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The Tatshenshini & Lower Alsek

The Tatshenshini and Lower Alsek is a remote132-mile wilderness stretch of river that flows through the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska. The trip starts at Dalton post in Kluane National Park, cuts through the St. Elias Mountain Range in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, and ends at Dry Bay in Glacier Bay National Park. My dad was on the wait list for seven years so we celebrated when he got a private permit for July…See More
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Blog Posts

The Tatshenshini & Lower Alsek

The Tatshenshini and Lower Alsek is a remote132-mile wilderness stretch of river that flows through the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alaska. The trip starts at Dalton post in Kluane National Park, cuts through the St. Elias Mountain Range in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, and ends at Dry Bay in…

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Posted by Christie Eastman on August 21, 2014 at 12:00pm

The Next horizon Line: Fantasy Falls

Fantasy Falls is arguably the best multiday run in California (which says a lot), it has no hike in and has about every kind of rapid you could ask for all in an amazing wilderness setting.

Jim and I were lucky enough to get 3 separate runs in on fantasy falls this summer all at a variety of different water levels.  The camping is amazing and the rapids are incredibly good and if you want to you can go HUGE on this run.  Enjoy the pics and video below and check out:…

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Posted by Tom Janney on August 13, 2014 at 11:58am

Crossover Creekin' in the Katana 10.4

This year I wanted to try something a little different, so I got a Katana 10.4 not knowing quite what to expect. Unwrapping the boat, I was super excited to see the hull that looked like it could definitely handle whitewater. Plus, it had all of the extra features to make it the perfect boat for long over-nighters on rivers and even to explore the San Juan Islands outside my back door in Bellingham, WA.…

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Posted by Brendan Wells on July 14, 2014 at 7:00am

Dagger Europe Blog

Olé, Olé, Olé! Not long until Brazil.

Olé, Olé, Olé! Not long until Brazil.

It’s the final countdown to Brazil Worlds and after our recent successes in Slovakia the R4 boat was rearing to go in Nottingham this weekend. Nerys Blue has taken the captaincy role for the boat for this competition and she was cracking the whip this weekend as we followed an excellent training plan laid out by our coach Deb Cook. First off was a beasting early morning session of endurance pyramids up the Trent, four minutes of maximum effort followed by one minute of recovery made sure the whole team matched the raft by the end  red. We then had a swift turn around as we had pledged to help out at a charity fundraising day organised by one of our sponsors Nylacast. The Charity was Rainbow Trust Children’s a charity who do great work providing emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness www.rainbowtrust.org.uk

The girls getting into the swing of things any excuse to look daft!

So raft deflated, kit off, smart clothes on, drive to venue, raft inflated and voila there we were meeting and greeting and organising games of raft running, paddle balancing and mini Olympics. It was a lot of fun meeting the families and maybe even inspiring some junior rafters.

An inspired game of paddle twirling followed by raft hurdling made for a lot of laughing.

After an exhausting afternoon of entertaining it was back to Holme Pierrepont for an afternoons slalom session, doing some tricky crosses and getting set in stone some of the moves we had learnt from our time in Bratislava. The boat is really starting to feel dynamic as we are learning weight shifts and timings, who said a raft can’t be dynamic?

Sunday was another early start as we all dived into a dark session once again designed by our lovely Deb, focussing on sprint starts it pushed us all into the black as we laid everything out there to discover our boundaries! Seeing stars we finished with some speedy times on the whitewater course. Another slalom session designed by Deb and led by Etienne Stott (who better?) saw us pushing and completing in style some really hard, technical moves. Off for some recovery and a chat about Brazil jobs – it’s all starting to feel a bit real now only six weeks to go ... six weeks! We are all now pushing so hard on our personal training, two more training weekends together and then we are off to the land of capybara’s and caipirinha’s – ciao!

Reporting dead marine mammals

UK Cetaceans Strandings Investigation Program

Reporting dead marine mammals

While out sea kayaking today we sadly came across a dead Risso’s dolphin and so reported it to the authorities. Here in Wales we report such things to Marine Environmental Monitoring. In England and Scotland it’s the Natural History Museum and the SAC Veterinary Services. Together they are funded by DEFRA  to run the Cetaceans Stranding Investigation Program, CSIP.

