunny Spanish European Championships next summer."

NEWS - Claire had an almost full-page feature in the Yorkshire Evening Post.  Featuring three photos and interviews (above) it has really helped raise Claire's profile across Yorkshire - see it here.

BBC Look North feature Claire ...again!

Claire has again been showcased in Look North (18/4/2007) with a film and an interview about her forthcoming appearance in the World Championships.  See the new clip here

Previously Claire featured in Look North on 22/3/2007. 
See the first clip here

Claire joins Downtime

Claire has joined the Downtime Squirt Kayaks team.  She now has a new squirt boat to take to the world championships - a custom-made squirt boat specially designed to fit Claire and give her the best chance possible to win a gold medal at the forthcoming world championships.

New Sponsorship for Claire

Claire is delighted and excited by the generous sponsorship of Mitchell Blades, the world class paddle manufacturers.  Lance Mitchell, Director of the company said:

"Claire has an amazing track record, proving her ability time after time. With her dedication to the sport it wasn’t long before she heard the good reports of our new paddles. Early in January Claire approached us requesting sponsorship for a Squirt paddle, which we were happy to accept, and be part of her team. We delivered it to her at the NEC Outdoor Show and in return she won the ladies competition held at the event. We are now sponsoring Claire with our awesome Freestyle paddles, which she will be taking with her to the World Freestyle Championships 2007. After watching Claire perform I saw great talent as she put her skills in to action, and I can see her becoming even more successful in her careers in or out of water."

Lance Mitchell
Director of Mitchell Blades

Another Title for Claire!

Claire won the National Indoor Freestyle Championships 2007 which took place at the NEC Outdoor Show 2007 in March.  Results and photos can be found on the Peak UK website www.peakuk.com 
Claire also came first lady in the National Student Rodeo Open Event 2007 in February at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.

Training Opportunity

Claire will working for Nottingham city council as an instructor at Colwick Park Activity Centre.  This means she will be able to spend the summer training at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.

Leeds Met Carnegie Support

Leeds Met Carnegie are supporting Claire in her preparations for the World Championships.  She attended Leeds Metropolitan University where she obtained a BA Honours degree in Sports and Recreation development and continues to have links with the university through their Alumni programme.

BBC Look North Feature

Claire's featured in Look North on 22/3/2007 with a film and an interview about her forthcoming appearance in the World Championships.  See the clip here

Claire's Nomination for Leeds Sportswoman of the year 2006

Claire was amongst other Leeds Metropolitan University Students to be recognised by the Leeds Sports Federation at the prestigious ceremony held at the Civic Hall in Leeds on Monday 12 February 2007.

She was highly commended for sportswoman of the year.

Claire, who graduated in 2004 with a BA (Hons) Sport & Recreation Development, is Chief Watersports Instructor for Nottingham City Council.

Download the January 2007 Press Release here

Centre-page feature in Yorkshire Evening Post

Claire's trip to Nepal featured in a centre-page spread in the 13/1/2007 edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post.  With photos and a very positive write-up of her successful trip it was an invaluable help in raising Claire's profile in advance of the World Championships.  

See PDF of article here

Click here to read 'A Day in the Life' - a brief account of her time in Nepal by Claire

Claire in Nepal - Peak UK Himalayan White Water Challenge 2006
Claire has recently returned from a competition trip to Nepal where she competed in the Peak UK Himalayan White Water Challenge 2006.  Set on the mighty 'dazed and confused' rapid, a testing section of grade 4 white water on the Bhote Kosi river in Nepal. This 3-day competition sees paddlers come from all across the world to fight for the title of Himalayan white water champion. Set in an amazing valley on a classic stretch of white water the competition offers a fierce battle ground in which competitors battle in 3 different style of competitions, freestyle, slalom and downriver to find the overall champion.

The competition which is split into 2 categories International and Nepali, holds a lot of pride and respect amongst competitors and as such has a very high performance standard with some of the worlds best paddlers competing. This year was no exception and over 80 competitors came together and offered a fantastic showcase of paddling and comradeship to make yet another fantastic event.

Full results and photos of the event can be found at www.peakuk.com

Unfortunately early in the event Claire picked up a shoulder injury which meant she had to withdraw from the competition.  However, you can see photographs from the trip here.

Click here to read 'A Day in the Life' - a brief account of her time in Nepal by Claire

Claire O’Hara Guest of Honour at Sports Award
Claire O’Hara was guest of honour at the 10th annual Bassetlaw Sport Award Ceremony sponsored by the Bassetlaw council's sports development team and sponsored by B&Q . 65 nominations were received from local sport teams/organisations and individual awards.

The event was a great success and articles on the event have appeared in Retford Today and Worksop Today.

Claire O’Hara said, “I was delighted to be the guest of honour at this event and to see the interest and development of sport in the Bassetlaw area.  I was impressed by the nominations and the commitment of all. I wish all the nominations well and congratulate those who won an award.”.'

If anyone wishes to invite claire to take part in any simialar events please email ohara.patrick@blueyonder.co.uk

November 3 -2006

Claire had an almost full-page feature in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Featuring three photos and interviews it has really helped raise Claire's profile across Yorkshire.

See it here.

November 2006
Claire O’Hara is currently in Nepal in November 2006 to train as part of her preparation to challenge to become World Champion in 2007.

She returns to England in time for Christmas and will be available for interviews. She will be emailing a diary of her trip which can be available for publication.

Download the November 2006 Press Release here

The O'Hara Appeal

"My dad has the crazy idea to ask all the people in the world who are part of the O'Hara extended family if they would support a fellow O'Hara to become the 1st World Champion in any sport with that famous and proud surname!  He would like to ask the O'Hara's to donate £10 or the equivalent to help an O'Hara become world champion!
I think he's mad but what the hell? - I need help!  So if you are an O'Hara, can you help?  If not, can you forward this appeal to any other O'Hara (preferably very, very wealthy...) you may know who may be interested in helping?  Besides anything else we would love to hear from you!"

Thanks, Claire

Please contact Paul O'Hara at ohara.patrick@blueyonder.co.uk

Claire O'Hara:
The Photo Collection