Issue 01 AU/NZ • Autumn 2012
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Autumn 2012 Paddlemag is published quarterly Winter / Spring / Summer / Autumn Publishers Adventure Types, Unit 3, 5-7 Mooltan St, Travancore, Vic 3032 Editorial correspondence email@example.com 10 Wentworth Ave, Sandringham, Vic 3191 Telephone 0433 353 356 Editor Patrick Kinsella firstname.lastname@example.org NZ Editor Anthony ‘Antz’ Longman email@example.com Associate Editors Simon Madden + Chris Ord + Ross Taylor Advertising Terry Wogan firstname.lastname@example.org Founders Patrick Kinsella, Simon Madden, Chris Ord, Ross Taylor, Terry Wogan, Heidi & Peter Hibberd Design The Bird Collective / Heidi & Peter Hibberd email@example.com PO Box 80, Sassafras, Victoria 3787 www.thebirdcollective.com.au
Video Rohan Klopfer Training, Skills and Hoodoo Gurus Tim Altman, John Jacoby, Rohan Klopfer, Jarad Kohlar, Cheri Perry, Matt O’Garey, Turner Wilson Trail Blazer Scott Rawstorne Gear Gurus Adrian Kiernan, Jarad Kohlar, Mich O’Connor, Bobby Miller, Rohan Klopfer Contributing writers Emma Francis, John Jacoby, Adrian Kiernan, Rohan Klopfer, Jarad Kohlar, Sue Lockwood, Bobby Miller, Mich O’Connor, Cheri Perry, Scott Rawstorne, Sandy Robson, Turner Wilson Contributing photographers Harvie Allison, David Brock, Kate Brockhurst, Murray ‘Muzza’ AndersonClemence, Ray Hailey, Darryl Leniuk, Juris Puisens, Scott Rawstorne, Ben Southall, Matt Sloan, Krystle Wright Special thanks to East Coast Kayaking www.eastcoastkayaking.com Global Paddler www.globalpaddler.com.au Paddle 2 Fitness www.paddle2fitness.com.au Peak Adventure www.peakadventure.com.au We Paddle www.wepaddle.com.au Cover Photo Paul Porteous competing at Monsoon Madness by Murray ‘Muzza’ Anderson-Clemence Proofer Chelsea Brunckhorst Web consultant Mark Gould, Simon Madden
Foundation Supporters Bla www.bla.com.au Capacity Sports www.capacitysports.com.au Fluid Kayaks www.fluidkayaks.com Kayak 4 Play www.kayak4play.com.au Sea to Summit www.seatosummit.com.au Necky Kayaks www.necky.com Ocean Kayak www.oceankayak.com Old Town Canoes www.oldtowncanoe.com PaddlePro www.paddlepro.com.au Solution Gear www.solutiongear.com.au Teva www.teva.com Tourism Tropical North Queensland tq.com.au Trak Kayaks www.rethinkkayak.com True Alliance www.truealliance.com.au Disclaimer Canoeing, creeking, sea-kayaking, SUPing, rafting, running with scissors, whitewater and bluewater paddling of all kinds, and other activities described in this magazine, can carry significant risk of injury or death. Undertake any paddling or other outdoor activity only with proper instruction, supervision, equipment and training. The publisher and its servants and agents have taken all reasonable care to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication and the expertise of its writers. Any reader attempting any of the activities described in this publication does so at their own risk. Neither the publisher nor any of its servants or agents will be held liable for any loss or injury or damage resulting from any attempt to perform any of the activities described in this publication, nor be responsible for any person/s becoming lost when following any of the guides or maps contained herewith. All descriptive and visual directions are a general guide only and not to be used as a sole source of information for navigation. Happy paddling.
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Contents THE PUT IN
WORDS OF WISDOM
8 Editors’ Letters
12 Guest Guru
16 Event Wrap Monsoon Madness
John Jacoby, a living legend
26 Race Preview The Great
of Australian paddling
Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge
80 Q&A Matt O’Garey
28 Destination SUPing Tropical
is on his way to Molokai
North Queensland’s Low Isles
FEATURES 30 Expedition Following Oskar
Tim Altman on how to prepare your body for a big race
Speck from Germany to Australia
86 How to
44 World First
Jarad Kohlar’s introduction
Across Bass Strait on surf skis
to racing whitewater
56 Exploration Kayaking
88 Why to
New Zealand’s Dusky Sound
Cheri Perry + Turner Wilson
92 Profile Meet the Global Paddler
on Greenland rolling
REVIEWS 64 Boats, Blades + Boards The on-the-water essentials 74 A Good Time to Buy The best in paddling gear
WATERWAYS 102 Brunswick River 104 Lake Cooroibah
THE TAKE OUT 78 Tales from the River Whitewater Women 106 Paddle porn Money shots for paddling pervs 112 Jaunt Behind the scenes of an Australian-made whitewater epic
In the beginning… One day, when I was about six, my dad decided to throw our TV set in the bin. I can’t recall exactly what prompted this, but basically he was making a stand against the pollution of my brain by the idiot box. He thought I should be outside doing stuff. I thought I should be on the sofa watching episodes of Monkey Magic. In retrospect he was right, but at the time I used to crawl under the hedge to go and watch the adventures of Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy with my neighbours. Hedge burrowing wasn’t the only outdoor skill I picked up during that period though. Dad’s plan worked pretty well, and I began getting into various outdoor activities, including kayaking, which I discovered through the school youth club. After a while I hatched a plan with my best mate Jamie for our first independent overnight paddling expedition, using my mum and dad’s double kayak. Now, I was brought up in southern England’s suburbia, not backcountry BC, and this trip – along the River Wey, a tributary of the Thames – involved a fair bit of shopping trolley dodging. But still, eventually we paddled past the orbit of council estates that surround our hometown and set up camp in a field. We lit a fire, and tried to cook the half-frozen pizza that had been sloshing around in the murky water at the bottom of the kayak for several hours. Long story short, Jamie got a rampaging dose of the shits and has never set foot in a kayak or willingly slept in a tent since. For whatever reason, however, I had a different reaction to the experience. (Although, sadly, not to the pizza.)
That was, quite literally, half a world and three-quarters of a lifetime ago. The intervening years have been kind. Now I have world-class sea kayaking conditions at the end of my road, access to truly wild (and shopping trolley–free) rivers within a short drive, and people I count as good friends who are well-regarded paddling experts and who I learn something new from every single time I get on the water with them – the same people whose expertise and generosity have made the launch of this publication possible. But I also learnt a few things on that first kayaking trip, some thirty years ago, which have never left me. The first is that frozen pizza is rubbish camping food. The second is that there’s something magical about having a paddle in your hands – even when you’ve had to actually tie it to your hands to avoid dropping it when falling asleep, as I did when I paddled the virtually non-stop 740km Yukon River Quest a few years back. That experience, while leaving the bottom half of my body numb for about a week, awakened another side of my passion for paddling. I’d always been a kayaker, but I loved the canoe culture I discovered in Canada and came back dead set on properly learning some open-boat and one-ended paddle skills. I experienced the same feeling again when I paddled an outrigger for the first time, during the making of this edition. I’ve been spending heaps of time attempting to improve my surf- and ocean-ski paddling skills after being introduced to that side of the sport a few years back, and since having a crack a SUPing, I’m also determined to master that. My wife
thinks my aspirations to get more into whitewater and creeking are simply a symptom of a midlife crisis, but I suspect she’s at least grateful that my insurance policy is cheaper than a down payment on a Porche. And therein lies both the beauty and the curse of paddling – it’s a multi-faceted pursuit that either demands specialisation or forces you to concede that you can’t be an expert at all forms of it. Unless you’re one of those true natural ocean men (or women), that clearly I’m not. Damn it. But I’m happy with that – and I suspect I’m not alone. Otherwise I wouldn’t have launched this e-zine, which is intended to be a celebration of all paddlebased sports and pastimes. Just how much I still have to learn has been brought home to me time and again while putting this launch edition together. I’m happy to keep consuming the knowledge of my paddling buddies and instructors, and when my body and brain won’t absorb any more I can always live vicariously through my kids. Little Alice is brand new, she has all the time in the world, and Ivy, my eldest daughter, has just turned six. She’s no stranger to paddling already; maybe she’ll get to master all the skills I’ll never have time to learn. That bloody TV will have to go though.
Pat Patrick Kinsella firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial AU • Patrick Kinsella
Los rios son las venas del mundo
When I was 17, I lived in Costa Rica for year as part of an intercultural exchange. On the outskirts of my small rural town there was a sign that read: ‘los rios son las venas del mundo’ (meaning ‘the rivers are the veins of the world’). The truth of this statement made a big impact on me and, as a kayaker, I chose to take this sign to heart and base my life around my own love for the river. Since then I’ve travelled to a handful of countries scattered across the world with my paddle in hand, I’ve taught countless children to take their first paddle strokes, and I’ve challenged myself against some of the planet’s toughest rapids. When this wasn’t enough, I launched a kayaking publication, Cumec magazine, and chose to live in a great part of New Zealand with stunning rivers and picturesque lakes on my doorstep. Why then have I stepped in to support the beginning of another Australasian kayak magazine? I first met Pat Kinsella a few years ago at a tradeshow in Canberra. He was keen and enthusiastic about all things adventure and was eager to try and work together on a project. Initial ideas may have slipped by, but with new technologies and easy access to high-speed internet, Pat is now launching this e-zine and we finally have that chance.
Whether you’re reading this on your iPad while commuting to work, or sitting in front of your desktop computer, the new format provides a far-reaching opportunity to share all paddle-sports with like-minded individuals. It’s fast, it’s free, and it’s going to touch on all the diverse range of activities that fall under the power of a paddle. We can’t be everywhere, but with the strengths of Pat and the Paddlemag crew’s experience in publishing, and a drive to provide inspiring content to the masses, there are many exciting things to look forward to as we work together to support the paddling community Downunder. Now Pat knows this, and I’m not ashamed to say it, but I’m a whitewater junkie, one of those whose vehicle reeks of damp paddling gear, and who eagerly watches the flow gauges every time it rains. But while my influence on Paddlemag may be swayed towards this prejudice, rest assured that there’s a lot of good paddling of all descriptions in New Zealand. We’ve got more than enough rivers, lakes, and coastlines to keep the avid explorer frothing at the mouth as they look for inspirational trips, and we can’t wait to bring them to you.
Antz Anthony Longman email@example.com
Editorial NZ â€˘ Anthony Longman
Guest Guru • John Jacoby
THE GETTING OF WISDOM, AND THE EARNING OF MAN HANDS Having spent over thirty years on the water, there aren’t many people in Australia who are more versed in the art of paddling than John Jacoby. Here the multiple national- and world-champion marathon kayaker tells us the story of how it all began, and shares some of the knowledge he has accumulated over three decades of competitive, exploratory and recreational paddling. Paddling in the depths of winter in Port Phillip Bay, wearing woollen jumpers and a beanie, was a great initiation to the ‘harden-up’ school of the outdoors. My initiation into the world of paddling took place during a year 9 camp, and once awakened, my passion for the pursuit was fostered through the school’s fantastic activity program.
I showed some potential on the water but had shocking technique, so I was told to go and find a coach, which I did. I introduced myself to Reg Hatch one day at a sprint regatta and he begrudgingly took me on as a marathon paddler. Reg was a die-hard sprint coach who’d had success coaching John Sumegi to Silver and 4th place at Moscow Olympics in K1 500 and K1 1000 respectively.
Our program consisted of 6-week blocks of a chosen activity. My choice was invariably water-based, as the idea of jumping in the ocean four days a week at lunchtime always appealed to me. I remember well taking out old handmade Canadian canoes in rough seas off Patterson River and Frankston Pier.
He tested me out by not speaking to me for 6 weeks, but I continued to turn up to training. I was so excited at the prospect of actually training with other paddlers, something that was foreign to me up until then. Despite his reluctance, Reg must have instilled a few new skills in me as I dramatically improved over a short time.
One day my teacher suggested we enter a long-distance canoe race. I scoffed at the idea at first, as I thought it sounded pretty boring, but I signed up and came second in my first race. However it wasn’t until the first year of university that I thought about training and racing with any level of seriousness.
Marathon racing became my passion. I loved the tactics and strategy involved in racing. This was further accentuated when I toured overseas and discovered the art of portaging, and the fact that this could become a key turning point of a race. The funny looks I used to get doing 400-metre and 800-metre running reps
Images courtesy of Rapid Ascent www.rapidascent.com.au
Back in the early 80’s thermal clothing was still a novelty and I distinctly recall paddling every morning out of Footscray Canoe Club in shorts and a T-shirt, irrespective of the weather. My theory was to paddle flat-out for 20km and if it was a cold frosty morning then the incentive was even greater to paddle harder to keep warm. Not exactly a high-tech training technique but I believe it gave me one of the best endurance-based training blocks going around.
with my kayak on my shoulder around Central Park in Malvern would all seem worthwhile after I won the World Cup in 1985.
Stewart Island and Fiordland in New Zealand, and paddling Bass Strait via King Island, where the conditions really were testing.
Paddling was well and truly in my blood by that stage, and I went back to Europe and won the Worlds for the following four years. Some races went to plan, others were the exact opposite, but the 1988 Worlds probably taught me the best lesson – to never give up.
I have paddled next to and on top of whales, which is pretty cool, and I’ve had dolphins jump out of the water and hit my ski. I was once harassed by a leopard seal and I’ve seen a few sharks but nothing terrifying; I usually feel pretty safe in a ski or kayak.
The race took place in horrendous weather. After the first 2km my kayak was swamped and I was coming dead last. It was a long, brutal race but I just knuckled down and chased the leaders, catching them on the final turn with about 4km to go. At that point my confidence rose and I believed I could knock these guys off. The race finished with a four-way sprint, which I won by 1 second. I never was a good sprinter, but I did learn over time that my sprint after 41km was better than most. A love of paddling lead me into adventure racing and eventually into the realm of ocean paddling and sea kayaking. To this day my favourite paddles are long, remote and challenging seakayaking trips. Being isolated on wild seas, having to be totally self-sufficient and feeling like an explorer, give me a real buzz. The joys of poking along a rugged coastline, not knowing what is around the corner has never lost its appeal. My favourite trips include paddling the southwest coast of Tassie, exploring
These days I still paddle on the ocean two or three times a week, usually in a spec ski, which is heaps more fun in the surf than an ocean racer. I have lost a bit of the competitive urge but still enjoy a nice paddle to Bells Beach and back while catching a few waves at all the surf breaks on the way home. I’m more often sat in a carbon ski than a homemade canoe these days, and I’ve upgraded my winter clobber from a woollen jumper and beanie, but the skills I began learning on those freezing days on the bay three decades ago are still doing me proud, and the pin pricks of excitement I feel when I catch a wave or explore a new cove are just echoes of the sensation I first experienced on that year 9 camp. I hope I can pass that passion on. When my kids were small, I used to just put them on the back of the ski or in my lap and go for a paddle. I got a few funny looks from sea kayakers when I was out the back of Point Danger with one of my boys, cracking waves while they gingerly skirted around the reef.
“I never was a good sprinter, but I did learn over time that my sprint after 41km was better than most.”
WORDS OF WISDOM
After paddling for 30 years I still haven’t mastered how to find a comfortable seat. My legs still go to sleep, my back still gets sore and I still struggle to paddle skis properly as I can’t seem to master getting leg drive through my heels instead of through the balls of my feet – so there is still plenty for me to learn in the world of paddling. I have picked up some good tips though, including the following:
• 4 x World Marathon Kayaking Champion 1985, ‘86, ‘87 & ‘88
• Paddling toughens your hands. There is no substitute for hours spent with the paddle in your hand.
• 2 x Winner JLL/JLW Challenge, Katoomba to Sydney 1999-2000
• Don’t hang on to the paddle too tight. • Doing gym work definitely is good for your paddling (pity I don’t go to the gym anymore!) • Paddling in the open ocean requires plenty of practice and ocean awareness. It is not something one can learn quickly and there is no substitute for hours spent on the water for acquiring the knowledge and skill set required to do it properly and safely. It never ceases to amaze me how people think they will be able to paddle a kayak proficiently in less than five attempts.
