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26
Aug

Racing California’s Cherry Creek

The Cherry Creek Race

Class V endurance racing. That’s what the Cherry Creek Race is. There are several class V kayak races that happen around the country each year. Each of them pose their own challenges to the racers. None of them require the competitors to paddle all out for 40 minutes through stacked class V rapids like the Cherry Creek Race does.

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I first learned about the Cherry Creek Race in 2010 when I went to the creek for the first time. I just happened to show up on race day completely unaware that there was going to be a race. Since then it has been one of my favorite river parties to attend each year, and it has been a goal of mine to enter the race. This year it finally came together. I started making regular trips down there about a month ago to learn the course. Before last month I hadn’t been on that section of river in three years and I’d only done it a couple times, so I definitely had some work to do. After a half dozen practice runs I felt pretty confident. I drove down Friday night and felt really excited that I was finally going to race the creek. I wasn’t nervous at all which I thought was odd. I usually get pre-race jitters on even small races and this was definitely one of the hardest races I’ve done.  I woke up early Saturday morning and still felt fired up. The whole drive up to put in I couldn’t wait to get on the water. When we arrived at put in, that’s when my jitters found me. I was suddenly feeling pretty glad I had eaten a light breakfast as it was threatening to come back up. I talked myself through checking all my gear for any last minute issues. It was all solid. I felt confident, and just a little nauseous.  My goals for the race were pretty simple. First, make it to the finish line. Second, don’t get passed by the person behind me. Third, get there in under 45 minutes. Winning the race was not really a factor since my competition had way better knowledge of the course than I did. This really helped take some of the stress off too I think. Since it was my first time racing I just needed to create a base line. Next year I will be trying to beat my own time.

I was near the end of the group to start. I left the start at a strong but moderate pace. It’s easy to get caught up in the people cheering and want to go full throttle out of the gate, but when you have to paddle 5 miles through several really big rapids it’s good to pace yourself. The first mile is continuous class IV+ boulder gardens. It’s easy to get lost in here because there are few standout features. It all kind of looks the same. I managed to find my way only taking one wrong line but I don’t think it cost me too much.

The first big rapid is called Jawbone. You boogie down through some bouldery lead in until you come to a horizon where you ride a small curler in between two big holes. For me it’s about 50/50 if I get through here right side up. Nailed it in the race. One down. Ten more to go.

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The author punching the final hole in Mushroom

Mushroom had been giving me some sporty lines in practice so I wasn’t sure what to expect in the race. I stuck both entrance moves but still got a little jangled up in the weird water in the middle. I recovered it though and flew off the top of the mushroom. I got surfed by the lateral at the bottom but was happy to avoid the big hole. I might have lost a couple seconds there but at least I didn’t get beat down and swim.

 

I never actually ran mushroom straight into toadstool before the race. Usually we stop in between to regroup and wait for everyone to get through the first part. There was nobody to wait for on race day though. It was pretty much the same going straight in although I did think for a second how it would be nice to stop for a breather. I got spun out in the eddy at toadstool which cost me time and energy but other wise it went well.

Unknown, Blind Faith, and Sky King all went really well. I was feeling pretty good at this point. I caught pretty good air at Sky King and the cheers of the safety crew fed my stoke to paddle harder. Then I got to Eulogy. Usually you drive up a pillow and boof to the right. Starting to feel the effects of the race I got rejected by the pillow. Being too right too early ran me into some dry rocks which nearly flipped me. I was hanging on a brace when I fell into the hole which surfed me to the right. Luckily it spit me out. However, it spit me out into a lateral which typewritered me the the left where another lateral took me all the way back to the right. Not the fastest way to get there but I did want to be right at the bottom so I guess that worked out. I was pretty out of breath from my surf session though so I had to slow down for Coffin Rock. You make a right to left move here right in front of a bad place to hang out so it’s important not to blow it. I just focused on the exit and catching my breath through here which cost me a little more time but like I said before, my first goal was to make it to the finish.

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The typical regroup and catch your breath eddy after Mushroom on a non-race run.

