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

News, Info, & Events from my kayaking life

JAW Demo at the Paddle In Pink Confidence Series: Dirty Bird

When: June 24, 2017 @ 10:30 A.M.

Where: NOC Outpost on the Pigeon River

Who: Presented by Paddle in Pink for the ladies!


Ladies get out your playboats and your slicey boats, Paddle in Pink is putting on its 3rd annual Dirty Bird Confidence Series.  Come on out and join Crystal Gustin, Nikki Winkler Malatin and Katie Dean for this fun day on the Pigeon River Gorge!!  They will be guiding you down the river and showing you how to play your way down the river.

Last year was a big success with over 20 women learning how to get vertical and throw about in a playboat. This year the format will be very similar to last year; we will divide into two groups: short  playboats and slicey get vertical boats. If we have the interest, we will send a group directly down to the hole at NOC and work on park-n-play moves. Team members from Dagger, Pyranha and Jackson will lead the groups down the pigeon and instruct rock splats, eddie line squirts, surfing, loops and any request you want to throw at them.

The groups will progress to the NOC play hole where music and SweetWater beer will be enjoyed. A friendly competition will be in store to show off any move you would like to showcase. Pretty or otherwise.

The day will conclude with a raffle of prizes by various sponsors. This year the top prize will be an Orion cooler loaded with SweetWater Brewing Beer that is in Paddle in Pink colors, hot pink and black! All proceeds will go to a local animal shelter in memory of Jennifer Watson (our inspiration behind Paddle In Pink).

Please invite your friends!

Facebook event website for all the latest 411: https://www.facebook.com/events/772239839602140/

Don’t have a playboat or a slicey boat?  The Jackson Action Wagon is looking forward to supporting the event with FREE Jackson Kayak demos on-site!

Sponsors: Jackson Kayak, Orion Coolers, SweetWater Brewing Company and Kokatat

NoliFest Was Gnarly!

The third annual 2017 NoliFest was so much fun on and off the river!  We were blessed with rain in the week leading up to the event and had some high river levels to enjoy the might Nolichucky River.  River trips were enjoyed by many paddling groups both in the gorge and on the lower .  We saw river levels from over 7,000 CFS on Friday to 2,400 CFS on Sunday!

There was lots to do off the river too for folks attending the event!  The vendor area was filled with many paddling and outdoor businesses/organizations representing.  Several tasty food vendors were on site.  There were many other activities going on throughout the weekend: One Wheel demos/race, SUP jousting, bands, trail run, kids nature scavenger hunt, SUP yoga & race, AT hike, kids fishing derby, fly fishing lessons & fireworks.  There was a  ton of fun to be had for sure!  USA Raft & Mountain River Guides did a stellar job of hosting and organizing everything!

The Jackson Action Wagon was proud to be a part of NoliFest again this year!  It has been amazing to watch this event grow each year!  The J.A.W. had a great demo/showcase event for Jackson Kayak on Saturday of the festival!  We raised $782 for Camp Bays Mountain in a raffle to give away a #JKAntix!! Congrats to Will Saylor as our lucky winner of the new boat.

Nolifest for the win! Enjoy this quick recap video and see you next year:



The JAW is Giving Away a JK Antix at NoliFest!

Where: USA Raft – 2 Jones Branch Rd, Erwin, Tennessee 37650

Check out all the announcements of event sponsors, bands, demos and more at:

http://www.nolifest.com/home.html and https://www.facebook.com/Nolifest/

2017 JAW Fleet Rolls into Action!

Are you ready for FREE Jackson Kayak demos in 2017?  They’re here now!

Check out the full fleet on the Jackson Action Wagon page: http://worldkayakblogs.com/wildwildwes/the-jaw/

You can see more photos of the new fleet on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1267105856701809.1073741837.615362971876104&type=1&l=6ab8db7104

Schedule your FREE demo soon! :-)

What Jackson Kayak would you like to paddle in 2017?

