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PADDLER The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers

BC Darcy Gaechter


The Clore River

NSR ‘16 Bryn Carter

An early Christmas

1st DESCENTS Andrew Regan Paddling with purpose

Issue 29 Late Spring 2016

AFRICAN WW Freestyle development Thrombi X-fest


World Champion, Dane Jackson having fun on the wave, River Nile, Uganda Emily Ward Photography Editor

Peter Tranter Tel: (01480) 465081 Mob: 07411 005824

Advertising sales

Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081


Kayak: Thrombi X-fest, South Africa by Terence Vrugtman Salty: Zadar Archipelago, Croatia by Marko Mrše Canoe: Ain’t Louie Fest, Tennessee, USA by Steve Childs

Not all contributors are professional writers and photographers, so don’t be put off writing because you have no experience! The Paddler ezine is all about paddler to paddler dialogue: a paddler’s magazine written by paddlers. Next issue is Early Summer 2016 with a deadline of submissions on May 20th. Technical Information: Contributions preferably as a Microsoft Word file with 1200-2000 words, emailed to Images should be hi-resolution and emailed with the Word file or if preferred, a Dropbox folder will be created for you. The Paddler ezine encourages contributions of any nature but reserves the right to edit to the space available. Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishing parent company, 2b Graphic Design Limited. The publishing of an advertisement in the Paddler ezine does not necessarily mean that the parent company, 2b Graphic Design Limited, endorse the company, item or service advertised. All material in the Paddler ezine is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission from the editor is forbidden.

Issue 29 Late Spring 2016

004 The Paddler’s Planet By Christian Wagley

006 Slime is 70

By Dave Manby and friends

008 Iconic Paddlers No.3

Johann Klepper by Steffan Meyric Hughes

011 Seasonal delights

The good, the bad and the ugly by Sonja Jones

020 Coaching

Mental toughness by Dave Rossetter

026 Testing, testing

Plenty of kit reviewed by our contributors

040 Behind the lens

First of a photography series by Dave Wortley

050 Be prepared – stay safe

No. 1 of a safety coaching series by Chris Brain

060 United States

The work of First Descents by Andrew Regan

072 Uganda

ICF freestyle development camp by Beth Ward

082 United Kingdom

2016 National Student Rodeo by Bryn Carter

094 South Africa

Thrombi X-fest 2016 by Luke Longridge

104 Canada

The Clore River, BC by Darcy Gaechter

112 United Kingdom

Devizes to Westminster race by Peter Hutchison

120 United Kingdom

Maunsell sea forts by Richard Harpham

126 Croatia

Islands of the Zadar Archipelago by Marko Mrše

136 Peru

Riding the Humboldt by Nathan Eades

148 Bolivia

Exploring the Rio Enatahua by Simon Chapman

160 United States

Ain’t Louie Fest,Tennessee by Steve Childs

170 Coaching

Effective tandem forward paddling by Paul Bull




The clean energy revolution

As I paddle across my favourite waterways, I’m constantly reminded of the gentleness with which my kayak and I flow across the water. Using only my own muscles I travel quietly and cleanly across the water, leaving nothing but a fleeting wake. A few moments after I pass, it’s as if I was never there. For more information on how you can participate wherever you may be on the Planet visit Stay tuned for my weekly podcast of The Paddler’s Planet with my guest host Christian Wagley on, “Where we are Standing Up for the Planet!”

But it’s not people power that runs most of our world—it’s the fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas. And these fuels leave behind a massive environmental footprint, from exploration to extraction and combustion to disposal. It’s the use of energy that impacts nearly every part of our natural environment, including the waters we love, and makes energy the epic environmental issue of our time. Paddling in the bays, bayous, and Gulf of Mexico waters near me—the impacts of energy are everywhere. In the bayou closest to me the bottom sediments are contaminated by hydrocarbons from decades of dripping oil and leaking gasoline from millions of automobile miles driven across the watershed. Once I leave the bayou and enter the open bay waters, many of the finfish are contaminated by mercury from years of burning coal in upwind power plants, and nutrients that cause the overgrowth of tiny algae also come in on the wind from burning

of fossil fuels. In the Gulf of Mexico, many miles of bottom are smothered by oil left from the 2010 BP oil tragedy—the worst environmental disaster in American history. All of this fossil energy culminates in the ultimate issue of climate change, the potentially catastrophic planetary warming driven by the profligate use of fossil fuels. Despite the massive and pervasive impacts of fossil fuel energy, we often allow ourselves to be distracted by the more mundane—and even petty—issues of the day. That’s because we are emotional creatures, hard-wired to make quick decisions based on the most tangible information immediately before our eyes. The impacts of our addiction to coal, oil, and natural gas are mostly invisible—at least to the naked eye. That allows us to continue the charade of ignoring them. And so we fret about the small but visible— what kind of bag we take from the store and how much of our garbage we recycle—rather than the big things—like our use of energy-that matter most by far. As people who love the water and embrace the wonders of our planet, we must go beyond the easy and tangible to see the invisible. When we actually consider the massive effects of fossil energy on our waters, we can embrace the solution—a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy. This transition is already

underway, but the world’s best scientists say that it has to happen as soon as possible in order to maintain a living planet in the way that we know. I’m visibly reminded of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy when I paddle the waterfront in Pensacola, FL, where I live.The City port is often filled with ships with bizarre arrays of booms and cables that service the oil and gas drilling rigs out in the Gulf.Yet right behind those same ships are stacks of wind turbines manufactured here and on their way to shipment to windier places across the globe, where they will harness clean energy that doesn’t pollute air and water. It’s a dichotomy that represents our changing economy as fossil fuels slowly go away—and with them—so will go away the fouling of our air and water they have brought over the past 150 years. Islands are one place to look for inspiration, as issues of energy use and resource scarcity happen

there first. So when we visit a place like Hawaii, we see solar panels covering every rooftop across entire neighbourhoods, offering a vision of an inevitable future in which our energy comes from the clean and renewable that our planet offers to us every day. Or consider Scotland, which recently burned its last bit of coal, as the country embraces the clean and nearly limitless energy from the wind. We must stay focused, working in each of our communities, wherever we live, to push the inevitable transition that brings home to us the planet’s clean and renewable forms of energy. It will take the collective power of the people— something we know all about as we harness our own clean people power every time we paddle. The clean energy revolution is here, and as paddlers we will benefit tremendously as our waterways revitalize themselves while fossil fuels go the way of the dinosaurs.