TOUR OF THE MANTELPIECE John has more gold bling than Mr T. He’s paddled Bass Strait by both the east and the west route, has circumnavigated Stewart Island by sea kayak and, in 1987, became only the sixth athlete ever to be presented with the keys to the City of Melbourne. A wander through his paddling and multi-sport CV reveals the following:
• 6 x Australian Kayaking Champion, 10–42km, 1985-1993 Solo multisport • 3 x World Multisport Champion (NZ Coast to Coast) 1988, ‘89 & ‘93 • 5 x Winner JLL/JLW Challenge, Mt Buller to Melbourne, 1994, ‘95, ‘96, ‘98 & 2001 (undefeated & race record holder) • 5 x Winner Mars Challenge Ballarat to Barwon Heads 2001, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04 & ‘05 (undefeated & race record holder) • 2 x Winner Tasmania 3 Peaks Race (Ocean Sailing & mountain running) ‘94 & ‘95 • 2 x Australian Rogaining Champion 1998 and 2001 • 1st place Australian Winter Classic Multisport race Omeo 2001 • 1st place Cradle to Coast multisport race (Tasmania) 1994 • 1st place Thredbo Enduro 1993 Team Multisport • 1st place Mountain Designs Geoquest, NSW Australia, 2007 • 1st place Extreme Adventure Hidalgo, Mexico 2005 • 1st place Raid Gauloises, Krygyzstan 2003 • 1st place Mild Seven Outdoor Quest (4 day multisport race) Lijiang, China 2001 • 1st place Expedition British Virgin Islands Adventure Race 2001 • 1st place Elf Authentique Adventure race Brazil 2000 • 1st place Western Isles Challenge, Scotland 1999 • 1st place Eco Challenge, Maine, USA 1995
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FROM THE ROCKSLIDE PUT-IN AT THE START OF THE VERY FIRST RUN, RIGHT THROUGH TO THE POURING OF THE BOOTY BEERS AT THE CLIMAX, 2012’S MONSOON MADNESS WAS A ROCKING, ROLLING, HUCKING, BOOFING EXTRAVAGANZA OF WHITEWATER PADDLING Story by Pat Kinsella Images by Muzza + Pat Kinsella
Image Dominic Bannerman survives Invertor on a run through Crystal Cascades > Photo by Muzza 17
On a mad March day, on a raging creek just outside Cairns, Australia came perilously close to having a Frenchman crowned as the National Boatercross Champion for 2012. Boatercross is basically downriver creek racing in a roller-derby format, with pairs of paddlers in playboats trying to knock each other out and reach the finish line first. It’s fast and it’s furious, and it’s one of the most exciting spectator sports I’ve ever witnessed – why it’s not in the Olympics I have no idea, except perhaps because it’s hard to get the right conditions. Unless you’re in Cairns of course, where you can find the perfect creek right on your doorstep, at least during the Wet season anyway. The country’s very best creek paddlers and whitewater specialists had turned up to Monsoon Madness in force to take part in the nationals. Some of the local paddlers’ helmets had been customised with XXXX beer labels, but it was very nearly a case of Sacrebleu prevailing over True Blue. Thankfully Phil Gibbins was there to save a nation’s blushes. Phil, an AIS paddler and rising whitewater star who is heading to London later this year to compete in slalom at the Games, went head-to-head against visiting Frenchman, Pyranha paddler Maxine Mitaut in the final shoot out. The duelling duo crashed through the aquatic chaos that is the Crystal Cascades section of Freshwater Creek, with barely a blade’s width between them as they battled through the penultimate rapid, Ski Jump. “I had the jump on Maxine off the start,” said Phil later. “But I made a mistake just above Ski Jump and he caught me. We got tangled up off Ski Jump, but I was lucky to get away again, and from there I got back in the lead.” The Victorian crossed the line seconds later to take out his second national Australian boatercross title, nailing back-to-back victories in a competition that was born with the launch of Monsoon Madness last year. Maxine will go down in history as Australia’s second-placed national boatercross champ for 2012, and Christian Fabris (another AIS slalom paddler) took out the third spot. Main Image Local lad Riley Best launches into madness. Photo by Pat Kinsella Inset images clockwise: Top left Tribe’s Max Davidson, from Canada, loving the tropical paddling in Cairns. Photo Muzza Top right Our cover boy, Paul Porteous, slams a beer bootie after taking a swim. Arguably, this actually makes XXXX taste better. Photo Pat Kinsella Bottom Local Marlow McGregor, winner of the Freestyle Championships. Photo by Muzza
Image Dominic Bannerman prepares for the plunge. Photo by Muzza
The event had grown significantly for this, its second running, and some 40 elite athletes from all around the country (and further afield) rocked up to test their skills and nerves along Crystal Cascades, a 1km riot of raging water that is found just 15 minutes from Cairns CBD.
The competition proper started right below No Fear, with paddlers putting in on a sliding start and fighting it out over rapids including Inverter, Pin City, Cave Drop, Ski Jump and Penitentiary. With no real pools between any of them, this stretch of Freshwater Creek is essentially one long boily rapid.
There’s some speculation that Josh Bond – event organiser, firefighter and cavalier cascade runner – had entered into a diabolic deal with the weather demons. For the second year in a row – the outrageously moody tropical weather, that usually does what it damn well wants in Tropical North Queensland, had rolled over, smiled and offered perfect conditions for the Monsoon Madness.
After a grading run, the field was divided into an A and B group, and paired off for an instant-death knock-out round. Two by two they took on the raging rapids until just Phil and Max were left standing.
For weeks prior to the event, Josh had been nervously eyeing the skies as the monsoonal deluge continued to fall too far south, flooding southern Queensland and northern NSW, but leaving levels in Crystal Cascades around Cairns worryingly low. And then, a week before the event, the sky totally collapsed and by the first day of the event the creek was thundering. In fact, a few days before it kicked off, some were worried that the flow was a little too mad and there was talk of levels that would rip the arms off mere mortals. Big drop specialist Lachie Carracher was not among those fretting. The Victorian was there with some of his Tribe paddling posse, including Canadian Max Davidson, and much to the appreciation of onlooking awed locals, the boys had been tearing it up on No Fear, the surging 15-metre drop at the head of Crystal Cascade.
Phil had been in fine form all day, but the Frenchman pushed him to the max in the thrilling final. Mitaut is backpacking around Australia, borrowing gear and jumping in the drink for a paddle whenever he gets the chance. Later, during the post-event pub session where the liquid continues to flow at a furious rate, Riley Best, a local lad who has just returned from an extended stint of paddling in Ecuador, tells me how Max came to be in Australia: “I was showing two French guys I was paddling with in Ecuador a video produced by Adrian Keirnan of the Herbert River in Far North Queensland. Val posted the video on Facebook, where Max saw it, and the next thing here he was, paddling with us. Small world!” Max appears to have been wholeheartedly adopted by the Australian paddling community, who are just enjoying having him here and seeing how much he’s loving it, and it seems no one would have begrudged it if he had taken the national title home with him.
WATCH SOME OF THE BEST ACTION from this yearâ€™s Monsoon Madness
Image Phil Gibbins and Maxine Mitaut go blade-to-blade over Ski Jump. Photo by Pat Kinsella Left Josh Bond leads Rob Kirk through chaos. Photo by Muzza
Image Josh Bond in action Photo by Muzza
By day two, more than a couple of contestants looked like they needed a dip to clear the cobwebs out from the previous night’s celebrations. Fortunately they didn’t have to wait long before getting their heads wet, as we were on the banks of the Barron River watching them compete in the Australian Freestyle Championships on an unforgiving and munchy wave. Maxine was once again in flying form, but this day belonged to local paddler Marlow McGregor, who nailed the National Freestyle title with an aerobatic performance. Special mention must also go to Joseph Dunne, who smashed it in the junior division, throwing down some truly audacious moves in the process, and who will be representing Australia at the Freestyle World Championships in August. Congratulations also to whitewater canoeing legend Jez Blanchard, who took out the one-ended paddle division, and women’s winner Emily Karr, who nailed both the women’s Boatercross and the Freestyle Championships – admittedly she was the only female competitor in this year’s event (come on ladies - get amongst it in 2013!), but that’s largely irrelevant because her paddling was top class.
And she took her bootie beer like a man at the conclusion of the event, when everyone who’d been forced to pull their deck and swim during the weekend’s action was required to scull a beer from the still-warm bootie freshly removed from Jez’s foot. Nice. Where Monsoon Madness can go from here is anyone’s guess, but the excited chatter at waterlevel over the weekend points to a paddling festival with enormous potential. It’s an event that sees elite paddlers performing right at the top of their skill set in two national championships, in two stunning locations, both super accessible to spectators. The potential is there to expand it too, incorporating some other competitions and heats on lower-grade sections of the creek, which would throw the festival wide open to more people, while keeping the elite championships as the marquee stages. It’s an evolving event that’s moving as rapidly as the water it takes place on, but whatever direction Josh and the crew take Monsoon Madness in, Paddlemag will be watching and reporting with interest •
Read more about the event and on-creek paddling around Cairns at www.cairnskayaking.com.au
Behind the scenes
muzza THE MONSOON CHASER
The money shots from this spread were taken by Tropical North Queensland’s top adventure photographer, Murray ‘Muzza’ Anderson-Clemence, the man behind Extreme Photography. The name of his company reflects the gonzo approach Muzza takes to his work, and he spent almost as much time in the water as some of the competitors during Monsoon Madness. A former infantry soldier in the Australian Army, Muzza has just taken up paddling himself and has a well-defined sense of adventure. He has skydived for ten years, both competitively and as a sport, and previous exploits have seen him mountain bike 3000km from Kilarney to Cairns, and a further 1400km from Cairns to Cape York – both rides totally unsupported and in aid of charity.
Left Muzza in action capturing the following shot. Photo by Ray Hailey Right Lachie Carracher runs No Fear. Photo by Muzza Bottom Joseph Dunne threw down some big moves to nail the Junior Freestyle Championships. Photos by Muzza
When he’s not throwing himself out of planes, down rapids and across dirt tracks, however, he’s generally found behind one of his Nikons, recording the action. Over the past five months his specific goal has been to capture the best outdoor and adventure images in North Queensland, indeed Australia, but he didn’t have to go far from his base in Cairns to get these pearlers.
Although he likes to keep his kit bag tight and light
Covering whitewater action throws up some particular challenges for photographers, as Muzza found out a couple of weekends before Monsoon Madness, when he accompanied Josh Bond and a couple of other paddlers on a mission up Behanna Gorge to get some footage of four guys running a 50-foot fall. A swim was required to get to the vantage point he wanted, but when he pulled his camera out he discovered the dry bag had been ripped while crossing the rapids, and his equipment was drowned.
and he brought his full arsenal of gear to the event.
in order to maintain maximum manoeuvrability, Muzza was taking no risks for Monsoon Madness. He did an extensive recce of Crystal Cascades before the event, lining up the abseil required to capture this shot of Lachie Carracher running No Fear, Muzza lives by the eight-P principle – Plenty of Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. You can check out the results of that mantra right here:
Race Preview • by Sue Lockwood
THE HEKILI 2012 GREAT BARRIER REEF OCEAN CHALLENGE The Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge (GBROC) – a 40km, iron-length, downwind ocean paddle from Palm Cove to Port Douglas – was born over a few Sunday sundowners after the crew at Cairn’s Hekili Outrigger Canoe Club heard a whisper on the wind that event company USM were launching the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival in 2011. The club saw the 7-day multi-sport fiesta as the perfect chance to showcase the quality of paddling in the Australian tropics. With no changes, no substitutes, and no stops, Australia’s first and only long-distance, open-ocean, iron-length paddle race demands a totally different mind-set to other challenges. It requires the brain to break the pain barrier. While a six-paddler crew can support each other, doing it solo is a tough gig where the mind wanders and one totally relies on that ‘little inner voice’ to get you through. The 2012 GBROC is open to OC6, OC2, OC1, ocean and spec skis, and with just a few weeks left until race day, entries so far include competitors from Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and all over Australia. Winds have been over the last few weeks,
and organisers have put in an order for a 20- to 25-knot wind day, to give paddlers maximum surf speed. The finish line at Port Douglas will see plenty of action, with the RRR mountain bike race, the Coral Coast triathlon and the GBROC converging on Four Mile Beach for an adrenalinepumped climax to all three races. In the 2011 race, nine-time world long-distance ski champion Dean Gardiner finished first overall in 2.41.26 hours, while breathing down his neck was Townsville’s Mick De Rooy, finishing a mere 20 seconds behind him. This year people are predicting more close action, with local lads the Coconuts from Innisfail competing against Australia’s top men’s OC6 crew, Outrigger Australia from the Gold Coast. Meanwhile, one of Australia’s fastest female paddlers, Amanda Ozolins from Mooloolaba, has confirmed she will be battling it out solo on an OC1. Tropical North Queensland’s paddlers like to bring the cultural aspect of the sport into their racing. Outrigger canoeing is a way of life, bringing many amazing cultures from around the globe together.
Images courtesy of Barry Alsop (Eyes Wide Open Images) and Hekili Cairns Outrigger Canoe Club
The sport of outrigger canoeing began in Hawaii, however its origins go back 30,000 years to Asia where the first sea-farers began their migrations, paddling east and settling in Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and beyond. Evidence of outrigger canoes can be found in aboriginal rock paintings along the northern coastal areas and islands of Australia. The Hawaiians began the sport using canoes made from koa trees. There was much ceremony around finding the right tree to build a koa canoe and today, in the Hawaiian oceancrossing race from Molakai to Ohao, it’s considered an honour to be chosen to paddle a koa canoe. A huge effort is made to teach paddlers the culture, history, and the adventurous spirit of outrigger canoeing. The northern clubs have worked hard to build a race with a difference in the tropical region, and with the GBROC they’re successfully bringing paddlers of all disciplines, from all over the globe, to Tropical North Queensland to compete in one of the most challenging of race formats, long-distance iron-length. More about the race: hekilioutrigger.com.au/news.html
WATCH the highlights of last year’s event
Destination: Tropical North Queensland
SUP AROUND THE LOW ISLES The Great Barrier Reef pulls in thousands of people every year, every one of them hell bent on sticking their heads straight into the salty brine to find Nemo et al. Now we love a bit of diving, but during the peak season the boats can get pretty busy and you’re always watching the clock when you’re underwater with tanks on your back. Paddling the reef can provide a very different experience – just ask Ben Southall. (pictured left) Ben beat over 34,000 other applicants to score himself the ‘Best Job in the World’ a few years ago, after which he spent a year as caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Then he completed the ‘Best Expedition in the World’, which saw him paddle the length of the GBR, diving as he went. Paddlemag recently visited Port Douglas with Ben, and explored a section of the reef in a whole new way, by SUPing around the Low Isles. It was an experience that still managed to blow Ben away, even after everything he’s seen over the last couple of years. 28
The Low Isles are a pair of pretty punctuation marks in the blue expanse that is the Coral Sea. In total there are four acres of coral cay above the water – supporting a lighthouse and large bird population – surrounded by some 55 acres of beautiful reef. Over 150 different species of hard corals are found in the waters here, plus 15 species of soft corals, but it was the animals that got us excited. Several resident turtles popped up to say hello, and a number of rays and sharks flashed beneath our boards, as we navigated the channels between the mangroves and paddled around the islets. When the call of the Coral Sea became irresistible, it was simply a case of hopping off the boards into the drink, for a cool down combined with the chance to explore what lay beneath with a snorkel and mask. Sensational. If you’re not travelling with your own board, or if you need a way of getting out to the Low Isles, visit Port Douglas– based SUP and kite-boarding specialist Brett Wright at
standuppaddlesurfer.com.au or windswell.com.au 29
FIRST CLASS TICKET TO everywhere Story + images by Sandy Robson
In 1932, a 25-year-old German electrician called Oscar Speck jumped in his folding kayak and began paddling through the waterways of Europe looking for work. Along the way he fell in love with the journey itself, and carried on until he reached Australia, 7 years later. As he arrived on the shores of Thursday Island, World War II had just erupted, and he was promptly interned for six years. Last year, Australian expedition kayaker Sandy Robson, set off to recreate Speckâ€™s astonishing adventure in several stages. Image Entering the Iron Gates Gorge in Serbia
We sit side by side on the precipice. This is Jugo’s special place where he comes to breathe the river. He held my hand to get me on this edge safely and now I can see why we have climbed over the railing. Jugo tells me what he sees.
The whole thing was originally Oskar Speck’s idea. I thought most kayakers would know about Oskar, but I was wrong. Even in his homeland, Germany, I was telling people his story for the first time.
This Dunav vista is intertwined with his life in Novi Sad and with his love for his country. Dunav is the Serbian word for the Danube. He can see himself kissing a girl by the river when he was just a teenage boy. He can smell the blossoms of the riverside trees. He tells me about his decision to leave a good job, wife and child in Canada to return and fight for his country alongside his brother. He was up here when the NATO planes were dropping bombs on the bridge below.
I am telling the story now, not with words but with paddle stokes as I re-trace the 50,000km kayaking journey Oskar Speck took from Germany to Australia. For me it has gone from being a story on paper and a map showing a route through places whose names I couldn’t pronounce, to a story that I’m living. It’s a tale that travels through many countries, and not much of it is in English.
The war is over, but the people’s problems continue. Jugo says that when he sits here, the problems get smaller. “The river is their escape,” he says of the many men that I have seen out fishing on the river in the past few days. Sure, they’re catching food to put on the table, but when they go to the river they are joking around and life is simple again. The river shows them what is important and what is not. I can relate to what he is saying because kayaking is my escape. I am escaping a lifestyle that most people in my world consider ‘normal’. Normal seems to involve getting up and going to work each day until you are 60 years old, and then retiring, perhaps having paid off a house in the suburbs in the process. The ocean and wild places have given me a different perspective on what is important. So here I am overlooking the Dunav with Jugo. I am taking some of my retirement now.
Exactly why I am doing it, I think I will find out with the passing of time. That’s something I have plenty of. It took Oskar seven years to reach Thursday Island in a folding kayak. I will try for five. The water under my bow started on the Danube River in Ulm, Germany in May 2011.
“It took Oskar seven years to reach Thursday Island in a folding Kayak. I will try for five.” Image A cave in Iron Gates Gorge, Serbia
I first met Oskar while reading his water-stained diary penned eight decades earlier. As I got to know him, I tried to imagine how I would cope with the challenges he faced. This research, coupled with my subsequent experiences, not only gave me a perspective of what the journey would have been like for Oskar, but also revealed what had changed and what has endured over the last 79 years. My first challenge was not the rapids and whirlpools that Oskar experienced, but getting past 35 dams that now punctuate the Danube, using locks or portage routes. In the first week I had to traverse 18 small, self-operated locks. Each involved 30 cold minutes of standing in the breeze in wet paddle clothing. Oskar and I both used a network of kayak clubs on the Danube for accommodation, support and the companionship. In Austria I was lucky to be launching in Linz on the same day as two German kayakers, Patrick and Johanna. I was intrigued by their retro folding kayak, which was similar to Oskar’s, and they were an inspiration to me as we paddled big-kilometre days together through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. It was a very hard day when we had to part ways early one morning in Budapest. My friends packed up their kayak and took the train home, as I went off alone into Serbia. Oskar had at least two dogs during his voyage, and what I found most remarkable was how he had paddled the 35-nautical-mile crossing from Turkey to Cyprus with a young puppy in the kayak. During my first night camping alone in Serbia, I found myself wishing I had a dog with me for companionship and security. On my last day on the Danube, I met Brza. She arrived in the morning as I was packing my kayak, and pursued me a kilometre down river until I finally gave up and let her climb on board. She was the perfect kayak dog and eventually found a place to sleep on the back deck, with her head curled around my waist. With sadness, I returned Brza to her hometown, Brza Palanka, at the conclusion of the 18km trip to my take-out point. I didn’t think the border police would let me take her across and I was unsure if she would survive the whitewater on the Vardar. I was not even sure I would.
