Wesley's Wild World of Kayaking & the Jackson Action Wagon (JAW)

News, Info, & Events from my kayaking life

JK Nirvana Large is Here!

Big guys get pumped! A new bluegrass colored Jackson Kayak Nirvana Large has join the J.A.W. fleet just in time for race season!! #JKNirvana

Give the J.A.W. a shout if you want to try out a free demo.

Kokatat Gore-Tex Trinity Dry Top Southeast Field Test

From freestyle to creeking, this shorty dry top gets the job done well in whitewater!

Nantahala “Horns of God” – Photo by: Rahul Subramanian

Product website: https://kokatat.com/product/gore-tex-trinity-dry-top-dtutrn 

I’ve been a whitewater kayaker for over 15 years now, so I’ve tried a lot of different brands and types of splash/semi/dry tops.  I’m a big warm natured type of guy that lives in the southeast, so I’ve learned over the years that I don’t have much use for splash or semi-dry tops.  I typically paddle on hot summer days either skin to the wind or with a light sun protection shirt if the water temperature is above 50 degrees.  However, I find great use in having a shorty dry top for many reasons starting in the spring and throughout till late autumn.

I started using my new Kokatat Gore-Tex Trinity Dry Top in the late spring this year while creeking season was still in its prime.  The milder air and water temperatures during this time make it a bit uncomfortable for me to wear a full dry suit.  Having a shorty dry top as an option in my gear bag during this season always increases my comfort while keeping a much dryer core and creek boat.  I also like the safety aspect of having an extra piece of gear on to aid in rash protection in case of a manky creeking situation.

Laurel Fork of the Doe “Groove Tube” – Photo by: Matt Dalton

This year I was amazed at how much dryer both me and my boat were using the Trinity compared to other “dry” shorty tops I have owned in the past!  I typically layer under my shorty with a short sleeve thin rashguard.  Every time I took off my Trinity this spring and summer after creeks and river runs I found my rashguard completely dry of water.  My boat was also 100% dry as long as if I did not have to get out to scout or portage through the water on a run.  The seal the Trinity makes with my spray skirt is superb.  

I also like to use a shorty dry top when I playboat, because freestyle kayaking tends to keep you upside down and splashing around a lot.  Thus water can implode through your spray skirt tunnel without some sort of paddle jacket to aid in sealing.  The Trinity really shined in performance during summer playboat sessions!  It was by far the best dry top I’ve every worn while playboating.  I could go for a 1-2 hour play session with only a few drops in my boat after I was done flipping and tricking.  This was a very impressive finding in comparison to other tops I’ve used playboating!  The Gore-Tex coating not only helped keep me dry from whitewater in the feature, but it also help me from over perspiring inside the jacket on the warmer days.  This makes for a great balance of comfort all the way around! 

The only thing I thought was missing on the Trinity was some sort of small gear pocket.  I find a zip pocket to be a handy accessory some of the time.  As with any dry top the latex gaskets took some time to break-in (stretch) to fit well.  At first the gaskets were rather tight, but now they feel fine and are still bone dry.  Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this purchase and would highly recommend the Trinity Dry Top to any whitewater kayaker who does not has an allergy to latex.

Nantahala Cascades – Photo by: Rahul Subramanian

2017 J.A.W. End of Season SALE!

The Jackson Action Wagon has had another great paddling season with free demos & spreading the fun of kayaking.  It is now time to sell most of the current demo boat fleet to make room for next year’s 2018 fleet!

Check out the link below for current stock and prices:

http://worldkayakblogs.com/wildwildwes/the-jaw/

All J.A.W. boat purchases include the original outfitting, warranty & swag that come with a new Jackson Kayak purchase.  The boats were primarily used in a pool for instruction and river trip demos.  The boats are in like new to very good condition.  I will be happy to send current photos of any boat if requested.