© Judith Scott

helps to restore our living planet

Why not join the Marine Conservation Society? The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK charity that protects our seas, shores and marine wildlife, needs your help. With one of the longest coastlines in Europe, the UK has around 1,300 beaches and 8,000 species of marine animals. Yet just 0.01% o of our seas are fully protected. By becoming a member of MCS, your support will help us to:

• • • •

Protect marine wildlife Clear beaches of litter Reduce pollution in our seas Promote sustainable seafood

Join us today and claim your free Rapanui m marine-themed organic cotton T shirt. When you join you will also receive a welcome p pack full of information and gifts, plus four issues of Marine Conservation magazine every year. Marine Conservation Society, Overross House, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR9 7QQ. Telephone: 01989 566017 Registered Charity No: England and Wales: 1004005; Scotland: SC037480.


Raise a glass to Slime…

For those paddlers outside of the UK, Peter Knowles (aka Slime), is a National Treasure in the world of paddling, having put in a lifetime of kayaking rivers across the planet – especially the Himalayan region. He also founded Rivers Publishing and is a prolific writer on paddling subjects as diverse as white water expeditions in Nepal to the best pub paddles in southern England.

However, like us all he is getting older and a few weeks ago it was Peter’s 70th. Suffice to say the man had a great day, lunch with a select few of his oldest paddling friends including Mike and Jill Adams, who go far enough back to have paddled with him in foldbots in the 1950s, John Griffiths and Sue Hornby who knew him from the early 70s and learning to roll with Deptford Swimmers Club.

Over 50 boats paddled out to greet the man in the middle of Coniston Water and then adjourned to the Swallows and Amazons tea rooms for tea and great cakes (thank you Jonathon and Shayla). Chippy Powell (top right) timed his visit to the UK from Canada to coincide with the event and Stephano Costa and Pippa (bottom right) came over from Italy just for the party

Later that evening Ross and Tracy hosted a BBQ and party in their barn. Much catching up and laughter followed until the early hours though the main man sneaked off to his tent some time earlier! A whip round rather than presents was asked for and over £500 pounds was raised to be donated by Slime to his favourite Nepalese charity. Catch a look at the two videos below that Dave Manby put together with images provided by his many friends. Photos: Dave Manby






N o . 3

Fold or bust



Johann Klepper In the same year that Gino Watkins died (1932) kayaking in Greenland, the sport of kayaking was well in the throes of its first great transformation, from finely-built wooden craft constructed in the same manner as rowing boats or yachts, to lighter, folding, skin boats. Johann Klepper, a tailor in Rosenheim, Bavaria, invented the Klepperboot in 1907 and, just 15 years on from the death of the original seed, John ‘Rob Roy’ MacGregor, the kayak had become truly portable. The Klepper, and many other boats from rival manufacturers that followed, is a framework of light wood inserted into an envelope of fabric of some kind to assemble and disassemble the kayak. The klepper used an ash frame and linen skin and in the forested north of the continent became the first sort of craft used for running rapid rivers, as well as the more placid touring practised by MacGregor and his disciples. The reign of the folding skin boats, now largely forgotten (but still manufactured) was in fact the longest so far in the history of kayak building,

even without taking into consideration the very long Inuit tradition. Soon after opening shop, Klepper was producing and selling 90 boats a day, and the era of the folding boat lasted a full half-century until glassfibre began slowly to eclipse it in the early 60s.

Alpine descents

It was the folding boat that popularised kayaking in the pre-war years, the folding kayak that saw first descents on a number of alpine rivers (including parts of the fearsome Inn in Switzerland and Austria), and it was during this era of rapid expansion that the BCU (after a number of fits and starts under the auspices of the Camping Club of Great Britain) first emerged as a fully-fledged independent organisation in 1936.


Far left: Johann Klepper Photo: Städtisches Museum ©OVB


Meanwhile, the northern European nations had stolen a march in the 1920s, practising river running as an off-season alternative to downhill skiing. Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden founded the Internationalen Representation for Kanusport in 1924, which became the ICF (International Canoe Federation) shortly after the war, by which time many other nations, including Britain and the USA, had joined.

1936 Olympics

In Berlin in 1936, canoeing and kayaking races were included in the Olympics for the first time, but only flat-water racing, which had the effect of relegating kayaking, on the world stage at least, to the status of rowing’s weaker sibling. Britain did not medal in any category, a sign of how far behind the curve the country was in the sport at that time. Much of that era remains unrecorded, but it bred at least a few stars such as Carl Luther (German) and Hans W ‘Eddie’ Pawlata and Franz Schulhof, both Austrian. Pawlata former is known among paddlers of a certain age for the invention of an eponymous roll in which the ‘trailing’ hand is placed over the blade for maximum leverage and increased feel, in the sense that you can feel if the working blade is correctly set up on the surface before initiating the sweep. Franz Schulhof is perhaps less well remembered. He came to London before the war under the auspices of his Austrian employer, already the veteran of seven “first descents of Alpine Rapid Rivers” (John Dudderidge). Like Pawlata, he was an early adopter of the roll and reputedly the first to teach it to Britons at the Royal Canoe Club.

Durance and Verdon

Among his other firsts, also according to research by John Dudderidge (we will come across him in his own right later) was organising

the first club ‘Alps trip’ (the Durance and Verdon seem to have been ticked off) and the first slalom event on the Welsh Dee, two things that have become a central part of the British whitewater paddler’s culture. Carl Luther is something of an enigma these days. The German paddler was a prototype whitewater river runner and reportedly his 1921 book Paddling and River Riding was so popular it went through ten print runs. He is also credited with founding the German Canoe Federation in 1926 and was one of the few to take photos of kayakers performing their exploits. The only photo that seems to exist of him depicts him about to paddle off the edge of a 4ft (1.2m) weir, the shape of things to come later – much later. For now, in late-1930s Europe, there was a war to fight. Shortly after that first slalom, Britain declared war on Germany and the skin boat would find a new, covert-operation military function, in the famous tale of Colonel HG ‘Blondie’ Hasler and the ‘Cockleshell heroes’. In writing this article, I am indebted to John Dudderidge’s History of Canoeing and Geoffrey Toye’s article Going Like the Kleppers, published in Classic Boat magazine, July 2007 issue. The only information I could find on Carl Luther comes from the International Whitewater Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 2008. I am aware that there is a rich history of the whitewater pioneers of the 1920s and 30s and would be very grateful of further information in this area.




…The good, the bad, and the ugly There’s nothing more glorious than early spring: the cacophony of the dawn chorus, the splash of a salmon on the spring run and the emergence of new life – from the first daffodil on the riverbank to the birth of baby badgers, bats and birds across the UK. There’s nothing more glorious than early spring: the cacophony of the dawn chorus, the splash of a salmon on the spring run and the emergence of new life – from the first daffodil on the riverbank to the birth of baby badgers, bats and birds across the United Kingdom. But amongst all of this glory is an unspoken spectre; the scourge of rural communities and practices the world over – wildlife crime. Varied in its forms, from poaching to wilful habitat

destruction, early spring is a key time – in line with longer days, cropless fields and the breeding and nesting season for most of our native wildlife. The fight against these crimes is ongoing, driven by a small but effective unit of dedicated police officers in the National Wildlife Crime Unit. After weeks of speculation, we’re thrilled to hear that funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit has been secured until 2020 – a great victory for our UK wildlife; however, they can’t do it alone.

