Heres the first in a short series to show what the Thames valley offers in high water.
High Water Marsh.
More videos to follow as levels Change.
The Hurley Classic and event 1 of the British selections weekend has just passed and yet again the Event has surpassed expectations with more competitors from more locations than ever.
Not only was there a great competition and a chance to test myself against some of the worlds best but also lots of old and new friends to catch up with.
The success of the event leaves me excited to be a part of and full of ideas for next year (25th anniversary.)
Water Levels had been very good leading up to the Classic with the Wave working for most of the last 3 weeks, and a lot of the time on the preferred 3 gates. This level would provide for an exciting and high scoring classic.
Unfortunately the day of the classic the gates closed in and we went down to 2 gates making the competition hole fast, not very retentive and the sweet spot very narrow.
Some of the guys still managed to throw down some impressive rides whilst I struggled and finished down in 14th (5th brit).
I did however manage to take 3rd in the c1 at my first competition (3rd time in a c1) and 1st in the British selections process, which was as big a shock for me as everyone else.
The Sunday Classic competition was still on 2 gates but the levels had settled down and wave and hole was working better. I threw down some solid moves in the jam style heats but missed a few of my usually reliable moves , meaning I finished in 10th (same place as last year).
I also had an entertaining heat in the c1 where I quickly ran out of moves that I could do so attempted to learn some during the competition including air screws, Flash back Panams and Mcnastys. The moves may not have been the most successful but would of got me a top mark for effort.
Congratulations to Stephen wright, Claire O Hara, Nouria
Newman Sam Anderson and Sebastian Devred on their wins.
Alongside the classic was the new tradition of boater x and this year we stepped it up with a bigger launch ramp and the introduction of 8 balls and pump hand rob, making the event even more exciting and harder work for those on the water. I went out in the quarter finals after a tangle with an 8 ball sent me from 1st to last in my heat. Local boy Alan Ward proved best at dodging the 8 balls and raced away through the 6 rounds to victory in the final. Nouria Newman convincingly won the girls After Flic Meares Lost her early lead.
I would also like to Thank Thames Valley Freestylers for my award, (biggest girl) to which i was honoured to come up and receive and take my curtsey.
Well Done to all the other much deserved winners
Junior = Jake Norman,
Female = Kim Aldred,
Male = Alan Ward,
International was Claire O’Hara
Community was Aaron and Rhona
Pictures thanks To Gavin Cooper and Nuria Fontane Maso
This weekend myself and Scout made the trek from London up to Scotland for the MRR 2013 race. The race is based on a dam released section of the River Moriston and the 3 minute course provides a good mix of rapids and physically punishing flats.
With 5 months out of a boat and very little preparation I had decided to play it safe with 2 conservative runs to reach the final. Reaching the final in 8th place.
This left me with a decision to make. Carry on with the conservative runs or give it everything and go for glory. The decision was easy.
The final was run in reverse order so by the time of my run some solid times had already been laid down.
As my time arrived I shove of down the start ramp hit the water and pile on the power, pulling
hard from the start. As I approach the main drop I boof left hit the slab and punt turning my boat straight down aiming for the elusive perfect line. Unfortunately on this run it didn’t pay off, I hit a boil at the bottom and spin out slamming my nose into the wall. I quickly turn the boat and power on, the arms are starting to burn. Slot through a few more rapids still trying to make up lost time.
As I come around the corner to the final straight I line up and approach sticky hole. Pull for the late boof and my arms are gone, the boof fails and I back loop. It takes me a while to work my way free of the hole draining what strength I had left. I crawl to the finish with the crowd going crazy and urging me on (thanks guys and girls).
I finished last in the Final but I would make the same decision again and next year I will return fitter and next time ill be ready.
Thank you to the organisers supporters and other competitors for a great day.
Thank you to Squarerock, Jackson Kayak, and Sandiline for your support.