“Oskar’s craft wasn’t designed for the ocean and, surprisingly, he couldn’t swim. When he got worried he would tie himself to his kayak with a rope.” The Serbian kayakers I had become friends with in Belgrade assisted me with passage from the Danube in Serbia to the Vardar in Macedonia, and provided the contacts I would need to paddle this river that is little known outside of the Balkans. On a one- or a two-week expedition, you can plan every detail. A four-month journey is another situation entirely. Sometimes you simply have to take things as they come. Prior to the expedition I couldn’t find any information about the Vardar. In Germany, paddlers asked me how I planned to get myself and my kayak from the Danube to the Vardar, and I surprised and worried them when I said I didn’t know. Having undertaken huge journeys before, I was confident it would work out. When you follow your dream, things often just fall into place in ways you could never imagine, so I continued to paddle into the unknown until the day I arrived in Novi Sad and met Jugo. We sat down for a coffee and to my utter delight and surprise he said: “It’s all arranged.” It seems the bush telegraph is not unique to Australia, and the Serbian paddlers really did have everything sorted, from route plans to contact details of English-speaking people in every town I would stay in as I passed along the Danube in Serbia. The mayors of some towns had been made aware of my impending arrival and I even had the name and telephone number for the chief of police. The icing on the cake, though, was contacts for paddlers in Macedonia and a detailed description of the Macedonian section of the Vardar River. I was humbled by my experience of Balkan hospitality. If you only paddle one part of the Danube River, then I urge you to go to Serbia.
Top left image With Brza on the Danube in Serbia. Bottom left Sandy cuts a lonely figure leaving Antalya. Photo by Seyfi Yilmaz. Top and bottom right archive images of Oskar Speck, courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum 35
“So, how’s your relationship with Oskar Speck going?” I am asked as Stage One of my expedition concludes. Well, it’s pretty tough at the moment actually. The first stage took me from Germany to Cyprus; I have very little money left and finding work and sponsors to fund the next stage is tough. But if we could sit down right now and have a beer and a chat about the trip, I know what Oskar would say. You don’t need money to see the world in style. In his words, a kayak is a “first-class ticket to everywhere.” Jugo would agree with Oskar. He paddled for three months last year on a budget of one Euro per day and he says of such adventures: “Everyday is like a fairytale.” Long-distance kayakers are rich in adventures that travellers staying in the finest of hotels could never imagine. So, I know what Oskar would say, but maybe the question about my relationship with Speck is delving for something more. Perhaps people think I’m out there paddling solo and talking to Oskar like an imaginary friend. Okay, I have to admit, I may have sworn at him when confronted by the
weir on the Vardar River that I had to portage 5km past, and again the next day when I arrived at three wirecovered rockwalls spanning the river and prompting yet another portage from hell. And Oskar and I had a difference of opinion when it came to the Vardar. I would have been content to continue on the river Danube from Serbia all the way to the Black Sea and even across to Istanbul. But Oskar got his way, so I went from the Danube in Serbia to the Vardar River in Macedonia, put my sea kayak into the whitewater and hoped my boat would not be damaged like his was in the rapids. It was a relief to arrive at the sea. Then my relationship with Oskar was okay again. We were off to the Greek Islands together and a sea kayaker really does belong on the sea. I probably set out on this next phase of the journey with more confidence than Oskar. His craft was not designed for the ocean and, surprisingly, he couldn’t swim. When he got worried he would tie himself to his kayak with a rope. At times it must have been terrifying.
“I would have been content to continue on the river Danube from Serbia all the way to the Black Sea, but Oskar got his way, so I went from the Danube in Serbia to the Vardar River in Macedonia, put my sea kayak into the whitewater and hoped my boat would not be damaged like his was in the rapids.”
Image Patrick and Johanna
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â€œWhen the wind has a name, then you know it is something to be respected. Here the wind is called Meltemi and it can blast for days at a time. As I paddled, I could see gusts marching across the ocean surface toward me, sometimes spiralling around with such force that I had to brace my paddle close to the kayak and wait for the fury to pass.â€?
Image A Greek campsite, from the roof of Tinos church
Kayaking in the Greek Islands can be idyllic. The route took me south from Thessaloniki and along the coast of the second-largest Greek Island, Evia – so huge that until you reach its southern cape, you forget that it’s an island at all. Then the real island hopping begins, first Andros, then Tinos, Mykonos, Naxos, Koufonisi, Amorgos, Kinaros, Kalymnos, Kos, Nisyros, Tilos, Halki, Alimia and finally Rhodos.
are unlike anywhere else I have paddled. Normally you can look at a forecast and paddle on the sheltered side of an island, but in the Aegean, there is no sheltered side. The wind blows onto one side of the island, climbs up the peaks and blasts with katabatic force over the water on the other side of the island.
I had my share of perfect days, with an ocean vista complemented by a view all the way to the sea floor through crystal-clear water. The little blue and white churches perched on the cliff tops in remote coves reminded me to give thanks for the beauty of my surroundings.
As I paddled, I could see gusts marching across the ocean surface toward me, sometimes spiralling around with such force that I had to brace my paddle close to the kayak and wait for the fury to pass. I know from previous experience that when the environment gets tough you have to adapt and go with the forces around you rather then fighting them. Day plans have to align with nature more and with a wristwatch less.
But then there’s the wind. When the wind has a name, then you know it is something to be respected. Here the wind is called Meltemi and it can blast for days at a time. The islands
In Greece this meant long siestas in the middle of the day, getting back on the water in the late afternoon and paddling until it got dark. Sometimes it meant not getting on the water at all.
Image Kekova in Turkey 39
The crux of this section was the Cavo D’oro. This strait between Evia and Andros has a fearsome reputation as the most treacherous area in the entire Aegean, and people were waiting to see if I could paddle it in a kayak. Entering the bay near Karystos at the southern end of Evia Island, I immediately got a taste of Cavo D’oro conditions. Strong meltemi and katabatic winds blasting across the bay were producing a terrifying swell that I found myself battling against, whilst looking over my shoulder at a rocky shoreline that I did not want to end up against. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and it took every bit of muscle power I had to get through the fury and safely onto the beach that day. Far greater than the physical challenge though, was the mental challenge of waiting out the next three days until the conditions eased. The strain of deciding when to stay and when to go is, for me, the toughest part of a kayaking expedition. Here, for the first time, I started questioning my ability to complete the trip. I couldn’t yet see and judge the Cavo D’oro strait that lay around the headland from my camp, and my trepidation rose and fell with the tide. Eventually conditions did abate and thankfully the crossing was easier than expected. Oskar was welcomed to Andros by English-speaking children. Beaching my kayak, I too was met by three children who spoke excellent English and who quickly arranged a place for me to camp near their grandfather’s home.
Local fishermen proved an excellent source of information when it came to understanding weather patterns. After a strong meltemi such as I’d just experienced, I was told there can often be a fortnight of calm conditions. This proved true, and I got myself across the Aegean Sea in that weather window. As I gained confidence in my ability to complete the trip and became comfortable with whatever the weather threw at me, new challenges emerged. Like Oskar, I was running out of money and sometimes only ate two meals a day to make my funds go further. More frustrating though, were border crossings and bureaucracy. Relations between Greece and Turkey were such that I was advised not to attempt to cross over by kayak. I tried telephoning an agent that organised yacht transits into Turkey – after all, I did have a sail on my kayak – but he hung up the phone. When I’d exhausted all other options I gave up and crossed the border by ferry. The problem was, people don’t realise what a girl in a sea kayak can do. If they’d authorised me to go, then they would be taking responsibility for my actions, and nobody wanted to put their job on the line for some foreign girl with a crazy plan.
Image Greek Campsite on Alimia Opposite page Conditions in Greece varied from sublime to terrifying
â€œI was pushed out of my comfort zone and it took every bit of muscle power I had to get through the fury and safely onto the beach that day.â€?
“Are you crazy?” is a question I’ve heard several times since I started following Oskar Speck. A Turkish fisherman said he could relate to me because “I have something broken.” I looked puzzled, wondering if part of my kayak was busted, so he clarified: “Something broken in the head.”
a divided island and once you land in the north there is no way you can go by sea to land in the south.
But, he got it. He understood why I was making the journey. He told me he admired the fact that I was chasing a crazy dream, because everyone has dreams but most people do not dare to realise them. He relates to me because he left ‘normal’ behind in Istanbul to come and live on the coast. He also relates to me because he is a fisherman who loves being out on the sea. He and I share the knowledge that there’s an awful lot in this world that we can do without, but dreams are not one of those things. Crossing into Turkey by ferry I accepted. Turkey is an amazing place to paddle and never have I had so many cups of tea and such warm hospitality from complete strangers. I will never win the lottery because I’ve had my luck hundreds of times over in experiences and friendships. It felt like some outside force was bringing everything together perfectly so I was extremely disappointed when bureaucracy again stopped me kayaking across to Cyprus. I couldn’t retrace Oskar’s route around Cyprus either, because it’s now
I made a short expedition on the Turkish Cypriot side and visited the monastery where Oskar stayed at Cape Andreas. From here I gazed over the vast ocean to the horizon and thought of Oskar setting out to paddle for two days to cross to Syria in the east. Surely he would have been terrified for his life, paddling that distance in the folding kayak. With all the red tape I’d recently bumped against, I was no longer sure how and where to end my paddling for Stage One, but there was one place I still wanted to see: Cape Kormakitis. Oskar was so fatigued by the crossing from Turkey to Cyprus, that he lost track of reality. He started to be unsure if he was alive or dead. As he got closer to Cape Kormakitis in the dark, he saw two crosses on the hill and he thought maybe he had perished, and these crosses were for him and the puppy Mehmet that travelled beneath the spray cover. At Cape Kormakitis, my frustration about the bureaucracy I’d been battling against was abruptly exorcised from my mind. When you’re following your dream, nothing can truly get in your way, it’s just a matter of paddling around the obstacles and staying focused on your destination – however distant that may seem. •
Stage two of Sandy’s epic expedition will begin this month, and will see her paddle to the southern coast of India. Find out more about Sandy and how to contribute to her expedition fund at:
www.sandy-robson.com More about Oskar
Sandy’s expedition map
Image Sandy at the end of stage one 42
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Photographs by Richard Rossiter and Emma Francis
THE ACCIDENTAL ADVENTURER
How does a novice paddler find herself among six blokes, kayaking across Bass Strait? Said paddler, Emma Francis, asks herself the same question. “C’mon Mick, get the power down in your catch! Drive through your legs! Try to relax!” The wind is a howling 35-knot westerly, straight across the beam. The confused water is doing, what in cooking parlance, one might describe as a rolling boil. And just to add an element of surprise to this gauntlet, there’s the occasional capping wave to slap the unsuspecting paddler across the face and tell him to wake up to himself. “This is Bass Strait,” it sneers. “What did you expect?” We’re just 10 kilometres into our 330-kilometre journey across one of the world’s most treacherous bodies of water, and 40-year-old Mick, one of seven in our number, is already facing his demons. Our expedition leader, 28-year-old Jarad Kohlar, is determined to keep the group at a steady pace, but his instructions – shouted through the wind with the trained vocal chords of a former PE teacher – appear to be having the opposite effect. Relaxing is a tall order. “I am relaxed!” Mick spits back. He’s not, but, right now, not unlike a woman in the throes of labour, he just wants to be left alone. If Jarad isn’t relaxed, then he’s certainly not showing it. Indeed, the Victorian adventure race champion is no stranger to masochism, having twice before paddled across Bass Strait by sea kayak. But there’s a bit more at stake on this trip. Not only is Kohlar leading the first-ever crossing by oceanracing ski (a lightweight, sit-on-top craft built for performance), but he’s also doing it with five paying customers – not hardcore, career adventurers like himself, either, but ostensibly ordinary, middle-aged men, with respectable jobs, loving families and slightly sceptical wives waiting back home.
“IN THEORY, I SHOULD BE RELAXED, HAVING SUCH AN EXPERIENCED, STRONG ATHLETE KEEPING ME UPRIGHT AND OUT OF THE DRINK. BUT NO AMOUNT OF RATIONAL REASSURANCE CAN QUELL THE PRIMAL FEAR OF DROWNING.
This time Kohlar has more than his own life in his hands. And, at this moment, as we cross the turbulent Toora Channel on our way from Port Welshpool in Victoria’s southeast, to Sealer’s Cove on the east coast of Wilson’s Promontory – leg one of six – he’s on the verge of throttling a few of his charges. “Where the fuck is Brendon going?” he mutters, turning his attention away from Mick. “Brendon!” It’s no good. Forty-one-year-old Brendon, a seasoned ocean paddler, is relishing the conditions, and has taken off to catch some runners. Trying to keep five paddlers of varying abilities corralled in these conditions is clearly a futile exercise. As for me, well I can rest assured I’ll never be more than half a metre from the boss. As the weakest paddler of the group, I have opted to join Jarad on a double ski. In theory, I should be relaxed, having such an experienced, strong athlete keeping me upright and out of the drink. But no amount of rational reassurance can quell the primal fear of drowning. “I don’t know if I can do this,” I yelp. “Nah, you’ll be fine,” he says. “It’s a piece of piss.” Oh, and as Kohlar’s girlfriend, I can tell when he’s bullshitting.
So how the hell do I find myself, with less than a year’s paddling experience under my belt, taking on what kayakers dub the ‘Everest of the sea’? Has paddling across Bass Strait been a lifelong dream of mine? Or is this just some extreme form of aversion therapy? Actually, neither is true. I’m simply doing this because I was asked; Jarad wanted me to come along, and I thought, “Why the hell not?” Seriously, he could have been offering me canapés at a party for all the sober thought I put into the decision. I don’t exactly fit the textbook profile of an adventurer. To be fair to myself, though, I haven’t taken my preparation as lightly. I’ve trained hard for a year, and even faced grave moments of doubt; during a training circumnavigation of Phillip Island, I was gripped by seasickness so debilitating, I begged Jarad to radio the Westpac Rescue Chopper. (He didn’t, of course, and I came good. The lesson of any endurance sport is you always come good. Eventually.) Plus, I know I’m in safe hands. Despite Jarad’s sometimes-cavalier appearance, he is, in fact, a shrewd and trustworthy leader. In planning this first commercial crossing, he has rightly left nothing to chance. From lifejackets, leg ropes, and paddle leashes, to EPIRBS, GPS and VHF, our safety protocol is solid. And if all else fails, we have our escort vessel, the 40-foot fishing trawler, Montique, to pluck us to safety. But not today. As we leave the cauldron of Toora Channel behind and snuggle into the lee of the Prom, the wind promptly backs off, and we let out our breaths. Four hours later (seven after setting off) we cruise into Sealer’s Cove. It’s hitting dusk, and we have just enough light to get our gear off Montique, and set up our tents. But there’ll be no songs around the campfire tonight. It’s up at sparrow’s tomorrow to do it all again.
Above image Expedition leader, Jarad Kohlar Top left image Emma back on terra firma after paddling 70km from Deal Island
There are few things in this world more unpleasant than pulling on cold, damp compression tights at 4am. But it’s a morning ritual I’m going to have to embrace for the next week, along with baked beans for breakfast and al fresco ablutions. Today we leave Victoria for Tasmanian soil – first stop, Hogan Island. I haven’t heard many favourable reviews of Hogan. All I know is that it’s small, denuded and rat infested, but I’m happy to reserve my judgement. I figure, after another seven or so hours in the saddle today, any solid ground will be welcome. We paddle out from Sealer’s Cove with the sun just rising. The water is glassy and we’re all in good spirits, but the lumpy horizon suggests we’ll be in for some more bucking bronco antics before long. With the next three legs of the trip involving long stints between land, Jarad is insistent we stay put if the wind is forecast to exceed 15 knots. This may seem conservative, but the Strait has an assassin’s smile. As a relatively shallow body of water peppered with strong tidal currents, even moderate winds can stir it into a frenzy. As Chris Fenner – Montique’s eminently wise second mate – tells us: “One minute it’s 15 knots, the next it’s 60 – it can change without warning, and that’s when you’re stuffed.” Providing us up-to-the-minute forecasting is former navy meteorologist, Jeremy Grey. Jeremy’s prediction today is a west northwesterly wind of 10 knots, increasing to 20 knots by early afternoon. With around 50 kilometres of paddling ahead of us, it’s essential we maintain a speed of at least eight-kilometres per hour to avoid the worst of the wind. We can’t afford a repeat of yesterday.
Edging out of the shelter of Sealer’s Cove, we notice the first ripples. Initially, they’re gentle, no more confronting than the wash of a distant ferry. But, slowly and steadily, they build until, about 90 minutes later, we find ourselves in swell that, at a minimum, requires concentration. By now we can already see Hogan Island in the distance, which at least gives us a focal point upon which to anchor our efforts and, indeed, our churning stomachs. But things are about to get interesting. It’s a ship that signals our fate – a dirty, big cargo ship, bearing down on us at 25 knots. In all my fretting about shark attacks, golden staph-infected friction sores and other unlikely scenarios, I never once considered that we’d be crossing shipping lanes. Now I’m directly in the path of a Maersk, and it’s sounding its horn. It’s not going to slow down, for love or money, so we have no choice but to speed up. We make it with sea to spare, but my nerves are shot. And to make matters worse, Brendon, and best friends, Richard and Sandy – who wisely decided against a game of chicken on the high seas – are now behind us and out of view, thanks to the growing swell. In a cruel coincidence, the ship has heralded the early arrival of those afternoon sea breezes. Brendon is first to succumb. Over the radio, we hear news from Sandy that he’s violently ill, and waiting to be picked up by Montique. “Looks like someone forgot to take their Kwells,” Jarad mutters.