Photo: Osprey Photo: Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group

Sergeant Rob Taylor of North Wales Rural Crime Team says, “The remoteness of wildlife crime is very difficult to monitor and that is why we rely heavily on the public to assist us. Obviously animals can’t talk, and so the victims can’t explain what has happened, so we have to think outside of the box and use other techniques to help our investigations.” As paddlers, throughout the year, we are often in the most remote parts of the UK, and so together, we can be the eyes and ears against these barbaric practices. On the following pages are some of our most magnificent – and persecuted – wildlife to keep an eye out for…



Badger Photo: Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography


This fascinating but too often maligned land mammal can sometimes be spotted at dusk – its tell-tale black and white stripes standing out in the fading light. Badger cubs emerge from the family sett in early spring – making both parents and babies vulnerable to persecution by the barbaric acts of badger baiting, snaring or lamping.

Common pipistrelle bat Photo: Tom Marshall


British bats emerge from hibernation at this time of year, making a welcome appearance hunting insects along our waterways in early evening and into the night. With breeding on the brain, these natural pest controllers are feeding up after their long sleep. Bat hunting and killing are thankfully rare, but disturbance and habitat loss is widespread as are dog and cat attacks.

Seal shooting

The curious eyes of a tag-along seal are one of my most favourite things about sea kayaking, in fact, when paddling between Brixham and Dartmouth fairly recently, we were followed by a very curious critter. I love the way they bob their heads up to suss us bizarre floating humans out, and then dive deep out of sight, to then appear from somewhere else entirely as if by magic. To me, they are the Labradors of the sea. I was horrified to find out that hundreds of seals are killed every year in British waters, mostly for the aim of safeguarding fish farms and salmon stocks. Two-hundred of these were killed legally under licence in Scotland last year, but it is likely that many more again are shot illegally across the UK.

Hundreds of seals are killed every year in British waters, mostly for the aim of safeguarding

fish farms and salmon stocks

Grey seal Photo: Mike Snelle ThePADDLER 13


Freshwater fish

One of my funniest wildlife memories involves a Salmon. Chris Brain and I were paddling down the Dee and as Chris, who was in front of me, was just about to paddle down a weir near Erbistock, at the crucial moment of his boat just about going over, what seemed to be a monster of a salmon jumped into the air next to him and was within centimetres of flicking him on the ear. When he got down, he was in fits of laughter and disbelief and it was the first time I ever thought he may end up taking a swim due to shock. There’s something magical about a surprise encounter with a leaping salmon – and although not quite as big, the spring salmon run brings the potential for amazing wildlife encounters. The lower water levels of summer mean our freshwater fish congregate in pools – making them an easy target for poachers. It’s illegal to catch freshwater fish without a rod licence in England, Wales and the Border Esk region of Scotland..

Raptor persecution

To spot a bird of prey is a true privilege – from the rare aerobatic sky-dance of our harriers to the familiar sight of a distant buzzard circling high in the sky. However, our birds of prey are a key victim of wildlife crime, falling foul of egg poachers, traps, poisoning and shooting. The onset of spring brings the greatest challenges, with nesting season leaving them vulnerable to nest destruction and egg theft. Keep reading for a real life case study on this very matter.

Hen Harrier Photo: Amy Lewis

If you witness or find evidence of a wildlife crime: 1. Never put yourself in danger. 2. If an emergency, call 999. 3. If non-emergency, call 101, recording any key details and taking photos/video if safe to do so.

There’s something magical about a surprise encounter with a

leaping salmon Atlantic salmon Photo: Karl Franz ThePADDLER 15


Derbyshire WildlifeTrust case study

Osprey killed in North Derbyshire – the latest in a line of bird of prey persecution in the county. On September 9th 2015 an osprey was found dead in the Peak District National Park near Glossop, Derbyshire.

The bird, in the photo, had injuries consistent with being caught in a spring trap – a worrying development for birds of prey. Ospreys are rare in Derbyshire but occasionally pass over whilst migrating. Tim Birch, Head of Advocacy and Conservation Strategy at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said, “This is the latest in a long list of crimes against birds of prey in Derbyshire. Being in breeding season we are worried what the spring and summer might bring for these beautiful birds.This latest killing highlights the threat that birds of prey are facing in Derbyshire and beyond.” Two weeks after the discovery of the osprey, a buzzard was found shot dead close to Hurst Reservoir, only a short distance away. This comes after a male peregrine was shot and found dead at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters last year.

Sergeant Rob Taylor of the North Wales Rural Crime Team offers these top tips for reporting a wildlife crime should one be suspected, “It’s important to preserve the scene and contact us immediately. If there is a risk that the potential crime scene may be damaged or destroyed, due to rain or tides, then video and/or photograph what you have got. If there are cars nearby record their registration numbers and anything else obvious. It’s surprising how much you will forget if you don’t record as much as possible immediately. First and foremost make sure you are safe and don’t take risks.”


It’s now time for this issue’s Star Paddler *drum roll please*, introducing,

Lowri Davies, BCU Level 5 Coach, European Freestyle Champion, and the big boss of FlowFree Coaching. Where's your favourite place to paddle in the UK in summer and why?

I love the Dee Valley all year, but the scenery in summer is fantastic. From the river you get green grass and trees in the foreground, with the browns of heather and bracken on the hills split by the shining rock faces along the escarpment. The way the light reflects off the escarpment and lights up the ruins of Dinas Bran. For somewhere so accessible, the Lower Dee (from Llangollen) feels like you are floating through a picturesque scene from an advert and there's a surprising amount of wildlife. If the summer rains come there are loads of fun waves to surf and quite often a stunning sunset to end the day.

Are there any particular wild sightings you look forward to seeing?

Ray Goodwin in a pink canoe! I've been fortunate to spot an otter on the Dee once, but more commonly a range of colourful ducks, pheasants, heron and lambs. The banks of the Dee are also home to miniature ponies and a couple of llamas.

And the most important question you’re planning a day of adventure on the water...what's in your summer time picnic basket?

