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22
May

Cispus River Appreciation

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Deep in the wilderness of the Gifford Pinchot River in Washinton state lies the Cispus River. The Cispus is a combination of runoff from the Goat Rocks and Mt Adams. This river usually can be accessed late in the summer when the roads clear from snow, and the water levels become lower. This season, with the low snowpack, this gem could be reached alot sooner, and the idea was born. Spearheaded by Pyranha team paddlers,  Kyle Hull and Chris Morelli, the plan was to host a gathering of the paddling community the weekend after the famous Little White Salmon Race.  The Cispus River Festival/ Service project was an idea that came from many summer laps and missions to camp and paddle. The Cispus river has amazing camping right next to the river at the takeout for the classic class V section, and the put in for the scenic class III, the perfect paddling destination

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Racers meeting, stoke levels growing.

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Gorge Paddling Center Van gets loaded for the race!

The class V section holds many great rapids, but the run cumulates with a stout gorged rapid that leads off a uniquely sloping 30 footer, and continues thru a long technical rapid below. A perfect extreme race course. With 27 racers and over 20 other kayakers to help with media and safety the race went off smoother than expected. Half the field finished with times under two minutes, which before the race, racers speculated it might not be possible to break the two minute mark.

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 Team Paddler Chris Stafford feeling Jah down Behemoth in the XL Burn.  Photo Abe Herrera 

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Cispus Celebrations

The other main goal of the Cispus was to clean up the area of garbage. Unfortunately there has been a rise of trash as many outdoor users recreate in this area. The paddling community wanted to come together and clear the area around the river and on the drive up, to give back to the beauty that this area provides! Thanks to Pyranha and Immersion Research who generously provided prizes for those who collected the most trash on the drive up. The commitment to keeping the rivers and nature beautiful is an amazing part of the paddling community.

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Jam-boy jamming out and picking up trash! Photo  Tait Trautman

The day of May 9th provided a great race. And that evening an even better racers ceremony! With the top racers all being within seconds of each other. Congrats to the top three winners of the first inaugural Cispus Race, 1st Isacc Levinson with a time of 1:42  2nd Kyle ‘King Hesh’ Hull an 3rd Louis Geltman, just seconds apart. The night provided many smiles as everyone enjoyed the beers provided by Ninkasi and Everybody’s and everyone danced the night away!

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Team paddler Todd Anderson comes flying out of the bottom of Behemoth in his XL Burn. Photo Abe Herrera

Sunday morning, as the group recovered, everyone went for a lap, and met back at the camping to start an impromptu 50 cc mini bike race on a challenging course. The results were epic, crowing James Byrd as the champion of the dirt. Its things like this that make the kayaking community come together.

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The gang watches as Brendan Wells gives er hell! Photo Tait Trautman

The bonds of friendship that paddling provides is one of the strongest, and to bring the community out to thewoods to enjoy the river is an amazing thing. Grassroots events like this are popping up all over as the kayaking community grows and wants to celebrate these wonderful things we have found. This was a great example of how the community can come together and have a great time, while making a positive impact!

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Big Smiles under the Pyranha tent all night! photos Taylor Hazen

Its amazing to see support from companies to help make events like this even better. Big thanks to Pyranha Kayaks, Werner paddles, Immersion Research, Everybody’s Brewing, Ninkasi , and most importantly, Everyone who came out to participate in the weekend. Lots of trash was picked up, lots of river karma was earned, lots of boofs were crushed and lots of smiles were had!

Cheers! Chris Morelli

22
May

Spare 2 Minutes to Help Save One of the Best Sections in Wales :)

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As you may have seen in some of the other posts on here, a proposed hydro scheme on the Fairy Glen section of the Conwy is imminent.

However, today you can help make a difference.

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To read up on more on this please visit: savetheconwy.com

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Then you can either email your own opinions to cynllunio@eryri-npa.gov.uk or copy and paste the template email below.


