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.
Below, Adam Goshorn takes flight off his favorite boof in Little River Canyon, photo by Joey Jarrell
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).
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
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
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!
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.
I designed the RotoBat in 1984 with the help of leading paddlers at the time, including Dave Reynolds.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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
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
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
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!
After reading the latest blog Pyranha blog regarding the insufficient number of female brand ambassadors, I again realized just how lucky I was to have spent the last month not only in Norway, but on a girl-dominated road trip. Paddling classic day-stretches and two incredibly scenic multi-days, we spent most of our trip in Northern Norway (which, although 12 hours north of Voss, is in actuality only halfway up the country). After 2.5 weeks of eternal sunshine, we headed back south hitting up rivers along the way to Voss where we spent our final days paddling the area’s classics. Maybe the two males in our six person crew didn’t feel as fortunate about this gender ratio, but we appreciated their company!
We proudly support events such as the Ladies’ Paddle Symposium in the UK, but we’ve realised that across our team, social media platforms, website and boat ranges we have been heavily skewed towards the male participants. Whilst this has not been a conscious decision, there is still no excuse and we’re keen to make it up to all the awesome female paddlers that we know exist out there!
To this end, we need your help in ensuring we champion all people within this wonderful sport, regardless of what categories they fit in relating to gender, age, race or anything else of that nature. We also don’t think that sponsorship should be reserved solely for those who ‘go hard’ and run the highest waterfalls and the hardest rapids, it should be about supporting ambassadors of the sport who inspire others to take part and share our passion, whether they be a leading coach or an emerging young star.
So, if you know of anyone who you feel is a good ambassador for female kayakers, or if you think you yourself have something to offer that will inspire future generations to go paddling, please send an email to email@example.com and let us know!
We look forward to hearing from you…
A few months back I was driving in to work in the heavy rain. I was off to the Alps in less than a week and really didn’t care if I got fired or not, so rather than heading to work I bypassed Gloucester and added 3 more hours to my normal commute and headed to North Wales.
I ran the Dee and Fairy Glen solo before meeting up with some of the Betws-y-Coed locals and had the most awesome day, running five more laps of the Glen and running the Lledr for the first time in a few years. In my mind nothing beats Wales in the sun after a mid-summer storm!