Depends if I need to carry it in my boat or not. If I am, a pita with hummus, avocado and salad will make me very happy; along with tea from my fancy non-spill travel mug. If food is saved for the take out, the riverside barbecue is always a winner. I hope you enjoyed this issue of Seasonal Delights and that it has inspired you to be ambassadors for the prevention of UK Waterway wildlife crime. Together, we are strong. Sonja Jones (Venture Kayaks Ambassador) Contact: Website:

A special thanks to this issue’s contributors: Emily Cunningham, Living Seas Officer at The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Sergeant Rob Taylor of North Wales Rural Crime Team Lowri Davies, FlowFree



By Dave Rossetter – Head of Paddlespo

Mental toughness This article is back into the realms of the Psychological aspect of coaching. A lot of coaching paddlesport focuses on the technical – “the strokes / manoeuvres and how to do them” or the tactical – “the choice of stroke, timing, angle etc.”This is appropriate but must not exclude physiological or psychological aspects that are equally important. Figure 1 TTPP model

This is often pictured above with the circles showing the overlap and how the four different areas can impact on each other.You can be the best technician or tactician going but with the wrong motivation or psychological aspect then the performance and outcome will not be as desired. An area that is often cited in the media to do with this is that of ‘Mental Toughness’. We here it a lot at the moment with the US Golf Masters having just finishing, where the golfer needs to be mentally tough to handle the pressure going into the last few holes. Or Leicester City coming into the last few games of the football season and sitting top of the league. If they are to win then they must stay mentally tough towards the end. This maybe be true but how do we define this? This though is often difficult. So two questions for us to ponder:

what is mental toughness? How would you be able to recognise someone who is mentally tough or not? This short article is going to look at a case study of someone that I have been coaching (names have been changed). It will help us recognise some behaviours and actions of a paddler.

orts at Glenmore Lodge

Context For the purposes of looking at the area of mental toughness I am confining this article to the area of white water kayaking. The specific environment would be classified as Grade 4-5 water. The international river grading system is from one to six where Grade 6 is listed as the limit of possibility and includes a threat to life. Advanced whitewater kayaking has a large technical and tactical aspect to it. This is from a long list of techniques that are required to successfully control and move the kayak around. However, without the tactical comprehension of river reading and stroke/manoeuvre selection then the outcomes are very unpredictable. The ability to keep focused while the river is raging around you along with the ability to predict what it is doing is vital. Staying sharp over often long committed sections of river with little or no rest points is part of the skills a whitewater kayaker needs to be successful. Add the constant threat to your life if things go wrong would mean that the kayaker needs to have a positive attitude and have mental toughness. In looking at behaviours I am looking at a paddler (Graham) that is working towards a journey to a remote river. The river has had only a handful of successful descents before and I am coaching him towards his goal. When looking into defining it what comes through is some critical areas that we can recognise in paddler(s). These are the four ‘C’s from Clough, Earle and Sewell (2002): Control – the ability to perform and influence and not be controlled.

Challenge – to deal with threats as opportunities and embrace the challenges. Commitment – deeply involved in achieving the goal.

Confidence – the strong self-belief despite the knocks. These are incredibly useful for us as coaches and as paddlers. They allow us to hone in on the observables of our paddler(s) and therefore know where the issues maybe. Bull, Shambrook, James and Brooks (2005) highlight three parts which again will aid us in our observations:

Pressure – to perform for the team even though they are more experienced better paddlers.

Endurance – keep going over the multi-day trip despite the lack of sleep/food.

Danger – remote river with few descents and no guidebook that is at the upper limit of paddling (Grade 4-6). These combine well with the four ‘C’s and when linked they can bring a real understanding of what mental toughness is, how to recognise it (behaviours of paddlers) and therefore areas that we may need to be involved in as coaches.



Definition This would be a prudent time then to give a definition for mental toughness. “The maintenance of goal-driven behaviour despite difficulty.” Calum Arthur, Stirling University. Recognising behaviours

What follows will hopefully bring to life the areas highlighted above. I have taken the time to look at various behaviours that you can then map back to handling of pressure, endurance or danger as areas that define the mental toughness. Then look again at the four ‘C’s. These four areas are crucial in recognising someone who is mentally tough and someone who is not. 1) When training with a group of better (more experience of this type with better technical and tactical skills) paddlers, Graham needs to be able to handle the pressure. I see him constantly engaged with the group and seeking advice from the team but also me as the coach. This confidence in his team and ability to keep a strong focus on the goal show me his mental toughness. This area has improved as to start with he would go quiet and make poor tactical route choices and blamed the others for not supporting him.

2) Graham shows a strong tendency to having an open mind and engage in the training. He shows this by the easy acceptance of new challenges in the training. He treats the change as opportunities and starts to recognise the patterns required to solve and overcome these threats. He will do this by checking on where he should be focused during the manoeuvre or running of the rapid. From this information I can then see him visualising and ‘walking through’ the strokes before starting to paddle.

3) Graham was very dependent on his group around him when paddling. He was a follower and attributed every roll or capsize as the others fault for where they led him. When watching him paddle now I see him following but then making his own decisions based on the information at hand. He is showing that he is in control and can remain influential in the outcome and not just be a passenger.

4) Graham is showing strong tendencies in his focus towards the goal. He will regularly attend the training sessions with new information that he has sourced and willing to share this with me and the other team members. This interpersonal relationship brings cohesion to the team which keeps the goal at the forefront of the mind.

5) The multi-day whitewater kayak expedition is something that needs plenty of endurance both mentally and physically. Graham has spent time working on his physical preparation by attending weekly gym based training sessions. However, from a mental point of view we have been using sections of river that have the harder or more challenging rapids towards the end. He often used to withdraw from the rest of the team and bring a lot of negative chat when we were together. He will now actively bring them together at the start of that section and be the one that will be positive and recognise the need for some motivation – often citing the reason for this and the goal they want to achieve.

6) Expedition whitewater kayaking is committing and has real danger attached to it – often with a risk to life. To even want to take part in this shows some form of thought and recognition of the danger. Graham shows that he is up for it by challenging himself to talk positively often out loud about the focus areas so that he has these cues as an aide memoir prior to starting a run down hard Grade 4-5 water.

7) Being on top of the water is a key to successful paddling. If you get pushed upside down the consequences are unknown. There are rocks in the way plus other debris that can be trapped under the water. If upside down the kayaker needs to either come out of their kayak and swim or complete a roll. Graham has an 80% success rate on his roll. When paddling the harder rapids he will often end upside down. Despite this he keeps working on it. He will practice his roll now at the start of every trip and show real belief in his ability to master his roll so that it is 100%. He also is working hard to avoid the roll and stay in control by repeating rapids where he has gone upside.

8) The commitment to time strokes and get the body ahead of the kayak is crucial in advanced white water. Graham used to make very poor decisions in this aspect and shy away from committing to the stroke. This poor decision often will result in going upside down or pulling away from the harder sections in training. I know will see Graham fully commit to his strokes and also be happier to wait. This state of flow and rhythm in his paddling shows he is aware of the need to perform under pressure and not buckle.