Feeling recuperated after Coffin I knew I had a really fun boogie section before Christmas hole, which was the last spot I was really worried about. I was feeling strong coming into Christmas hole and then I spotted the rafts. There are commercial raft trips on this section and race day is no different. I knew there was a trip out that day, but I was hoping not to see them. I had to slow down a bit to get through a tight section behind the raft before being able to power past them in the final lead in to Christmas hole. I wasn’t stoked to lose more time here but I was happy to know that at least if I got punished in Christmas hole a raft would be along to push me out.

With the raft trip now behind me and only two rapids to go I put everything I had left into each paddle stroke. I had no trouble at Richard’s hole and nailed the fast lines in the little slide things right after. Excited with the knowledge that I was going to make it to the finish I raced toward Lewis’ Leap the final rapid. At the top of the rapid you come around a blind corner into what’s known as the hallway. As I came around the rock I found one more raft. This one was wrapped and completely blocking the channel. My heart sank. This was not only going to kill my race, there was no where for me to go but right into it. For a split second I thought I was completely screwed. Then I hear, “you’re good, you’re good!” I look up and see someone on the rock above the raft pointing to tell me there was in fact a clear path around the raft. The race was back on. I rounded the raft, made the turn, nailed the entry boof and headed straight for the goal posts. As I flew off the leap I thought,”I made it. It’s done.”

I made it to the finish line. I didn’t get passed. I came in at just over 41 minutes. Pretty happy with my first Cherry Creek Race. I would have liked to have been faster, but that will be my goal for next year. I know where I made mistakes and I am looking forward to cleaning them up next time. I’m really lucky to have had a 9R for this race. Without it I would have been much slower. For me being new to this type of racing I found the fast hull on the 9R made it really easy to keep a good pace across what flats there were which allowed me a chance to slow my heart rate and catch my breath in between the big rapids.

Cherry Creek Race

Flying off the boof in the middle of Lumsden Falls in my 9R

 

Photos courtesy of Jen Musick and Phillip Schoenhoff

24
Aug

How to Airscrew

After the front loop the Airscrew is one of the most sought after tricks out there, and for good reason, they look *sick!  (*Sick = Really good)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A9zVl_ec9k&feature=youtu.be

The definition of the Airscrew is ‘a 360 degree aerial barrel roll on the horizontal axis of the boat’. To do this trick you are going to need a good sized wave and a solid back deck roll; having some experience edging boats on a wave and being able to perform easier wave tricks such as blunts will also help a lot. There are various techniques you can use when doing an airscrew but the one I am going to cover is the one I use most often and in my opinion the easiest to learn as it is based almost entirely off the backdeck roll and is an easy drill to practice in flat water.

Step 1. Setup.
Get to the top of the wave and spot your take off point. On most waves this will be on the first bounce you can take and as far up the wave as possible.

Step 2. Takeoff.
This is where being familiar with edging on a wave and performing tricks like blunts will make it far easier for you. But for those that don’t know, you are going to get some speed down the wave and aggressively stomp your feet and pull up hard with your knees. The higher the nose of your kayak gets on the takeoff the more air you will have to do your trick, Generally I aim for the bow of the boat to be above my head. As with almost every wave trick in the book you are going to edge the opposite way of the direction that you are going to throw the trick. A principle rule when learning the Airscrew is that you have to take off straight to land straight.

Step 3. Initiate
Now your kayak will begin getting airborne and you will be about to take your first step toward throwing your airscrew. The Key thing on the initiation is to get your head under your boat as soon as possible I like to look at my back hand and and follow it throughout the movement. (See photo). One of the secrets to getting a good airscrew on a small waves is flicking off the water with your back paddle this helps to both begin your rotation and speed it up.

Step 4. Inverted
Congratulations you will now be both in the air and fully inverted on the wave! You are now at the midway point through your airscrew and even if you don’t land it you should still be able to get a great photo of you looking like you can airscrew. (Winning) (Sort of) At this point you will now reach across with your front hand and grab hard on the water with it. This is the make or break point on most aircrews and generally speaking the quicker you reach across and the harder you pull the better your airscrew will be.