They collect information on the locations, species, size, and condition of the bodies of marine mammals, turtles and basking sharks to try and determine the causes of death. Their collaborated research provides insight into the diseases, health status and threats to these animals. Such a systematic and long term monitoring programme helps the investigation of trends in disease, causes of death and exposure to environmental pollutants largely inaccessible by other methods.

Therefore its important that we report any deaths or strandings of marine mammals to the authorities to help continue this important research. You don't need to be an expert to help identify a stranded animal. Some basic measurements or estimations, observations and photos can be an enormous help in identifying species. If you could also note the location of the body so an autopsy or tissue sample can be collected. For more information on what to do check out this CSIP leaflet.

Ballan bonanza

another fine ballan wrasse

Ballan bonanza

One thing or another had kept me off the water for the last few weeks; onshore winds, family bereavements and work commitments to name but a few. I returned to County Galway to put that to rights. I intended to go out to fish for ray and tope but as (bad) luck would have it I realised that I had forgotten my anchor when I was out on the water. An anchor is very much needed to to fish for ray who prefer a static bait rather than one that drifts about all over the substrate. Not wanting to head back in after an bit of an absence from the water I decided to make the best of a bad situation.

I had with me a lure rod and a few soft plastic lures so I decided to target a piece of water that had often intrigued me but had never been investigated. A small rocky outcrop that is usually swamped with waves and creates a massive break was surrounded by glassy calm water. I reasoned that the area surrounding this outcrop should be covered with rocks, providing rough ground over which to find pollock. Only one way to find out!

As I drew nearer the echo sounder told me that indeed I was sitting over rough ground so I started to throw lures in the hopes of connecting with fish. I did instantly in the form of a feisty ballan wrasse which bore its way into the weed. Steady pressure saw him out and fighting again and it wasn't long until I had him in the kayak. A quick photograph and hook removal was all that was needed before slipping him back into the water to fight another day. The very next cast saw the rod hoop over as I connected with another ballan wrasse. The tug these fish give the lure feels like an an electrical shock being transmitted up through the line. Their big, paddle like fins tell us that they are a species built for power and their small size belies the spirit that they show when they are hooked. 

 

The session played out like this for the next couple of hours. Nearly every single cast resulted in a sprightly wrasse that did all in their power to shake the hooks. A real red letter day emerging from what was a near disaster following my forgetfulness. Shortly after the turn of the tide I decided to paddle back for shore while I was very much ahead. The glorious September sun beat down on me and the paddle back was thirsty work. This made the addition of a hydration pack to my Kaikoura PFD even more important, a really well thought out idea and invaluable on warm days or for long paddles. Fishing sessions are rarely that hectic and when you come across one like it, it is something to be savoured. That evening I was able to do nothing other than grin from ear to ear!

European Championships 2014, Bratislava

Tomasz competing in the Europeans in Cunovo, Slovakia.

European Championships 2014, Bratislava

The freestyle Kayaking Euro Championships were held in Slovakia. Everybody knows the whitewater course in Cunovo as it’s one of the best slalom courses in Europe, but not all know there is a decent hole on the second channel. It is not a big one, in fact you can even miss it, if you don't  know the exact place, it is a bit flat and a bit shallow, but you can throw  very high scoring rides in there. 

We came a week before national training started to get enough practice, but we weren't the first. Dagger team: Tomacz Czapliki, Zosia and Max Karlson - was already there for over a week training hard and doing very impressive rides. Soon after our arrival it started get busy and even very busy, but a few days practice were enough to figure out the hole. 

The feature favours left moves (which is not ideal for me), it is not deep, so a few carbon boats got slightly damaged, it looked better for short, rounded boats. The favourites in this competitions was of course Slovakians, as it is their home. 