The Jackson Action Wagon’s is in its 11th year of spreading kayaking fun by providing FREE JK demos on the traveling showcase trailer. :-)

I am now taking suggestions for what JK whitewater, fishing/hunting , recreation/touring, kids kayaks or SUP’s you would like to see stocked in the 2017 J.A.W. Fleet.  Take a look at all the current products we are offering this year with the link below and let me know your thoughts by 3/1/2017:


I already have a Antix M, Antix L, Karma Md and Karma Unlimited (UL) in stock.  This leaves me with about 6-8 more spots for boats on the JAW, so let me hear your suggestions to help stock the fleet!  I plan to pick-up the new fleet at the factory toward the end of March, so stay tuned for new JK demos coming to the Tri-Cities soon!

Click on this link http://worldkayakblogs.com/wildwildwes/contact-me/ to send me JK suggestions.  Thanks for any input you give!

JK Antix Large Initial Thoughts as a Big Guy

I got to paddle the new JK Antix L for the first time at our local pool session on the evening of 2/7/17.  Here are my first thoughts after paddling this new design:

Fit – At my 6’-4” height, 235lbs, 38” waist, 36” inseam, and size 12 shoes I fit quite comfortably in the boat.  My hips are a bit snug for my wide frame, but not as snug as in my JK ROCKSTAR Lg for sure.  This is the only fit issue I have with the boat.  I’ve got room to spare in all other areas. 

The knee position feels to be around what I consider mid height and a bit more narrow than my JK Zen Lg.  Overall I really like how my knees fit. 

Seat height feels good in comparison to the parting line in the water and the sidewall reach over sits at about the same distance as my JK Zen Lg, which I like that position.  The 4Fun seems to have a bit more reach over than both these boats due to the taller sidewalls.   

I placed the seat in the rear position to see how much leg and foot room I have to play with and I can paddle the boat in the rear position and one hole forward from the rear with the stock 1.5” foam on the bulk head.  I can comfortably wear my Astral Loyak or Hiyak in the boat in either seat position.  Not sure if I could wear my Chaco Tedinho in the boat with its bulkier sole?

Float – I float surprisingly well in the boat.  I initially thought I would be maxing out the boat at my weight, but I have about 1.5” between the parting line and waterline at the cockpit area of the boat.

With the seat position in the rear the boat trims out a bit stern heavy and the bow trim is high, but the deck still floats above the water line when sitting flat.   When I have the boat in motion and lean back I can get part of the stern to dip down under water.

 With the seat position one up from the rear the boat trims out closer to level from bow to stern, but I’m still floating bow high.

I plan to try out both positions to see which works best on the river.

Stability – This was the area in the new boat design that shocked me!  The boat has very solid initial stability both sitting and paddling the boat around the pool.  This instantly gave me confidence for its river running/creeking abilities.  The secondary stability is a fine line for sure on edge.  The Antix has a short sidewall, compared to other JK designs, so naturally there is not as much secondary stability.   

Performance – The boat gets up to speed quick with only a couple of strokes and is quick, but it is not Zen or 9R fast for sure.  The boat is super zippy in the turns.  When you activate the edges in a turn the Antix responses!  There is plenty of volume up front to keep you riding high at speed and the slicey edges in the back act like a slalom boat in the turns!  The ride is incredible overall!!

Rolling – It’s a Jackson Kayak, so you know careful consideration went into this design on this aspect.  I found no major issue in rolling the boat.  The lesser sidewall reach made it easy for me to setup and execute the maneuver with ease.

There is more initial resistance in breaking the surface tension when initiating the roll.  I think this is due to the spoon shape design of the stern.  The lesser secondary stability also makes you stay on point with your follow through also.   

Summary – This Anitx is truly unique from anything JK has ever produced!  I thought the Fun Runner might be comparable, but they are nothing alike.  I am overall happy with the general fit and float of the boat at my size.  I can’t wait to get it out on some flow to see what I can do with it there to truly try out the stability and performance.  Could it be the best Watauga Gorge playboat ever?!  We soon will see…

Wesley’s 2016 Rain Gauge Report

The link below is to a spread sheet for my rain gauge I have installed at my house.  It’s a really nice gauge and it measures precipitation to the nearest 1/100th of an inch.  2016 was a little below average since I started recording daily rain amounts, but not far off normal.  Click the link below to view the spread sheet:



Yearly Rain Amount Total History:

  • 2013 = 58.50″
  • 2014 = 41.16″
  • 2015 = 52.07″
  • 2016 = 42.59″

2016 Ocoee River Race Report

The 8th annual TVCC Ocoee Race sponsored by WORLDKAYAK.COM went down on Saturday, October 8, 2016.  The race was a great time for the competitors and volunteers as always!  Big thanks to Jen Maxwell and the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club (TVCC Kayaking) volunteers who organized and hosted another fantastic event!!  It is amazing to many of us racers that the TVCC crew can get over 150 race runs down one of the USA’s busiest rivers with such poise.