Step 5. Landing
Boom! You should be landing your Airscrew and continue surfing on the wave almost in the same spot that you just took off from you now face a tough decision; keep straight faced and act like throwing an Airscrew is no big deal or continue to step 6.

Step 6. Celebrate
You just landed one of the most visually impressive tricks in kayaking. Sick work! Make sure to quickly and and elaborately perform a victory dance to convey your emotions of pure stoke to your friends in the eddy.

Things to Consider

Crashing really hard and in a bad position on this trick can put your shoulders at risk and doing a couple of strengthening exercises along can help to reduce the risk of a shoulder injury substantially.
Using a good freestyle kayak with hard edges will make a huge difference when doing this trick or any type of freestyle kayaking. There are lots of good ones to choose from but my favourite by far is the Pyranha Jed.
I hope this guide helps and I look forward to seeing you all stomp Airscrews!

See you on the water,
Bren Orton

19
Aug

Colorado 2015 – Part I: Browns Canyon and Clear Creek

This year’s trip out west began like they all do, with a long drive through the night, across the flat plains in the middle of the country.  With a dismal snow pack in the PNW and California, our sights were set on Colorado again this year.  John Kern and I made the normally 22-hour drive from Chattanooga to Buena Vista in a surprisingly fast 21 hours and were ready to get on the water.  After our all night drive we were operating on almost no sleep, so we decided to paddle Browns Canyon of the Arkansas River, thinking that despite the record high water it would still fit the bill as a not-too-threatening warm up run.  I had never run Browns Canyon before, but reading the guidebook describe it as the best class III run it the state… it certainly seemed like it could only be made better with extra flow.  It was true!  At 5200 CFS Browns Canyon was a big water freight train headed downstream in a hurry.  The whole run didn’t take long at all and despite being more challenging than we expected we were both impressed by the quality big-water feel to this normally Class III run.  It was certainly not Class III at that flow!

Below: Adam Goshorn heading down Clear Creek on a different day at a much lower water level.  Photo by John Kern

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On our second day in Colorado, John and I met up with a friend of mine from Alabama, Kyle Clark, who now lives in Colorado.  We met up in BV and then headed up to Clear Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River, my favorite run in the area.  It too was running higher than the recommended maximum, but having run it at a variety of levels over the past decade I felt like it would be fine with our crew.  Below is the helmet cam video of our run.  As usual, the helmet cam angle flattens out the prospective considerably and does not do justice to how continuous and full-on this run is at high water.

While Clear Creek is usually a run that lends itself to multiple laps in a day, on this day, after the first one we all agreed that is was a high quality run, but the level resulted in no practical way to keep an eye on each other or to stop if there had been log or other hazard. “That was fun, but not safe!” -everyone

Until Next Time…

-Adam Goshorn

17
Aug

Stakeout | For the Young Ones

Stakeout, freestyle kayaking’s big wave tour and an annual pilgrimage for us to Canada. This is the land where some of the biggest waves and rapids in the world are found and where freestyle kayaking is pushed the hardest.

Spring time in Canada is always special, some of the biggest whitewater in the world is found here and despite spending most days being cold, tired and scared it is by far my favourite time of the year and where I progress the most. Several years ago, Pat Camblin and his friends ventured away from the Ottawa valley and struck out into Northern Quebec. What they discovered has laid the foundations for big wave freestyle for generations to come with waves such as Black Mass, Detonator and Ginormica now on the list of many freestyle kayakers dream waves to hit. Whilst they found some truly ridiculous stuff, they also spent days on end waiting at the side of the river for snowmelt to coincide with perfect levels. During these waiting periods, Pat coined the term ‘Stakeout’ to describe the time spent “staking out” a wave and learning what levels it works best at. A couple years later Stakeout is now an annual pilgrimage for all freestyle kayakers looking to push themselves and the sport.