The multi-day whitewater kayak expedition is something that needs plenty of endurance both

mentally and physically



9) His work ethic is phenomenal. He is the first at the training sessions and the last to leave. He often arrives in his paddling gear and will readily inform of the paddling he has done between training sessions. He will have questions that have arisen during his own training as well as thoughts about the previous session/learning worked for him or not.This attention to detail and commitment to training is impressive despite still learning to technically paddle at this grade where he still needs to roll.

10) Paddlers will watch someone run a rapid and base their decision to run or not by how successful the outcome was. Graham is prepared to make his own mind up based on his paddling ability and not of those around him. He needs to be able to watch a performance (often because he is providing safety support for the paddler) and then make his own choice as to what line to paddle. I can now see him reflecting on what he sees and use that to inform his plan. He will use me as someone to download his plan to and describe what he saw but more importantly what he is going to do.


Graham is showing good traits as someone who is mentally tough for the goal of completing this river. He has shown that at times he needed to develop in certain areas and while he still has a way to go in terms of techniques he has all the attributes of someone who will succeed in his goal.


Think back to either you as a performer or the reviews of the football/golf, etc and see if you can spot someone who is mentally tough or not using the four ‘C’s as the framework. As so often the way being able to recognise the issue that needs fixing, is half the battle. Happy paddling.

Dave Rossetter Dave is Head of Paddlesports at Glenmore Lodge – Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre. He has been involved in the development of the new awards and provides expert advice throughout the industry on all things to do with coaching, safety, leadership and personal paddling. He is passionate about all things paddling and specialises in white water kayak and open canoe where he will most often be found.


We are Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre

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LLearn, develop or qualify in an adventure sport of yyour choice. Our goal is to inspire adventure by tteaching beginners, coaching intermediate/advanced aand delivering training and assessment courses for lleaders and instructors.

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01642 520234

Testing, Zet Toro By Phil Carr

The Toro came hot on the heels of the successful Raptor and Director kayaks. Aimed at a wide cross section of paddlers and water conditions, the Toro promised stability with a racing pedigree.The boat I have had for review for the last few months was kindly supplied by North East Kayaks and Paddles. The backrest is one of the best I have used – it’s a great shape with a good balance of support and give. The seat itself is pretty comfy although it doesn’t look like it would be. Rather than being plastic it’s made from closed cell foam that has a textured surface that helps

your backside stay put and the fact that it is foam also has the advantage of being nice and warm. Once set up, the outfitting comfortable and allows you to get a good feel for how the boat is performing/acting and therefore it does its job well. It is really important to try the outfitting out and spend some time with it, rather than dismissing it as being too primitive. On this particular boat a previous user must have knocked one of the foam pillar retainer watcha-cha-me-bobs out of place. A couple of zip ties took care of it. What I have found with the Toro is that the rails used to adjust the reach of the footrest are quite short. I’m 6ft 2 with not the longest of legs (32" inseam) but found myself with the footrest rails set almost at the end of their reach – I had one bolt hole spare! If I were much taller or had a longer inseam then the

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testin Speed is pretty good, enough to give the slalom boys and girls a run for their money. I am sure that we’ll see plenty of Toros gracing the podium of a number of boater cross events this year.

Length Width 268cm 68cm

Volume Weight Weight range 320litres 22kg 65-95kg

dd lers - email us: review s@thep addle rez ine

m .co

Overall I’m pretty impressed with the Zet Toro. However after spending many hours in the boat and the outfitting being simple/effective, I couldn't get my seating position the way I wanted. I prefer my knees to be raised slightly higher, which is not possible due to the thickness of the seat or the profile of the deck depending on the way you look at it. This is a personal preference and would be the only thing stopping me from getting a Toro.

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Despite being 200lbs (near the top end of the suggested weight range), geared up the boat sat nicely in the water. The ‘from the factory’ fore/aft seating position was spot on. The Toro has more rocker than the other kayaks in the Zet range, but not too much and as a result the Toro does boof pretty well.

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On the water the hull felt really stable, probably one of the best hulls I have tried for some time and can understand why so many people like them. It has a good amount of rocker, edges in all the right places and none in the wrong places, resulting in a fast boat that loves to be driven.

ou want yo ion. If y u stat rp st r

footrest system as it is would not accommodate me. A couple of guys I know who are much taller are relying solely on some foam for a footrest.

The Paddle r ez ine te

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Jaybird Wireless X2 headphones By Peter Tranter

Jaybird introduced the popular wireless BlueBuds X in 2012 but advances in technology means it’s time for an update and therefore in comes the Jaybird X2. The X2s still use Bluetooth 2.1 as later versions of Bluetooth adds nothing to sound quality but there are several big improvements over the first generation BlueBuds.



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Still carrying the lifetime guarantee against sweat-related damage, the X2s, look visually different as there is more colour, less chrome with glossy plastic ditched in favour of a matt finish. The casing for the X2s has also changed and improved to a more protective silicone case where inside you find a USB cable and a pouch holding the in-ear ‘fins’ and three X-fit clips. One of the largest problems and one if its biggest selling points are the fit to the ear. Now it’s fair to say there are plenty of options available and it may be a while until you find the perfect fit.There are three sizes of fins, three sizes of silicone tips and three sizes of alternative Comply memory foam tips.You should the many different combinations as it can make a huge difference to the comfort, fit and noise isolation. Personally, I found the Comply memory foam tips worked the best, providing a tight seal whilst being comfortable. Once I came to my perfect fit, with the fins pushed into the ear sufficiently far back, they refused to budge, being light and comfortable to use with a good amount of noise isolation and keeping noise from filtering out to other people around you. There may be times when you would prefer to hear outside noise for obvious safety reasons and if that’s the case then simply change the tips to hear more of your surroundings. Sound quality is where it matters and the Jaybirds do not disappoint. There’s both plenty of bass and good clean treble delivering a very nicely detailed playback, which is delivered with aplomb when combined with the maximum noise insulation. Distortion does eventually kick in but by that time you will have reached the maximum your ears will take anyway.

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The battery life is advertised as being eight hours, which as with all these items is maybe stretching it. In the short time we have had the X2s, I would say the average has been more in the 4-5 hour range, depending on length of use and volume. The X2s are recharged through the neatly concealed slot in the right ear piece. The handy, slim and easy to use in-line remote remains from the previous Bluebuds. You can increase/decrease volume, or alternatively skip and reverse music tracks by holding down the plus and minus buttons for one second. You switch to your phone by pressing the middle button, which also gives other call options depending on how long or how many times you hit the button. Finally, hold down the centre button for more than four seconds and the X2s will power down. The Jaybird website gives excellent video or PDF tutorials, whichever you prefer so you can get the maximum from the X2s. Persist with the correct combination for a secure fit and you are onto a sure-fire winner!