The race is a time trial event format with racers starting in one minute intervals between commercial raft groups.  The race starts at the Middle Ocoee put-in ramp above Grumpy Rapid and runs the entirety of the Middle Section to the finish line below Powerhouse Rapid (4.4 miles).  Due to the length of the race you really have to set a quick steady pace for yourself to finish well.  It is not a race that you hammer as hard as you can because you will wear out well before the finish. 

The finish line is a raft you have to tag tied to the river right bank directly below Powerhouse out of the main flow.  You really have to carve hard right coming out of Powerhouse rapid to tag the raft or else the main current sweeps you wide left around a pile rocks and you have to eddy out and paddle across flat water to tag the raft.  That mistake can easily cost you several seconds when you are trying to finish.

The Ocoee Race is also unique to itself, because it draws a very diverse crowd of men and women paddlers.  The kayak racing longboats has been the majority of the field in the past few years, but there are plenty of other crafts going fast also: rafts, open single & tandem canoes, tandem kayaks, shortboat kayaks, hand paddlers, SUP, C-1 and even a few play boats.  There are many classes and divisions to choose from during race registration to keep things fair to all who participate.  This gives ample opportunity for the top guns to duke it out with each other while the weekend warriors can have their own heated contest!

Unlike the Green Race and Lord of the Fork Race the Ocoee Race course is primarily on class III whitewater, making the race more accessible for many whitewater paddlers with an intermediate skillset.  However, it is a good step up from racing on the Nantahala Gorge, so the Ocoee Race makes a great bridge to step up the racing game!

One of the more fun aspects in racing for me is the friendly banter and trash talking that goes on in the weeks leading up to race day.  My best racing buddy and close rival, Brian Vermillion, and I had a go at it on social media to try and prove our supremacy this year.  Ryan Horn and Casey Jones also got in on the trash talking action with us this year making some high quality entertainment!  We had a blast racing with each other this year!! :-)

This was my third year racing in the event and I was pumped to put the hammer down with my Mitchell Paddle for some fast lap times!  This was my first year racing in both the Long Boat and Short Boat classes (Often referred to as the Iron Man League in our sport).  I raced my Jackson Kayak Karma Unlimited/UL in the Elite Men’s Longboat Class and I raced my Jackson Kayak Zen Lg in the Elite Men’s Shortboat Class.  I knew it was going to be an extremely difficult task to beat the time I posted last year, because we had some extra flow last year with rain and this year we were going to barley be at normal release flows with the dry weather we have been experiencing over the past couple of months.  So I set the goal to at least beat my original time I posted in 2014 as a benchmark.

My first race run was in my Karma/UL.  Iron Man Racing Tip – Typically you want to race your fastest boat first to be fresh to post the best time overall.  My longboat run was going very good and clean for me up until the second to last rapid in the course.  The right race line at Hell Hole is a fine line to ride through clean.  The line is only about 3 feet wide and since you are in a kayak that is a little over 2’ wide you don’t have much room for error.  If you enter the line with any angle to the left you end up taking a big chest full of water hitting the exploding wave of Hell Hole; which can result in an unintended extended surf session.  If you enter the line with any angle to the right you end up catching the eddy on the right.  I spun out in the river right eddy on accident and slammed into the rock bank losing all my forward momentum.  I tried to quickly spin my kayak back up stream to peel back out into the current to keep from losing too much time, but Casey Jones passed me at this exact moment and I knew that he was going to beat me by over a minute.  I peeled back out behind Casey and I used what energy I had left to charge hard to the finish line raft.  I was happy to find out later that I did complete my race goal of beating my 2014 longboat time even with the spin out at Hell Hole by almost 1 minute, but alas… Brian beat me for his 3rd time in a row in this race.  I guess there is always next year!