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We started off our year on the Ottawa valley; one of freestyle’s oldest stomping grounds and probably the river that has seen the single most progression in the world. The valley is a great place to start off as over the years the locals have dialled in the levels and have all of the knowledge on what wave works and when. We spent a week surfing Mini Bus and were even lucky enough to catch Big Bus for a day; Big Bus has a very narrow window of surf-ability and is most often a huge hole.

Levels continued to rise throughout the week and the Ottawa was at an in-between level with nothing to surf. We ventured 30 minutes down the road to a wave called Bryson Bowl, Which is a really nice shaped 4ft wave that helped to stave off cabin fever whilst we waited for levels to change. Sadly the river levelled out and with Bryson Bowl not being what we had come to Canada for, we packed up our bags and crammed into a car and drove 10 hours north full of high hopes for what was to come in Quebec.

During the 2014 WWGP on an off day, Ben Marr loaded up a car and travelled to a wave he and Pat had found during a low water year in Quebec in hopes of finding something surf able. What they found might possibly be the best wave in the world; huge, green and glassy with a mile-long eddy behind it! It was this wave that captured our hopes and imaginations during that ten hour drive north and we arrived at “The Wave Called Molly” to find the river too high and just a huge green un-surf-able hump where the wave should have formed. We staked out for 3 days hoping levels would drop and that the wave would come in. Unfortunately the Spring Melt was in full force by this point and levels continued to spike. With heavy hearts we packed up and drove to the Misstassibi river promising ourselves that we would watch the online gauge like a hawk and be back at Molly soon!


The Misstassibi river is an amazing piece of white water. During the spring run-off it is made up of three huge, long and continuous rapids. With waves such as Black Mass and Middle Earth forming on the third rapid. Sadly levels where once again not cooperating with us for any of those waves so we ran laps on it taking the usual lines in creek boats, until one evening Ben Marr ventured down the river right hand side of the first rapid and found a pretty good green wave. Levels rose that evening and the next day the pretty good green wave was one of the best waves we have ever surfed! We are still arguing over what to call it but it seems at the moment to be tentatively called “You Cat to be Kitten Me” (freestyle kayakers are weird).

Levels continued to rise and I awoke at 06:00am to one of the photographers (David Jackson) frantically shaking my tent and telling me to get dressed. Whilst getting some early morning shots of the mist rising of the river, David had walked down to the Hawaii rapid and happened upon what might be one of the biggest waves ever surfed. We sprinted back to the cars and geared up, levels can change drastically and there was no time to waste when it came to potentially getting a ride on this monster. This wave is by far the craziest thing I have ever surfed. Bigger and more powerful than you would ever think possible.

At this point levels had spiked and it slowly began to look like we were finally going to get to surf Molly. In the meantime we ran infamous Bridge rapid, surfed Detonator and had some more awesome laps down the Mistassibbi. They continued to level out and sadly due to commitments to be at the Ottawa XL competition we had to pack up our bags and head back to the valley, broken hearted.

Stakeout this year was incredible; we found two new waves, discovered a monster wave and came up with a few new combos. We are still gutted about missing out on “The Wave Called Molly” but there is always next year… 260 days to go ’til Stakeout 2016! (We’re coming for you Molly!)

Video of our trip here:

See you on the water,

Bren

Photos by Seth Ashworth, Pat Camblin and David Jackson

 

06
Aug

Back to back adventures in the Pyranha Fusion – Selway River and Sea Kayaking in the San Juan Islands

Fusion with baker

Over the past two weeks I have been on two very different adventures and seen so much variety from my Pyranha Fusion – 47 miles of the Selway River in Idaho and the tides, currents, and coastline of the San Juan Islands in western Washington. I ended up doing these two trips back to back because I had a wedding to attend on Orcas Island in the San Juans, and right before the wedding I picked up a cancellation permit on the Selway River. The Selway River is one of the most difficult rivers to get on during the permitted season because there is only one launch allowed each day, so my boyfriend and I couldn’t say no to a permit even thought it was low water and last minute. Plus I have a Fusion, which is a great boat for multi-day adventures.