Mr Richard Thomas
Snowdonia National Park Authority
National Park Offices
Penrhyndeudraeth
Gwynedd
LL48 6LF
Tel 01766 770272 fax 01766 771211
cynllunio@eryri-npa.gov.uk
Application Ref:
NP4/26/323
Registration Date:
23

Apr

2015
Proposed hydro scheme up to 5MW comprising construction of intake weir, tunnel, buried pipeline,
buried powerhouse building with outfall, switchgear room and transformer, and including biodiversity
and recre
ational enhancement proposals, and alterations to existing vehicular access off the A470(T)
near Fairy Glen Hotel, Betws y Coed

Dear Mr Thomas
I am writing to object to the planning application listed above.

I feel North Wales holds some of the most incredible areas of nature left in the UK and am fearful of the precedent this hydro scheme will set, especially as it is set in a SSSI.

The Conwy is also a river I have a personal relationship with as I am a whitewater kayaker. I will be very dissapointed to see the average flows of this section decreased due to the fact this is the most reliable section of whitewater at it’s difficulty level.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email,

Kind regards


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If you’ve sent some emails in the past, or are going to send an email today then thank you so much. I really do love this section of whitewater. Below are some videos from some of the incredible times I’ve had on this river.

13
May

The Jed


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This is not just a high performance freestyle kayak; it’s a story of progression between an aspiring freestyle kayaker and one of the most influential companies in white water kayaking.

To understand what this project means to me you have to go back to 2009, I was 14 years old and slowly emerging on the freestyle scene. I had just won the mens freestyle event at Pyranha fest and that left an impression on the team manager for Pyranha at the time. We talked about me joining the team which I was unbelievably stoked about, I think it’s every 14 year old kayakers dream to be sponsored. Unfortunately Pyranha’s freestyle boat at the time was the Rev which was far too big for me and was well proven as being a hard boat to work with. For the time being it looked liked my dream would have to go on hold. Luckily Pyranha where cooking up a new freestyle boat to replace the Rev in collaboration with one of the best U.K freestyle kayakers at the time, Dom Brayfield. Long after that Pyranha fest had ended and the crowds subsided, the guys at Pyranha let me try there prototype out in secret with Dom, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. The boat was provisionally called the P.D.Q which stood for Pretty. Damn. Quick. It was a rushed carbon / glass mix that had been roughly taken from a prototype foam plug to see if they where on the right track, it weighed almost as much as a plastic boat, had no outfitting and it took three people to put the spray deck on. But none of that mattered to me, I was paddling a prototype freestyle kayak… and a carbon one at that…With Dom Brayfield! The 14 year old me was in heaven, I left that secret session with Sammy promising to keep in touch about the new boat and Dom inviting me to go surfing with him. It is still one of my favourite days on the water.
Video of Dom in the Rev –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V1qJLyR-9s

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Later that year I made the GBR freestyle team and Pyranha finished of the P.D.Q which was renamed the Molan. This combination took me to the 2010 European championships in Lienz, Austria. Unfortunately for various reasons things didn’t work out between Pyranha and Dom and it was just myself and a c1 kayaker named Lee Pyke representing Pyranha for GBR. Things  also didn’t quite go to plan that event, I had my best rides on the first day and quickly deteriorated through out the competition. We put this down to it being my first big competition and perhaps the pressure of being in first place at the start of the event was too much, I was still pretty happy to take home a bronze medal but far from satisfied about my performance… I would have to wait two years before I got a chance for redemption.