 

Mens

Peter was the one to beat in men, as he trains here throughout the year. And, as expected, he proved to be pretty much unbeatable, scoring 1800 in one of the rounds with every move, links and trophies, breaking ICF and ECA score records. He took a well deserved Gold in the finals. Next expectations went to France’s Sebastian and Mathieu Dumoulin.  I thought Mathieu kayaked good, but it didn't look like this hole suits him or his style, he came close to a medal, but it wasn't his race.  Sebastian won in an earlier round and looked strong, but in semis it was Salt all over again: all top guys had very strong rides over 1000 point rides before his go and pressure was high, Sebastian could not put it together and missed the finals, making prospect of medal ever closer to the others.  Quim Fontane - last European Champion (2012) fought hard to keep the title, as usual he threw a million moves in one ride fast and valiant.  On some occasions tricks looked very nice, on some not  as nice, but judges and spectators agreed - he is getting better at it and scoring more and more of them. Quim did very good and with his last ride of the final snatched silver out of Pringles hands. Pringle himself after not very impressive start in prelims seemed to find his focus and went on to take a strong 3rd position in the next two rounds, he had some of the nicest links in his rides in semis and in finals, and got bronze in the end. Tomasz Czapliki (5th) confidently made the final under big pressure of semis, but to me he looked may be a bit over trained to be able to fight for a medal, his training rides often looked much better than in competition. This hole is not too powerful and hard on the body, as you need to generate power yourself.

 

Womens

In Womens we had a few favourites too: 

Marlene, who has the last 2 European titles, had all the rights to defend her Gold, and she prepared good for it. Doing Mcnasties both sides, loops and spaces (which are very difficult to score in this hole because it's shallow). She won every round, but didn't look unbeatable. 

Nina Conkova would be the first favourite, as it is her home spot, she would be the one to take the title from Marlene, but she just had a baby 2 month ago, so we wasn't sure if she is in shape for that.  As it turned out - she was in a pretty good shape, but maybe just not enough for the Gold.  

Zosia (Tomasz Czapliki girlfriend) looked like she received some serious coaching last month and did a lot of practice in this hole. She actually did look like she would get a medal, just would it be enough for a gold? I myself was very pleased with how paddling was going, i was consistently on 4-3 places with over 300 points rides and was able to do my big moves in every round. I did struggle only in a final and this  was 100% mental, as i had the moves and skill to go for a medal, expectations suddenly lay heavy on my shoulders and I had the worst performance in this competition. :) I took 4th. Marlene looked, like she is not challenged enough, she won braking the 500 point barrier, but I know she could go higher. Nina came very close and did her best ride in this competitions, but only to take Silver. Zosia had a solid ride of 300+ and took bronze - her first medal on such high level competitions, I am very glad for her and foresee a very bright future for this girl in Freestyle. 

 

Junior Men

In this class the favourite made sure he is prepared! Max Karlsson spent a month here in Cunovo practising, being coached, planning his rides and resting. He became almost local here. Taking a full advantage of his last year in juniors he won everything he could this year and Europeans wasn't an exception. His performance was solid and spectacular. He won every round and took well deserved Gold. 

Second was Lane De Meluenaere, strong and consistent paddler from Belgium. Third was Jan Havelka - unknown Czech paddler, who seemed to be familiar with this kind of features. He came as a surprise, showed some solid paddling and took the medal out of the hands of Thomas Richard - french star and Worlds Silver medalist. Thomas was very unfortunate in his final rides and went home empty handed with 4th place. For some reason french paddlers, usually very strong & good, did not excel in this hole. 

 

Other classes

In C-1 Czech paddler Lucas Cervinka took the title, he is very used to this kind of features, and was one of the favourites. Sebastian Devred took Silver, free from K-1 men final he was able to put his focus in C-1 and made sure Silver stays with him in this category. Bronze went to Spanish Adria Bosch Roca. 

Junior women category had the same winner as last time - Nuria Fontane. She did not meet a challenger strong enough this time, the rest of girls was fighting for over second and bronze. Kim Aldred took silver coming up with her best ride of event and German Emma Schuk 3rd - rather a miraculous medal, pushing British Emma Witherford off the podium.

One more medal I just have to mention: 

Anna Orlova - my Russian team mate took Gold in Squirt boats - our first European Champion. Even I understand - this class is small and not too serious, but this is our first Gold and we’re going to celebrate it! Hope it will inspire my team to train harder in all other categories as well!

Katya 

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