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The Selway River crosses the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, one of the largest areas of land designated as wilderness in the Lower 48. My boyfriend and I planned for a 5-day float, packed up all of our gear and set off. The Fusion is vastly easier to pack than a normal creek boat because of the hatch (which is bone dry inside), so you can just throw all your gear inside and put the lid back on and you are ready to go.

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Even though the boat is long, it was still really easy to paddle and manoeuvre. We even loaded it down with good food and wine, and I had no trouble getting in down the low water channels. Luckily it rained the first few days, which gave us a little bump in the flow through the bony top section, but also turned the river brown for about 12 hours.

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The river grew in size every few miles as tributaries joined, but at Moose Creek, about half way, the river nearly doubled in size. Most of the larger rapids occur after this confluence. The rapids were steep and bony, but still really fun and very beautiful. It’s great living in Idaho and having these rivers and wilderness right out your back door. From the take-out it was only a 2.5-hour drive home where I could unload and re-pack for the San Juans.

Puzzel Creek boof

I decided to go on a sea kayaking trip to the San Juan Islands because one of my best childhood friends was getting married on a beach on Orcas Island, and I wanted to try out my Fusion on the ocean. I was allowed to camp right at the wedding site, so I figured I should just pack up my dress, tent, and sleeping bag and paddle my Fusion from Anacortes on Fidalgo Island (a distance of about 12-15 miles).

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I am not at all experienced in sea kayaking, but after getting out there and doing it I encourage all whitewater paddlers to go on a sea kayaking adventure. Learning about the tides, weather, and navigation is fun and interesting. The San Juan Islands have notoriously strong currents as the tide comes in and out through all of the channels between the islands. A solo trip on the ocean, where you have to cross open water and navigate is pretty intense, especially when the wind the currents get going. It was a full moon, so I also had to plan around and paddle in big tides. A few of the big crossings were over two miles long and took up to two hours just to make it from one island to the next.

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The intimidating thing about the tides is if they are strong enough they can prevent you from making it to where you are going or suck you out into the Strait of Georgia or Strait of Juan de Fuca. When I left Orcas Island I tried to paddle around the north end of Cypress Island to the east. I didn’t make it because I left too late and had to cross the ebbing current and ended up having to head south and paddle around the south side of the island to get back to Fidalgo Island. The islands are beautiful, there are seals, porpoises, and whales, and you can see the Cascades and the Olympic mountains, which means there is also a lot of ferry traffic going back and forth from Anacortes to the Islands. Ferries are absolutely terrifying! They are huge, fast, and can’t stop. I avoided the ferry traffic on my way out, but the distance back to Fidalgo Island is shorter if you cross the ferries. On my return trip I decided I could make it across the channel between the 2pm and 3pm ferry departing from Anacortes and hit the slack tide at 2:18 at the same time. The crossing took longer than an hour and I ended up in the middle of the ferry lane at 3pm with the flood tide starting up. I let the 3pm departing ferry cross in front of me and then I sprinted as fast as I could against the current to get out of the way of the inbound ferry returning from the islands. I made it, but it was really scary watching a huge ferry come at you from across the strait, not knowing exactly what path it is taking, and feeling helpless trying to paddle into a flood current. If I ever do that again, and I will because it was really fun and I have a boat that I can use for sea kayaking, I will never cross the ferry traffic again!

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29
Jul

Battle for Rivers in the Balkan Peninsula – Vjosa: The Last Intact Gem

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The basic idea behind the establishment of Leeway Collective in the start was to bring Nature closer to people again in order to feel the empathy towards her – something that is in every one of us but unfortunately gets distracted in these crazy times when everybody is chasing their dreams underlined with numbers…

After less than a year we got engaged into something that is summing up all that we so much care for – we are lucky and proud to be an ambassador of amazing campaign that is fighting for the rivers in the Balkans, called Save the Blue Heart of Europe.