Compatible with iOS/Android/Windows 6mm drivers Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Pair up to eight devices 540mm long headphone cable 100mAh battery delivers claimed eight-hour battery life Comes with Comply Foam and silicone ear tips Cord management clips Passive noise isolation MEMS omni-directional microphone Average price: £120.00 $150.00

Colours: Midnight Black, Storm White, Alpha, Ice, Fire, and Charge

Ouch Pouch The ‘Ouch Pouch’ has been developed as the first line of support in the event of a major bleed or breathing difficulties. Small enough to keep in your buoyancy aid pocket, it’s main contents are a ‘TRAMA FIX’ high absorbency bandage and a pocket face mask, as well as a pair of nitrile gloves, half a meter of cohesive dressing, ABC & Casualty cards. All conveniently vacuum packed for protection.

Contents: A. • • •

1 x Rebreath one-way valve Plastic film containing a one-way valve Film acts as a barrier to help prevent infection One-way valve allows expired air ventilation

B. • • • • •

1x0.5 metre of Easiplaster Fast, easy application Sticks to itself, not skin, hair or wounds Easy-tear, tear to any size Stretch and washproof Adhesive free

C. • • • •

1 x TramaFix major bleed trauma bandage New technology for major bleeds Offers amazing absorption of fluid Vacuum compressed packing Advanced absorbency protection

D. 1 x J-cloth • Dry/clean hands or additional bandage E. 1 x pair nitrile gloves • Size large F. 1 x casualty card/ABC information



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Helly Hansen Aquapace 2 shoe By Peter Tranter

The successor to the original and very successful Aquapace has several modifications that raises comfort and grip levels. Rather than me describing the differences between the two, it is said that a picture tells a thousand words and therefore both versions one and two are shown below with the differences being quite obvious. The new Aquapace 2 has less of a trainer look about it and consequently has an even lower profile than the original with a modular rubber outsole made from the usual HellyGrip rubber. The sole now feels a little more flexible than the original with no loss of grip. The usual elastic laces provide some lateral support but most of the security comes from the elastic surround, which again has improved over the original. Small profile and lightweight, they have a narrow look to them initially but a comfortable fit once on the foot. I asked for size 11 and they feel the perfect fit, with or without socks with the EVA midsole providing plenty of support.


Aquapace 2



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Grip in watery conditions is more than adequate as long as the soles have something to adhere so super smooth surfaces are out. Their strength of courses is as a paddling shoe, where they are breathable and quick drying with a reasonable tight fit around the ankle to keep debris out. A first-class watersports shoe that feels very much at home in and under the water.

Prices on average: ÂŁ65.00; $85.00; â‚Ź90.00 Available for both men and women.

Features: l l l l l

Combination of synthetic and mesh for protection, comfort, and breathability Breathable and quick-dry synthetic mesh EVA midsole Speed lacing system StormGrip rubber outsole


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Helly Hansen HP Insulator jacket By Chris Stubbs

I do like this jacket - it’s everything that the descriptions says and it’s the perfect clothing for when Spring has sprung. If you like the insurance of an extra protective layer for those moments when you’re not sure whether it’s rain or shine – then this jacket is ideal in many respects.

Pete Astles. Dorest. UK. Image: Paul Ramsdale.


Wear for when it gets a bit chilly as the sun disappears behind the many clouds and it adds warmth, without being too warm. If there’s rain, then it adds waterproof protection and when the sun does make an appearance and you start to become a little overheated either unzip it or simply take it off. It’s not a problem as its very lightweight build really adds nothing and just tie it round your waist or something. The only problem I had with the Insulator was the build up of static, particularly if worn with another polyester layer – it really can start to crackle and pop! All in all though, a really useful quality item of clothing, especially for this time of the year.


Lightweight polyester ripstop Durable water repellency treatment Primaloft black insulation YKK front zipper Hand pockets with YKK zip closure Lycra edgeband on parts of cuffs and bottom hem for snug fit Watch for an explanation into the layered technology of this jacket.

Explorer Suit. Now £499



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Palm Lightning 18-metre Throwline By Phil Carr

Palm had a lightning bag shipped to Unsponsored HQ as soon as the production models were available and since we have had a good look over it and have tested the feel, throwing and repacking ease with a number of different paddlers. Since the Lightning bag has already been compared to the HF Weasel by many, it also makes sense to make some further comparisons during this initial look at the Lightning.



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I have had the chance to have a close look at the Lightning bag a few times but this is the first time that I have been able to have not only a look but actually use the bag. Firstly, they are both very compact bags with rope of a similar weight and length and will no doubt appeal to paddlers after a compact throw bag.

So how does the Lightning compare to the Weasel? The Lightning is very slightly smaller, despite containing slightly thicker rope. The 8mm line within the Lightning is 18m long, compared to the 18m of 7.6mm line for the Weasel, whilst the Lightning also has a much thicker core. Initial testing putting the rope under real life strain (thanks to the swimmers who took part) the rope seems to have less of a ‘cheese wire’ effect for both the thrower and swimmer. On that note the bag is good to throw and flies well.

The line is attached to a short length of tape where the rope is threaded through the tape and is secured with a figure eight knot. As with all my bags I like too check the knots before use and I added a stopper knot to the free end of the figure eight just to give that extra bit of reassurance.The tape is of climbing grade, heavily stitched and is long enough to clip a carabiner into. The Weasel’s rope exits the bottom of the bag and when it is purchased includes a clear piping, which needs to be removed and the loop shortened if you want to use a clean rope



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system. It's not a big deal but I don't understand why HF insist on adding large loops and tubing. The opening of the bag is huge and is stiffened with the construction being very similar to that used in a climbing chalk bag. The Weasel is easy to pack but the wider and more importantly stiffer neck opening on the Lightning makes it easier to repack.

Friendly, expert advice, great choice and value for money

Lastly the clip, which is a bayonet type clip that contains a magnet and the system does not rely on a magnet to keep it shut. This helps position the two parts against each other in the correct way and it then simply snaps together.The bag is also fitted with a couple of loops that will allow it to be worn on a waist belt. Palm have always made great throwbags and over the years I have owned or have used pretty much all of the different designs. At this stage I must say that the Lightning’s design is superb and I look forward to seeing some of the features being included within the redesign of the larger throwbags. The Lightning is currently drying out and in the garage but once dried and packed will be attached to the step out pillar of my boat – it’s a great piece of gear.

