Oct
30

First Impressions of the New 9r

When I first heard that Pyranha was coming out with a race boat, to say I was excited was an understatement! For me having the option to up the pace on a rapid, charging and flowing dynamically and seamlessly through the moves is one of the best feelings you can get in a kayak. In this area the 9r doesn’t disappoint at all and it really is one of the smoothest boats Ive paddled. Before getting in the 9r I was certainly ready for it to be a fast hard charging machine, what I wasn’t ready for was how good it would be in so many other areas too.

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As soon as you sit in the 9r it feels narrower around the hips and this narrowness goes for the length of the boat. The knee position is the best I have ever had in a boat, finding it easy to get a snug fit and you get the feeling of being in contact and control with the boat really quickly. As you look down the boat, you will see that the boat is a little longer than what you might be used to, but it doesn’t seem like there is a mountain of plastic beyond your knees like some boats can. Behind you, the back of the boat looks well shaped, with the widest point being behind your hips and the boat narrowing towards the very back. This boat looks like when it hits a hole, the back end is just going to keep on moving through rather than get caught in the recirculation.

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On the water the boat sits with a high bow rocker and pretty quickly you can confirm what you probably already thought, that the boat is going to be light and nimble on the rapids. From the vey first time you generate speed up the eddy and break into the flow you can clearly feel the boats lift at the front, the bow wants to stay dry and has no problem rising up and over tricky boil lines. As soon as you start throwing it around into eddies and behind rocks, its pretty clear that Pyranha have developed something pretty special here, the edge to edge transitions are fast, it turns really quickly on the spot and it also holds an edge and its momentum and speed too. Throughout all of this you have probably forgotten that its longer than what you normally paddle!

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The boat doesn’t actually feel long in the water, but when you line up in the eddy against some of the shorter boats, its pretty obvious who is going to win in a race here! Charging straight down the river, the boat rides high up and over the waves, with the bow consistently staying dry and the narrowness of the boat gives the feeling that you are slithering down the river like some kind of racing snake. Any time that you get moved off course, or simply want to change direction, the boat responds well, feeling like a very maneuverable river boat. It really is no surprise that so many of the Pyranha athletes did so well at the Addidas Sickline in this boat.

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What really surprised me about the 9r is that I really wasn’t intending to use it so regularly on the river as my normal boat. My intention was to try and use it for training and racing, but it hasn’t been phased by anything that Ive asked of it at all. I can easily get my two piece splits in the back of the boat and my river leader kit and equipment and the boat still feels light enough on the water, although I don’t think Ill win any races with this much kit in the back! Will I paddle this as my main creek and river boat in the future, only time will tell. If you’re constantly falling off steeper stuff or scratching down rocking creeks then there are better suited boats from the range, or if you are in huge water all the time, then you may want a bit more volume (Is there a 9rXL on the cards???) You also don’t need to be a superhero racer to get something from this boat either, many people will appreciate its features on grade 2 and 3 and for some of the more old school paddlers, the length and narrowness may feel quite familiar.  Those people coming from a slalom background will find a familiar feeling when they paddle the 9r

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Pyranha have genuinely designed an absolute gem here and it’s a pleasure to be representing the team in this boat. This is inevitably going to be popular with racers, river runners, paddlers with a slalom background, smaller paddlers and of course anyone who wants to charge fast.

Smooth, dynamic, nimble and fast. Im impressed with it, stay tuned for some more updates!

Special thanks go to Manuel Arnu, Rachel Burke, Michael Harper, Peter Harper and Lukas Tomsa for the photograhs

Oct
29

China’s Intense: Ch 2 The Road

Trials and Tribulations abound when hunting new rivers in China.

 

Oct
27

Eastern India

This August, after a sweet month of boating in Kerala, we headed to Eastern India – Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – on the look out for quality whitewater.

Until now there have not been any whitewater paddling trips to this area (as far as we know…), so as you might expect we started off a bit slow, trying to figure out how things worked.

We spent a good week, maybe more, in Koraput, Orissa attempting to get permits for the surrounding tribal areas which has some epic looking rivers, but also some scary sounding Maoists. Whilst waiting for these to come through we headed west to Chhattisgarh to the Indravati for our first run in the area, and first multi-day of the entire expedition.

Upon our return from the Indravati we found our permits had been rejected, so we decided to crack on north and check out some of the rivers in the less culturally sensitive areas. The highlight of northern Orissa without doubt was the Phulbani river, a 15km section with around 10km of whitewater set in a beautiful gorge – and paddleable in just one day!!!