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Soon after initial meetings we realized that people working for the campaign are honest, enthusiastic and nature-loving bunch of guys and a that this is going to be a wonderful story in which we can all learn something from each other and above all – join forces to help preserve the last pristine river ecosystems in Europe against insatiable appetite of some. Rivers with their waters are for sure the most intimate part of Mother Earth and preserving and letting them be what they are is something that we are more than capable of doing. After all, we still believe than humans are more than just energy collecting species!

After a week of talks we decided to go to action with the most pristine river in the whole Europe, the only river that has no dams on her way from mountains to the sea. She is the river that flows from Pindus Mountains of Greece all the way to the Ionian Sea in Albania. From canyons in Greece to alluvial plains in Albania she changes not only her character but also her name, from Aoos to Vjosa. With 270 km of Wild River this is something we have a duty and right to protect as now she is in danger of being stopped with 33 dams…

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Our plan was to paddle the river from source to sea and it turned out that this was one of the best plans we realized so far. Kayaking class IV-V is something we adore, but paddling on a river that goes from class IV to class II is just as amazing, you just have to give her the time to show at her best – once this happens an experience of its own kind shows up. Having time paddling, going on from day to day, getting to know all aspects of the River is something that can’t be experienced when rushing from one classic run to another.

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Together with our media part of the crew; Anze and Nejc, me and Zan had a great time paddling this amazing river that surprised us many times – I am not referring only to whitewater; wildlife, scenery, local people, sad dam projects and passionate decision to do everything we can in order to help her made this trip very special.

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In order to be efficient and loud enough in efforts of protecting a river we believe that joining forces of like-minded is the way to success. This is why we came up with idea that connected communities that are most intimately connected to rivers; kayakers, fishermen and scientists for the first time.

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Me, being a kayaker, biologist and a fly fisherman helped a lot, but without the help of Patagonia, Orvis and enthusiastic researchers from Balkan Trout Restoration Group we would never make it. I was lucky enough to catch and take tissue samples of 5 indigenous trout in the deepest of the canyons in Greece and genetic analyses showed amazing results. Three lineages of brown trout in only 5 samples was not something we expected and further research from the region are now needed in order to establish a better picture about genetic diversity there…

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Once we paddled out from the canyons in Greece a true journey begun – now we were travelling on a nearly flat but amazingly interesting River. Albania is a special country and not only scenery makes it so nice, it is the local people that do the big part of that. We were lucky enough to get invited to their places and shared a story or two about the river – hand gestures can speak more than thought before…

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Shepherds with their stocks are living a simple, but rich life and there is more than one thing we can learn from them. Among them admitting that they need the River is the one that points out in the modern world where most people see rivers as something that has to be put in channels or pipes so that they can’t bother us…

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The last leg of our trip was spiced with threats at the dam construction site and night paddling into Ionian Sea, where we were as lost as sheep without a leader, but fortunately found our way back with the help of the media crew that lit a fire on the shore…

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Jeff Johnson once wrote; ‘If you love a place you have a duty to protect it.’ We can not agree more, this is why we started to work on the project of showing this to the world the day after we came home. Now, after the premiere and the official release of the documentary it is time for you to see what the wildlife and people down there still have.

Please visit our webpage to see the photo story with text that describes the river and the 30-minutes long documentary that shows the river from the eyes of a kayaker.

One For The River: The Vjosa Story from Leeway Collective.

Campaign is doing great on Vjosa and idea of having this river protected by a National Park is now more alive than ever. Correspondence with Albanian Prime-Minister is established and there are more meetings to be held in near future. Anyhow the River will need your help too. Follow our social media and get notified when actions will take place.

Lets prove that even in these days we are able to step together and make a difference where everybody says we can’t! Together we will save amazing rivers we still have and bring the ones with dams back to life!

Please consider visiting the biggest event for rivers in Europe this year; Balkan Rivers Days in Belgrade from Sep. 25-27th. Register for the event, get connected with Leeway Collective on Facebook and get some of the travel costs covered for you! It is time to show that kayakers are the ones that don’t just give up but fight even when the going gets tough!