With Richard and Sandy nursing Brendon, and Mick stopping for no man lest he once again lose his nerve, Jarad and I raft up with 51-yearold Andrew ‘Couttsy’ Coutts to take stock of the situation. Waiting here for everyone to regroup is too much of a risk; some of the waves are capping now and it’s crucial we maintain our momentum to stay warm and focused. Confident there’s barely a kilometre separating the front and rear paddlers, we decide to push on, checking in from time to time via radio to make sure everyone’s okay. It feels like an eternity, but the distant smudge that is Hogan Island eventually comes into sharper focus. It’s my fixation on the emerging detail – a tree, a rock, a cow – that helps me find a rhythm in the confusion of the swell. Occasionally, a capping wave topples into the back cockpit, nearly knocking me out. It’s a shocking sensation that always comes as a nasty surprise. I know capsizing won’t kill me, but I anticipate it with all the irrational dread of a visit to the dentist. Now, just 200 metres off Hogan, we reach the crux of the matter. To arrive at our landfall, we need to paddle through a small channel and around to the northeast of the island. But, with wind working against tide, the waves are now standing up, and it takes every ounce of collective skill to keep the group forging ahead. Then, just like that, the wind disappears. We’re in the lee of the land, and the contrast is like night and day. The roar dies away, the sun comes out, and we find ourselves gliding across postcard-perfect turquoise water into a cosy little bay. It may be a fairly unremarkable mound in the middle of nowhere, but, right now, Hogan Island is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Top left Sunrise over Cape Barren Island on the final day Bottom left Heading out from Cape Barren Island
Here’s a tip: if you ever visit Hogan Island, make sure you’re packing earplugs. Between the rapacious native rats, fornicating little penguins, and grumpy Cape Barren geese, you’ll be lucky to snatch two hours of decent sleep. Little wonder then, that the following morning it only takes the slightest note of doubt in Jeremy’s voice to convince us not to paddle. Yesterday’s wind, we learn, reached 18 knots – just three knots above our self-imposed maximum, but enough to push us to our limits. With fatigue, blisters and tendonitis now creeping into the group, a rest day is in order. Besides, we have another task to complete. In the great tradition of all foolhardy expeditions, we are using our notoriety for the greater good by raising money for Surfrider Foundation Australia and contributing to its National Marine Debris Survey. Dubbed ‘Clean Across Bass Strait’ our mission is to collect and document rubbish we find washed up on the remote islands we camp at along our journey.
“A CURSORY GLANCE THROUGH THE HOGAN ISLAND VISITORS’ BOOK REVEALS NAMES SYNONYMOUS WITH ELITE ADVENTURE – FORMER MARATHON-KAYAKING WORLD CHAMPION JOHN JACOBY, IRONMAN GUY ANDREWS, AND THE ILL-FATED TASMAN KAYAKER, ANDREW MCAULY.”
I should clarify. When I say “we”, I mean the six fellas. While I happily count myself among the feminist sisterhood, I feel biologically compelled to abstain from today’s litter hunt and tend to more pressing matters – namely, campsite cleaning, hair washing and leg shaving. Even out here, on a one-anda-half-square-kilometre island with only 40 head of cattle to see me, I must keep up certain standards. Perhaps it’s my little attempt at maintaining order in the face of Mother Nature’s exquisite chaos. Besides, with their big sticks and bandanas, the blokes look like they’re off for a Boy’s Own Adventure, and I’m loath to break the spell. In this moment, away from the pressures of work and family, they’re 45 going on 14. It gets me thinking, as I run the Gillette across my knee, how there comes a time in the life of a man when he needs to risk it all. It’s no coincidence this group is of a certain age. Call it a midlife crisis, or just an innocent yearning for something quite essential, it seems that going to ‘extremes’ – be that an affair with a 20-year-old blonde, or, preferably, a paddle to Tassie – is his way of satisfying the explorer within. In an age where there are few frontiers left, it makes sense that more and more ordinary people are taking on extraordinary challenges.
“I resent the fact that society tells us we can’t go out and do risky things anymore when, in fact, our whole nation was founded on men and women heading out into the unknown and risking their lives,” says 44-year-old environmental scientist, Richard, later that day. It’s this growing sentiment that Kohlar is tapping into by commercialising the ‘Everest of the sea’ experience. Like climbing Everest itself, crossing Bass Strait by kayak was once strictly the domain of the skilled, self-sufficient expert with a slightly retarded sense of their own mortality. Indeed, a cursory glance through the Hogan Island visitors’ book reveals names synonymous with elite adventure – former marathon-kayaking world champion John Jacoby, Ironman Guy Andrews, and the ill-fated Tasman kayaker, Andrew McAuly, to pick out a few. Sure, these guys didn’t pay for a guide, charter a support boat, or sip chardonnay at the end of each day’s paddling. But, they did bestow on Bass Strait a kind of mystique, and that’s why traversing it is now a paddler’s right of passage. It’s perhaps fitting, that, while pondering these questions over freshly-shucked abalone and sauvignon blanc, we should witness six sea-kayakers limp into shore, shivering and battle-weary from their first day’s crossing from Tidal River. The wind is blowing harder than yesterday, and we’re frankly astounded they chose to make the journey given the conditions. From what little they can tell us, through chattering teeth, we gather it was a baptism of fire. Chris and Montique skipper, Butch Barnewall, who’ve joined us for happy hour, can barely disguise their disdain. These Flinders Island locals have worked the Strait for a combined two decades, and can’t understand why any paddler would risk the journey unsupported. “I have very little regard for these people,” says Chris, bluntly. “They don’t understand how quickly things can turn against them. And when it does turn, it’s the local fisherman who then have to risk their lives trying to rescue them.” Considered in this light, Kohlar’s fully supported commercial offering, while taking some of the gloss off Bass Strait’s death-defying allure, is perhaps a welcome arrival on adventure’s new super-highway.
Image Bass Strait ski paddler Brendon Grail
After three nights on Hogan Island getting well acquainted with
forest and the highest lighthouse in the Southern
the local fauna – and collecting more plastic drinking bottles
Hemisphere, it’s an undiscovered paradise receiving
than one would have thought possible on an uninhabited
fewer than 1000 visitors each year.
island more than 50 kilometres from the nearest mainland – the cold front passes and we’re able to push on to our next landfall, Deal Island in the Kent Group National Park.
It’s with a tinge of disappointment we leave this idyllic isle the following morning, but we’re now sitting in the eye of a high pressure system, and have to make
To our relief, the wind is a pleasant 10 to 12 knots, and slightly
hay while the sun shines. In fact, conditions are
downwind, so we cover the 45 kilometres in a little under five
preternaturally benign, and our entire 80-kilometre
hours, arriving in the magnificent East Cove in time for lunch.
journey to Allport’s Beach on Flinders Island, takes
There to greet us with home-baked brownies are Tim Mount and Lynne Macco, Deal Island’s summer caretakers. Tim, a college professor, and Lynne, a doctor who dabbles in acupuncture, hail from New York State, and have spent the last few months playing Robinson Crusoe on their very own slice of heaven.
place upon a millpond. Barely a breath of wind ripples the water’s surface and if it weren’t for the searing blisters and carpal tunnel syndrome now plaguing my hands, it would be hard not to fall into a trance and lose all sense of where water meets sky. As 43-year-old fashion-man Sandy reflects, over a much-anticipated plate of lamb shanks at the
Deal Island is in stark contrast to Hogan. A protected marine
Interstate Hotel that evening, “Day four was bought
park, with towering granite cliffs, large remnants of native
and paid for by days one and two.”
Top The team at the finish. L-R: Richard Jennings, Jarad Kohlar, Sandy Cameron, Andrew Coutts, Emma Francis, Michael Kolody, Brendon Grail Bottom left Brendon Grail all washed up at the finish, Little Musselroe Bay
Image arriving at Little Musselroe
It’s the morning of our final leg, and the chilly air is filled with a mixture of excitement, trepidation and perhaps even a tinge of sadness. We’ve saved the best until last – a fast and furious surf across Banks Strait from day five’s camp on Cape Barren Island, to Little Musselroe Bay on Tassie’s northeast coast. With just under 40 kilometres to go, and trailing wind and swell, this could all be over in the blink of an eye, but we need to keep our wits about us. Banks Strait is transected by notorious tidal races, making paddling at slack water critical.
“I don’t care!” I retort. “You’re just being a wanker.”
Sure enough, Banks Strait turns on the most exhilarating conditions of the journey. Designed to go downwind, our skis do their thing, literally hurtling us towards the Tasmanian mainland. But keeping in time with Jarad’s strobe-fast stroke as we pull onto the runners is exhausting, and after an hour or so of this frenetic pace, I’ve had enough.
Then we hit the sand at Little Musselroe Bay, and the emotion is spent. There’s no spontaneous whoop of joy, no mass embrace, no popping of champagne. (Not yet, anyway – we’ve strict instructions to save that moment for the local TV crew that’s running late.) Nope, there’s just a deep sigh of relief, and the hum of a rideon lawnmower, driven by a local farmer who’s seen it all before.
“I don’t like this anymore. Stop it,” I demand from the back seat.
“G’day,” he says casually. “You’ll be the second lot that’s come through this week.”
“C’mon baby, just a bit longer, I want to get some good photos.” Our photographer is snapping away from the back of Montique, and Jarad wants the money shot.
“Oh, harden up, would you?” That does it. I’m sobbing now, my first tears of the trip. I guess I’ve done well to hold it together this long. “How hard do you want me to be?” I blubber. Jarad’s words sting, but that’s not really it. It’s the drama of reaching the finish line, a bubbling up of all the emotion I’ve kept in check for the past week, that’s now spilling over.
Not a giant leap for mankind, clearly, but a pretty big step for this girl •
MAP The long way down
Day Day Day Day Day Day
One: Port Welshpool to Sealer’s Cove Two: Sealer’s Cove to Hogan Island Three: Hogan Island to Deal Island Four: Deal Island to Allport’s Beach, Flinders Island Five: Allport’s Beach to Cape Barren Island Six: Cape Barren Island to Little Musselroe Bay
A Port Welshpool B Sealer’s Cove C Hogan Island D Deal Island E Allport’s Beach, Flinders Island F Cape Barren Island G Little Musselroe Bay
Below Andrew “Couttsy” Coutts catching the runners
National Marine Debris Survey
across Banks Strait Surfrider Australia, in conjunction with Tangaroa Blue, is inviting beach lovers everywhere to contribute the National Marine Debris Survey. All you need to do is choose a section of beach to clean up, record and categorise the debris you find, and submit the results. The data is used in the implementation of education programs and legislation reform to help reduce marine litter. The Clean Across Bass Strait team collected more than 100 plastic drink bottles from Hogan Island alone, most of which came from foreign sources. According to Surfrider, illegal dumping accounts for a significant proportion of the marine debris in and around shipping channels. To find out more about the survey, visit www.surfrider.org.au
Want to paddle Bass Strait in 2014? Jarad Kohlar will be leading another supported crossing of Bass Strait in February 2014. To find out more, go to
Cairns Airport Adventure Festival Indulge your Adventurous Nature 27 May – 4 June 2012
Set in one of the world’s most iconic tropical locations, the 2012 Cairns Airport Adventure Festival will take place from 27 May to 4 June 2012. The festival features 10 days of events for people of all ages and abilities. A unique adventure race that appears in the jam-packed program on May 27 is the Hekili Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge. This is one of Australia’s biggest and newest downwind iron ocean races. Outriggers and surf skis will paddle a 40km iron event course from Palm Cove to Four Mile Beach at Port Douglas with the beauty of the Wet Tropics rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other.
UNDER COVER OF DUSK
Story by Rohan Klopfer (with Pat Kinsella) Images by Rohan Klopfer
While New Zealand’s Milford and Doubtful Sounds have been viewed from all angles over the years, Fiordland’s other jewel, Dusky Sound, has remained remote and mysterious. Protected and preserved perfectly by its inaccessibility, it remains exactly as it was seen centuries ago by the likes of James Cook and George Vancouver. Indeed, few people other than hermits and conservationists have visited the haunting sound since those curious captains called by and discovered a place that was, even then, home to indigenous hideaways and hunted tribesfolk. Armed with a couple of ingenious folding kayaks and with the help of a cavalier chopper pilot, two Australian adventurers pierce the dusk and explore what lies within.
The question was innocuous enough but, as is often the case, the unsaid (and in this case entirely unintended) section of the equation was the part that my ear tuned into. “Are you up for a beer in Queenstown in mid-January?” was what my friend actually asked me, shortly before Christmas, but I heard something entirely different. Somehow, through the Boy’s Own Babel Fish I think I have in my ear, I heard: ‘How about spending five days heli-paddling and exploring the virtually impenetrable place known as Dusky Sound, followed by a postexpedition beer in Queenstown?’ Why not? I agreed instantly. I was due both an adventure and a beer, and this would be a great opportunity to test out the new Trak folding kayaks I’d recently got my hands on. Besides, Dusky Sound is a place the sea-kayaking world has been whispering about in awed tones for a while now. “Dusky where?” said Phil, looking mystified. 57
WATCH the Dusky Sound video
No one lives in Dusky Sound any more. In fact, hardly anyone ever has. But that doesn’t stop it reverberating with human history – if anything it makes the echoes of the few people who have been here all the louder. Hanging precariously off the southwest elbow of the South Island’s Fiordland National Park, the sound is a little-visited corner of New Zealand where the footprints of explorers such as Captain Cook are still visible. Well, maybe not his actual footprints, but definitely the tree stumps in the clearing at Astronomers Point, where the wandering Yorkshireman established an observatory during his second visit. It’s a spot so cut off from ordinary that a gang of sealers – temporarily abandoned by their boat – once built a whole new ship from scratch. They left it on its rollers when they were subsequently rescued, where it lay for years until it was appropriated by another crew of shipwrecked sailors who had arrived on Captain Cook’s old ship, the Endeavour, which now lies in a watery grave at the bottom of the sound. How could you turn down an invitation to explore a place like that (even if it had been cunningly disguised as an invite for a quick beer)?
Phil Woodhouse (left) and Rohan start their remote adventure
“You boys are travelling light…” My stomach sinks, weighed down by self-doubt. I’d left Melbourne on the morning of a new year, dusty and dehydrated from the previous night’s revelries. What had I forgotten to pack? We load the equipment into the helicopter. The chopper pilot is right – it doesn’t seem like much. Especially considering there are two full-size kayaks in our bags. Of course we left a lot of luxury equipment at home, due to the 40kg Jet Star baggage limit. But the fact I could bring our boats all the way from Melbourne was testament to the Trak’s portability credentials. It was easier than travelling with my mountain bike. (Although, admittedly, on the return flight to Melbourne I did have to wear my pfd on the plane – which led to some funny looks.) Even the bus ride to Te Anau – gateway to the Fiordlands National Park and an outdoor adventure mecca – had been easy, and the helipad was within walking distance of the bus station “These things are unreal…” Our pilot from Southern Lakes helicopters seems suitably impressed. “I wish everyone would paddle these kayaks – they fit right into the pod!” Boarding the helicopter I can hardly contain my excitement. We soar over Lake Manapouri and soon find ourselves gazing down upon the main range. Flying so close to the jagged peaks, while sat in the front of the glass helicopter seems so utterly surreal, that I’m left secretly hoping that the paddle will stack up to the quality of the journey in.
Just like the explorers whose wash we are following in, we arrive at Supper Cove, the seaward end of the sound. Quickly we unload the still-whirring flying machine that has brought us here in a fraction of the time it took those who ventured here before us. After a quick handshake and a reassuring promise from Dave that he’ll be back to pick us up at 11am on the 12th, the chopper lifts up and promptly vanishes around the back of the escarpment. And so we’re left, just the two of us and about 100-million sandflies, every one of them belligerent and blood-crazed after being starved of human victims for god knows how long. Within seconds we’ve ripped open the packaging and donned our new sandfly nets and mittens. We live in this net armour for the entire week, putting it on the second we get off the water every day. You soon forget that you’re even wearing the nets, and life without their protection is virtually unbearable. Not for the last time we think about those early explorers and wonder how they coped. The only time the net comes off is when we’re eating, when alternative protection is required. We quickly learn that Bushman’s insect repellent melts the skin of the kayaks so we don’t use that. A homemade concoction of baby oil, Detol and a splash of tea tree oil works amazingly well instead, giving us enough time to eat our food without getting eaten ourselves. 59
No time is wasted in getting the kayaks assembled, as we want to be on the water well before the sea breeze kicks in. Fortunately it takes just minutes to put the Traks together, and they’re roomy enough to swallow all our equipment and provisions with ease.
the least amount of sandflies. This was the site of the first European house ever built in New Zealand, and was also the construction site of the first ship built on these shores, the Providence, built by one group of stranded sailors and inherited by another gang of shipwrecked desperados years later.
The wind blows predicable and steady here, 15 to 20 knots from 11.30 in the morning to five in the evening everyday. Although, as the journals of Cook and Vancouver recount, the weather can chuck in the some serious curveballs too, in the shape of ferocious gales and torrential downpours. We’ve been studying the weather charts and all looks well, but we keep at least one ear twitching in the wind at all times, for signs of a nasty surprise on the way.
Life would have been tough for these guys, no doubt. They may as well have been in outer space they were so utterly isolated from the rest of the world; their clothes must have rotted on their backs, and, instead of the company of women, they would have felt the lovebites of countless sandflies and mosquitoes. But for all their problems, they would have eaten well. I am the world’s worst fisherman, but from the first cast I make from my kayak, I find myself hauling in blue cod. Each evening we cook the fresh catch over an open fire, just as those early sailors would have done.