Specs: Weight: 551 g (18 m) Bag: CORDURA® 500D bag with 420D polyester lining Strength: 8kN static breaking strength Rope: Up to 18m of 8mm floating polypropylene cored rope

Features: Rope can be removed and used on its own l Fidlock magnetic neck closure l Extra fabric and stiffened neck to aid throwing and repacking l Quickclip clean line attachment point l Rescue and Zambezi belt compatible l Tel: 01732 886688 Email: Email: New N House Farm, Kemsing Road,Wrotham, Kent, TN15 7BU KAYAKS|CANOES|COURSES|TECHNICAL CLOTHING|SAFETY GEAR|ACCESSORIES KAYAKS|CANOES|COURSES|TECHNICAL |SAFETY GEAR|ACCESSORIES R|ACCESSORIES COURSES|TECHNICAL TECHNICAL CLOTHING|SAFETY WHITE WATER|SEA KAYAKING|TOURING|FREESTYLE|OPEN CANOES SIT ON TOPS|RECREATIONAL|FISHING


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FatStick Log Rocket and Wooden Menace SUP boards By Dale Mears

Recently two friends of mine got into SUP, both buying boards from the well known British company 'FatStick' with one purchasing a Log Rocket and the other a Menace. I have been lucky enough to have a good go on both of these boards recently and with the increasing popularity of SUP, I thought I would give you an insight into how they perform.



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Fatstick is a British paddle board brand run by Reuben May and has been around since 2013. Reuben is a qualified surf coach and keen paddle sports enthusiast; his vision was to offer highquality, affordable SUP boards allowing paddle boarding to be accessible to everyone. Before I go into the review I would like to state that I am no SUP expert and I write this review as a relative beginner crossing over from my main sport of white water kayaking. The boards were both tested on flat and Grade 2 moving water – I have yet to test them on the surf. The boards are made from expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is a lightweight, ridged foam covered in a glass fibre skin to protect it from general wear and tear. Both boards are very well made and feature a 'wood effect' finish on both the hull and deck which gives a cool vintage look. The boards come with a large textured mat, which when paddling, both with and without shoes, gave a very good connection board giving plenty of confidence when paddling. Previously I have only paddled inflatable SUP (iSUP) boards but these two rigid boards, although a little twitchy at first, are a massive step up in terms of performance. I found both to be extremely stable and I was able to paddle both, including breaking in and out of the main flow, with ease. Unlike on the iSUPs, the effort I put in I got back out, without the 'wobbly jelly' feeling. The boards also came with a large central fin and two smaller fins so you can make a threefin thruster set up, generally more suited to surfing, but can also add additional stability to the board. The fins are easy to add and remove and their position can be adjusted relative to the length of the board in order to alter the

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directional stability; for the purpose of this review all three fins were on and set up in the middle of the fin boxes'. Both boards have a recess on the centre of balance which acts as a carry handle. The obvious difference between the Log Rocket and Menace was the length with the Log Rocket being the longer of the two at 10’6ft. The Menace, although slightly shorter, is wider and this adds more stability. There is always going to be a compromise between speed and stability and the Log Rocket is the faster of the two boards and tracked better in a straight line. The Menace on the other hand is shorter length and wider allowing it turns much easier than the Log Rocket. Both boards are popular for beginner to intermediate SUPers and come in a range of sizes (board length, widths and volumes). Both come with the EPS foam core with wooden stringer (to control flex in the board), multi-tone wood veneer deck and hull with triple-layer epoxy glass finish, full deck pad, deep-set carry handle and automatic air vent (allowing air to escape from the board if there is a pressure build up due to heat). I really enjoyed both boards and can’t wait to get out on them more! Specs

Length: Width: Volume: Weight: Fin set-up: Leash:

Log Rocket


10’6 foot 30x4.5 inches 185 litres 12kg One or three Optional

10 foot 32x4 inches 185 litres 11kg One or three Optional

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Coleman CXS+ 300R headlamp By Peter Tranter

Headlamps are headlamps right? Well that was the way I thought about it until I came across this little beauty. Straight out of the box and the hi-tech nature of the headlamp hits you smack in the face. For starters forget about inserting batteries, this has a high capacity, rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and for me that’s a winner straight away as I get tired scratching round for batteries and all too often leave the TV remotes high and dry when the time comes. You recharge through a neat slot in the base of the unit and can be charged from the USB port on your computer. Batteries lose power even when a device is switched off and Coleman have given this a great deal of thought coming up with their new BatteryLock™ technology. A simple pull forward disconnects the battery from the headlamp, meaning that not only is your appliance safeguarded against premature power drain but the risk of it accidentally



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turning on in your pocket or pack is eliminated. For enhanced ease of use, all BatteryLock™ devices feature a red indicator clearly showing when the technology has been activated. So batteries aside, there looks to be a dizzying array of lights in the unit I hear you say. Well, they are not all lights – the small ones at least. They are sensors that auto adjust to your surroundings and modifies the beam and brightness to suit your surroundings. So for instance the light will be reduced for anything that requires close up work such as map reading and then increases the beam for when on the move. Coleman call this their REAX™ technology and they have another trick up their sleeve with KineSix™ that lets you control the unit with hand movements, removing the need to operate the product manually. It’s good but not infallible as there are times you may wish to adjust something else on your head and you unwittingly change the light settings. Having said that - a couple of waves of the hand and you’re back where you were. When all of this is combined with an extremely rugged exterior and shatterproof polycarbonate lens, you are onto a sound investment.There is also the CXS+ 200 and 250 with less features. Average price CXS+ 300R: £45.00 €70.00

To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081




040 Behind the lens

First of a photography series by Dave Wortley

050 Be prepared – stay safe

No. 1 of a safety coaching series by Chris Brain

060 United States

The work of First Descents by Andrew Regan

072 Uganda

ICF freestyle development camp by Beth Ward

082 United Kingdom

2016 National Student Rodeo by Bryn Carter

094 South Africa

Thrombi X-fest 2016 by Luke Longridge

104 Canada

The Clore River, BC by Darcy Gaechter

112 United Kingdom

Devizes to Westminster race by Peter Hutchison


B E H I N D t h e


By Dave ‘Scout’ Wortley Dave Wortley (known as ‘Scout’ amongst his friends), is an experienced kayaker and has photographed the sport all over the world. He is best known for his film FUSE which received international recognition amongst outdoor film festivals such as the Banff Mountain Film Festival, but his real love is with photography. Part 1: Shooting the action

You’re holding the camera, eager to take the shot, the kayaker is on the water about to drop in for their ride on a wave or down a waterfall.You look down at the camera in front of you, aim it at the paddler and hold down the trigger to try and catch as many photos as possible. There can sometimes be just one chance to do this; the drop might be intimidating or impossible to walk back up and run again, or maybe this is a competition ride or a moment of sheer luck where they get the move they’ve been trying for months. The moment is in your hands to capture.

S Kalob Grady – Garburator Wave ThePADDLER 41


You should be on a good setup for fast action shots, be able to adjust quickly and you need to know how to adapt to the ever changing

lighting conditions that come with being outdoors in dynamic weather.

Anna Bruno congratulates Claire O’Hara on her 7th World title!