See you on the Wild and Free Rivers,
Rok

Photos by: Anze Osterman

22
Jul

The Snowdon Kayak Challenge

This year our charity, The Children’s Kayak Charitable Trust based in Evesham will be completing their latest fundraising event by doing something that has never been attempted before….. Running to the summit of Mount Snowdon carrying a 40lb kayak.

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On the 11th October our group of volunteers will begin their run in the Steam Railway car park at the foot of Snowdon, they will then make their way up the 8km Llanberis Path in the fastest time possible.

Pyranha UK are supporting the event with the donation of a brand new 9R kayak along with a Portage Pack carrying system, both of which will be auctioned after the event to raise funds for the Charities continued work.The chairperson David Shortell met with Linton Mackereth an employee in the Go Kayaking shop in Runcorn to receive the boat.

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The team have been developing a carry system for the group to run with and this week they got to test it out in the first training session of many, they have also been testing out the Portage Pack provided by Pyranha.

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There will be regular updates about the training process for the event on the Charities Facebook page and you can follow us on twitter by typing in TCKCT.

To see what we are all about as a Charity please visit our website at www.tckct.info

25
Jun

The North Fork Championship 2015

The second weekend of June was the date, the IV North Fork Championship was going down in Banks, Idaho. The North Fork of the Payette is an awesome river that has 15 miles of amazing roadside whitewater. The water is warm, big and pushy making for lots of great rapids and hard moves. With the road on one side and the railway on the other the river is full of rock boulders that help create those rapids making them shallow and pretty dangerous at the same time though.

The North Fork Championship is a three day event that features a time trial, a boaterX and the biggest race of the weekend a Giant Slalom down whats considered the hardest rapid on the river, Jakes or jacks Ladder.

On Thursday, over 80 racers participated in “The Expert Race,” an over 7 minute time­trial from the top of “Juicer” to the bottom of “Cruncher” on the Lower 3 miles of the North Fork Payette. The top 5 finishers of those that weren’t already qualified for Saturdays race would become Elite members and have the chance to race down jakes so everyone gave it all they had. I was happy and surprised to take first after not really pushing it too much, good start!

The Melt Awards are that same night in downtown Boise where new movie were premiered and the qualifiers announced. We were happy to take second place for the second year in a row at the Cinematography Awards with our new SBP reel.

On Friday we did some training at Jakes and there was a BoaterX in S-Turn which I didn’t attend not to get too tired…

Saturday was the day! After a couple practice laps I was feeling good and ready to put down a fast time on my first run. Went off and immediately missed the second gate… it was over, I just floated the course to the finish and tried not to get too pissed…

I tried to forget about it and give it all again on my second run, only one chance. Started off the ramp and charged, luckily barely made the first second gate combo, kept on going and put together an ok run. After the race we all floated downstream and had a good time padding under the summer heat.

Everyone was nervous at the awards, no one knows anything until its announced… I was super stoked to take first place! Even if my run wasn’t as good as I could have paddled I’m really happy I managed to put it all together for that second run and made it count, the pressure was definitely on!!

It was an amazing experience and a great time! Completing the podium were Dane Jackson and Isaac Levinson and my brother was 4th so super proud and stoked for him too!!

He had an amazing party and spent the next few days paddling TB on the North Fork, going to the hot springs and hang out, good times!

 

Thanks to James and Regan Byrd, the organizers, for putting this event together year after year, its an awesome event to be part of and it gets keeps getting bigger and better, can’t wait for next year!

Also thanks to the best girlfriend Ali for being there all the time and helping me with everything!

Photos by Mike Leeds and Tait Trautman

19
Jun

University of Bristol hit the alps swimming!

It’s here, we’re here, finally the long wait is over and our annual summer trip to the alps has begun!

We’re now one week in and loving the french alpine lifestyle with more baguettes and salami than we know what to do with…

After settling in and the first night we took the beginners for their first taste of alpine rivers with a nice swim down the slalom site at L’argentiere la bessee. On the water we saw a full range of emotions, and as Steve shows below not many were loving it!