Throughout the lead up to that event I had been begging Pyranha to make me a carbon version of the Molan. I had seen the videos of the high flying french juniors in there carbon boats wiping the floor with the rest of the competition in the 2008 Euro champs and knew that there was almost certainly an advantage to using a carbon kayak. Unfortunately due to other projects and the cost involved with producing a carbon boat I didn’t get my carbon Molan in time for that event. I went away with a burning desire to own a carbon boat, 4/5 men in the finals that year used carbon boats and went so much bigger, faster and better than those in plastic boats. I just had to have one! I set about trying to encourage Pyranha to produce their own, I think at the pinnacle of my encouragement / begging I was sending the owner of the company (Graham Mackareth) an email a day, sometimes two, chocked full of the reasons why his company desperately needed to manufacture a carbon boat. Pyranha found some spare time that winter and the medal I brought home helped to justify the cost and reasons to make a Carbon boat and early in spring 2011 all my dreams came true, I finally had my very own carbon boat!

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After several months of sleeping on the floor so that my carbon boat could take my bed (not joking). I competed at the 2011 World Championships with my prized possession, as the youngest kayaker in the finals and narrowly placed 3rd against Dane Jackson and the European Champion at the time (Quim Fontanne Messo). I was stoked. That year was the biggest break through in my kayaking I stopped doing other peoples tricks that had been invented years ago and started creating some of my own.  Video from that year – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ng_48oYdOI261880_10150219752007133_4645962_n

Despite being over the moon with my carbon boat, The world of freestyle kayaking as always was moving forwards and a newly released boat by Wavesport was creating a stir on the market. The Project x, I had tried this boat briefly on the Nile and couldn’t believe how good it was. I immediately wanted to start using this kayak but my loyalty to Pyranha as my first sponsor was unwavering and I stuck around hoping that we would be able to produce a kayak as good as the Project X. Just a few months later the designer of the Project X (Robert Pearson) came on board as Pyranhas head designer and set about creating my dream kayak. The Jed.

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From the moment I laid eyes on this kayak I knew it was for me. It stepped away from the ever popular trend of short and poppy modern freestyle design. It was longer than all of it’s competitors which allowed for a smoother distribution of volume and subsequently slicy ends. The longer length also made it faster on a wave and smoother on end in a hole. It was the first mass produced kayak to  feature a “V chine” that further helps to free up the stern of the kayak while surfing. The smooth transition of volume to the core of the boat also produced some incredible pop in a hole and somehow it’s deceptively smooth over all lines gave up an obscenely fast and aggressive ride on a wave. It was perfect… Asides from the name, Who in the hell is this “Jed” person anyway? Video of the Jed in action – https://vimeo.com/43277806

I used the plastic version contentedly for several months but throughout that time there was a continued nagging thought. If the Jed is this good in plastic… What on earth must it be like in Carbon?

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Spring 2012 the mold for the Jed was handed over to two of my favourite people, Some call them Rich and Pez… I call them the dream makers. These pair have hand built every carbon kayak I have ever used and combine years of skill and knowledge to manufacture the highest quality carbon boats on the market. A good quality construction is essential when it comes to composite kayaks and I am pleased to say that they somehow manage to exceed my expectations with every kayak they build for me. The Carbon Jed was a game changer from the very beginning, every beloved feature of the plastic Jed was enhanced by a stiffer material that weighed half that of its plastic counter part.  Three years after joining Pyranha I won the 2012 Junior European Champs and 2/3 of the 2012 World Cup events. I couldn’t be any happier to ride for this company, to be able to deal with such awesome people and continue to watch new, innovative and and exciting products appear from a factory that is just down the road from where I grew up.

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Over the past two years Pyranha has seen some amazing displays of freestyle talent from team members using the Jed which have ranged from competition wins to new and exciting combo moves. However what I am most proud of is that the Jed opens doors to everyone in Freestyle from the Pro looking to push the sport to the beginner looking to hit his first vertical ends.

I have been asked repeatedly over the past few months whether Pyranha will be releasing a new boat for the 2015 World championships and I can happily and proudly say that we will not. We will be standing behind our best and most proven freestyle design and will look forward to an exceptionally talented international team performing at the World Championships in Canada later this year.