Whilst the surrounding area to the Phulbani had a load of potential, we were tired of permit faff, so headed to Jharkhand, a state not really known for anything (so much so there are only 2 pages in the 1,000 page lonely planet for India). Fortunately for us, Jharkhand does have somethign to brag about – scary ass rivers. We paddled an 8km section of the Sankh, which can’t have had any more than 500m of flatwater. We walked some ridiculous rapids, survived some scary ones, and had a sweeeeeet time on the vast amounts of quality rapids.

The east of India has sooo much going for it as a kayaking destination, and I definitely want to head back as soon as possible.

However the rains have moved on and we’re now back in the familiar setting of Meghalaya – my favourite place to go kayaking anywhere in the world. Stay tuned for more…

Oct
07

Demshitz fires up the Upper Gauley on the Pyranha Fusion Sit on top

The Fusion SOT is a boat that you can jump on and have a blast right away, no matter if you are a complete beginner or seriously experienced.The new Fusion SOT combines the forgiving hull of the proven Fusion crossover kayak with an open design that will appeal to paddlers who prefer the simplicity of a sit-on-top.

Oct
06

Alabama 2014: Winter and Spring Wrap-Up

Below, Adam Goshorn takes flight off his favorite boof in Little River Canyon, photo by Joey Jarrell

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I know… I know… it is fall and yet, here I am finally putting up the last of my media from the winter and spring, but better late than never.  Unlike the spring of 2013, which was unusually wet (see video HERE), north Alabama experienced only average rainfall in the spring of 2014.  Luckily for those of us that call the region home, average rainfall is still enough to provide plenty of consistent paddling opportunities from Dec-May… albeit with a bit less variety.  We did have the opportunity to explore McWhorter Gulf in April, which had been on my wish list for years (see pictures and video HERE).  However, with that exception, this year most of the Alabama paddling season had us sticking to the classics that have large watersheds and run most consistently.

 

Below, my wife Shannon Goshorn choosing a creative way shorten a portage in Little River Canyon (photo by Joey Jarrell).

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Little River Canyon is the bread and butter for the north Alabama paddling scene and keeps our addictions fed for much of the year.  With a variety of sections suitable for paddlers of every skill level and a watershed that keeps it running for about six months out of the year, it is hard to beat… being ten minutes from my house doesn’t hurt either!  My video, This is the LRC, that was posed earlier this year, showed a variety of lines on Little River Canyon at low and medium flows (if you missed it, you can find it HERE).

 

Below, Pat Smith taking the boof line on Bottleneck in Little River Canyon, photo by Adam Goshorn

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Town Creek is another classic for the north Alabama paddling community.  It has a large drainage and cuts a canyon into the side of Sand Mountain as it makes its way down to Lake Guntersville.  Town Creek is known mostly for being a good introduction to creeking for the class III crowd, but that reputation really only references paddling the lower section at low flows.  If you add more water (anything around 1000 CFS or more) and/or either of the large bedrock features upstream of the normal put-in… Town Creek becomes a fun run for more advanced paddlers too.  At the put-in for the upper section is a long bedrock slide that was once the site of an old mill and develops quite a stomping hole at high water.  At the put-in for the lower is a 30-foot cascade that occasionally gets run at high water.

 

Below, my wife Shannon Goshorn running the mill slide on the Town Creek, photo by Adam Goshorn

Shannon Goshorn by AG 1

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct
06

Creeking in Kerala

Kerala has been on my to do list for quite a few years now and this year I finally made it over. As a destination is far surpassed my expectations (and they were already high), with an incredible mix of keen locals, an epic race which draws people from all over India and the world, quality wahitewater and the best food I’ve had anywhere in India!

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We got super lucky with levels, and had the local run, the Chalipurzha, in flood for a solid two weeks!!! This meant we didn’t get much exploratory paddling done but thats fine, Kerala already has some epic established classics.

Oct
02

Pyranha Memories: The Rotobat

I designed the RotoBat in 1984 with the help of leading paddlers at the time, including Dave Reynolds.

Rotobat on a Roofrack in the 80s

The 1980s were a great time to be a paddler!

In the UK, pool training boats were used for introductions to kayaking in swimming pools during winter, and then from that Canoe Polo became popular. It always used to surprise me just how much damage the players did to their kayaks, so when we started Roto-Moulding, we decided to make a Roto-Moulded version of these pool boats. All of those pool trainers had the name BAT (Baths Advanced Trainer) included, so ours was the RotoBAT.

We knew the RotoBat’s toughness would make it popular for pool training, and thought it could be fun for paddling whitewater, but we never expected it to be so successful! Many people started paddling it on rivers in the UK, then Jan Kellner started to use it after trying it at the pre-World Slalom Championships at Augsburg in 1984. Jan, along with several other Augsburg paddlers, did what were amazing stunts for the time in the RotoBat.