I’ve had the new Medium Jackson Karma for about a month now and have managed to get 2 weekends away, one weekend in Dartmoor and one in North Wales. Paddling the Upper Plym, Upper Dart, high East Lyn, Aberglaslyn gorge, Cwm Llan and the Dee.
This has enabled me to try the boat on a variety of different rivers and conditions.
The Karma has proved itself a very capable boat, staying on line and on the surface , tracking through diagonals and holes with ease.
The Karma is stable both flat and on edge, Boofs well and carries it speed well. Acceleration is probably slightly slower than the Zen but i feel with the way it carries its speed it will be faster in the long run and i will be using it for my races this year.
All of this means Jackson Have made the most confidence inspiring boat i have paddled to date.
Heres a video from my second weekend in the boat
Video Courtesy of Scout.
Thanks to Mark Van der Cruysen for the Pictures.
Go Try one for yourself.
This Past weekend saw the launch of the British BoaterX Championships with round 1 taking place at the Tryweryn festival.
The course set was a short tight course and the competitors were required to hit 7 balls on their way down, with any miss resulting in a disqualification.
There was 6 heats with the winner of each heat going through to the final. the heats provided some tight racing with some upsets and favourites going out or being pushed hard.
In My heat I managed to break the course, knocking one of the balls off its hanging position and leaving it stuck in a hole for those following me to get.
The Finals took place and Matt Cooke found clean water to get out in the lead and pull away leaving the rest of us tangled up. Dan Heyworth raced well for 2nd despite my best efforts.
1st Matt Cooke
2nd Dan Heyworth
3rd Craig Ayres
4th Josh Wedgewood
5th Charles Dexter
6th Chris Chapman.
Full Results table and points to be published soon
The next race takes place at the cardiff whitewater festival and the series finale to take place at British freestyle championships HPP.
Best 2 results to count.
Thanks to the British Freestyle committee, Fire it Up and Squarerock.
I was lucky enough to be invited by Rob Harris to go on an 18 day trip down the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, 290 miles of mostly flat boiley water with lots of huge rapids. I’ve taken a Jackson Superstar and Rockstar down the Nile and Zambezi so I know how much fun a small boat can be on big water but also on the Zambezi the Rockstar was a little short for long flat sections. I definitely didn’t want to take my creek boat on such a big volume river as there was bound to be some big play waves to surf. So I wanted something that had length, was fun and comfortable enough to spend 18 days in. Luckily for me the Jackson Fun Runner had just arrived in the UK, and the large model was big enough for my 6ft 4 frame, even with trainers on!
First impression on the water was amazement at just how fast the boat was, it moves through the water very smoothly and it stays pretty stable with power, the flat bottom helping it stay on track and the rocker profile isn’t too aggressive so it doesn’t rock back and forth as you paddle forward on the flat like a big creek boat does, and the nose is raised so you’re in no danger of pearling the front in as you paddle forward.
On the smaller first few rapids of the Grand Canyon I was testing out the boat, peeling in and out of eddys with ease. The boat turns nice and sharply, but with stability, you don’t feel in danger of catching an edge, the boat is very forgiving. It’s really easy to put an edge on and make a solid Ferry glide, the boat responds very well to an edging as opposed to a lean. Put edge on and it’ll track solidly and go where you expect, put more lean into your edge and it’ll turn just like you want it to.
I wasn’t the only one in the group with a Fun Runner, World Champion Freestyler and Squirt Boat Champion Claire O’Hara had borrowed one from her Jackson friends in the states.
There were a couple of times on the river where I found a small pour over or a nice rooster tail over a rock, the length in boat means you can really get lots of momentum for a boof and I was surprised just how much you can boof it.
Comfort wise, after 18 days of paddling I can safely say it’s a very comfortable boat, there’s loads of room for your feet and the outfitting is nice and comfortable on the seat and padding. The outfitting was great when other people had a go in my boat, super-easy to adjust, move the seat, move the footplate and move it all back with no hassle. It was really nice to be able to have my trainers on in the boat and be able to jump in and out really quickly, and as it’s Jackson, if you’ve got a decent spray deck your boat won’t leak.