See you on the water,

Bren Orton

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09
May

Interesting times in Nepal

 

As Rory Woods, Lee Royle and myself were about to travel from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj to fly into the Thuli Bheri the earthquake hit.  There was total panic as buildings fell down around us.  Communications were down so it wasn’t until we got internet in Nepalgunj that we realised the scale of the disaster. After already having bought our flights, we decided to paddle the river and then get involved with the aid efforts afterwards._MG_8555

We landed in Masinechaur  And hiked two days up to the medieval town of Tarakot to get on.  Overlooked by the stunning mountains of Upper Dolpa, we put on to the bubbly small glacial blue river.

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We spend the night in Dunai and continued downstream as the fantastic continuous nature of the river kicked off.  We paddled a long grade 5 rapid around a corner, with the amazing temple of Tiprikot above.

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Photo – Rory Woods

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The river’s amazing gradient from here is enough to keep you on your toes but importantly in your boat to scout.

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Photo – Rory Woods

We passed through the stunning ‘Golden Canyon’ with sun bouncing off the vibrant walls.  Campsites were awesome and plentiful, as we dropped down into the fantastic pine forests.  Life on the river is good.

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After the only long portage, the river gains even more volume,  Holes are big but often have breaks, it’s just a question of finding them quick enough.  Everyone that we meet is happy and friendly, only asking us occasionally for pens or medical supplies.

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Photo – Rory Woods

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After just over 4 days, the river opens up into shingle rapids to drift down and soon enough we arrive at Devistal to get a bus back to Kathmandu.

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Photo – Lee Royal

We are now heavily involved in the grassroots aid effort organised by Darren Clarkson-King.  So far we have delivered food and tarps to remote villages which larger aid agencies have not yet reached.  We are now about to get involved with another project helping villagers rebuild their houses before the monsoon hits in July.

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05
May

Save the Conwy – Action required!

RWE are planning to install a hydro scheme on the river Conwy near Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. The plan is to abstract up to 6m³/s of the water in the Conwy, above Penmachno bridge, and divert it through ~2km of pipelines before returning it below the confluence with the Lledr. This section of river is known as “Fairy Glen”, and is a name well known to most kayakers across the country. Once cited as the test-piece of UK kayaking, it has become increasingly accessible over the years as skills and equipment have improved and it is now an established benchmark to which a generation of whitewater kayakers aspire.

Pipeline Rapid, one of the rapids under threat by the Conwy Hydro scheme

Pipeline Rapid, one of the rapids under threat by the Conwy Hydro scheme

The river only needs a little over 10m³/s of flow to make it possible to kayak, so an abstraction of 6m³/s will have a significant impact on the number of days the river is “flowing”. In fact, the Fairy Glen is unique in the fact that it is often the only river of its grade flowing on any given day, so the hydro scheme will not only reduce the number of days ‘the glen’ can be paddled, but it will reduce the number of days that any river in North Wales can be paddled.

Dave Manby showing he's still got what it takes

Dave Manby showing he’s still got what it takes

Given it is such a fantastic natural resource a group of local residents have formed “Save the Conwy” to fight against its destruction. The planning application has now been submitted, and the guys and girls over at Save the Conwy are asking for your help, no matter where you are in the world. They are asking for two things:

1) Email Canoe Wales with your opinions as a kayaker: http://savetheconwy.com/2015/05/02/feedback-from-canoe-wales/

2) Submit your own planning objection directly: http://savetheconwy.com/2015/05/05/individual-planning-objections/

I’m convinced that without subsidies this scheme would not be viable. I’m also sure that with your help we can stop this scheme from happening. Please do all you can to help!

Read the rest of this entry »

05
May

GBR Freestyle team trials 2015

After spending 6 weeks living the dream on the Nile, It was time to pack up, leave the warm weather and perfect waves behind in order to return to England and start preparing for one of the most crucial events of the year, GBR team trials.