Helen Barnes breaks Hand Rolling World Record in a Pyranha Rotobat.

Still breaking records, Helen Barnes sets a new hand rolling Guinness World Record in a Rotobat in 2010

In 1986, there was an expedition back to Mt. Everest called the “Kites and Kayaks Expedition”, and of course, the RotoBat was one of the main kayaks. We then decided we should make another kayak that was a bit bigger, and asking Jan & Wolfgang Bolg what we should call it, they and their club friends suggested Mountain Bat. The Mountain Bat turned out to be our next big success and from then, everybody expected other kayaks to be called BAT, so the StuntBAT and MagicBAT followed.

I do not recall when production of the RotoBat ceased, but it must have been around 1998 after we had some corrosion on the mould.

Great memories of a great kayak.

Oct
01

Video: Cispus River, Washington

The Cispus River is a little piece of paradise tucked away in a remote gorge in the mysterious, magical, sasquatch infested forests between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. While a trip to this river is easily done in an afternoon, one does not go to the Cispus on a schedule, resulting in a phenomenon known as island time. Just out there enjoying it! This video captures the vibe and experience of an afternoon on the Cispus River! Hope you enjoy.

https://vimeo.com/107195265

Island time at the Cispus

The 1st rapid on the Cispus

The 1st rapid on the Cispus

Clay

Sep
29

Pyranha Fest 2014

The hype was big, the prizes were bigger and with the promise of the biggest party ever, the Pyranha fest 2014 was going to be huge! Every year in mid September the Pyranha fest is held at Bala in North Wales with a range of courses, events, competitions, paddling, mayhem and of course a full demo fleet on offer too. The weekend has something for everyone, with many paddlers simply coming to catch up with old friends on the water and to attend the legendary Saturday night party!

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The morning of both the Saturday and Sunday of the event kicks off with the coaching sessions, with Team Pyranha’s top coaches passing on a range of skills and expertise to the paddlers that had signed up. On offer were courses covering a range of skills from boofing, to beginner sessions, sit on top fun, to freestyle and even finding out how to paddle like a Jedi!

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I delivered the river rescue session on the Saturday and the downriver freestyle course on the Sunday. What completely struck me during both sessions was how passionate everyone who attended the event was about paddlesport. Even during repeated dunking and swims for throwlines during the river rescue, the participants had beaming smiles throughout and just wanted more and more! During the freestyle course everyone was wanting to push themselves to be better and better on every single run, but it wasn’t about beating everyone else, it was just about being the best that they possibly could be. The smiles and the enthusiasm I saw throughout the courses was a really positive reminder of the ethos of the event and also why I love paddling and coaching.

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After the courses the “competitive” side of the event got well underway with the extreme slalom up first with paddlers flying down the course, catching specific eddies and passing paddles through cockpit rims that had been strung up across the course. Skillful paddling was certainly rewarded, with the fastest paddlers negotiating the course in a slick, precise way, intelligently overcoming all the obstacles.

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Next up was the retro rodeo, with paddlers dusting off old kit and equipment and pulling mouldy boats out from behind garden sheds to show who really is the rodeo king or queen. Not since the late 90s has such a seamless display of air guitars, shudder rudders, paddle spins and hand surfing been displayed in a competition format. Team Pyranha’s Matt Cooke came to the competition in style to give the crowd a showcase of the early freestyle moves, he really was in his element! However there was a new contender for the retro rodeo crown in the form of Oli Margetts who brought a confident selection of moves with real flair, any onlooker would think that he had been practicing!

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The final event for the Saturday was the cardboard race! Teams had minimal time to put together a cardboard kayak and to nominate a paddler to be the captain of their ship. There was certainly some variation in the quality of the build on some on of the boats, which meant that there was certainly some submarine and also plenty of swimming action too.

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This led onto the Saturday night party, which cannot go without a mention. Everything seemed very civilized, with plenty of quiet paddling based chatter and a fantastic talk from Matt and some of the team on the Team Tour of the Summer. With only a few people up dancing (and some people dressed as Kangaroos boxing outside the party tent) it seemed as though we were heading for an early(ish) night. However at midnight something happened, was it something in the water, or was the moon in the right phase? Either way, the party erupted! The tent was bouncing and there wasn’t a single person in the room without an ear to ear smile and their hands up in the air!

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Sundays competitions were in the form of the sit on top slalom and boater cross. The new Pyranha Fusion sit on top was available all weekend for paddlers to try out, with the feedback coming back resoundingly positive for this new boat. Paddlers were given a fun course to paddle down a section of tricky whitewater, with many paddlers sitting in the fusion for the first time ever in the starting eddy! This led for some comedy moments and some very questionable lines. A special mention must go to Niamh Stack and Lowri Davies who entered as a tandem crew!

