It's been three years of drought here in California. Weather channels predict an El Niño winter. This means above average precipitation, but warmer. We certainly seem to be off to that start out here as we just saw over 2" of rain at 7,000' in the High Sierra. While it doesn't do much for the spring, for now it primes the river with early season water. …Continue
Posted by Darin McQuoid on December 3, 2014 at 9:39pm
Posted by Susan Hollingsworth on November 21, 2014 at 1:01pm
A few weeks ago, I bought a one way ticket to Medellín, Colombia. Only knowing the stories my high school Spanish teacher (Capo Rettig) and Jules Domine had told me, I was more than excited to explore the rivers in Colombia for myself. I arrived in Medellín on Thursday night (11/6) and the next day I was hiking through the jungle towards my first Colombian river - el río verde!
We drove 2 hours outside Medellín to a village called San Francisco. Not exactly the same as the San…
Posted by Hannah Kertesz on November 10, 2014 at 7:00pm
With 2014 coming to an end it's been really cool over the past couple of days to look back on all of the footage we recorded this year, Below are my five favorite tricks from 2014.
5. Lunarzilla, One of my favorite combos of the year. Spinning back on yourself and then launching a godzilla out of it to finish the trick of just feels awesome and we ahve a lot of potential to link more tricks onto the end of the Godzilla.
4. The no paddle Tricky Whu. In my opinion one of the best ways to improve your kayaking is to go hand padlding for a couple of days, Me and my buddy Matt Anger originally started hand paddling this fall to improve our hand roll so we could throw our paddles on taller waterfalls and be a little bit more cnfident about hand rolling in the couldron below, By the end of the week, we could nail pretty much every hole move between us.
3. The Lunar Tricky Loop. This is a James "Pringle" Bebbington original. I always used to watch Pringles videos and be mind blown by the combos he threw but never thought I would ever be able to throw one, Pringle took me under his wing for the summer of 2012 and after seeing him throw them down every day and the occasional tip I started throwing some of the basics. This trick however was the bane of my life for that entire winter season. Feels so good to be able to stomp it on demand now. Thanks again Pringle!
2. The Panam. The biggest I have ever gone on a wave. Ever.
The Airscrew - Blunt - Mcnasty. The blunt was pretty lame and I would like the mcnasty to rotate more like a pistol flip but i'm still really happpy to land a 3 trick combo on a wave and stoked to build on this trick at next years Stakeout.
Thanks for reading,
See you on the water,
In November four team members from the GB raft team squad and their coach for the trip Fieke Reinjtjes, attended the R4 World Rafting Championships in Brazil. The event was hosted in the south of the country at the base of the spectacular Iguassu falls.
Excitement and anticipation was running high as we flew in over green jungle spotting wide river canyons and the huge Itaipu Dam; the location of the artificial white water course that was to host the sprint, head to head and slalom competitions. We had only a week to prepare so making the best of the limited water times on the course we practiced sprint lines, alternative head to head lines and got a good handle on the flow and movement of the water for the slalom moves. It was tough going as temperatures were soaring into the forties and the water levels were unpredictable due to a large drought that had been going on in the country for some months. However we made the best of it and with our top class coach we made sure we were well prepared for race days.
The first day of competition was Sprint. This is basically getting the fastest time possible down a set course. We felt comfortable with our line of choice, having walked and visualised the course and made sure we all had our goals fixed firmly in mind. Some excellent lines and paddling by the ladies teams saw us placed 4th at the end of the day. We were pleased with our performance but were determined to improve on this.
The day of the head to head dawned, we were at the site early giving ourselves plenty of time to look at line choice, discuss the ‘what ifs’ and even enough time to cool off in the caiman pool at the top of the course. Our first draw was Russia, we chose river right lane and got an excellent start off the line. This starting side proved to be the slower one but in this first race we overpowered the Russians and paddled to take the win. Feeling happy with the race our next draw was Brazil, they had lane choice and chose left??. This time they managed to get their nose just in front on the start and though we were on their tail for the whole course we didn’t manage to sneak past them. The final draw of the day was our friends of old; Slovakia. Again they had lane choice and chose left?, revving up on the start line we cast our minds back to the European Champs where we had snatched a gold medal from them on their home turf. Unfortunately this time it wasn’t to be. They got their nose ahead on the start and powered away, we gave chase but to no avail. We finished the day again in fourth!
As we left for the evening, slalom poles were being hung and we walked the course to get in our heads the rough structure we would face tomorrow. Happily a lot of the moves we had practiced were in, so we went home feeling confident that we could achieve the moves required. Our first run was disappointing as we dropped low on two of the gates and picked up two 50 second penalties. Unfortunately the second
slalom run was delayed due to low water and the organisers informed us that we would be making our second run after the endurance run that next day.
