Archive for February, 2009


Welsh Freestyle Development Day

On Sunday I was lucky enough to attend one of the Welsh Freestyle Development Day’s organised Lowri Davies from Flow Free. This is the fifth in the series with previous locations all over Wales.  We met at Swansea Canoesand talked about the importance of leading with the head for playboating. We also practiced our cartwheel initiation on the floor. This was a totally effective way of teaching angle and leverage for the double pump. This was followed up with a sesh on the Moriston weirs. Given the dearth of rain, the weirs were a more than a tad on the low side, so we spent a fair amount of time working on flat water moves.


Photos (L to R): Callie, perfecting her Cartwheel; Me working on double pump; Smiley Rick

Next we mossied on down the the weirs and practiced stern squirts on the eddy-lines and did a bit of smurfing.


Photos (L to R): Chris and Ger; Callie showing off her squirt; Ben surfing

During the afteroon we again practiced what we learned in the morning, building up that all importnat muscle memory and then headed down to try things out on the weir. Lowri and Chris showed us the cartwheel spot and we gave it a go. Note head position of Lowri looking at the hole. Perfection.

Photo: Lowri cartwheeling


Photo: Chris cartwheeling. I think he got 5 ends on this go.

Next up my turn. Callies parents, Dom and Sue, kindly took photos. Often, we are our own best critic. Check out where my head is (its certainly not facing the hole), my lack of elevation and the amount of forward lean i have. Lots of stuff to work on!


 Photos: Me trying to cartwheel.

All in all a fantastic 8 hours on the river. Lowri is the best female playboating coach i’ve had the privalige to paddle with. I sometimes find it challening to develop skills quickly in a group setting, but Lowri spent time coaching us as a group and also indiviually. I learned more in a few hours with Lowri than I learned in 1 year trying to teach myself, for sure. I highly recommend taking a Flow Free course with her, particularly if you are female!


One More Moor Run

After Saturdays fun and frolics we decided on a mellower run on the Walkam, also located on Dartmoor. We were met by fellow UHCC’er Elaine for a low water run. At this flow (70 cm at the take-out bridge), the river was a good II+ with one nice III drop. There was a river wide tree close to the put in that we limboed-under easily at this level.


Photo (L to R): The slot drop; Me,Chis, Elaine

 Photo: Shel on the Slot

We carried on down toward the take out, getting out to scout the weir. The weir is runnable, and i was told most people take the sneak route on the right. It wasn’t possible at this level because there was a tree blocking the far right. A group before us ran the concrete slab on the far left. This is not a good idea. As I was scouting, I saw one of the group from London get pinned and signaled to the others to wait. I could see his head was above water and he was getting out of his boat. Chris had a pin kit and offered to help the group out. We live baited the boat owner to his boat and he clipped another rope to the boat.


Photos (L to R) : Right sneek; Some London dude’s pinned boat; Getting a line on the boat

Chris, Shel, and Elaine set up a Z-drap to try to move the boat, while I filmed.  The grab handle snapped. The line was taken back over to the boat and clipped into the safety bar. We were shortly joined by another group who also had a crack at getting the boat out.  Sadly the boat didn’t budge and after 1 hour we called it a day. Hopefully the owner of the boat will be able to retrieve it at lower flows. We zipped down to the take out, taking time out to surf on the way.  We ended the weekend safety practice fittingly with some throw bagging to Shelley, who kindly offered to be our swimmer. Yet another splendid day on the river.


Photo: Elaine on the surf weir. Fun, fun, fun


Photo:  I love paddling my rocker. Its no co-incidence I’m in all Welsh colours, celebrating our victoreous rugby result.


Valentines on the Upper Dart

We planned a Valentines weekend on the Dart; evidently our love of the river far outweighs any romantic notions we may have had. We arrived at Newbridge to find the river lapping the slab and we knew we were in for a great day. We ran shuttle with boaters we met at the put-in and we were off. With our small group of 3 (Chris, Shelley, me), we picked our way down the upper 1/2 of the run, mostly boat scouting, but occasionally getting out of our boat. Not many chances to whip out the SLR, but I got a few cheeky ones.

Photo: Scouting a rapid on the Upper Dart

The guidebook gave an accurate description of the run. We reached the magic mile and ran into a local guide at Euthanaisa  falls. He demonstrated to us the easy right route and we followed without scouting from the bank. That was a fun drop class IV drop. For all you Oregon readers, it reminded me of Big Ugly on Opal Creek…ahhhh Opal; how I miss you. Next was surprise, surprise; which indeed caught us by surprise.  We had a small broach incident which was dealt with swiftly and efficiently; more importantly, without loss of people or any gear. We finished the run just before sunset. With all of our team being Upper Dart virgins, it felt good to pick our way down without anyone showing us the lines.


 Photo: Chris on one of the Class III rapids. 

It took a while to complete the run and we apologise immensely to Kat and Andy from Southampton whom we kept waiting for 3 hours at the take-out for their shuttle. May good karma be prevalent in all your kayaking adventures and thanks for all your patience. All in all a good day with lots of lessons learned. And cupid struck this Valentines day- for me and the Dart. Yes im sooooo cheesy; i just cant help it ;she’s a beauty!