I flew back home a week in advance to get used to cold water and small waves, I was still pretty messed up from Malaria but asides from feeling terrible I had a great week training everyday with the boys and was feeling pretty confident that aslong as the Malaria behaved itself I could bag a team spot. Team Trials this year was a two event selection process with both counting. We have in the past held three events with your best two results counting, This gives you a throw event and can definately take the pressure of knowing that you can have a bad day and still be in the running for a spot on the team, without that format this years event was going to definately favour the more consistent kayaker.

The first day of the event came around and Hurley was giving up prime levels, Steep, green but still with a good amount of pile on it. I was struggling with Malaria and was tanking after my fourth trick but I managed to hold it together and put in two solid rides, which put me in 5th place. Local hero Doug Cooper destroyed everyone at his home spot, it was awesome to see him tear it up.

Day two was to be held at Lee Valley and this was definately the event that everyone was the most nervous about. A small flushy seconday wave that was hard to do pretty much anything on. Scores where low with tonnes of flushes. I had to really force myself to play it safe, throw small tricks and work the point system. This is not my normal style. I am a firm believer of going big or going home and sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately due to the nature of this event and what is at stake having it not pay off was not an option.

With my combined results I made it onto the team for the 6th consecutive year (screw you malaria). Palm’s Lowri Davies also made it onto the womens team.

The World Championships this year are going to be held on a wave the first time since 2009 and I am so excited, Looking forward to an awesome 120 days of traning before the big showdown in Ottawa.

Next up, Stakeout!
See you on the water,
Bren

Photos by Seth Ashworth and Doug Cooper

04
May

Pyranha takes 1st at the 1st Annual Goshen Rolling Rodeo

The “Goshen Pass” section of the Maury River is a classic mid-Atlantic run. A staple of every boater – from intermediate to expert – who lives in Virginia, it is the most reliable whitewater in the western part of the state. This section of river has hosted the crowd-favorite Goshen Race for eight years now. For the past couple years there has been loose talk of having a rodeo on this fun and beautiful playboating river. This year, thanks mainly to Josh Pecaric of Richmond and Josh Tracy of Charlottesville, it finally happened. Pyranha playboats made up a quarter of the small but talented field. In order to maximize the wealth of features in Goshen Pass, a “rolling rodeo” format was chosen. This allowed for competitors to show off their stuff on a varied set of features – splats, holes, eddylines, and downriver freestyle. All the “old-school” moves are new again on the Maury River! Even though it took awhile to cycle all the competitors through each feature, the eddyline comaraderie was strong. And so was the trash-talking. I found myself laughing almost too hard to splat at one point during my first ride. Despite having too much fun, I managed to walk away with the win at this inaugural event. Already looking forward to next year!

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The Goshen Pass section is one of the prettiest spots in the state and it is littered with perky playspots, creek slots, and “training” moves. Check out just a few of  of them here:
Playing in the Pass

A huge Thank You to all those who organized and volunteered at this event.

03
May

A Grand Canyon Christmas

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Photo by Ruby Compton

For the fifth time in six years, in December 2014 I found myself climbing into a Pyranha boat and sliding into the waters of the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, Arizona.  Previously I’ve paddled the Grand Canyon with raft-support in an Everest, Burn II, and Shiva; and one self-support trip in the Fusion.  This time around my boat of choice was the Burn III, which I have been loving ever since it came out, although, this would be my first chance to paddle it in big-water rapids on a high volume river like the Colorado!

Below: A compilation of video from our trip, edited by Adam Goshorn.

Below: A storm brewing, photo by Evan Alfano.

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Below: New school meets old school deep in the Grand Canyon, photo by Charlie Mix.

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28
Apr

British Universities Creek Race 2015

The bottom of the middle Etive at juicy levels!

The bottom of the middle Etive at juicy levels!