My second race run in my Zen started well, but I was already tired early into the race at Gonzo Shoals from the previous longboat race run.  I came into Broken Nose and was lining up for the greasy race line that cuts through the top of the traditional right line to the left through a channel that connects to the sneak line left of the island.  I came into the top drop a little too far to the left and my bow pointing too far right, so I tried to correct with an air plane boof sweep stroke on the right to get me turning left in the drop toward the channel I wanted to hit.  Midway through the stroke, with my head turning left looking the way I want to go, my paddle tripped over the strong eddy line and decided to go for a mystery move taking me with it underwater.  At this point I was in a bit of a state of shock.  I’ve never been upside down in Broken Nose in all my years on the Ocoee and I’ve heard all the horror stories of flipping in this rapid.  I was also sucking wind profusely right before the unexpected flip occurred, so I was not quite ready to be in an non-oxygen rich environment such as I found being underwater!  I tried to setup for a roll and right before I began to execute the maneuver my head impacted into a rock underwater.  Casey Jones started behind me on our shortboat lap again and he said he saw me bounce up out of the water upside down from several hundred feet upriver when I hit the rock!  His exact words were, “It looked heinous!”  

Thankfully my trusty Sweet Protection Strutter helmet took the brunt of the blow and kept me from experiencing any kind of concussion.  However the hit was still hard enough to really ring my bell and leave a nasty looking scratch on my helmet that ripped all the way into the substrate of the helmet (You can see light through the helmet now when you pull back the interior padding).  I’ll have to replace my Strutter now, but I’m glad it did its job well on this crash! 

After the hit, I tried to regain my composure and I tried to roll on two attempts that both resulted in carping, but was thankful to get a couple of breaths on the missed attempts.  I knew I was drifting down river in the rapid, because I could feel the flow around me.  I decided that I had to hit my third roll attempt, before I go over the bottom hole of Broken Nose upside down, so I composed myself to setup correctly and execute the fundamentals as best I could.  I rolled up backwards just in time to find myself cresting over the left side of the bottom hole of Broken Nose.  I quickly placed a couple of back strokes to gain some speed to try and punch the hole backwards and the hole sucked my stern to the right as I began to drop into it. I quickly engaged a big left back sweep stroke to freewheel my Zen around 180 degrees and using my now forward momentum to escape the hole to continue downstream into the run out rapids below the main drop.  In the run out rapids I had to coast for a while to shake off the hit and make sure I was OK.  Once I assured myself I was well, I kept my eyes toward the finish to complete the lap.  I knew I had wasted several seconds with the crash at Broken Nose and I had no chance of trying to beat my goal of finishing the short boat lap in under 35 minutes.  I was happy I was able to finish the lap though coming into the finish line extremely exhausted from paddling hard two full laps!  

Complete overall 2016 Ocoee Race results at WORLDKAYAK.COM:


No one likes to crash or not meet goals, but that is what going fast and taking chances is about sometimes.  I try to take these moments to develop myself into being a better paddler by embracing my failures and focusing on the recovery.  I find no use in making excuses and getting frustrated with myself; this makes me get scared and want to quit.  In this sport we are all in between swims and beatering due to the forces of nature we are dealing with in whitewater.  I have learned over the years that perseverance and shaking off a mistake is key to finishing a race or river run, if I’m within my skillset.  That way I get to come back another time to try again to be a winner! 

Overall I had a blast racing this year again in the Ocoee Race.  It was a great time with many good friends on the river.  Then Brian, Sam and I topped off the day with a delicious meal at the Ocoee Dam Deli!  Good times going fast for sure!!

Nolichucky High Motivation Day: Gorge Guiding & a Triathlon

My wife, Jennifer, and I had a very active day on the Nolichucky Saturday, August 27, 2016.  Together with the help of 3 other rive guides we lead a total of 28 paddlers with 7 first timers down the mighty Nolichucky Gorge for the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts annual First Timer’s Trip in the morning.  Then we raced in a triathlon known as the Nolichucky Triple Threat in the afternoon.  Needless to say we were a bit tired after all of the day’s events, but we had a great time together and with many friends!