A treat to start the last day of the competition, as dawn was breaking teams boarded power boats at the bottom of the downriver section and were whizzed at amazing speed up the rapids to the base of the Iguassu Falls. What an experience and what an incredible place to start a race! The race order was decided to be solo starts with one minute intervals, due to both slalom runs not being completed the true points order of the teams could not be calculated and so the usual pod system could not be applied. This solo start makes for a difficult mental challenge as you have no marker of how you are doing in the race. And on such an open wide river the lack of motivation for chasing or being chased was really tough. We put in a good solid performance with everyone giving their max, powering through the boils and whirlpools created by the sheer volume of water in the river. Again we were fated to finish fourth, two seconds behind the Brazil ladies team. Over that distance it was difficult news to take but looking back we are all so proud of the performance we put in. Time for a quick cool down and we were then straight back into slalom mode. Back to the course, we couldn’t make up any more positions on our second run, however, we made both of the missed gates though with some touches we finished sixth.
When all the races were taken into account our overall ranking was fourth. All credit to the top three ladies teams, finishing in order; Brazil, Japan and Slovakia. They really were excellent competition, the standards have once again raised. To get onto the podium again training will have to step up one more notch!
Our thanks to Palm for providing us with excellent gear, back into the winter kit now for some serious training!
Bright white spotlights illuminated the 3-gate wave against the contrast of the evening's darkness. The weir bridge was lined with spectators and tunes were blasting from the sound system. Big screens showed a live feed to more excited spectators in a spacious marquee on the river bank, where scores and rankings were being updated LIVE on another big screen. Hundreds more were tuned in from the comfort of their homes, thanks to a live online feed. Hidden away, the judges were using live-streamed multi-angle cameras to decide the hugeness and cleanness of the moves being thrown down by some of the world's best paddlers, from all over the globe. A super final by any definition, and the culmination of an awesome weekend!
This year's Hurley Classic was a truly epic, world-class event with something for everyone. Youngsters could paddle with their favourite super-star pros, there was a retro old school event, a mega boater-x (with cash prize) and the main event was done a friendly jam format, with paddlers being separated by experience, age and gender at a later stage for the results. I can't think of many other events with over 220 competitors, showcasing the best of the past, the present and the future of freestyle!
Saturday was mostly dedicated to the 'Paddle with the Stars' where loads of kids of all abilities not only got to paddle with their heros, but they learn how to use coach's eye for video analysis, mental rehearsal, effective boat outfitting, got a a check for surfer's ear and took part in a fun SUP challenge on the wave! A busy fun-filled day for all involved!
Photo by Sweetwater Coaching.
Photo by AE Photos
The fun continued with the Old School competition, seeing paddlers of all ages taking to the water in craft and outfits pre-2000. It was hilarious to watch and everyone was having an absolute blast. It was like watching freestyle through the ages: from 70s fibre glass to 90s neon. Watching Tim Thomas and Matt Tidy cartwheel and blunt their retro slicy boats gave me the same sense of awe I had when I first watched them do that as a teenager. Palm's own Tim Thomas even took home the win...
Photo: AE Photos
The evening's water-based activities continued with the heats of the much anticipated Palm Equipment & WWTCC Moving Target Boater-x. Paddlers were set off in heats of four from a steep ramp. They had to race head to head around a course that took them accross the wave and battling the wave train, manouvering around buoys and sprinting to the finishline downstream... but it wasn't that simple. There were 8-ball blockers (paddlers who's job it was to generally get in the way) and a powerful hose manned by a sadistic young man to spice things up.
I totally loved this event! Adrenaline, speed and accuracy with a good dose of argy-bargy and randomness. I had my boat and kit rigged up with EL-wire for a film project, so took to the races lit up and with a Tron soundtrack - amazing! Despite being lit up like an actual moving target, and having wires and batteries all over the place, I managed to qualify in 1st place in every round and eventually went on to take the win in Sunday's finals. The Mens event was hard faught throughout, and it was eventually fellow Palm paddler Bren Orton who took the win. We both bagged £100 cash prize, thanks to the event sponsors White Water the Canoe Centre & Palm Equipment.
Photo by AE Photos
Photos by Seth Ashworth
After all that excitement it was time for a "showcase final" with invited hot-shot boaters and past winners from around the world giving us a taste of things to come the following day. Saturday evening saw even more precision organisation as over 250 hungry paddlers and helpers were fed and watered before an interesting presentation by Mariann Saether about dams around the world, the pros and cons, and what we can do to make a difference. The Thames Valley Freestylers annual awards were also given out - a great mix of rewarding those who have progressed, given back to the paddling community and a few silly ones. At an internationally attended event, it was great to see the local paddling community was still at the heart of it, without feeling exclusive.
Sunday kicked off bright and early, with over 200 paddlers wanting to take part and show what they can do, it was a tight schedule. River levels were rising rapidly, making constant work with the lock-keeper essential to try and keep the wave as consistant as possible. Jam heats of mixed ability and age gave everyone plenty of rides with a supportive environment - rather than the traditional 45 seconds of all or nothing. Live feed screens for spectators were fantastic, and live score updates really upped the excitment. People were living their mates' rides with them - the volume of cheers and sighs told of the size of the move, or whether it had flushed!