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Most of the sit on top competitors then made their way down to the start of the boater cross. This was an intensely fought competition, with paddlers showing real stamina and strength throughout, fortunately there wasn’t too much carnage!

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Most of the paddlers throughout the weekend took the opportunity to have a paddle of the new Pyranha 9r. This is Pyranha’s new race orientated kayak which has already gathered a big following in the initial stages of its release, I had a paddle of one too and I can certainly say that it was a big surprise. When you look at this boat, its obvious that it is going to be fast downriver and punchy and quick through waves and holes. What isn’t so obvious is how unbelievable nice the boat is to paddle as an all round river boat too. With it being narrow the edge to edge transitions are super smooth and help it to feel really nimble on the river. That high bow rocker keeps it riding dry and seems to make it accelerate over all of the holes it hits. I think that this could well be the river boat of choice for a lot of paddlers in the future. Safe to say I’m excited, initial impressions are spectacular! A full review will be on the way from me soon.

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During the final presentation, there were a couple of very special awards and prizes to give out. During the courses the coaches had been giving the task of identifying paddlers who showed enthusiasm, talent and real spirit to be put forward for one of the special prizes. Zach Marston won the “spirit of Pyranha Fest” prize, with Zach’s coaches saying that he is really determined, brave and extremely enthusiastic with great skills. A special mention went to Ifan Hewitt because his enthusiasm throughout the weekend was so great, that simply could not go unrewarded.  Finally the main prize of the one off “zombie Shiva” went to Eve Whitley. Eve had never paddled White Water before Pyranha Fest, by the end of her course, she was having a go at Grade 3.  She’s very keen and enthusiastic and was rated the most deserving. What a start to a paddling career, coming with no moving water experience and leaving with a brand new kayak!

The final results for the event

Retro Rodeo

1st – Oli Margetts

2nd – Dave Burne

3rd – Beth Hume (all the way from Norway, especially for the weekend!)

Boater X Mens (we had some ladies enter too!)

1st – Dave Burne

2nd – Niamh Stack

3rd – Lee Royle

Boater X Ladies

1st – Lowri Davies

2nd – Niamh Stack

3rd – Louise Fingleton

King of the Wave

1st – Dave Burne

Sit on Top Slalom

1st – Dave Burne

2nd – Lee Royle

3rd – Graeme Benson

Cardboard Race

1st – Graeme

2nd –  Rebecca Jones

3rd – Rebecca Harris

IR Extreme Slalom

1st – Lee Royle

2nd – Dan Yates

3rd – Rob Moffat

Pyranha Fest 2014 was the best ever and it could not have been possible without support from the following people

The Sun Trevor in Llangollen for some great food and the bar, Go Kayaking North West for helping us set up and pack away each day and providing some awesome prizes for the BoaterX, Canolfan Tryweryn for allowing us to hold the event at their invaluable venue, Bala Canoe Club for letting us camp, drive and party all over their field, Extreme Events for bringing a barrage of audible delights, Panic Circus for providing the big top for us to dance the night away under, Big Bounce Castle Hire for the epic kangaroo suits and giant games, Immersion Research Europe for providing some great prizes and running the Extreme Slalom event, The Welsh Rivers Guidebook for donating some of their books to the prize packs, all the Pyranha Staff and Team Paddlers for everything they do to make this happen, Rach for taking a LOT of awesome photos and everyone who came and made it as fun for us as we hope it was for them (especially Beth Hume for flying in all the way from Norway just for the event!) Andy Butler and Altitude8 for putting together a film of the event which will be premiering soon on vimeo.com/PyranhaKayaks

Bring on Pyranha Fest 2015 See you there!!

All photos by Rachel Burke

Sep
24

Video: Little White Salmon – Low Side of Good

Typically once the Ldub gets below around 2.8 or so, most people stop going out there. We start running the Truss and the Cispus, and save Little White laps for next season. But this year, once it reached the end of summer, everything was pretty dang low, and on a nice hot sunny day, we decided to drop into the ldub at the lowest of low flows and at least descend the gorge. Its a sick gorge and cold clear pretty water, how bad could it be??? Well it turns out there are still some super fun rapids in there! The manky parts of the run were pretty bad, but the good parts were still awesome! Well worth the trip, so much that I ended up doing 3 laps that week!  Its not your typical little white edit, but here is a fun little video of some good times on the ldub. Island time all the time!

Roosting off spirit, it is still $$$ at these flows!

Roosting off spirit, it is still $$$ at these flows!

–  Clay

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