26 May 2007

Nice Shoes

My Teva Sunkosi Water Shoes arrived again today and this time they fitted. Hurray!!! It took a bit of time for them to arrive - I ordered them on the 29th April, they first came on the 4th May and didn't fit so they were dispatched back to Wiggle and now I've got a replacement pair, which do fit. Throughout this whole palaver Wiggle have been top notch with their customer service constantly sending me emails when something changed in relation to the order. This meant that I didn't have to worry about the order going AWOL or contact them to find out about the shoes in a moaning tone.

Anyway first impression of the shoes are all positive. They are super comfy, well fitted so they can't get sucked off your feet in a swim situation and look rather HOT in jeans. I've just got to go and try them in Roger and change all the outfitting so I can get in comfortably.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

24 May 2007

Eventually... we hit the river

Roger; eager to get on the water after being restrained on a car roof for the best part of a day.

We eventually reached the Washburn at six (that's three hours of travelling for me and just under ten and a half hours for Roger) and unloaded the boats, paid our subs, got changed and eventually headed to the river.

In total there were thirteen paddlers associated with the canoe club I am a member of so on this I decided that I would keep myself and Roger to ourselves for the evening and enjoy a bit of time together with out any other paddler getting in our 'zone'. Don't get me wrong I'm not some antisocial boater that likes to paddle on their own without interacting with the paddlers around them - I smiled and said "hello" to fellow paddlers and shared the odd word in the eddies - but I felt that to get the most out of the evening I would be better left to myself and anyway it is advised to paddle the Washburn in small groups and obviously one is the smallest group physically possible to man.

Even though I was on my own I took time out to sit in eddies and get the odd picture of fellow paddlers. Here some unknown paddler tries to catch the top wave on the fly in the new Bliss-Stick Play/Creeker.

Whilst paddling on my own I was able to lay down the rules to Roger when it came to breaking in/out and I think over the whole night I caught all but one eddy I made a conscience effort to make. I even managed to catch that pesky eddy I talked about on my previous visit to the Washburn. It ran something like this: kill the speed, keep the line of attack, accelerate at the last moment just before sliding down the slope, boof stroke on the right as you start to feel her slide, bow rudder on the left and hey presto your in one of the smallest eddies on the river (all can be seen in video here).

Looking upstream on one of the many flat sections. In the far distance you can just make out two of the paddlers I was with.

Throughout the evening, as I spent the time alone, I managed to pack a fair amount of paddling into a short period of time. I managed to clock one run from the top car park down to the second bridge, then another run from the top car park down to the 'Big Drop' and then one final run, which spanned the whole river, starting at the top car park and finishing at the bottom car park.

On each run I tried to mirror what had happened on the previous run. This meant I was making at least two boofs a run, one on the left and one on the right. Both of these were into eddies and both of these were on sections with little consequence. There were also two suitably sized waves for Roger to catch, which allowed me to get my lower body into action as I moved him across the wave face, back and fourth, back and fourth with some good old torso rotation and leg action to match. There was one suitable sized, small, non-bouncy, non-grippy stopper to spin the young boy in as well. Roger spins rather well in fact. That new shiny plastic just slips around in the current so hardly any effort had to be put in to turning the beast. There was another hole that I passed on every occasion, which I didn't venture into mainly because on my last visit I had a bit of a pasting in here. It wasn't a bad pasting, it wasn't really a pasting, but I didn't want to be bounced around in a hole whilst I fought to get back out of it unnecessarily.

Two unknown paddlers sit in an eddy letting the world pass them by as they chat like their sat in a pub or city cafe, not on a raging torrent of freezing cold water.

On walking back up the river from my first run I was able to capture the moment at the broken weir, the hole I had a bit of pasting in, and one of the main play features on the river...

A paddler going for a clean end.

A paddler, in fact the chap that gave me a lift to this very river on my last visit, negotiates the strong grip of the hole, the queuing play boaters and the boater strutting their stuff in the hole.

Looks like a tricky-whu from one of Team GB's junior women.

Not a lot more can be written about the day apart from it was a blast and a really good way to spend a beautiful evening in the sun, on the water and enjoying life. It must be said that even though arrangements were some what complicated when it came down to getting to the river it made the day that bit more enjoyable. I think it was Team Wavesport that said half the fun of paddling is the journey to the river and they are not far wrong with that.