Over the next week, kayaking an average of 20km a day, we explore ever deeper into the sound, investigating its myriad islands and paddling into all the nooks and crannies, enjoying the company of dolphins and seals. The young seals are a particular delight, eyeing our kayaks with inquisitive puppy eyes. That climatic curveball never comes and the Land of the Long White Cloud belies its name and treats us to five unexpected days of consecutive sun. I read later that New Zealand had received the lowest amount of rain ever recorded during January this year. Cook wouldn’t have recognised the place that he discovered and named in 1770, while seeking refuge for the Endeavour from the jaws of a savage gale. Cook liked the place so much that he returned here exactly three years later in the Resolution, and stayed for an extended period, briefly befriending a family of Maoris that seemed to be on the run from another tribe, before they mysteriously vanished. The Sound is steeped in both indigenous and early European explorer history. One campsite in particular – Luncheon Cove – becomes a favourite of ours, and not just because it has
And the ones who rolled with Cook would even have drunk well. Besides being the site of the first European house and boat to be built in New Zealand, history also records Dusky Sound as the very spot where beer was first brewed in the country. While his scientists were studying the movement of celestial bodies in the night sky, Captain Cook set up a microbrewery, making a batch of beer using local rimu branches, which he hoped would help prevent scurvy. In an entry in his diary on Saturday 27 March 1773, on Resolution Island in Dusky Sound, the good captain wrote: “We also began to brew beer from the branches or leaves of a tree, which much resembles the American black-spruce. From the knowledge I had of this tree, and the similarity it bore to the spruce, I judged that, with the addition of inspissated juice of wort and molasses, it would make a very wholesome beer, and supply the want of vegetables, which this place did not afford; and the event proved that I was not mistaken.” Well said that man. And that reminds me – we have a date with a beer to keep too.
As our final day beckons, we paddle back out to Supper Cove. The hut is already occupied by with an intrepid Israeli hiker and a group of adventurous lightweight hikers, some of them in their 70s, who have made their own tents, backpacks and raingear. Our fish feast demolished, we feed the unwanted spoils to the blues sharks that patrol the line between the shallow waters and the vast deep of Dusky Sound. We drift off to sleep to the sound of the ocean, but later I awake to an almighty ruckus. After a few seconds of pondering, I realise our gear is under attack by the New Zealand airforce, otherwise known as kias. Some people have had quite disturbing run-ins with these cheeky birds, known for their talent for vandalising anything from tents to boats. If they were to start putting holes in our kayaks, we could be in for a longer stay than expected in Dusky Sound – perhaps we’d have to build our own escape vessel too. I flash through the door and come face to face with a cheerful kia that has its head peeking through a suspicious-looking hole in the roof of the hut. After watching it play around the hut for a while I’m lulled into a foolish sense of trust, and eventually wander back to bed. And then everything goes quiet. Too quiet. One of the hikers raises the alarm: “The kias, they’re headed down towards your kayaks!” I take flight, dressed only in boardshorts and full-body fly netting (I don’t think the bushwalkers had seen anything quite like it in all their 70 years). Rounding the corner I find the kia playfully bouncing up and down on the kayak skin, as if it’s a trampoline. If I had a video recorder with me I could make a YouTube sensation, but since I don’t have a camera to hand I grab the next best thing: a rock. But as soon as I pitch the missile at the bird I realise there’s only going to be one loser in this battle. The bird just bounces over the rock, and I resign myself to packing up the skins in the rain and returning them to the safety of the hut.
WATCH Assembling a Trak T1600 Kayak
As 11 o’clock approaches on pick-up day, we hold little hope of seeing a helicopter. The weather has finally turned on us; a cold wind drives persistent rain into our faces and the clouds are claustrophobically low. And yet, at exactly 10.57am, the chug of the chopper greets our ears and it hovers in to land precisely on time. The pilot has honoured his promise to the second, and thanks to his commitment we’re in for the flight of our lives on the way out… although at times I think it’s going to be the last flight of our lives. Helicopter pilots fly mostly by line of sight, and on this day, there wasn’t much of that to be had. Due to increasing cloud we’re unable to break over the pass in the first three places the pilot tries as he scrapes through gullies looking for a gap. Finally he sees an opening and he guns the chopper straight for it. My stomach comes up to say hello to my mouth as we drop under the clouds, virtually skim the rocky outcrop and plummet down a cliff on the other side.
THE TRAK FILES 62
We’re out, and soon back amid the hub-bub of Queenstown, as far removed from the isolation of the sound as you can imagine. Time for that beer, and to plan the next trip back to Dusky Sound. By the second handle of Tui, we’ve put aside two full weeks, and clanged glasses on it. Better start saving for the helicopter then •
BOATS BLADES + BOARDS 64
The Sunny King 12’6” Elite Race SUP Board Review by Jarad Kohlar As an adventure racer and multisport athlete, I like to mix ‘sup’ my training with some SUP sessions over the warmer summer months. Over the past two summers I have been training and racing on my Sunny King Elite Racer 12’6” board. Right from the outset I found this board to be super stable, super fast and very competitive in the racing arena. The lightweight nature of the Sunny King Elite Racer (12kg) allows you to surf the smallest wind, boat or ocean waves with ease. Better still, for competitive types like me, the wider nature of the board under your centre of gravity means you can really go for it right from the starting line in races. The nimbleness of the Elite owes a lot to the board’s design, which boasts a semi-displacement hull, a low and even bottom rocker and curved scoop lines. This means the water-flow along the board is superb, and the hull shape offers awesome gliding capabilities. It’s a versatile board too, with enough mass in the nose to perform well going upwind, dealing with side winds, and to get you flying down-wind. I often get up to 16km to 18km per
hour on my downwind SUP paddles from Williamstown to Sandridge beach in Port Melbourne. Hand-shaped and made from EPS Core and an Epoxy resin/ fibreglass combo, the board has a sweet laminate finish. I also love the new ‘liftsup’ handle that makes carrying my Elite to the water a lot easier. I’ve been a paddler all my life, but SUPing gives you a very different perspective. Paddling a SUP allows you to look right down into the water and see the reefs below. Sunny King is an Australian-owned company based in Melbourne, who support the local racing scene and grassroots development of the sport. At a glance Length 381cm Width 73.5cm Weight 12kg RRP AU$1700 (AU$1350.00 including GST from SUP Warehouse)
Boats, Blades + Boards • reviews by Pat Kinsella
The Necky Vector 14 Necky are, of course, far better known for their high-
of different heights. Deck space is also generous, and
performance sea kayaks than their sit-on-tops, and the
primary and secondary stability is excellent, making this
Vectors are something of a new experiment for the well-
a good option for those who like to rest the paddle and
respected brand. It’s a smart move that will see their name
dangle a fishing line.
become a lot more familiar to people getting into paddling via the SOT angle, who may then move on to a more advanced craft.
the Glenelg River that runs along a stretch of the Victoria– South Australia border and, while it performed well, we thought
However, as a touring craft this boat has plenty to offer in its
it felt a wee bit more sluggish across the water than expected.
own right and – crafted to mimic the performance values of
However, we soon discovered that these conditions are not
Necky’s sea kayaks – it is capable of tackling some pretty
what the boat was designed for. With its weight and hull
challenging conditions. It has superior secondary stability, but
design, it is far more at home in the ocean, dealing with surf
also allows paddlers to get some edge and perform quick turns.
and swell, where its tracking is excellent.
As the name suggests, it’s 14 feet long (4.3 metres –
This is no lightweight boat – both in terms of what it can
also available in a 13-foot incarnation) and 63.5cm wide.
handle, and also how you handle it. Weighing in at 28.6kg,
It’s equipped with a trailing rudder that is fully retractable,
getting it on and off the car is a two-person job, but once
and has plenty of storage space (92.5L in the bow, 69.2L
you have it out in the environment it was designed to tackle,
in the stern), making it the ideal SOT for an overnight
it comes into its own.
or multiday expedition. The seat is exceptionally comfortable, with excellent lumbar support, adding to its qualifications as a good boat for longer trips. Adjusting the seat, the leg length and the rudder ropes is very easy, so the whole family can enjoy getting use from the boat without having to worry about spending hours setting it up for people
We first put this boat through its paces on the flat water of
At a glance Length 430cm Width 63.5cm Weight 28.6kg RRP AU$1949
The Think Eze Increasing numbers of sea kayakers and amateur paddlers are being tempted into having a crack at surf ski paddling these days, and manufacturers are responding smartly, by bringing out boats that look a whole lot sleeker than the plastic fantastic barges we all started off on, but still offer a lot more stability than a standard ski. The Think Eze (see what they’ve done with the name there? eh? eh??) is the latest craft in this mould. Paddlemag has been putting one through its paces recently, and the short version of this review is that it’s an absolute beauty of a boat for beginner ski paddlers. At 5.2 metres in length, the fibreglass Performance Eze weighs just 15.5kg, while the Kevlar Elite is an even skinnier 12.5kg. It skips across the water with a nippiness that belies its relatively short length. The hull profile – sleek and aggressive at the pointy end, broad and forgiving around the cockpit – enables beginner paddlers to work hard on their technique without having to worry about being bucked into the drink – although the pace of this boat will convince paddlers who started their ski career on a plastic craft that they’ve mastered the art overnight. The only real downside to this boat is that, as with all such skis, you will probably grow out of it quite fast as your skills improve. However, it will hold a good price and demand for such boats will always be high. Also, intermediate paddlers will appreciate how responsive and manoeuvrable this ski is and it’s an excellent boat to keep as an option even when your balance has improved and your paddling ability is more advanced.
It’s the ideal boat for moderately experienced people to take out into rougher water than they’re typically used to, and to use for working on their surfing and swell-catching skills. If conditions have turned out a bit more challenging than expected on race day, the Eze is an excellent option to have available – this is a super zippy boat for its size, and a ski you can stay on is always going to be faster than one that’s going to tip you off. If you do go in, remounting this stable boat is simple. In terms of comfort, the Eze’s ergonomic specs are good and during testing we found the seat to be extremely comfortable during paddles of one-and-a-half to two hours. Adjusting leg length is very easy, so this is a good boat for people to share, with the only slight criticism being that there are almost too many notches to set it to, so you have to spend a tiny bit of time making sure you’re set up symmetrically. On and off the water, this one sexy-looking ski with a super smart design that offers excellent performance. At a glance Length 520cm Width 51cm Weight 15.5kg RRP AU$2795
WATCH the video
Boats, Blades + Boards • reviews by Pat Kinsella
Swell Carbon Matrix Paddle Tipping the scales at a dainty 840g, the Matrix is a medium/ large–bladed paddle that is light in the hand, but tough enough to take a few knocks and is forceful in the water. Perfect for recreational and touring purposes, it’s also light enough to consider for races if you’re happy to punch-on with a non-wing paddle. The asymmetric blades are made from tinted resins and glass laminate, and they’re mounted on a 2-piece, lightweight carbon shaft, complete with drip rings. The length isn’t adjustable, but there are three settings for angling your blades. RRP AU$329.00
Carlisle Polar Paddle With a pair of fibreglass reinforced Nylon blades to its name, and a lightweight one-piece fibreglass shaft, the Carlisle Polar paddle is light in the hand (around 1100g) but packs a punch in the water. The blade, which is available in three width sizes (160 mm, 175 mm, and 185 mm), has an asymmetric cut and medium dihedral shape, making this the perfect paddle for touring, whether you’re an advanced kayaker or a total beginner. Available from 210cm to 240cm, it has the standard drip rings and also features a grip and locator. RRP AU$199
The Fluid Bazooka (large) Review by Bobby Miller
Fluid kayaks have busted out some new and exciting developments for 2012. The Bazooka is the new creek boat, replacing the long-loved and well-proven Solo (one of the best creek boat designs of all time in my opinion). After exclusively creeking in the Solo since 2005, I must admit that adopting a replacement made me a little nervous. Like Mary Poppins, the Solo is practically perfect in every way. But in early March, I was fortunate to get one of the first large Bazookas out of the mould. After logging many kilometres in the boat, I’m pleased to say that Celliers [Celliers Kruger, the owner of Fluid Kayaks] has fixed any minor imperfections the Solo may have had. He has eliminated the word, ‘practically’ and has gone straight to perfect. I got the large Bazooka a few days before a race on Paint Creek near Johnstown, PA. I took the boat on a test run on the Shenandoah River the day before the race to get used to it. Immediately, I noticed that the Bazooka was fast as I cruised down the run. I also noticed that the boat carves a turn extremely well. The stern edge requires a slight tilt and it engages. The boat will immediately shoot in the direction you lean. I was super excited by this, having paddled a creek boat with minimal edge for years. I’d tried creek boats with edges before but found them to be grabby in shallow water. This problem is fixed in the Bazooka by the fact that the edge smooths out near the front of the boat, making it very forgiving. The bow has a nice amount of rocker allowing it to ride high and boof like a champ, while the low stern rocker profile gives the boat more speed than most boats its size. With a lot of speed and the high performance stern edge, I was anxious to put this boat to the test. In the race, I was able to manoeuvre easily through the rocky Class 4 rapids and keep my speed up through all of the sections. I cruised to a first-place victory, a great way to start off a relationship with a new boat. On a recent trip to Great Falls of the Potomac River, I was pleased to see the Bazooka handle the continuous waterfalls without any
problems. If I get slightly off line, I can lean over and the edge carves me back where I want to go. Its great boofing ability made it easy to launch flat landings off the drops, and the speed allowed me to clear through most holes like they weren’t even there. The boat is extremely stable so it is forgiving in swirling water. The outfitting is very comfortable and easily adjusted. The seat, which screws into a track in the boat, can be moved quickly into different positions. The knee braces fit nicely on my leg and you can slide them around with minimal effort to find the right position. The centre pillar features steps so you can climb out easily in the event of a pin. The back band feels good on my back and the ratchet system allows it to be quickly pulled into place. The large Bazooka is very big at 100 gallons (380L). I am 6 feet tall and 165 pounds (75kg), so it floats me very high. This is the perfect creek boat for a larger paddler, while the medium 87 gallons (330L) will work better for my weight. The small still has plenty of volume at 75 gallons (283L) so it will be a great fit for small to medium sized paddlers. For fans of soft-edge creek boats, the Bazooka will instantly be faster and more responsive but the stern edge will take a little time to get used to. For fans of hard-edge creek boats, you will instantly notice that the boat is more forgiving but still is very high performance. For creek racing, I think this boat is unmatched with its combination of performance and speed. Fluid has hit the mark with the Bazooka by creating a spectacular creek boat that is forgiving yet is great at carving a turn, and this design will make any creek boater who tries it a believer. At a glance Length 230 cm Width 65 cm RRP AU$1495
Boats, Blades + Boards
Wilderness Systems Tempest 170
The Fenn Swordfish
review by Pat Kinsella
review by Mich O’Connor
As winter nips at our heels, many paddlers in the south will be stashing the SOTs, SUPs and skis in the garage and looking to cocoon themselves a bit more when they’re out on the water. A classic touring sea kayak can’t be beaten for staying cosy on longer trips, and they don’t come a lot more reliable and classic than the Tempest 170.
I’ve been paddling surf skis for about threeand-a-half years now, and began to seriously think about buying my own boat around 18 months ago. I was on my fourth training boat at the training and skills clinic I attend, run by Peak Adventure, and one week the group I train with began talking about the fact that Fenn were bringing out a couple of new boats.
This boat has bagged a drybag-full of awards, including Sea Kayaker Magazine Reader’s Choice Award for Best Day- and Weekend-Touring Kayak, and Wilderness Systems themselves rate it as the most capable sea kayak they have ever built. So, does it merit all the accolades? Paddlemag rugged up and took one for a test drive into the eye of an Anzac Day storm. With its shallow V-shaped hull, the Tempest genuinely combines sensational primary and secondary stability with some serious performance values, and even in mountainous seas intermediate paddlers will feel relatively comfortable. More experienced paddlers will enjoy its speed and edging ability whatever the conditions. The 170 is the middle child in the Tempest family, which also includes a little sister in the shape of the 165, and the big brother 180 model. I’m a bit north of 6 foot, and still felt perfectly comfortable in the 170. The cockpit, seat and easily adjustable footbrace system all proved comfortable for extended trips, and with generous storage fore and aft this is an excellent touring boat. It boasts a 10-inch bow hatch, an 8-inch day hatch, plus bow and stern bulkheads and deck rigging. The Tempest is available in a Pro fibreglass version, but the plastic model is as durable a boat as you will find, and with its retractable skeg this kayak will go anywhere. The skeg adds to its tracking qualities, and at 5 metres 18 cm in length and weighing in at 25kg, the Tempest is an agile dancer on the water. Considering performance and price tag, durability and versatility – this is one of the very best winter escape pods on the market, and a bargain to boot. At a glance Length 518 cm Width 56 cm Weight 26 kg RRP AU$1999
It didn’t require too much research. The boat being discussed sat somewhere between the XT and the Elite. I was more than comfortable on an XT by this stage, but the Elite was too tippy and narrow for me. The Swordfish is aimed at the intermediate paddler – perfect. As they’re new to Australia, there wasn’t much info available apart from the specs. I ordered one, unseen and untried, through our coach. The moment I sat in it, it was for me. I had concerns that, being narrower than the XT, there may not be enough room for my size-12 hips. I needn’t have worried and it is very comfortable – no numb bum here. Setting her up was simple – same deal as the XT and Elite, all you need is an allen key to adjust your leg length but now, finally owning my own boat meant I wouldn’t have to mess around readjusting it anyway. I christened the ski ‘Ariel’, and we regularly train together on the Bay in Melbourne.