This March saw the third annual British Universities Creek Race take place in Glen Etive, Scotland. In the event’s short history the race has seen super low levels in it’s first year and beautiful medium levels last year. Fortunately the river gods have continued this theme of escalation and this year we were treated with way more water than most have seen in the Etive.

A plan was quickly hatched to race the very bottom section of the middle Etive, fighting the upstream winds and massive features.

The 9r loves to fly through features!

The 9r loves to fly through features!

Next up was the Alumni BoaterX with a guest appearance from the Liquid-Magnum Duo which ensued all kinds of carnage.

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Stage two of the race took place on the Coupall, a tributary of the Etive that is normally bone dry. The rain eased off (kind of) and allowed the incredible scenery of Glen Etive poke its head out from the clouds, making for a stunning final stage.

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With all the water kicking around most people then headed off for a cheeky run or two of the Coe before the after party.

The 9r loves going steep as much as it loves going fast!

The 9r loves going steep as much as it loves going fast!

With some sore heads the next day most people headed back to the Middle Etive, now running at perfect medium levels making for an awesome end to an awesome weekend! Cheers to Amy Morton and her EUCC minions for organizing this event. Can’t wait for next year already.

Cheers to Nick Wright for the photos



27
Apr

9R Review – More than just a race boat!

I was lucky enough to try the 9R prototype back in August and ever since have been in love with the boat. I have had the opportunity to try it in a number of different situations – steep creeks to big volume, river running to racing to expeditions, and it just keeps surprising me by how well it performs.

Boofing made easy in the 9R (by Aaron Kendall)

Boofing made easy

My previous boat was very forgiving and a bit overkill for the sort of kayaking I was doing 90% of the time in the UK (Tees, Kent, Leven etc). I often get frustrated with people buying big creek boats too early in their kayaking careers and then relying on the boat to get them down things rather than being proactive and learning the skills themselves, even if it means risking swimming a bit more. I figured I should practice what I preach and find a less forgiving boat which would help me learn more skills and push my boating further. The narrow shape and edginess of the 9R means that it definitely fits this category.

The first thing to strike me about the 9R (apart from the speed) was its manoeuvrability and how quickly and easily it snapped into eddys. This was not just a race boat….. this was FUN. I could not wipe the smile off my face all day.

Fun times surfing in the 9R

Fun times surfing in the 9R

My next opportunity to paddle the boat was in Austria on the Wellerbrücke rapid. This was where the speed really came into its own. I have not really had much race experience and did no training (entering was a bit of a last minute thing after some friendly peer pressure!) so I was over the moon to be one of only 7 girls to get a sub-1.40 run in the qualification round and to finish 9th overall – something I definitely would not have managed without such a fast boat. I didn’t qualify to race the main section as only the top 5 girls go through but I still had the chance to paddle it. I had been pretty worried about the crux move but the 9R shot through before I had chance to think!

Charging through Champion's Killer

Charging through Champion’s Killer

Over Christmas I took the boat to Indonesia. I was really interested to see how it handled on this trip because I would be loading with kit and paddling on bigger volume rivers – both of which you get little chance to do in the UK. Packed full of overnight kit I found the 9R paddled just as well, if not a bit better. Although a bit slower off the mark (as you’d expect with the extra weight), once it got going it seemed just as speedy and tracked incredibly well. I was equally impressed with the handling on big volume. In some other creek boats I have felt like I’m being pushed around on big volume but the 9R seemed unfazed and it was easy to drive the boat where I wanted it to go; flying off some of the big waves! It also keeps its nose up going over holes without any real effort, and I certainly dropped into some big holes in Indonesia which I am not sure I would have made it out of otherwise!

Lighter than some other creek boats makes it easy to carry

Lighter than some other creek boats, so carrying is easy(ish!)

The 9R was what drove me to apply to be on Team Pyranha because I knew that this was the boat that I wanted to paddle. I look forward to developing my skills and seeing what the boat can do in a few more races and on multi-days in Meghalaya later this year.

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