A Team GB athlete blunting in the 'Big Drop', which signals the end of the shortened run of the river.

One of my mates running the 'Big Drop'. This paddler has been with me on many adventures up and down the north-west and I can safely say thanks to this one person alone my paddling has come on leaps and bounds in the past twelve months.

More pictures can be found here and there is also a video in there somewhere, but it's already got a link somewhere higher up this post so it ain't getting another one!

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

The journey

I posted early yesterday morning about how Roger had left home at 7:40am heading for Nelson with my dad on his way to work. This was all so that I was able to use him later in the day on the evening release at the Washburn. Well here is the follow up to that post and how I managed to meet up with Roger nine hours and twenty minutes later.

I set off from my house at 3pm heading for Preston Train Station and the 15:31 to Colne.

I purchased my ticket and then sat on the platform until the Northern Rail train pulled in so I could hop aboard and take my seat for the hour long journey.

We went through many delightful towns including Blackburn and Burnley.

I eventually reached my final destination, Brierfield, two stops from Colne, just before half four. Here I got off and started walking.

I walked down Colne Road heading for the M61 motorway junction and Lomeshaye Industrial Estate.

Eventually at five o'clock I was reunited with Roger, I jumped in the car once my dad had clocked off work and headed for the Washburn.

Check back tomorrow for a post all about the evening's paddling delights.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

23 May 2007

The journey begins...

I'm going paddling tonight; paddling on the Washburn that is. However the journey should prove quite interesting as Roger has already set off and I'm at home about to settle down to some revision. Why is this? Revision - my exams are in a couple of weeks; Roger already on the way - my usual source for lifts is working outside of the area and will be going straight to the Washburn so will be unable to come through my way to pick Roger and I up. Instead my dad has taken Roger with him to work at Nelson, where I will meet them later and from here we'll head onto Yorkshire for some dam release fun.

Come back tomorrow for the follow-up to this post and maybe I'll have got around to tapping out something for the actual river trip.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

19 May 2007

Once again... it's finally over

Today was the day that the 1 Star Course I have been working on came to an end after three pool sessions and two outdoor sessions. This course seems to have been exceptionally hard to run and work on: what with coaches dropping out at the last minute meaning that there are only two, instead of the normal four instructors to run the two final pool sessions; having trouble getting boats to fit students; and today seemed the hardest day out of the lot to successfully pull off as we had to transport eleven boats to Garstang on only three cars.

Garstang was the venue we had picked for the assessments and it has been used for such purposes in the past, so we thought it would be perfect for the finale of this course. However, over the week leading up to the assessment there was a lot more precipitation compared to last time meaning the river was a bit higher and had slightly stouter flows making it difficult at times for the beginners to show us their strokes whilst we watched on.

Once I had got changed I quickly ran upstream from where we were running the assessments to have a bit of fun on the wear. It was a nice boof to get down, but the play potential was rather lacking. I headed off downstream fairly sharpish to take my group of three through the 1 Star syllabus.

Two of my students sat on the water as we came to the end of the assessment. We were waiting for one student (out of shot) to show the necessary skills to pass the disembarking stage of the syllabus. They managed it just fine and after a few other bits the three passed.

Some more of the students running through their assessment's with the club chairman (blue Kendo, white helmet on the far right of the shot).

Well, I think I'll just click 'Publish Post' and head over to the settee to watch the Radio 1 Big Weekend, which is happening about two miles from my house, but unfortunately I do not have tickets so I cannot be there. I applied and thought I was in a good chance with getting them seen as I had a PR1 postcode, but it just wasn't to be :-(

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

12 May 2007

To the canal we go again

I've just got back from another trip along the canal for the 1 Star Course students, which I have been coaching for the last couple of weeks. Nothing interesting happened, however when I got home this was on my doorstep. I'm going to go and watch it now. Bye.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

05 May 2007

A bit of planning...