Mission X-Stream 420 review by Pat Kinsella Although we don’t get surf, we do get good swell and wind (occasionally), and she can deal with both. She handles well in a side chop, and in the event of a swim, it’s easy for me to get back into the boat. I don’t get blown around by the wind in the Swordfish, as I have in other boats I have paddled, and she sits nicely in the water. She’s also super responsive – the steering is fantastic and cornering around buoys made easy with very little footwork required. Ariel has had a few trips to Torquay and Lorne, where we have fun getting into the surf. You have a good feel of the waves beneath, she is quick to pick up the waves and once on, you can’t wipe the smile off your face. Even on little runners, ‘Ariel’ is responsive and runs nicely. Our coach bought one about a month or so after me for use as a training boat, and it’s a magnet for regulars at the sessions. It was designed specifically as a ski for intermediate paddlers, and it excels as exactly that. I love my boat. At a glance Length 6.1m Width 45cm Weight Vacuum Glass 14.5kg / Carbon 11.5kg RRP Vacuum Glass AU$3,100 / Carbon AU$4,200
Another substantial sit-on-top that is taking the category into a new capability bracket, the Mission X-Stream 420 is available with and without a rudder. Aiming to provide the sort of performance most paddlers would expect from a touring sea kayak, the hull of the X-stream has been designed with a waterline length that gives the kayak speed. In fact, the pace of this boat belies its short length (4 metres 20 cm), and its tracking ability is also surprisingly sharp. At the same time, the primary stability of the boat, which is 73cm wide, means even relative beginners can venture out in choppy conditions and give it a burst in the surf. It is still designed with recreational paddlers firmly in mind, but the large storage capacity means that multi-day trips are not out of the question. The seating configuration is not particularly adjustable, but what it lacks in versatility it makes up for in comfort. The boat’s impressive storage capacity also includes generous amounts of functional deck space. What makes this design a standout for us, however, is the positioning of the hatches, particularly the 10-inch rubber hatch by the paddler’s feet, which is ultra accessible and super handy, particularly for people who like to dangle a line while they’re paddling or to take photographs. At a glance Length 420cm Width 73cm Weight 28kg Max Load 180kg RRP AU$1,095 (no rudder) / AU$1,395 (incl rudder)
Boats, Blades + Boards
The Trak 1600T review by Rohan Klopfer
With a Trak folding kayak your options are limited only by
You can change the rocker (banana shape) of this boat
your imagination, and the biggest problem is finding the time
with a hydraulic pump according to conditions and skill level –
to get to all the places you want to explore with it. Combining
a flatter boat tracks straighter, while a more accentuated rocker
portability with performance, it is a fully foldable kayak
creates a more manoeuvrable and nimble kayak. This makes
that takes only 10 minutes to assemble and can go pretty
the Trak a real all-rounder, but one downside is that the pumps
much anywhere a fibreglass or composite sea kayak can go.
are heavy and we did worry (unnecessarily as it turned out)
This review is based around a journey I took in the Trak around Dusky Sound, New Zealand. I’d only paddled the boat a couple of times before the trip, but I had practiced putting the kayak together, so I’d know what to do when under pressure from the sand flies.
about the possibility of them failing after we spotted a little oil leaking from a couple of hydraulics – a problem I’m sure will be resolved quickly. It’s also possible to change the gunnel lengths (the sides of the kayak) and to trim the kayak so you can deal with weather-
The Trak 1600 T is a touring kayak, which can be taken on
cocking or lee-cocking, (the kayak turning upwind or turning
the open ocean, down rivers or across any stretch of flat
downwind, respectively). This is a brilliant feature, removing the
water you fancy the look of. It features a built-in Tri-Active
need for a rudder (if there is ever a need for a rudder!)
Performance System (TPS), which consists of three selfcontained hydraulic jacks that drive pressure from the frame into the PolyTRAK shell, providing rigidity and also allowing for an amazing degree of versatility.
This is a boat for those who like their paddling to be a tactile experience, as you can literally ‘feel’ the water you’re kayaking across through the membrane.
Once assembled, the Trak is a pretty speedy ride and is
I’m a little tough on my equipment, however, and I was
highly manoeuvrable with great initial and secondary stability.
worried about the durability of the Trak’s shell. However,
The performance quality can change depending on how you
in use I found the material to be strong and sturdy, with
have the boat set up, however.
about the same amount of care required as you would
WATCH SELF RESCUE IN A TRAK 72
take landing a fibreglass kayak. Yes, barnacles and oyster shells may be an issue; you just have to be careful.
if you want to avoid the worry, loading your kayak with dry
There were a few frustrations, and a couple of things that we learnt on the fly that will make things better on the next hit out. In terms of portaging, carrying the kayak loaded or semi-loaded was pretty difficult, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for the integrity of the boat. This isn’t what they’re designed for, so empty them out. We developed carry straps that made it a lot easier.
It’s always good to practice self rescues in all conditions when
In terms of loading and unloading equipment, I found that mounting a pulley in the bow in order to drag trapped dry bags up through the ribs worked really well; without this unloading the kayak was a little tricky and frustrating.
I can take this boat next. The possibilities are almost endless.
Stopping the seat from popping forward is easy – you just tie it back with a strap to the frame of the rib behind the seat. We experienced no big dramas with the bungees – some hooks have fallen off, but the issue is easily fixed by replacing them with the type that you feed the shock cord through the eye, tie a knot and then pull back to load.
37 Jetty Road in Sandringham, and I’ll let you have a play.
The sea sock takes a little time to fit properly, but it is an essential safety measure on open seas. One concern people may have is the floatation bag deflating – you are able to re-inflate this even if you’re swimming next to your boat, but
bags as well as the inflatable flotation bags is a good option. you’re paddling a new craft, and you can view how these work in a Trak by watching the excellent Trak Files on YouTube. The Trak sea kayak is an amazing piece of equipment. It made possible one of the best paddling journeys I’ve ever experienced, and I’m already hatching new ideas about where Stayed tuned to Paddlemag to find out where we end up, and if you’re intrigued to see what this boat looks like and find yourself in Melbourne, come past the kayak shop at At a glance Length 488cm Width 57.15cm Weight 26.4kg (including spare jack, sea sock and flotation bags) 31.5kg (Complete package, including storage/carry bag) RRP AU$4000 (including Reed sea sock)
Good time to buy
IMMERSION RESEARCH DOUBLE D DRY SUIT Review by Adrian Kiernan Drysuit modelled by Adam Cooper I’ve been lucky enough to have used this drysuit for almost 5 years. I working as a rafting and kayaking guide in Tassie for half the year, doing expedition work on rivers like the Franklin, and spending the rest of my time paddling in British Columbia and Europe. My drysuits go through hell. The purchase of a drysuit is something that needs careful research, as they’re not cheap. I want mine to be comfortable, dry (duh) and good value for money. Many of my paddling friends use Gore-tex suits, but I strongly believe that for drysuits you really want a fabric that strikes a good balance between providing performance and being good value money. For me, the Double D does this. The number one thing you need to consider when buying a dry suit is the socks. This is where most people complain of leaks. Leaks in areas like the neck and wrists have nothing to do with the drysuit. There are only about two manufacturers of gaskets and pretty much every company uses the same stuff. The socks, however, take a BEATING! Imagine walking on your nice new raincoat every day of
the week, in mud or gravel. They’re simply not made for it. You MUST wear good footwear over your drysuit to protect it and also socks on the inside is a very good idea. Immersion research has recognised this and, rather than putting in some expensive fabric than will sooner or later leak, they have simply coated the inside of the drysuit booties with a layer of seal, making the fabric stronger and more durable. The cut of the double D is also excellent. It sits well and gives you plenty of room around the shoulders for unrestricted movement. The zip across the back is really easy, and feels much better to paddle with than over the shoulder – it just takes a little practice. After durability, the next thing you want to ensure is that you have plenty of room in the suit to wear layers of clothing underneath when its cold. So, when you’re looking to invest in a drysuit, don’t just go for the one that makes your bum look small. RRP AU$1290
Sealskinz Ultra-Grip Gloves and Knee–length Socks The cold is beginning to bite at paddlers’ extremities in the southern states and these two bits of gear are a top addition to your water-going wardrobe. Both boast Sealskinz seamless three-layer technology, which starts with a merino lining that excels at providing warmth and wicking sweat away from your skin as you get into your stroke. A breathable waterproof membrane then comes to the party, preventing external moisture from getting to you from the outside. Both items are waterproof – so long as you have a tightly secured cag and paddling pants stopping the juice from getting in the top. Obviously they don’t have the same warmth-providing properties as a dry- or wetsuit has, however, and according to Sealskinz’ own thermal rating the gloves score 2 and the socks 3 out of a possible 5, so there are limits to the extremes you can push yourself to while clad in this clobber. But they’ll do a top job at keeping you snug in almost all Australian conditions. You hardly lose any dexterity through wearing the gloves, which also feature grip dots on the palms for grip in the wet, but the paddle will still feel a little swivellier than when you’re barehanded. The socks have loop pile lining around heel and toes for better longevity and feature an elasticated instep and achilles for additional support. RRP Seakskinz Mid Weight Knee-Length Sock AU$59.95 RRP Ultra Grip Gloves AU$54.95
Aquapac SLR Camera Case 458
Solution Gear’s Universal Sit-on-top Trolley
Apparently this technology is used by the London Fire Brigade, LA County Lifeguards and Japan Coast Guards. Maybe they should have more to worry about than pissing about taking photos of each other underwater, but that’s none of our business really – point is this is good durable gear. Made from tough thermoplastic polyurethane, the flexible casing is designed to fit most SLR cameras and it costs a fraction of the price of you’ll pay for a hard case. There is a payoff of course, and although this is technically submersible to 15 metres, it won’t go down to the depths that a hard case will. But that’s okay with us, we’re a paddling publication, not a diving mag, and this casing is absolutely perfect for recording action during activities such as kayaking, providing excellent protection for your camera against saltwater and sand. It comes with desiccant sachets to help minimise the harmful effects of humidity, has a handy shoulder strap so you can sling it around your back while paddling, and floats when dropped in the water. Awesome.
Sit on top kayaks, while brilliant in a whole range of situations, are a royal pain in the arse to drag around. Often they’re as heavy as a barge and as wide as a cow, and they’re notorious for falling off standard trolleys. All of which makes this innovative trolley design from Sea to Summit’s Solution Gear range a stroke of genius. The robust little trolley is made from anodised alloy tubing welded into a tough design, has two easily removable heavy-duty wheels and, weighing in at just 3.5kg, is super easy to transport. The ingenuity kicks in, however, in the design, which features two prongs, topped with rubber cones, that fit into the scupper holes that you’ll find in the bottom of the hull of pretty much all sit-on-top kayaks. What about wider or skinnier boats? No worries – the trolley is fully adjustable. Brilliant. Can’t visualise
what I’m banging on about? Watch the video
Good time to buy
Harmony Kickback PFD
Aquapac Mini Stormproof Phone Case
A type III PFD with a difference, the Harmony features a highback design to accommodate recreational kayaks with taller seats, which means you can paddle with a vastly improved posture and get a whole lot more power in your catch because you’re not leaning forward like a floating hunchback. Simple concept, well executed. The design remains comfortable even when you’re in a boat without a high seat, such as a touring canoe or kayak, and it doesn’t limit your range of motion one bit. The Harmony’s high back also means better ventilation, an effect that’s heightened even further by the mesh back panel. Other elements worth mentioning include the reflective trim on front and back – all the better for making you more visible to peanuts on jetskis during the dim winter afternoons and misty mornings that are so nearly upon us. It’s easily and quickly adjustable, and boasts an offset shoulder buckle for comfortable portage. Materials wise, it has a shell made from 210-denier nylon, which is tough but doesn’t push the price tag up too much.
A wee (and wee-proof) little drybag specifically for your
smartphone. Pop it in, roll the neck over three times, fasten the buckle and your communication device is safe and sound from incidental moisture such as heavy rain and occasional splashing from paddling strokes. Note – this is not meant to protect your equipment during full immersion, so do not take it along to rolling lessons or to a freestyle comp or on a full-on creeking mission. It will keep your gear safe (from water, dirt, sand and oil), however, in most recreational and touring situations, and it makes an excellent belt-andbraces approach if you want to wrap your precious phone in an extra layer of protection before throwing it into the big dry bag of uncertainty. It’s touch sensitive and sound porous, you can keep your dog and bone dry and use it while you’re on the river. Plus it has a 5-year warranty. Bonus. RRP AU$34.95
Tales from the River
Main Image courtesy of Georgia Nelson Right Tanya Faux Photo by Pat Kinsella
Tanya Faux – an elite whitewater kayaker and former Adventurer of the Year, who paddles professionally for Team Teva, Team Wavesport and Team Kokatat – has just returned from leading a world-first, all-female, super-remote, crocodiledefying, whitewater expedition in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In the first all-women expedition ever attempted in Australia, and the longest whitewater river expedition ever completed in the world by female paddlers, Tanya and her team of seven spent over 30 days exploring the unchartered waters of the Isdell and Charnley River systems, part of the King Leopold ranges, during the violent and hostile cyclone season. Tanya is more commonly seen in a cockpit of a creek boat, but this 30-day adventure was a rafting mission, involving two rivers and 150km of trekking. Promoting the protection of the Kimberley was a key objective of the expedition. Crucial to this goal was the recording of footage that would make people aware of the region’s beauty, but the seven uninitiated women who accompanied Tanya into one of the most remote corners of the planet didn’t themselves quite understand the level of beauty they were about to experience.
The road to Molokai The Ka’iwi Channel, a 53km stretch of unpredictable open water between the islands of Molokai and Oahu in Hawaii, is one of roughest ocean channels on earth. The Molokai Challenge, commonly considered to be the greatest ocean race in the world, takes paddlers right across it. Recognised as the Surf Ski World Championships, a Molokai win is something all serious paddlers want on their CV, but over the past 25 years only six men have won the surf ski division, including Australians Grant Kenny and Dean Gardiner. Can Stellar paddler Matt O’Garey add his name to that illustrious list? Well, he’s not going there on a holiday, that’s for sure…
Q+A • Matt O’Garey
Have you paddled Molokai before? I made Team Australia in 2010 and we raced Molokai World Outrigger Championships in an OC6. It was great to race the event and see Hawaii and the channel, and get a feel for what to expect. It was a big learning experience with a good bunch of blokes, but our results weren’t as good as we’d hoped and it left me feeling that I had some unfinished business over there. I quickly decided to return and to go back to my roots and race the channel on a ski. Talk us through your training regime… I aim to paddle over 100km each week. I do eight to nine paddling sessions per week, two sessions in the gym and at least one run or mountain bike ride just to break it up. Julian from Paddle 2 Fitness sets my programs and we try for at least two long sessions each week over 18–25km. Saturday afternoon is always a long one, as is ‘Big Wednesday’, when I do two killer paddles. What does this race mean to you? I’ve pretty much put my life on hold for 18 months and dedicated every bit of energy I have to it. I’ll give it everything I have and if I fail, at least I know I put it all on the line. You’re 38, what will be the average age of the guys you’re up against? I think the average won’t be far off my age. Clint Robinson is a year older than me and he just took back-to-back Molokai victories. You get guys over 40 that still match it with the best paddlers out there, because they’re so good in open water. They combine ocean skills, knowledge and experience with fitness and technique. This race attracts elites like some sort of legend-magnet, who are you most looking forward to paddling against? It’s always a quality field with Olympians, world champions and a few true ocean men that love it when it’s bumpy. The likes of Clint Robinson, Marty Kenny, Brad Stokes, Tim Jacobs, the Mocke brothers, Jeremy Cotter, Bruce Taylor… even Deano Gardener, who has won the event nine times and
who is getting on a bit, can still mix it up with the front runners. I’m really looking forward to racing against paddlers who were my idols when I was growing up. I’m a firm believer in surrounding myself with people and paddlers who are better than me…I figure that’s how you improve. To do well, however, I need to focus on my own race and not think too much about the big names. How do you make over 20 years of experience count on race day? I’ve been racing well lately and my preparation is on track, so I need to stay confident that I’ve done the work, am experienced in open-water racing and know what is required. Being around the ocean for so long give you a respect for it and an understanding of how to read the swells and runs. Experience in a race so long with so many variables is invaluable. However, this will only be my second crossing of the channel, so as much as I’m going to race it hard, I need to respect the channel and remember my lack of experience with this stretch of water. Do you still get pre-race nerves at the starting line? Nerves are a good thing….as long as you can control them and turn that energy into power through the water. If I don’t get nerves before a race then something isn’t right. What skills did you try and sharpen up for Molokai? There are many elements to a 53km race, and the conditions are unknown until the morning of the race, so you have to prepare for anything and everything. It’s a downwind race so I try and do at least one downwind paddle a week of 25km or more. I clock up a couple of longer (18–25km) paddles on the flat to help with endurance and some interval and tempo work so that I don’t lose too much speed. How tactical is the race? I remember as a kid seeing Grant Kenny on the TV after he won Molokai. His tactic was to be as fast as the others, then every 5 minutes try and grab an extra runner to put him that few hundred metres in front. I have an experienced support boat driver who knows the channel, currents and winds and will be a massive advantage when picking best lines. You need to keep an eye on the leaders, paddle hard and use the runners whenever you can without losing a good racing line.
Interview by Pat Kinsella Images by Harvey Alison www.harvpix.com 81
What approach do you take to nutrition for this race?
I just did a 43km race on the Gold Coast to test my nutrition policy and I discovered I needed to fine-tune a couple of elements. Hydration and energy stores are vital. If you start feeling tired and lethargic it’s probably too late. I need to make sure I’m drinking and eating before I start to feel it, so I am not depleted at any stage. It’s hard during a 4-hour race, but if you listen to your body and react accordingly you will be in a good position to have the energy at the end to respond to an attack or keep driving forward.
Boat Stellar SES Ultra – an amazing piece of kit! Paddle MEEK G series adjustable Apparel Stellar race gear and Paddle 2 Fitness compression pants and hat Sunnies Sea Specs Other SIS nutrition and hydration. Overboard waterproof mobile bag and a can of coke (for the last 15 minutes!)
If you could bribe the weather gods on race day, what kind of conditions would you order? Direct tailwind at around 25–30 knots and 2.5–3-metre seas. Slightly overcast with white caps. Then we will see who has the coconuts! I’m confident in covering the distance at race pace if it’s pretty flat. Any bumps will be a bonus. What are your expectations – are you going to bring back bling? I go into Molokai with very few expectations on me, as I am a bit of a nobody on ocean paddling’s world stage. I love nothing more than seeing an underdog or unknown athlete produce something amazing though. Nothing is impossible. There’s no point in doing 12 training sessions a week – accepting the family sacrifices and financial expense – without aiming for a podium finish. I’m preparing to be at the pointy end of the field. I realise that it’s my first attempt on a ski, but I’ve prepared well enough to have a decent crack. Bling would be the ultimate. Top 10 amazing •
Bio + Stats From Burnie Tasmania Height 182cm Peak paddling weight 78kg Years paddling 23 Career high Making national team in 2006 and 2010 in outrigging
www.capacitysports.com.au 225 Bay Rd, Sandringham, Vic
03 9598 9821
Pre-Race Preparation for Ocean Racing You’ve put in the hard yards on the water, but what should you do in the final countdown to an event to ensure you’re in peak performance condition come race day? During the last two weeks prior to a big distance paddling event – be it Molokai, the Doctor, the Graeme Long Memorial, the Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge, the Gold Coast Cup or any other marathon or Iron-distance race – there are still things that can be done to optimise your chances of a great performance (or at least to prevent catastrophe on the day).