On the big water rapids the boat was superb not being pushed around too much, no back-looping or losing too much speed through the crashing waves, I even had a bit of camera gear stashed in the back and the extra weight didn’t affect it too much. It felt much more like I was paddling my Rockstar but with a bit of extra stability and speed than a playful creekboat. The boat still has a fair bit of volume so quite a challenge to through wave-wheels, but you can get them and the stern will catch on eddy lines if you want to do some old-skool stern squirts. The boat has quite a lot of volume so don’t be expecting to flat-water cartwheel or bow-stall it.
There were some massive waves to catch on the GC, some of them were very fast, not big enough to catch in the modern short playboats but in the Fun Runner I caught loads of fast waves and really enjoyed carving around, on the steep waves you’ve really got to carve around to stop the front from pearling in or you’ll get a massive pop-out!
Running some big lines, watch out for the big holes….
If you’re looking for a boat you can feel comfortable running some advanced white-water and be able to have a good surf I can recommend the Fun Runner, it would be a perfect boat to take to the Austrian or French alps this summer and you can take it out in the surf and it’ll be fast and great fun to carve in the waves. As with all Jackson boats it’s easy to roll so ideal for a beginner/intermediate paddler, its ease of out-fitting changes would make it a good club boat although I’m sure lots of people would be fighting over who gets to paddle it! And of course if you get the chance to go to the Grand Canyon this really is the perfect boat for such a trip!
Video and more photos of the Grand Canyon trip coming soon!
Big Thanks to Big Aaron at Square Rock.
A beautiful cave with a hot spring, mmm warm water!
Running Lava Falls Grade 9 (equiv Grade 4+) rapid, the biggest on the Grand Canyon.
I’ve not really blogged much about Lee Valley White Water despite having spent most of the summer there I didn’t really capture any decent footage or photos of me paddling. I had plenty of nice evening paddles there, sunset sessions really are beautiful. It’s about to close for the Olympics, but hopefully afterwards the course will be improved in many ways, looks like they are already improving the totally inadequate parking and there are rumours of a new cafe being built and the course being changed a lot after the Olympics. There was a really nice wave on the course that was fast, not much pile but you could get bounce and could throw lots of moves, Matty, Craig and Alan were all throwing Air Screws and I was getting close, but unfortunately the course changed. Since then everyone’s been saying the course is rubbish for playboating, but Claire O’Hara was in town and wanted to go boating so I joined her for my first playboating session in a very long time.
Here’s a little video that I made with my new GoPro.
And another of the course just doing some creek-boat runs.
It’s been just over a week since the Zen arrived in the UK, and during that time I have taken it on three outings, in varying conditions. I started with a very low Upper Dart during Richard brooks 24 hour White Water Challenge (details at http://www.justgiving.com/24hr-upper-dart-paddle). The upper in low levels becomes a very technical run, with lots of weaving in and out of rocks.
I then went on to some big boat play and slalom sessions at both the Lee Valley Olympic Whitewater Course and HPP White Water Course. The 3 different venues have been a very good test ground for the Zen.
I had been excited about the arrival of the Zen since seeing the original prototype at Kanumesse and I am happy to say I have not been disappointed. The first thing that struck me about the Zen is its low profile. Sitting in the boat I instantly feel like I have better reach, getting the Zen on the water and my first few strokes proved this straight away.
The boat accelerates away nicely and wow! its fast, as I head off downstream, the boat tracks perfectly and effortlessly races away. Changes in direction are easy and allow carriage of speed throughout. The speed and manoeuvrability means hitting your line is easier than ever as the boat allows you to cut through the waves and currents with ease.
Next, to try a few break outs, the boat zips in and out, crossing eddie lines as if they weren’t there. I was able to surfs holes and waves well, remaining stable without any edge catches and move around with fewer strokes than expected.
The Zen has a lot of primary stability, and punches stoppers well, the speed of the boat also aids in boofing, with the boat accelerating away on landing.