I've just completed my Working Holiday Visa Assessment for the New Zealand section of my Gap Year and a Working Holiday Visa Consultant will be contacting me soon. I can't wait to have a chat with them about my plans.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

Another Beginners Course... Another trip down the Lancaster Canal

The canoe club I am a member of is, once again, running a Beginners Course with a 1 Star Assessment at the end of it, and like usual I am helping out, but not organising anything this time; that's my dad's job. Anyway, today was the first trip out, away from the comfort of the pool, but still in rather hospitable conditions. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was roasting hot and it was just wonderful to be out in Roger whilst keeping a beady eye on the beginners as they took their first tentative paddle strokes in the murky waters of the Lancaster Canal. We had one swim, which could be put down to some over-zealous tagging in Freeze Tag (Canoe and Kayak Games by Dave Ruse and Loel Collins, Game 94, Page 56).

There was a fair number of other water users pottering around the canal, and with the warm weather everyone got along just fine, ensuring that their activities did not spoil the day for others.

There was also quite a lot of wildlife pottering around the fringes of the canal.

There was also a treasure hunt going on along the canal. I'm not sure what this involved, but the lovely people at the stern of this boat told us as we were waiting to get off the water.

Isn't life good?

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

They came, and they went

Yesterday, my Teva Sunkosi Water Shoes turned up. I tried them on and they only just fitted. My toes weren't scrunched up or anything, but they were touching the front of the Teva's when they were laying nice and flat. It was back on to Wiggle to fill out their returns stuff and then up to the Post Office to get them sent off to be exchanged for a Size 8. With any luck these should fit.

What an interesting post this has been!!! I'll try and liven it up with a bit of news from the Freestyle World Championships. At the moment the big news is that Eric 'EJ' Jackson took his fourth title at the grand old age of 42 after what sounds like some poor performances in the Prelims and Quarters. He obviously is the man.

On the women's circuit the UK took home a medal, a bronze medal to be exact and that went to Fiona 'Flea' Jarvie. I paddled with her a couple of times at the Youth Freestyle Series last year. The gold in the women's went to Canada, and another Jackson Kayak paddler, Ruth Gordon. I haven't paddled with her before.

On the junior sides of things it doesn't sound like we won any medals. Well the results say:
1. Evan Garcia (USA)
2. Thomas Fahrun (CANADA)
3. Dane Jackson (USA)
1. Emily Jackson (USA)
2. Martina Wegman (Netherlands)
3. Nouria Newman (France)
So that is pretty conclusive evidence we didn't win anything there. We, I am hoping, were close to the medals as we had one male and one female GB athlete go through from the prelims, but not all the results are up for me to have a gander over so I can't tell you how close we were. As an extra note two of my paddling chums were out in Canada competing. One was in the Junior Women's and the other was in the Junior Guys, both of them are pictured below.

Joanne Hacking competing on Bus Eater.

Dom Brayfield on the mighty NRA Wave at the Tryweryn back in January.

Having paddled with both these paddlers I have got to know how much effort has had to be put into the training and preparation for such a prestigious event like the World Championships. I suppose I can now appreciate the sacrifices a professional athlete has to take in order to succeed at the top. Hats off to the two of them for what they have achieved as I know I wouldn't like to go on Bus Eater anytime soon and well done for your seventh place Joanne and sixteenth place Dom.

GB Medal Tally: 3 Bronze, 1 Silver and 1 Gold. Four of these medals were won earlier in the week in the Squirt competition where Team GB took four of the six medals.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

03 May 2007

Follow up to 'Adios'

I eventually made it to the Washburn yesterday. The chap that had arranged to pick me up arrived soon after I made yesterday's hurried post and from my house we headed to another paddlers house. From here we headed along the A59 to West End and the usually summer haunt for the north-west white water paddler, the Washburn. On pulling up in the car park and paying our fees to the man it looked like any usual Washburn release: the water was surging out from the bottom of the dam, it had a considerable flow, it looked cold and there were numerous paddlers milling around the car park kitting themselves up for what would be some of there best paddling over the next few months.

Looking upstream to the dam, which holds the freezing waters of Thruscross Reservoir back. This dam once featured on a Touch of Frost episode.