Paddling The bulk of the paddling miles should have been done – if not, there’s no point reading further, because you’re in for a world of pain and discomfort no matter what you do now. A common mistake made by well-prepared paddlers before an event is maintaining heavy miles on the water prior to the race. In the last week, you should not be looking at doing more than an hour to an hour-and-a-half on the water of aerobic work, and at no more than 80 per cent. Many paddlers, especially those travelling to a race at a venue they have not paddled at previously – Molokai being a classic example – rush to familiarise themselves with conditions and end up very flat on race day, as they’ve done too much in the week prior. While you’re starting to taper your training and lighten your water work, the last two weeks provide the perfect opportunity to improve your pure speed on the water. This always helps in pulling onto the next run or sprinting to jump on a wash. Short flat-out efforts (1 minute or less) with at least double rest are advisable.
Health • Tim Altman
It is very important to get plenty of sleep in the two weeks
It’s not advisable to drink alcohol for a few days before a race.
prior to a race. Even though training lightens up and you
It will dehydrate you and the strain it puts on the body (to
will not feel the need for as much sleep, the most important
metabolise it) can drain energy and sap the immune system.
thing is to keep rested to avoid the immune system being compromised and – worst nightmare – you end up sick on the day. The additional rest also allows your body to freshen up, which equates to extra speed when you need it.
Caffeine A caffeine hit can be useful on race day. It can enhance endurance performance in athletes by increasing fat utilisation (for energy) and decreasing glycogen utilisation. It also wards off drowsiness and increases alertness. The ideal dosage of
Major adjustments to your diet should only occur in the last
caffeine on race day is 2.1mg per 1kg of body weight. More than
couple of days prior to a race. For a long event – of two hours
this offers no further advantage, so there’s no need to overdo it.
or more – carbohydrate loading is useful. This simply involves raining carbohydrate intake significantly higher than is usually
Feeding & Drinking
consumed. Whilst grains are an obvious choice, 100% whole
While you should have been practicing your feeding and
grains are far better than refined grains (white flour or rice) as
drinking routine during your longer paddles before the two-
they offer much greater nutritional value in the form of fibre
week countdown to a big race, this time can be an opportunity
and micronutrient content (vitamins and minerals), which are
to perfect or tweak your routine. This can be the difference
vital for energy production and preventing cramps. There’s
between a pleasurable experience and a great performance,
no need to make things too complicated in regards to the
and a frustrating, uncomfortable, long hard day in the boat •
percentage of carbohydrates to protein and fat and so on – just have more. It’s the one time where you can indulge in that coffee scroll all in the name of performance.
Tim Altman (B.Sc, B. H.Sc Naturopathy) is a practicing naturopath who has been paddling kayaks, surf skis and ocean skis for 29 years and coaching for over 10 years. Since 2009 he has been the head ski paddling coach at Torquay Surf Life Saving
Water consumption should be adequate prior to the event –
Club. He represented Australia twice in sprint kayaking and
especially in the morning prior (where you may be a bit toey
competed in Surf Lifesaving at a national level for many years.
and might not feel like drinking). If you feel the need to urinate
Tim owns and operates We Paddle
in the first 30 minutes of your event, that’s a sign you’ve had enough to drink. If not, you’ve probably not had enough.
An introduction to Whitewater Racing Winter is well and truly on its way in the southern states of Australia and La Niña has been partying hard throughout the country for months, spilling cloud juice all over the place – happy days for those who like their water white and their rivers flowing hard. If you’re new to the aquatic rodeo that is whitewater paddling, however, there are some foundation skills that it’s essential you learn, even before taking on rivers with moderately low-level rapids. Here Jarad Kohlar provides an overview to the skills he teaches in Peak Adventure’s Introduction to Whitewater course. It’s aimed primarily at multisport adventures who will be facing river runs and rapids during upcoming races, but there are valuable lessons here for anyone interested in whitewater basics. There are many reasons people may want to pick up some whitewater paddling skills – some have been sea kayaking for years and want to try something new and challenging, others are training for events such as Marysville to Melbourne, the Avon Descent, Upper Murray Challenge, Murray Marathon or the Coast to Coast in NZ, which all involve paddling stage along rivers with some rapids. Still more have been inspired by the escapades of elite paddlers, and they’re taking their first steps on the road to more full-on whitewater experiences. Whatever your motivation, however, fast-flowing rivers and even gentle-looking rapids can be cold-hearted killers if you don’t know how to approach them and what to avoid.
Peak Adventure is about taking people into the outdoors, pushing physical limits and having a great time. Jarad Kohlar is one of Australia’s elite Adventure Racing athletes and is here to help you achieve your AR, fitness and sporting goals.
The Basics An intro to whitewater course will teach you key fundamentals, such as basic whitewater paddling strokes, how to pick the race line, how to signal to other paddlers (to say you’re okay, or that you’re in difficulty) and, most importantly, how to read the river and identify snags, eddies and strainers. You’ll learn how to deal with grade 1 and 2 rapids. These look relatively benign from the bank but can still present challenges for those new to this kind of paddling.
Getting Started Winter is the best time to begin your initiation to whitewater, because there is increased river flow and the ocean is too cold for some people to comfortably paddle. River water is cold too, of course, and you will get wet as you hone your skills, so I strongly recommend that all paddlers wear a wetsuit or a drysuit with good booties and gloves. You should make sure you have warm dry clothing to put on at the end of your lesson, and you’ll burn more energy than you might expect, so take some food along. Those training for a multi-sport race might want to practice paddling wearing their bike helmet. All reputable course providers, Peak Adventure included, will supply other requisite equipment and safety gear required, such as a kayak, pfd, paddling helmet, appropriate clothing if needed, first aid kit, a comprehensive risk management plan and qualified instructors.
Skills Clinic • by Jarad Kohlar
The Boat There are many kinds of whitewater paddling – from creeking to playboating to racing – and hundreds of different designs of boat. My courses are primarily designed for people training for races that include river sections, and we use basic whitewater racing craft like the Finn Endorfinn and Finn Mark 2. Both these boats have been made to go fast down whitewater rivers. You’re going to encounter rocks, so you certainly want a plastic boat with a trailing rudder.
Basic Skills and Water Safety Like stripes on a zebra, every single rapid is different. I teach students how to find the race line in each rapid. The core principle is to stay in the main flow of the river – ie aim for the V in the rapid – however sometimes you might need to head river left or right due to a snag 50 or 100 metres downstream. You always need to look ahead, and in some cases you’ll need to get out recce what is coming up around the next corner. If you’re racing, don’t leave your first run along the river until race day – do your research and, if possible, paddle the race section a week or so prior to the event. It’s essential to stay calm while paddling. You need to be able to keep your boat under control at all times. Never grab hold of overhanging branches or obstacles encountered on the river, as this will simply pull you out of your boat and potentially place you in danger.
If you are tipped out of your boat, float feet first (your head is the most important part of your body – don’t put it in the firing line to bounce off rocks). Try to keep your bum off the bottom of the river and avoid hitting rocks. You can protect yourself by kicking off rocks with your feet and guiding your downriver direction with your swimming hands – this is called the safety position. Move towards the bank when it is safe to do so (when there are no strainers). Strainers are the biggest danger in most southern state rivers, due to the high amount of trees along riverbanks. A strainer is an obstacle, such as a downed tree, that water can move through but you can’t. They can trap people and act like a sieve. Even on relatively slow flowing rivers, the water that builds up behind a paddler caught in a strainer can exert enormous force, pinning the person to the obstacle and potentially drowning them. Even after completing a course, never paddle whitewater alone, and always carry safety equipment such as a throw rope so you can assist your buddy if they get into difficulty.
The Deets Location Peak Adventure conduct whitewater courses on the Upper Yarra River and the Thompson River Duration 4–6 hours Cost $100–$200, depending on location Next courses June, July, August, September. See website for dates.
ON A ROLL Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson are world experts in Greenland paddling and rolling techniques. Recently they visited Australia to conduct a series of skills clinics and demonstrate the millenniaold skills that they are helping to keep alive. Paddlemag caught up with them to find out just how much weâ€™ve got to learn from Qajaq culture.
CHECK OUT footage from Cheri and Turnerâ€™s visit to Melbourne
Be patient – keep learning
Cheri: Greenland Qajaq culture represents the original and definitive skill set of the kayak. You learn to roll first, you learn to roll well from every angle, and then you go paddling.
T: Learning the foundation rolls requires good instruction and good practice of the basic concepts, but once you’ve got these three rolls on both sides, capsizing will become less of a worry and you can challenge yourself more with your paddling. Mastering the entire list is well beyond most human beings – it’s that difficult. And that’s partly the point of it.
Turner: The methods of training are age-old and take advantage of many generations of on-the-water experience. We put rolling up on a pedestal and make it an advanced skill. These guys were sewn into their kayaks – they had to learn to roll first.
History and the List T: Most rolls have a basis in hunting situations, where a capsize often involved being in unusual paddle positions, being entangled in gear, or being in specific conditions such as a steep beam sea. However, some rolls on the list almost certainly came from people just showing off. C: There are many different ways of rolling because there are so many ways to capsize. Chasing the ‘rolling list’ helps you think underwater, and as a result of that training you develop patience. Eventually the rolls just happen naturally, like breathing.
The basics T: In the stage between capsize and recovery, Greenland rolling sees the paddler present their upper torso flat to the water, either on their back or on their chest. When you organize your body in the correct way, it takes advantage of the body’s natural buoyancy in the water and makes rolling much easier. C: Most of the rolls we teach can be described in the very simplest terms thus: Use your body’s natural ability to float, keep your head neutral to initiate leg drive, then drop your head deep into the water (either forward or backwards, depending on your intended finish position) to recover.
Selection C: We typically teach the Standard Greenland Roll first because it’s easy to learn and will serve you well, but it’s not the best roll in all situations. Use a storm roll (forward start and forward finish) when you’re going out through surf to avoid getting pounded in the chest by waves, and to come up facing forward and ready to paddle. The Reverse Sweep Roll is the opposite of SGR. It’s the roll you want when you find yourself on the back deck.
Getting started T: Leaning three paddle rolls, on both sides, is great foundation skill-set. The Standard Greenland Roll is the initial layback roll that sets the tone for all other layback rolls. The reverse sweep is the foundation aft-capsize to forward-finish roll, and the storm roll is the foundation forward-capsize to forward-finish roll.
Flexibility and technique T: Flexibility certainly helps, but the most important attribute is good body awareness, understanding the mechanics of each roll, and good practice. C: The further down the list you go the more strength and flexibility is required. Everyone can benefit from yoga; it provides balance to the body, strength where you are weak and flexibility where you are tight.
Basic principles of how to do a Greenland roll T: Move the kayak first, take your head out of the water last – that’s the fundamental notion that helps you succeed in rolling. That and taking advantage of your body’s buoyancy in the water. C: We highly recommend you practice out of the water with land drills that simulate rolling and remind you what to do in water.
Mistakes T: Using the wrong muscles in the wrong way is the most common route to failure. There’s also a very popular misunderstanding about the real nature of rolling a kayak: it’s more what the body does, not what you do with the paddle. Use your core strength instead of over-emphasizing your arm strength. C: Picking up the head and engaging two legs instead of one are both common mistakes. It’s important to learn to relax and just use the few muscles you need, instead of sabotaging your roll by using too much muscle.
The kayak T: The skin-on-frame kayak (SOF) or other low volume kayak where the fit is intimate, where the kayak becomes an extension of your legs, is an ideal pathway, but many Greenland rolls can be done in many different kayaks. All kayaks can be rolled. C: A good SOF, a tuiliq and a skinny stick ought to be used by all paddlers at some point in their lives, just so they experience how it all began. In Greenlandic SOFs you sit differently. Legs are straighter, not froggy style. The kayak is attached to your thighbones, not your knees, which is key, as there are then no hip restrictions. Foot bracing becomes less important. You feel the waves through the skin…it’s a completely different experience.
WATCH Cheri do a straightjacket roll (no paddle, no arms)
Traditional paddle vs modern designs T: The skinny stick is an archetype that comes down to us through time, impregnated with many generations of day-in and day-out experience, optimized for ease of rolling and ease on the skeletal structure in its foundation strokes and braces. It can be used efficiently in almost all sea states. It’s a very simple and elegant tool that defines the ‘form follows function’ credo. C: Four power faces, four back faces, no wrong way around… simple! The stroke with the Greenland blade is completely different than with the Euro. The forward, canted stroke is powerful and smooth, the entry is a quiet slice, the power phase is later and the stroke is longer. For me, the skinny stick is magical. It constantly teaches you about simplicity. You just need to be open and listen.
Other gear T: The norsaq is a hunting tool used to extend the range of a harpoon toss. This (or its cousin, the rolling stick) is a transitionary tool between performing paddle rolls and hand rolls. C: A tuiliq (hooded jacket that seals tightly around the face and wrists and attaches directly to the cockpit of the kayak) is a really nice item to add. It gives a sense of freedom in the cockpit, and the buoyancy shifts around to different parts of the body.
The DVD Cheri and Turner have recently made a DVD, This is the Roll, with highly-regarded paddling filmmaker Justine Curgenven. Beautifully filmed in Canada, Italy and the UK, the DVD provides two-and-half hours of detailed instruction on Greenland rolling techniques, and bucketloads of inspiration to get out there, seize a norsaq and get into it. For details on where to buy it, check out:
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Profile: Global Paddler • story + photos by Pat Kinsella
escape artist THIS MIGHT BE A BIG BROWN LAND, BUT THERE ARE MYRIAD WATERWAYS TO EXPLORE OUT THERE – YOU’VE JUST GOT TO KNOW WHERE TO LOOK. OR YOU COULD LET SOMEONE ELSE DO ALL THE HARD WORK FOR YOU, AND THEN FOLLOW IN HIS WELL-RESEARCHED WAKE. PADDLEMAG GETS ON THE WATER WITH THE GLOBAL PADDLER, A BLOKE WHO IS DISCOVERING THE WORLD ONE RIVER (LAKE, INLET, ESTUARY) AT A TIME, AND THEN SHARING THE LOVE.
“It’s not just about the paddling,” says Scott Rawstorne, as he tops up our plastic mugs with a squirt of boxed red and settles back in his camping chair. “I don’t necessarily get excited about the prospect of sitting in a kayak day after day, but it’s what I see and experience while I’m paddling that makes it such a special way to travel, and such a satisfying thing to share.” Scott is the Global Paddler. Although he has kayaked all around the world – and has footage on his YouTube channel to prove it – he’s the first to admit that the name is a little misleading. Because Scott doesn’t traverse the planet on epic multi-year paddling expeditions, he does quite the opposite: he explores the aquatic features of his own backyard (which is, admittedly, a large one, in the shape of Australia), and translates his findings into a series of comprehensive and highly practical guidebooks, so that others may follow in his paddlestrokes. He’s the hidden hero of the everyman paddler; a source of inspiration for the person who simply wants to jump in (or on) a kayak and escape into the arms of an afternoon paddle, where there’s no one to race, just waterways to be explored and wildlife to be encountered. The kayak doesn’t have to be high-end and the paddle doesn’t have to be carbon, so long as the boat floats and the book stays dry enough to read, you’re away.
Recreational paddling is a stealth pursuit, even if you don’t intend it to be. “You see so much from a kayak, because your approach is so quiet and calm,” says Scott. “Especially birds. I see so many different kinds of birds while I’m researching my guides. On Lake Maraboon, near Emerald in Queensland, I once paddled right into the midst of 300 brolgas.” He’s had other, slightly more confronting encounters, such as with a crocodile in Lake Julius, but Scott reckons he’s never felt in any danger in all the years he’s been paddling and researching his guides around Australia. Although his focus is very much on punter paddlers and weekend wanderers, this is a guy who knows his boats. In another lifetime, Scott spent six years as a paddling guide, for companies including Sydney Harbour Kayaks. He has also done stints selling kayaks for a living, and spent time as a rep for Perception.
WATCH SCOTT going truly global, kayaking through
“I noticed that when people were buying a kayak, they wouldn’t ask me anything about the product, they’d spend all their time seeking advice about where to go and use it,” he recalls. He also put in 20 years as a business analyst, but eventually the pull of the outdoors convinced him to chuck in corporate life, pick up a paddle and take a chance on his hunch that there was a gap in the market for someone who could tell kayakers exactly where to go. “Best decision I ever made,” he grins over the top of the vino mug. “I love the fact that this is my office now.” We’re in a campsite on the Glenelg River, which flows through a breathtaking gorge that forms part of the border between Victoria and South Australia. Scott is doing what he does best, researching a guide, and I’ve come along for the ride. The night is star-splattered, the forecast is for a perfect day tomorrow, and the stretch of the Glenelg River I’ve seen so far has been eyewateringly sensational. It’s hard to argue with his logic – this is a quality workspace.
AND.... in the Fjords of Norway
the canals of Venice
GLOBAL PADDLER’S TOP FIVE PADDLES Shoalhaven Gorge, NSW Illawarra: There’s something very special about this gorge – a communion with nature that rejuvenates your spirit and makes your heart sing. Lake Dunn, QLD Central West: A wonderful paddling opportunity hidden away in desert country 68km northeast of Aramac. This amazing oasis is fringed by river red gum and coolibah trees and frequented by countless native birds and animals. To paddle it is to be enthralled by a succession of unique and inspirational moments. Lake Wetherell, NSW Lower Western: A truly stunning place. Outback light frames endless silhouettes of floodplain trees protruding from the water. These trees are an eerie reminder of the past and home to wonderfully vibrant birdlife. Clarrie Hall Dam, NSW Northern Rivers: A peaceful spot, wrapped in blankets of thick forest and cradled in the protective arms of Wollumbin (Mount Warning), the towering patriarch of mountains. It’s not the largest lake in NSW, but it might just be the most scenic. Lake Borumba, QLD Wide Bay & Burnett: Densely forested hills rise up on all sides, wildlife put on regular show stopping performances, and every scene deserves a photograph.