I will be at Gauley Fest & GAF to deliver boats to those locations.  I can also help arrange shipping through Greyhound, Forward Air or FedEx if you desire to pay for that service.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in a boat purchase from the J.A.W. fleet.  All boats are sold on a first come, first served basis.

Wesley R. Bradley – 423-647-1321

New Jackson Kayak Mixmaster

James McBeath gives us a sneak peek of a new prototype from Jackson Kayak.  Does double the slice = double the fun?  We shall see soon…

Introducing the new Jackson Kayak MIXMASTER coming in 2018.

Rapid Magazine Video Report for more details: https://www.facebook.com/RapidMagazine/videos/10155057222617123/

JK Nirvana Promo Video

Both the Medium and Large sizes of Jackson Kayak’s newest creeker are now rolling off the assembly line at the JK factory in good ole’ Sparta, TN!

If that does not increase your stoke level enough check out Rush Sturges’ full promo video to check out how hot this new design is with our JK Team…

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Rahul’s Noli Gorge Antix

Rahul Subramanian is a local paddler in the Tri-Cities area in Tennessee and a member of the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts club.  He started kayaking whitewater this past January and has come a long way in eight months.  His determination to progress safely while getting out on the river as much as possible is inspiring to many of the local paddlers in our area.  He was recently honored with the “APE’s Rookie of the Year” award for his many personal first descents and paddling progression throughout this paddling season.

I’ve had the pleasure to make several river trips with him this year.  We recently made a Nolichucky Gorge run together and he got to try out the Jackson Kayak Antix M from the Jackson Action Wagon on the run.  He had a blast surfing Jaws, running creek lines, rock spins, boofing, combat rolls, and rock grinds. #JKAntix

I’ll let his video highlight all the fun we had on this run…

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2017 JK Antix Small Joins the JAW Fleet

The small paddlers asked for an Antix they could fit in well and JK answered with this new awesome design to round out all the sizing for the hottest new kayak design in 2017!

A brand new 2017 Abyss Jackson Kayak Antix Small has now joined the JAW fleet for FREE demo!! :-)

Give me a shout if you want to give this new design a go.  #JKAntix

Jackson Kayak Nirvana Reviews From J.A.W. Demos

There is no doubt that the new JK Nirvana (http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/kayak/nirvana/) is getting a lot of hype right now.  It has been one of the most highly anticipated whitewater kayaks in 2017, since it’s announcement by JK back at Outdoor Retailer last year.  A beautiful Abyss colored 2017 JK Nirvana joined the Jackson Action Wagon fleet in late June and I can’t seem to keep it in the fleet long enough for me to give it a try…  I’ve had a waiting list of paddlers wanting to get a hold of the demo to check out what all the rave is about in this new design!  Give me a shout if you want to give this new design a GO!!

The JAW Nirvana has already seen a many runs by several different folks and I’m getting several great reviews on this boat.  Here are a couple of good non-biased reviews from non-sponsored paddlers I have received after a JAW demo:

Shaun Mullins’ Quick review of the new Jackson Kayaks Nirvana (medium)

Wesley R. Bradley was kind enough to let me be the first to demo the new Nirvana from the Jackson Action Wagon fleet. Below is my unprofessional kayaker thoughts about this exciting boat.

Pros:
It has really fast hull speed for a “short” boat. During the initial lake paddle, I was stunned at how fast it gets up to speed from a dead stop. Three strokes and you’re pretty much flying.

The speed downriver is unhindered by features that usually try to stall out other boats. Tremendous amount of lift from the bow/hull design at speed keeps you on top and mostly dry through all but the biggest waves and holes.

When the bow does go deep, it resurfaces very fast and stable – no unusual kicks to one side.

Really holds a line at speed – the faster you go, the more it seems to lock in. This should be great for downriver racing, as you will be less likely to get spun out or thrown off line as you encounter eddy lines and cross currents.

Turns easy though and holds a carve line with precision. Taking inside strokes on edge at speed results in controlled carving turns with a radius that is easily adjusted with just the slightest change in edging.