This isn't like the pool! Steve finding the swim test interesting...

This isn’t like the pool! Steve finding the swim test interesting…

Successful swim test past!

Successful swim test past!

After the swim test we gave those who felt brave a quick blast on the slalom site, with only one one swim (Steve proving once more he can swim) we wrapped up and called it a morning.

Louis' Mk 1 burn still going strong at L'argentiere slalom site

Louis’ Mk 1 burn still going strong at L’argentiere slalom site

With the sun blazing one option besides kayaking was to take a quick drive down to Embrun lake and enjoy the views…

Joel sporting the branded club snap backs at Embrun Lake

Joel sporting the branded club snap backs at Embrun Lake

With a beginner’s trip down to the Rab Wave planned we lightened the dreaded anticipation with some messing around on the slide at St Clements.

The St Clément slide never dissapoints

The St Clément slide never disappoints

With a taste of ‘playboating’ at the Rab the previous day, we headed up the valley to sample the Upper Guisane with nice levels meaning no rocks and a speedy flow ‘S Bend’ was passed with no hitches, although swimming in the eddie below did make an appearance.

Upper Guisane - Freshers first real taste of alpine paddling

Upper Guisane – Freshers first real taste of alpine paddling

Being in the alp’s the sunshine last long into the evening, BBQing being a popular choice with the guys and girls.

Pre BBQ, Post river!

Pre BBQ, Post river!

After a couple of beginners orientated days it was time for the ‘Advanced’ paddlers to go have some fun, below are some snaps for our day on the Guil from Upper through to the reservoir at the bottom of the middle section (III-V). The day before we headed to the Ubaye for some truly spectacular scenery and some fantastic paddling at a med-high level. Getting on at Les Thuiles for a bit of a warm up (III/IV) before hitting La Fresquiere (V) and a warm down on the Race course section to finish (IV)

Chateau Queyras - Some lines were more successful than others...

Chateau Queyras – Some lines were more successful than others…

Middle Guil - Just after Triple Step

Middle Guil – Just after Triple Step

Middle Guil - Scenery is just spectacular

Middle Guil – Scenery is just spectacular

Middle Guil - Sam hitting a sweet line

Middle Guil – Sam hitting a sweet line

Middle Guil - The whole team

Middle Guil – The whole team

Bottom of the Middle Guil - Far below

Bottom of the Middle Guil – Far below

Bottom of the Middle Guil - Sweet Lines, Fun Times

Bottom of the Middle Guil – Sweet Lines, Fun Times

See you on the river!

Dougal

17
Jun

Fear(Not)

I have always thought that a little fear is a healthy thing to have, it can keep you safe and can keep you sharp.

But sometimes I think that fear sounds its loudest alarms when you are about to do something uncertain, something that’s going to make you uncomfortable.

More often than not we find ourselves on different ledges through out our lives, with different heights, different views, different landings (some we can see, some we can’t) and different widths. Sometimes we sit down on these ledges because we’re scared, we’re tired, we’re unsure, and hell why jump? -It’s actually pretty comfortable up here.

For me as I pack up my car to leave the safety of my parents’ home, after identifying for so long as an injured human, this being the first time out without a plan to return…Fear has been ringing out its loudest and most powerful “what if” doubts I have ever heard. As the clock ticks closer to ‘Go time,’ Fear has been making me feel the urge to cling to the ground as if a hurricane is sweeping past.

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Staying here would be easy, safe, and certain. And by certain, I mean I would NEVER miss an episode of ‘The Bachelor.’

If we let Fear dictate the opportunities we do or don’t jump into, we will stay right here, safely on the ledge.

Passions, opportunities to use our gifts, find our gifts, and moments of great faith can only happen when you are willing to get a little uncomfortable.

As I drive away today, I will surely be scared. Repeating to myself for the first couple hours “Oh shit.” But if we are going to be fearful of anything, shouldn’t it be the “what ifs” as in, “what if I didn’t try?”

Time to get a little uncomfortable, I know this life is worth it.

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