Live score updates
After 8 hours of heats, the final scores were in. The wave was adjusted to a foamy 3-gate formation. It was time for the top 10 men and top 5 women to take to the water once more to battle it out to be crowned king and queen of Hurley Classic 2014. Back in the two rides of 45 seconds formet, the pretty was really on. Tie to go big, or go home. Flushing in your 45 second ride would mostly likely hand the title to someone that didn't, but the "safe" moves don't score much.
In the ladies event, we had an all-GB final (Mariann had to leave early to catch her flight home to Norway). In fact, looking at the list you'd be forgiven for thinking we'd gone back in time a few years with 2009's GB Ladies Team line-up (myself, Emily Wall (now Ward) and Fiona 'Flea' Jarvie) all taking our place against the new generation of Jen McGaley, Sophie McPeak and local girl Mandy Chan. Flea showed us that you never forget how to rip by putting together a great ride using both the hole and wave features on offer to take the win. I placed 2nd with Emily close behind - go team 2009!
The mens final was absolutely mind-blowing with rides linking together some of the top scoring moves in both hole and wave, including airscrews, helixes, pistol flips, pan ams, mcnasties, space godzillas and huge, totally clean head-dry loops.
Photo by Mainhead Camera Club
In the end, Nick Troutman (CAN)'s snappy style got him the win, putting last year's winner Stephen Wright (USA) in second and Sebastien Devred (FRA). There was a good showing from the British guys too with Gav Barker, Pringle and Brandon Hepburn all throwing down some impressive rides.
Photo by James McAllistair
In summary this was a fabulous event for young, old, pro, novice, local or expert. It showcased our sport as fun, exciting and impressive to a wide audience (including visiting Lords and BCU chiefs as well as being shown on ITV news). Whatever your paddling background, I highly recommend coming along next year: get involved or just come to see the show!
All photos by Dave Wortley unless otherwise credited.
Some love the winter, some hate it. To me, the first frosts signal a time when I should start looking at freshwater predatory species like pike and perch. Pike are a worthy adversary that can gain weights of over forty pounds but fish like that are extremely rare. Most anglers will never get to see one over twenty pounds. They fight hard, they have attitude and they are Ireland's apex freshwater predator. With mottled green and yelow flanks they lie in wait, perfectly camouflaged amongst the weeds until a prey item comes along. They are a long fish with most of the fins located towards the rear which allows for devastating bursts of speed in their ambush attacks. How could you not want to try for a couple of them?
After a very busy weekend (exams in a couple of weeks) I decided that I had to spend at least a couple of hours on the river. An hour's drive saw me at the launch point, getting ready in freezing fog. One thing that really puts kayak anglers off winter fishing is the cold but a good drysuit will allow for layers underneath which will trap heat and keep the angler warm. Another invaluable design feature of the Kaikoura PFD also really helps - the handwarmer pockets! They were relied on heavily for the couple of hours on the river yesterday.
After setting up the gear I launched into the fog and started to make my way upstream. I kept tight to the bank hoping there would be pike lying in wait by the reeds, waiting for an easy meal to pass. Recent rain had risen and coloured the river so I decided that the best option would be to use a large lure with a rattle inside it. If the pike couldn't see the lure in the darkened water then it might sense the vibrations put out by the rattle and be able to 'home in' on it. I also had some fresh herrings for bait and as I rounded a corner on the river I was able to identify a huge shoal of baitfish on the echo-sounder. Pike will not be far from their food source so I pulled in to the bank and cast a lure in the direction of the edge of the shoal.
Minutes later I was playing the first fish of the day, a small pike. Quickly beaten, I hauled it on board to get the hooks out, get a photograph and let it swim off again. Despite their fearsome appearance and reputation, pike are a relatively delicate species that will suffer quickly if subjected to poor handling and rough treatment. A good start, I started to make my way upstream through the gloom once again. I continued to pull the artificial lure behind the kayak and upon reaching the next bend in the river the rod heaved over and I was playing the second pike of the session. This pike was a carbon copy of the first fish and spat the hooks before I could get it on board. I look on the bright side; it saved me the trouble of unhooking it!
I pushed further on and, once again, when I reached another bend in the river the rod really arched over and I was connected to a better fish. After a spirited account of herself (all big pike are females) I hauled her from the depths to get a good look at her. The rattling lure did the trick and after a quick photograph she was gone, back to her watery home with a flick of her powerful tail. I always love catching fish like that and it is only a feeling beaten by watching them swim off strongly afterwards. A fish returned to the water is a gift for another angler in the future.
With the light starting to fade and the fog thickening it was time to head back home to the books, thouroughly satisfied with my couple of hours worth of distraction.
Started by Glenn Leite Nov 6.
Started by Carl Scarbro Oct 31.