The day started out with Jen and me towing the Jackson Action Wagon to USA Raft to setup a demo for the Triathlon event.  Once I got all the boats set out for showcase Jen and I began organizing the large group to set shuttle for the gorge river trip using a USA Raft bus and some trailers to haul boats up to the put-in at Popular, NC.  The group worked together well to load up all the gear and boats to get moving efficiently.  On the way up the mountain in the bus I gave my river safety talk and explained how we would be breaking into smaller groups with our five river guides when we got on the river.

We were greeted with a warm summer day and sunny skies with temps in the high 80′s when we reached the put-in.  The river flow was on the low side of good at 515 CFS on the Embreeville Gauge, which made for a steeper more channelized run for our gorge first timers.  It turned out to be a fine level for all!

We all slide into the river in the large pool at the Popular put-in and split into our smaller groups.  Then we headed down river to enjoy a great late morning/early afternoon in the gorge.  All 7 of our first timers had a good time and were stoked to complete the run!  Big thanks to all the river guides and sweep/safety paddlers who supported the trip to make it another great success!!

We finished the 9 mile trip Noli Gorge trip around 2:00 P.M. back at USA Raft and that allowed us a couple of hours to rest up and refuel for the triathlon we would be racing at 4:00 P.M.  Jen and I were excited to be racing with our friends Amy Register, Brain Vermillion and Andrea Gass.  Brian & Andrea joined us on the gorge trip that morning also and we decided we needed some sort of Iron APE Award for trying both of these events in the same day!

The Nolichucky Triple Threat is a three part event that incorporates a 3 mile paddle trip down the Lower Nolichucky River, an obstacle course and a 5K Run.

Event website – http://nolitriplethreat.com/

YouTube Preview Image

The race started at USA Raft for the paddling portion (Class I-II) of the triathlon and headed down river to a spot known as Red Cliff below Radio Wave rapid.  I chose to use my Jackson Kayak Karma Unlimited racing boat to GO FAST and Jen used her Jackson Kayak Karma Sm.  Brain and I were there only racers there using racing long boats, so we were the first two finishers in the paddling portion of the race.

Brian and I had to wait for the girls for about 5 minutes to catch up with us once we were out of boats, b/c we all agreed that we would help each other in the 17 obstacles that awaited for us in the course ahead.  The race’s official timing did not start until you crossed a pad leading into the obstacle course.  Once the girls caught up to us we started the obstacle course.  The course proved to be a challenge for sure!  There was many different obstacles in the course that included: a barb wire crawl in water and sand, carrying heavy objects, throwing a large rock into the cockpit of a kayak, 6’, 8’, & 10’ vertical walls, flipping tractor tires, dragging kayaks filled with concrete bags, inverted wall, cargo net, monkey bars, balance beam, 15’ rope climb, and a slip wall.  If you did not complete any obstacle in the course you had to do 30 squat jumps for each failed obstacle.  I ended up doing about 120 squat jumps throughout the course!

After we completed the course Brian had pulled ahead of the rest of us and he took off on the 5K run back to USA Raft.  He is a good runner!  I tried to hang with the girls on the run back, but I was struggling and had to walk several times.  Thankfully the girls were pretty tired too, so I was able to hang with them for the most part.  The run back was mostly on the road, but the last 0.3 mile was on an old spur the Appalachian Trail coming into the Nolichucky Gorge Campground.  I really enjoyed running through the woods in this section of the race and came though the campground to cross the finish line back at USA Raft with the girls finishing in front of me.

Event Results: https://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-21004

After we crossed the finish line one last obstacle laid in front of us as a bonus and it was to jump across two rafts tied together like lily pads in a pond.  We all did this one at a time hoping from the bank of the pond into the first raft.  Then scurrying across the thorts to jump into the next raft.  Then came the tricky part of taking a big leap from the last raft to the other bank of the pond.  We all finished this final obstacle cheering for each other and we were happy to complete the race!  It was a good time for sure with each other!!

We headed to the river to jump in to clean up and cool down after the race.  It felt so good and a great way to end a high motivation day on the Nolichucky!

2016 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 the current demo boat fleet to make room for next year’s 2017 fleet!  The Nirvana and Antix models are coming soon!!

Check out the link below for current stock and prices:



All J.A.W. boat purchases include the original outfitting & 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 arrange shipping through 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