Surfs great! I was able to catch and surf fast green waves that I haven’t been able to catch in any other short boat. Plenty of rocker and bow lift kept the bow from pearling most of the time, even though this thing is 9′ long.

Boofing was nothing short of glorious thanks to that rocker profile, the ability to put the boat’s trajectory exactly on the line you want, and the speed.

The hull design lands a bit harder than other creek boats I’ve paddled, so that is something to consider on drops. This also means that the boat kind of has a “slappy” ride through rapids, although that is not really an issue.

Definitely one of the easiest boats to roll that I have experienced. I guess the narrow width and low deck height combine to make it a super easy roller. I know reviewers often say this, but this particular boat really surprised me.

One other surprising characteristic was that the boat was very stable through rapids and on features. Even though it is a “short race boat”, I never once felt like I was paddling an edgy, tippy specialty boat. It is very forgiving. Primary stability is good with the mostly flat hull profile, and secondary stability is good as well.

Cons:
On fast eddy out maneuvers, it has a great snappy turn-in, but about half way through the fast leaning carve, I noticed the wide, flat stern lift and the boat tended to want to straighten out. This resulted in blowing through a few smaller eddys. If I came in slower, this behavior was not an issue. But, at speed, it did this almost every time. I really had to pull a hard bow draw at the right instant to counter this and lock in to smaller eddys. But even then, compared to “standard” creek boats I’ve paddled, it was not as consistent in locking into position in small eddys. For me, this is a big deal for its creekability on really tight technical creeks like the ones in the Smokies where must make eddys are often micro-sized.

The Nirvana has an almost flat planing hull. This is a pro for high volume and most river running. But, it’s a con in my book for southeast creeking. This one is subjective I suppose, but in my experience, I much prefer displacement hull creekers. If I lived in the northwest or Cali, my opinion would be different. However, on the low volume, rock filled creeks in the southeast, I prefer a nice, smooth displacement hull with soft rounded edges (i.e. Jefe Grande, Newmad, Shiva).

Fit for me (6’2″ with 34″ inseam and size 14 shoes), was not ideal. The knee pockets are widely spaced and very low. I moved the seat around every way possible and could not get all the pressure off of the back of my thigh where it contacts the highest portion of the front of the seat. Also, foot room is barely adequate for me. I wore Astral’s Hi-Yak low profile booties and still had to jam my feet in there somewhat. Within 15 minutes, my legs were starting to get sleepy. I can sit in my other boats all day with no problem.

Verdict:
This boat will be a huge success for those wanting a short racing kayak, or a high flow speed creeking/river running machine. Dane and crew have already proven it’s ability in multiple events this year. It is also a killer boat for zipping around on big water and runs that don’t involve a lot of rock contact. Team Jackson has a winner on their hands for the right paddler on the right river.

But, for me at least, it won’t replace my Jefe Grande as a creek boat. Mainly because of overall comfort (leg position/footroom) and the Jefe’s ability to lock in to the most micro of eddys with relative ease, and to use rocks as just another way to get where you want to go with no surprises. And, the Jefe lands softer, boofs just as good, and handles steep boulder filled creeks with lots of rock contact with ease.

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Brian Vermillion’s Report on how the Jackson Kayak #JKNirvana compares to the Pyranha Kayaks #9r

On Saturday I had the chance to get a lap on the Upper Ocoee in Jackson’s newest creek/race boat, the Nirvana. I am a class 4/5 weekend boater, and for the last 2 years my go to creek boat has been the Pyranha 9r. So, the Nirvana seemed like a no brainer to test out.

The first thing I noticed about the Nirvana was the knee position…it’s low and wide. This is very different than what I am use to with my 9r, which sits with much higher and slightly narrower knee position. The Nirvana is 26.375” wide, while the 9r is 25.2” wide, thats only a 1.175” difference in width. Once on the water the knee position felt much better, and I didn’t really notice the extra width of the Jackson boat.