It all started in 2008, when Scott and a friend undertook an expedition in rural New South Wales where they did 40 paddles in 40 days and visited 40 pubs in the process. “You have to include the pubs,” he laughs. “I still include a local pub in my guides now. That’s where you get all the inside knowledge and meet the real people. In fact, a press release had done the rounds, and often people recognised us the minute we walked into the bar.” They completed their mission and paddled every single consecutive day – although it was so cold on Lake Eucumbene they had to paddle in snowboarding gloves, and they faced golf-ball-sized hailstones in Gundagai and 50 knot winds on Wentworth Falls Lake. Exactly why they chose to undertake such an expedition in the middle of winter in alpine waterways isn’t quite clear, but they did. And that led to more paddles, more research and eventually the formation of a guide-writing business, Escapology, and the publishing of a popular book, Paddling Around New South Wales, which contained details of 78 different paddles. Soon after that, Scott parted company with his old paddling partner and went solo as the Global Paddler. He began producing Queensland guides, and is now in the process of researching a series of Victorian paddles. Many of his Queensland guides are already available as pdfs from his website, globalpaddler.com.au, and the books are in the production stage. After Victoria he has big plans for Tasmania, Western Australia and New Zealand too, but right now we have a border to paddle across.
“I’M PRETTY PROUD OF THIS COUNTRY NOW THAT I’VE SEEN SO MUCH OF IT IN SUCH A GREAT WAY.”
The guides don’t discriminate against any form of paddler. Scott is commonly pictured in a sea kayak, but you could easily do the vast majority of his trails on a SUP, a sit-on-top (like we’re both on today), or a Canadian canoe. “For me, stand-up paddle boards and plastic sit-on-top kayaks are putting more fun back into paddling,” he says.
And then there’s a section of the river where paddlers have to hug one bank, because it’s a designated water-skiing spot. Scott initially isn’t too comfortable with that, but after we launch he’s soon mollified by the staggering beauty of the gorge that we find ourselves kayaking through. There’s no skiers around today anyway, just a few school groups in canoes.
This paddle along the Glenelg is a perfect example. We do a return trip of around 16km, which takes around three and half hours at a relaxed and sociable speed, with time for lunch and to stretch our legs shortly after we’ve crossed into South Australia (and put our watches back half an hour). Although we’re on a river, it’s tidal here and the flow is negligible, so it is possible for anyone to paddle it on pretty much any craft.
“You have to have some rules to ensure the quality of the experience,” explains Scott. “I won’t include a paddle if it’s terrible, or if I discover that it’s less than two hours long. The only exception with that is if there are several nice short paddles near each other.”
If we’d had four or five days to spare, we could have started much further up and followed the river right down to the sea, as there are canoeist’s campsites all along the lower part of the Glenelg from Dartmoor to Nelson. The vast majority of Scott’s guides are day-trips, however, as that’s what he believes his audience is primarily interested in, and he will only write up the section of the river that we actually paddle. He locates and researches lakes, rivers, estuaries and inlets in a variety of ways – tapping into local knowledge, scouring old maps and guidebooks, receiving tip-offs and by poring over Google Maps – but Scott insists on paddling every metre of water himself before including it in a guide. “I think some guidebooks are written by people who haven’t been to the places they’re describing – and that’s totally wrong,” he says. “There are many things you can’t see on a map, and remote research will never reveal everything. The success of my guides depends on the quality of the information I provide people.” The Glenelg, again, serves up a good example. Our intended putin point for the day’s paddle, right by the campsite at Princess Margaret Rose Cave, is inaccessible by car, but the friendly Parks ranger offers to take our kayaks down on his quad bike. Scott isn’t happy with that though, pointing out: “If he’s not here when readers turn up with their kayaks, they’re not going to be able to launch. I need to know people can be self-sufficient.” So we drive a few kilometres upriver to a spot where anyone can get their boats to the water’s edge and put in.
“There are benefits to coming and actually paddling all the trails too. Besides the fact that it’s enjoyable, you can find some real hidden gems than no map or guide can tell you about. I went and researched a trail at Chinaman Creek Dam and it was too short, so I didn’t write it up. But nearby I discovered a great paddling route that no one seems to have ever heard about.” Aside from inlets, Scott sticks primarily to flat water. He avoids sending people down rapids or into the sea. “The vast majority of people paddle inland, or very close to shore,” he says. “Not many do real sea kayaking, headland to headland stuff. I’m wary of the dangers of sending people out into the ocean, and besides – everyone knows where the sea is. I produce guides to spots that paddlers don’t already know about.” And so, four years after setting up his work desk on the wandering waterways of Australia, is he happy with the view outside his office window? “I’m not jingoistic, but I’m pretty proud of this country now that I’ve seen so much of it in such a great way. The diversity of the terrain I’ve paddled through is just amazing, from the rainforests of Queensland to the limestone cliffs down here, I’m very lucky to have experienced and seen so many things from the water. I just hope I can spread my enthusiasm for paddle travel to other people, through my writing”• Check out the Parks Victoria guide for more information about paddling the Glenelg River Find the Global Paddler online at globalpaddler.com.au For a taste of what the Global Paddler offers through his guides, read on through pages 100-105.
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WATERWAYS The Paddle trail guide Yeah, you could just take your kayak, sit-on-top or paddleboard down to the local beach as usual, and put in your standard few kays going up and down that familiar coastline. Itâ€™s great just being outside, and you might even spot a dolphin, but you know there are some more intriguing waterways out there waiting to be paddled - rivers you can link together to do a point-to-point mini expedition, or a lake teeming with birdlife that youâ€™ve never explored. But how to go about finding such places? And how will you know where you can put-in and pull-out? And is there a pub nearby for that post-paddle debrief? Check out our series of paddling trail guides for all the inspiration and information you need to get out there and paddle beyond your normal horizonline.
Waterways Words + Photographs by Scott Rawstorne
Bruns ESSENTIALS WATERWAY: Brunswick River REGION: Northern Rivers, NSW DISTANCE: 20km TIME: 4 hours START: Boat Ramp near boat harbour, Old Pacific Hwy, Brunswick Heads
GPS: 28 32’ 2.08” S, 153 32’ 39.03” E FINISH: Return to start PARKING: Small car park, can get busy on summer weekends
TOILETS: Brunswick Heads boat harbour & Heritage Park in Mullumbimby
CONDITIONS: Open areas, tidal, light traffic, shallow areas
GETTING THERE: Directions to Brunswick Heads are available at
www.maps.google.com.au This paddle trail was supplied by the Global Paddler. For a map to accompany this trail, more information about surrounding paddles, and many more options, visit
The Byron Shire is an incredibly gorgeous part of NSW, but to really appreciate its inner beauty you need to grab a boat and take the scenic route from Brunswick Heads to Mullumbimby. The Brunswick River is that rare find, a tidal estuary that stretches between two towns. So, if you’re prepared to do a car shuffle, you can decide which end to start (dependent on the tide) and always have the assistance of the flow. If a shuffle isn’t possible, simply time your start so you turn when the tide does. This guide covers the return journey from Bruns to Mullum, as the locals affectionately know these places, and starts at the boat ramp just west of the Boat Harbour on the Old Pacific Highway. To start at Mullum, use the boat ramp in Heritage Park, on the confusingly named Brunswick Terrace. After launching, paddle towards and under the bridge that carries the new Pacific Highway over the river. Obstacles to look out for in the early part of the paddle include oyster beds and the occasional fishing line hanging over the side of a tinnie. Mangrove Island temporarily divides the river shortly after the bridge. The deeper water is to the left but a kayak or canoe can usually pass either side. The name Mullumbimby derives from the language of the Bundjalung people, and means ‘small round hill’. There is little doubt they were referring to the conical Mt Chincogan standing above the town. The peak is occasionally visible early in the paddle but it’s not until further inland that you realise what a distinctive landmark it is. In September, locals pay homage to the 308–metre–tall mountain with the Chincogan Fiesta, which features a foot race to the top of the mountain. That is the only time you can go up there, as it’s on private property. There’s really only one place where you could make a wrong turn and that’s where Kings Creek meets the river. It’s an obvious fork;
swick River just remember to go to the right when you get there. Closer to town, you’ll pass under a historic red railway bridge – part of a railway line from Casino to Murwillumbah that opened in 1894 and ran until 2004. Many hope that the trains will come rolling into town again one day. You’ll know you’ve reached Heritage Park when a small, dirt boat ramp appears on your left. This is the more tranquil end of the park, which features over 200 species of rainforest plants, all labelled. After that simply jump back in your boat and make the return journey to the seaside at Brunswick Heads, where there are heaps of great cafés and restaurants.
MORE INFORMATION PADDLE GEAR & ADVICE: Global Paddler / 0413 756 414
globalpaddler.com.au BED: Massey Greene Holiday Park, Tweed St, Brunswick Heads, (02) 6685 1329
FOOD: Rice (Indonesian), 18 Mullumbimby St, Brunswick Heads, (02) 6685 1111
PUB/HOTEL: Hotel Brunswick, Mullumbimby St, Brunswick Heads, (02) 6685 1236
OTHER PADDLES CLOSE BY: Simpsons Creek, Marshalls Creek
MULLUM2BRUNS PADDLE The third Mullum2Bruns Paddle is being held on Sunday 27 May, and this year will include a new Paddle 2 Fitness Extreme Challenge. This eco-friendly community event saw 667 paddlers take part across all divisions last year. The main events begin at Heritage Park in Mullumbimby and conclude at the Terrace in Brunswick Heads, with live music, free paddle clinics, a duck race, raffle, BBQs and other festivities. The Mullum2Bruns Paddle offers divisions for recreational and competitive paddlers of all ages and abilities, including: The Paddle 2 Fitness Extreme Challenge: In which paddlers contest a 20km course from Brunswick to Mullumbimby and back again. 10km Hotel Brunswick Paddle Challenge: An open division paddle down the river from Mullumbimby to Brunswick Heads. 10km Sprint Rescue Stand Up Paddle Challenge For SUPers, along the same course. 10km Echo Fun Paddle For any non-motorised craft, along the same course at their own pace. For more info, check out Mullum2Bruns Paddle online:
Mullum2Bruns Paddle 2012 1 03
Waterways Words + Photographs by Scott Rawstorne
Lake ESSENTIALS WATERWAY: Noosa River, Lake Cooroibah REGION: Southeast Coast, QLD DISTANCE: 17km return TIME: 3.5 hours START: Riverside beach, Gympie Terrace, (east of Noosa River Yacht Club), Noosaville
GPS: S 26o 23’ 50.44” / E 153o 3’ 20.33” FINISH: Return to start PARKING: Small car park TOILETS: Near start and near western ramp of car ferry
CONDITIONS: Some open areas, tidal, some heavy traffic, some shallow areas
GETTING THERE: Directions to Gympie Terrace, Noosaville are available at
www.maps.google.com.au 10 4
If a survey was done to find the top holiday destination in Australia, Noosa would be one of the favourites. The leading light of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is blessed with dazzling beaches, some of the best surf breaks in the country, a gorgeous headland, a national park where you can go koala spotting on five excellent walking tracks, and of course the Noosa River – arguably its finest feature. Some come to fish, some come to sail, and some take advantage of the cruise boats that swan up and down this sparkling waterway. The wild at heart grab a kayak and ride the rising tide to places unreachable by any other means. The starting point for this trip is just east of the Noosa River Yacht & Rowing Club. A parking area and public toilets make this a convenient spot, although there are parks and sandy places to launch all along the waterfront in Noosaville, so you can take your pick. Kayak ownership is not a prerequisite for paddling at Noosa either. It is possible to hire one locally. The plan is to paddle upstream to the far side of Lake Cooroibah and back. Follow the main course of the Noosa River the whole way and you will have a great day, but the true delights are in the details – behind that island, up that creek, in that lake. Those experiences are unique to your day on the water and they’re the ones you’ll remember later. There are three islands to circumnavigate – Goat, Sheep, and Makepeace. Makepeace Island used to be called Pig Island, but when Old MacDonald moved out they didn’t feel the need to stick with the farmyard theme and used the owner’s surname instead. True story. Makepeace Island is now
Cooroibah owned by billionaire Richard Branson who has developed it as a free holiday resort for Virgin Blue employees. Other interesting places to explore include the residential canal system, Doonella Lake, and Wooroi Creek. The
MORE INFORMATION PADDLE GEAR & ADVICE: Global Paddler / 0413 756 414
entrances to each of these are on the left side as you make
your way up the river.
BED: Noosa Caravan Park,
Right next to Wooroi Creek, the Noosa North Shore Car
143 Moorindil Street, Tewantin, (07) 5449 8060
Ferries takes traffic across the river 365 days a year, departing every six minutes. This is the only vehicle access for homes
FOOD: Blue Angel
on the eastern side of the river. There’s also a 50km stretch of beach over there that’s popular with the 4WD crowd.
235 Gympie Tce, Noosaville, (07) 5473 0800
The ferry uses cables that run down into the water in front
PUB/HOTEL: Noosa River
and behind. These are hazardous for kayakers so make sure not to get too close when you cross its path. If necessary,
Yacht & Rowing Club, Gympie Tce, Noosaville, (07) 5449 8602
you can use any delay to go for a comfort stop. There’s a
OTHER PADDLES CLOSE BY:
toilet near the western ramp.
Islands of Bli Bli, North Maroochy River
The open water of Lake Cooroibah is just 1.5 kilometres further on. Cooroibah Creek is in the southwest corner of the lake but difficult to reach with even the highest of tides. Most of it is extremely shallow but a channel has been carved through the centre to cater for sightseeing ferries. Cruise up to the northern rim and relax for a while before heading home.
This paddle trail was supplied by the Global Paddler. For a map to accompany this trail, more information about surrounding paddles, and many more options, visit
www.globalpaddler.com.au 1 05
Australian Formula 1 driver Mark Webber and elite adventure athlete Guy Andrews paddling hard around Tasmaniaâ€™s Freycinet Peninsular during the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. Photograph by Juris Puisens
WATCH footage from the event
Michael Lyddiard lost an eye and most of his right arm when a bomb blew up in his face in Afghanistan. During the Magnetic Island Adventurethon in March, Michaelâ€™s prosthetic failed after 4km. It was a 13km paddle and he completed the lot. Photograph by David Brock
WATCH Bobby’s mates run the Potomac River
Fluid paddler Bobby Miller takes his new Bazooka over Angel Slot on the Potomac River in Maryland. Check out Bobby’s review of the Fluid Bazooka on page 68 of this edition Photograph by Matt Sloan
Paddle Porn “This was taken one night out the front of Mermaid SLSC during one of our ski training sessions.” Julian from paddle2fitness tells us. “Surf was medium but with a nice steep face. The paddler in the background is Tim, a development ski paddler from the surf club. I was taking him out through the surf and this big one just stood up in front of us. I had my Go Pro on 5-second interval shooting speed, hoping for a nice shot during the hour-long session and when I uploaded the photos back at home I saw this one. A one in a billion shot!” Photograph by Julian
Reigning World Champion Dawid Mocke was in Western Australia to race the Doctor earlier this year. “Because it’s across a channel between Rottnest Island and the mainland, that makes this race pretty cool,” Dawid told Paddlemag after the race. “It’s also super competitive. No one is giving away any favours to others. You’re racing for your spot, and everyone has their ‘hard face’ on. “I was very impressed with [20-year-old Think paddler from the Gold coast] Michael Booth.
He caught up with me. Usually a growl from an experienced paddler like me is enough to drop a young guy like that, but he kept right up with me and had a really great race. He will definitely be paddling star of the future.” Check out edition two of Paddlemag for a feature by Dawid on how to perfect your downwind technique for next year’s Doctor. Photograph by Kate Brockhurst
WATCH a video of the event
Paddle Porn Alaskan kayaker Solan Jensen paddling in Neko Harbour, situated on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photograph by Krystle Wright
Image Rogers Creek, BC, Canada (3x 20ft waterfalls in a row) Photo Jules Domine
JAUNT Australian filmmaker and elite paddler Adrian Kiernan takes us on a jaunt through the backstory of the latest locally produced kayaking film to hit screens all over the world.
Some time ago, after watching yet another Americanproduced kayaking movie, myself and two of my closest buddies decided to make a paddling film ourselves; one with a truly Australian twist. It would be a film we could show to fellow paddlers overseas, and a way to showcase the world-class kayaking we have right here in Australia. Skippy Films Productions had just been conceived. The first film, Downunder the Horizonline was really the pilot project for us. It taught us many skills in editing, production, and opened our eyes to the world of DVD distribution and promotion. The film totally exceeded our expectations after its release. It was showcased in the Reel Paddling Film Festival worldwide; it toured Europe and North America, and appeared on shelves in kayaking stores all over. For the next year we all concentrated on paid work, while exploring a few individual projects, but before long ideas for a new film began to bubble to the surface. My mates were scattered all over the world by this stage, and so the editing was left up to me this time.
WATCH JAUNT the feature film in its entirety
Image Adrian on Mashiter Creek, BC, Canada Photo Jules Domine
Not that I was complaining. I was able to relive all the highlights of my friends’ paddling seasons, adding my own memories to complete the edit. And in January this year, JAUNT was born, the second film released by Skippy Films Productions. JAUNT uses a collection of footage from Sean Boz, Colin Furmston, Jez Blanchard and Canadian freestyle superstar Kelsey Thompson, as well as a huge amount of my own footage. It’s a journey that takes us from the comfort of work and play in North America, Australia and Norway, to remote helicopter access-only rivers in New Zealand and the jungles of Laos. It’s a window into the life of a travelling kayaker. This is an existence that can be addictive, but if it’s money and possessions you seek, then it is definitely not for you. We choose to live like this because – in a time where everything has been explored and the largest mountains summited – deep river canyons have become one of the last places on earth where you can truly experience the unknown. Welcome to our world • Check out White Box Mag, the online paddle sports video magazine that Adrian Kiernan produces: White Box Mag