For the novice and expert alike, and the versatility of the boat means it will suit a variety of paddling styles, whether your bimbling down your local run or racing at Sickline.
The speed will defiantly make it my boater-cross and race boat for this season and leaves me with a tough decision on which boat to take out to Corsica; the all out creeker that is the Villain or the fast and capable Zen.
If the looks of approval from the bank so far are anything to go by, the Zen will prove a very popular boat!
Go try one for yourself.
The Jackson Fun Runner arrived in the UK just before Christmas and I was keen to try this boat out as I think it will be a fantastic boat for Lee Valley, (Olympic slalom course) as you can play and enjoy running the course.
Unfortunately the course had closed for Christmas so I packed up the van and headed for North Wales getting the fun runner 60 (small one) on a big volume river Dee.
For those that don’t know this river in good flow, it’s a fun 3/4 river with some big holes and big wave trains.
I decided to park at the bottom and paddle up the canal so as to save on the shuttle and much to my gfs annoyance the fun runner proved fast on the flat (keep up!).
The Fun runner really zipped around on the river covering ground quickly and enabling you to carry speed deep into the eddie. With its long planning hull picking up waves on the fly is easy and it surfs quite comfortably with spins and rock spins both proving easy.
Paddling down the river the fun runner stayed on track well and stayed on the surface, punching through over or under any holes I met.
When reaching JJ’s I took advantage of the good levels and better play features to test the play ability of the Fun runner. Starting off with the basics and it span smoothly and forgivingly with very few edge catches. Happy with that I moved on to the cartwheel and in the powerful hole on the Dee it proved easier than expected and stable once on end, the boat also proved surprisingly easy to loop for a boat of this size.
With this play over we headed off downstream through Town Falls where the Jackson Fun Runner again punched the holes and waves well and proved easy to boof.
At the get out the gf decided she was going to carry the fun runner up to the canal and then paddle it back to the van leaving me in her heavier slower boat.
A thoroughly enjoyable day and I highly recommend trying the boat out for yourself.
Happy New year
So after praying for some rain, the inclement weather brought in a nice swell on the north sea instead. After 1 day of boating at hpp, a night out, nursing a hangover, Matty drove myself and Sally up to Scarborough to find some 10ft swell.
We found a beach with huge sets of large waves coming on to the shore, we kitted up and it was time to see what my new Large Jackson Rockstar could do on a big wave. It was quite hard to paddle out against the constant barrage of big waves but thankfully there was a lull between the sets of waves that made it easy to get out back. The waves were even bigger up close and on my first ride I threw an air screw. The boat flew and landed flat on the hull, this was one of the smaller waves, it was the start of an awesome day.
Every wave I found myself flying, I have no idea how a boat this short can be this fast. Putting an edge on and driving in the rail makes the boat release smoothly and means you can throw moves every time. It goes just as well backwards, backstabs going aerial and I wasn’t finding I was catching my stern at all when landing moves.
I’d seen the Jackson video of ‘the grind’ and was slightly sceptical about it, but side surfing the smaller waves I wasn’t getting bounced around at all the boat was sitting perfectly stable, gliding sideways on the wave, meaning you have to be quite aggressive to bounce your way off.
I definetly threw the biggest air screw I have ever done and for once I have a couple of eye witnesses who said it was the biggest they’d ever seen anybody do which I’m pretty stoked about!
(Rest in peace, Jason Raper)
It was fairly large surf with waves over 10ft high and a couple possible approaching nearer 20 ft. Had a fair few beat downs trying to get out back but found the rockstar so fast and stable that even when a wave started to barrel out I was able to just about stay at the edge and not get too trashed when the wave broke.
Next time I go out in the surf I’m going to have to learn a few new moves as I was nailing blunts, flash backs, pan ams and air screws, next up the helix?
Definitely need a trip to a big river wave, Zambia in October anyone? Cheers for Ed Cooper for the Photos and the girl who took them, just need to get some pictures of my air screws next time!