Much like the 9r, the Nirvana felt fast! Just a few strokes and the boat was up to full speed. The boat stayed at speed even through waves and eddy lines. Both boats are 8’ 11” long which is key to both boats speed. The 9r does feel a bit sportier and nimbler while zig zagging through the waves and rocks.

At Alien Boof the Nirvana lived up the hype and boofed like a champ. You can build so much speed before the lip that the boat just flies off the drop. Again, like my 9r the speed you build before the drop was carried out of the drop with ease. Both boats sterns load up well coming off drops and push you out like a watermelon seed.

Once in the Olympic section the Nirvana felt at home. It was stable and held a line with no issues. The 9r feels just as much at home in the big water as the Nirvana did. The extreme bow rocker of the 9r felt like it stayed on top of the water better than the Nirvana when driving through big waves.

When it comes down to it the Pyranha 9r and the Jackson Nirvana they felt very much the same. The boats preformed similar on both big water and on a few creek moves. The knee position and outfitting of the Jackson vs the Pyranha are the biggest differences for me between the 2 boats. Picking which boat is for you will be up to preference more than performance. But for me the higher knee position and narrower boat win out…..the Pyranha 9r will still be my go to boat.

Late Spring Heavenly Highland Whitewater

This past winter and early spring was starting to look like we were not going to have much of a creek season in the southeast.  Warmer and dryer temperatures was the theme of the winter months in our region.  Then spring sprung and we had a few showers here in there in late March into early April that started getting an occasional run up to a runnable level for a day or so if you could catch it. 

At the end of April the weather changed and a more consistent heavy rain pattern started in the highlands region of northwest North Carolina and northeast Tennessee.  The highland area is centered in between Roan Mountain, Beech Mountain and Grandfather Mountain.  Out of this region flows some of the best rivers & creeks any Class IV-V boater would be thrilled to fire up such as: Watauga Gorge, Elk River Gorge, Doe River Gorge, Wilson Creek, Laurel Fork of the Doe, and the mighty Linville River Gorge.

  Running the bottom drop of Darwin’s Revenge on the Laurel Fork of the Doe. Photo by Matt Dalton.

I live only about 45 minutes to the center of this mecca of whitewater and we have truly been blessed with multiple option in the highlands region in late April and May.  I have been fortunate to catch many of these runs multiple times here lately and guide several first timers.

  Running Stateline Falls on the Watauga Gorge. Photo by Amos Ivey.

With all these local creeking options it has given me a chance to use both my trusty JK Karma Large and JK Zen Large on these runs back to back.  I still prefer my Karma for the harder steeper whitewater, but I love the sportiness of the Zen.  The extra buoyancy and boof ability of the Karma gets the job done well for me when I feel I need that extra safety net like on the Laurel Fork or the Elk.  However the Zen excels with speed and nimbleness in handling runs such as the Watauga and the Doe with the plethora of different moves and lines you can take on these runs.  The Zen also still amazes me at how well it stays on top of the whitewater despite my larger size.

Running the bottom drop of Groove Tube on the Laurel Fork of the Doe. Photo by Matt Dalton.

 

One of the highlights from this highland creek season was getting show down one of my best friends, Brain Vermillion, down the Elk Gorge as a birthday present with another best friend, Ryan Horn.  Check out Brian’s great video edit from the run:

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After Work Doe River Gorge Goods

Weekday after work runs are always a special treat for me.  Catching the Doe River Gorge at a good 750 CFS level is an even sweeter treat, because the take-out is only 10 minutes from my house!

Me and a group of 5 friends rallied earlier this week for delightful river trip in this under rated and hidden gem of a gorge!  Good times for sure with Todd Emma, Clay Landrum, Sarah Stine, Ryan Horn and Chris Clark on the Doe!! :-)

It was also nice to have a good place to take-out when we got to Hampton thanks to the partnership and work of the Elizabethton IDEAS Group and Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts Club in the development of the new river access site.

Congrats to Clay on his person first decent of this run and a nice video edit from the run!

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