Once the group I was with had kitted up, two of us headed to the water and the other two headed off down the bank to have a quick peak at the river. For one of these it was their virgin run of the river, however for me it was well into the teens so I was one of the two that automatically headed for the river. I had Roger the Rocker on my shoulder, fully loaded and in pristine condition so instead of the usual seal launch off the gravelly bank I carefully lowered him into the water and got into the cockpit to seal my legs into the plastic interior. I headed off upstream for a bit of a warm up and then caught the two eddies at the top a couple of times before heading off into the depths of the Washburn.

The first wave, just above the first bridge, is a rather nice affair. It's flat with a fairly good foam pile.

What the Washburn is especially good for is practicing the good old breaking in/out and eddy hopping skills so I put Roger through his paces trying to get him stuck into every eddy. This was, for the first few runs quite difficult as I was not use to the lack of edges on the displacement hull so I couldn't just kill my speed on entering the eddy by engaging an edge, but instead if I wasn't totally in control I was putting the breaks on to prevent me from colliding with the bank of the river. I think I eventually got the hang of Roger when it came down to eddies, but I am sure there will be room for improvement when all is said and done, but on first impressions I was happy with what Roger produced.

One of the bigger eddies on the river. Roger boofed very nicely into this eddy if you went just right (as you look at it in the photo) of the rock.

I kept on moving downstream pushing Roger to catch the smallest of the smallest eddies on the river as well as boofing the smallest drops in gradient. At times things just clicked into place and I managed to implement my intentions, but at others it just did not work. Roger is so much different to my All Star (now named All Star Alistair) that a whole new approach to paddling, I feel, needs to be taken. It's because Roger has no edges, but is just a bulbous bloke intent on taking me down the river in safety, which, don't get me wrong, is what I intended him for, but it was just a bit frustrating that at times I felt like I was fighting the river to get where I wanted. In fact today, writing this post my pecks feel like a tight piece of elastic from the countless sweep strokes I was using to get the boat into the eddies. It should improve in time as I build up the muscle and get my technique dialled for catching eddies with the least amount of energy.

One of the group on the approach to nailing another eddy before going back into the stopper, which goes from either river bank.

A bit of an arty shot of the second major wave on the river. This is just before the second bridge.

As the release was only going from 3pm to 8:15pm we got out several times in the big eddy, which makes a ford in low water, just above the second bridge and walked back up to the top to repeat the upper sections. We did this three times in total and as the day started to get late we headed further down the river catching more eddies until we finally came to the 'Big Drop'. This drop is really a sloping section of water, which falls two or three metres into a pit of foaming white water. The usual approach to this drop is down the river left section, where a tongue of water avoids the majority of the pit and allows you to make one of the eddies by the footpath with ease. I did this, and then after watching some other paddlers try and make an eddy right besides the drop, almost in front of the pit, I headed back up to give this ago as well. Needless to say I didn't quite get it right and my line of attack was totally wrong. I gave it up as a lost cause and headed back to the top of the river knowing that we'd return later.

Getting Roger surfing on the first wave. The seat wasn't quite trimmed right so I wasn't getting it down like I wanted it. The problems sorted now - I think.

Powering Roger across the current into an eddy, which required me to reverse out of before heading back across the river.

On the return to the 'Big Drop' I hit the line for the eddy much better, but still I did not nail it. My line of attack was better, but a slight hesitation at the lip meant I wasn't carrying enough speed into the eddy to whip the bow around. Instead I ended up at the bottom of the eddy and flushed off downstream. Once again I gave it up as a lost cause and headed back to the top to repeat the river once again and on this run we were heading further, so far in fact we wouldn't be walking the boats back up to the top, but instead we were going to have to run shuttle.

Side suring the river wide stopper on what could have been the final run.

On the final run I went for the eddy again, but a play boater was sat in an eddy just below it so I was even more hesitant about the whole thing and to put it bluntly I goofed a bit. Anyway it's something to work on when I next return to the river, if I return to the river before the gap year takes off. The remaining sections of the river were hard work. Come on I had done three runs down to the second bridge, two runs down to the 'Big Drop' and then one final run right to the bottom.

More pictures and a couple of videos can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

02 May 2007


I'm bunking off from my studies to go paddling. At the moment I'm just waiting for my lift and then I'm heading to Yorkshire for some dam release fun on the Washburn. I'll post tomorrow about the events, pictures will feature I promise.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...