Kayaking and photography naturally go together; it’s a visually impressive sport, which takes place in amazingly beautiful locations. Kayakers love to have photos as a record of achievement and to share their passion for the sport with kayakers and non-kayakers alike. One well-executed capture will more effectively convey the story and drama of the experience than a hundred blurry under-exposed close-ups.

As both a kayaker and a photographer, I’ve loved the opportunities that kayaking has brought me. I’ve been to destinations I never would have imagined possible, stood in locations that only kayakers can get to and gained friendships all over the world that go well beyond the river.

When you’re the one holding the camera trying to capture your friends’ achievements on the river it can be quite a responsibility.You’ll often get cries of, “Did you get that?” after they’ve done something they’re proud of or have spectacularly messed up. You don’t want to have to admit, “No, I missed it”, or “It’s a bit blurry.” If you want to nail that shot you need to know your camera settings.You should be on a good setup for fast action shots, be able to adjust quickly and you need to know how to adapt to the ever changing lighting conditions that come with being outdoors in dynamic weather. It’s not just as simple as putting the camera on sports mode and holding down the trigger.You’ll either fill up the buffer in the camera before the paddler has got to the edge of a waterfall or you’ll end up with a bunch of photos which have all focused on the wrong part of the image. On rivers you’ve never paddled before you have to balance photography with your own safety. Sometimes to get shots of all the group you have to be the first or the last to run a rapid with your camera gear on-board. Trying to make the most of these situation can be really challenging, for risky drops someone can line your camera bag down to you afterwards if you are worried about having limited safety set up. A good investment in a Watershed bag or Pelicase will protect your expensive gear and give you confidence to get to those unusual locations. Finding a new angle at an overly-photographed location might involve a bit of rock-climbing or wading, so be prepared to get wet!


ThePADDLER 44 Here’s some advice for shooting action moments; I’m using kayaking, but these tips apply to most dynamic action shots. Kit

Get a DSLR with a high burst rate, you want to be at least five frames per second in order to get several shots in an action sequence.You don’t need the latest and greatest camera as most DSLRs have a reasonable burst mode these days, shooting not at the highest quality can sometimes give you more buffer to play with too.

Know the basics

Know what f-stop, shutter speed and ISO are, with these three things you can make any image effect. I’m not going to write a tutorial on this as there are plenty of them out there.

Lock your f-stop

I’ve found it’s often more important to get the depth of field right for a sharp image than getting the fastest shutter.You want a faster shutter to freeze the action but anything above 1/1000th is normally fine. I prefer to shoot with a not fully open aperture and boost the ISO up to get the shutter speed to be faster; this means shooting at F5.6/6.3 and ISO 400 to allow me to get 1/4000th shutter-speed. This way you get the best focus, sharpness and the action frozen in time at the cost of image noise; you can more easily remove the noise in post-processing than regain sharpness from a blurry image. As the light fades you’ve got to know what you can compromise on to get the best photo; would it be better to increase the ISO and be a bit noisier? Would a shallower depth of field be ok? Shooting white-water below 1/250th shutter speed will always be blurry so try keep it faster unless you’re doing it for artistic reasons.


If you’ve got a nice lens it can be quite tempting to shoot down at F2.8 for the shallowest depth of field. The problem with this is that it can become very difficult to make sure the camera is focusing on the kayaker. Drops of water thrown up into the air make big contrast points and cameras love to focus on these instead. I shoot mostly at about F4-F6.3 in order to give myself a margin for error for when the focus drifts.

Polarizing filters

With water and white-water you often get extremely glaring highlights reflecting off the surface. Even a flat pool of water can reflect light rather than show through to the beautiful colour underneath when you look through a lens. A solution to this can be to use a circular polarizing filter. Rotating your polarizing filter from 0-90 degrees will remove the glare and reflection, use this artistically to give your photos richer colours.

Hannah Brand – River Swale

Craig Ayres – dropping into the Cave on the Sermenzina

Nouria Newman impresses the locals at Nile Special ThePADDLER 45


Bren Orton – throwing his Pyranha Jed huge in the semi-finals of the World Championships

Help the auto-focus

When you’re framing up for the shot, you can quickly use the AF selection to make sure the AF is focusing where you want it to in the image. Most cameras will try to find the nearest thing in the frame to focus on, but with water droplets and rocks likely to be in the field of view this won’t always be the case. On the back of your DSLR there will be a button that looks something like this:

Holding it down and using the scroll wheel you can change which auto-focus points your camera is going to use.You may have to adjust this whilst shooting one ride as kayaks tend to move around quite a lot on a wave and in a hole. When you tell your camera where to focus it can focus quicker and you’ll be less likely to miss the shot. Try to look for contrast points where the auto-focus can do its job. The more your help auto-focus the more likely your shots will be sharp where you intended them to be, and the faster the auto-focus will react. If you are really certain of your framing and where the paddler will be on the river then you can manually lock your focus on that point; I often use the live-view on my Canon to make sure I’ve got the image as sharp as I can make it before the paddler appears.

Work on your framing

Don’t keep taking the same photo, no-one wants to see the same point of view 500 times over and you won’t develop your skills. Look for new angles, change lenses, change orientation, find an angle that no-one else would have thought to get. How close can you get to the action? Can you use a super-wide lens to include more of the surrounding landscape? How far away can you get and be zoomed in? What else can frame the kayaker; are there gaps through trees or bridges.Think about whether you really want to fully zoom in on the kayaker; capturing more of the river may add extra drama to the shot.Alternatively in endless play-boating cartwheels and blunts you might want to try zooming really far in to see the always amusing expressions your friends are pulling!


ThePADDLER 48 Chase the light

If you’re at the same spot for a long time, or coming back on multiple days, pay attention to where the light is and think about where the glare of the water is going to be. Back-lit kayaking shots can be artistic, but, due to how reflective water is, it can be incredibly hard to get the exposure right. Waiting for the sun to come through a gap in the trees with shadows and light to make the image interesting can be worth the wait, even if it just illuminates the boater and brings them out against the background of water.

Claire O'Hara winning the 2013 Hurley Classic Review and edit

Look through what you shoot whilst you are shooting, make sure you’re capturing good photos and review fully as soon as you can afterwards. Look for what worked and troubleshoot what didn’t; what settings did you use? If something isn’t sharp, try and work out why it wasn’t. Post-processing on photos is essential, it’s always been there since the days of black and white film; getting it right in the dark or light room can bring extra quality of your image, if you’ve got a good base and can even improve a poor image to an extent. 


I highly recommend getting a software like Lightroom as it allows you to sort through your photos quickly. I suggest giving the shots you like a star rating which you can use to filter the session down to the best and easily batch-process the colour-corrections for the whole album. I hope these tips help you to get better photos. The real secret is practice, practice, practice. Tips and tricks may help to inspire you, but you will only actually learn by getting out and trying them.

Don’t overdo the colour corrections you apply, an album looks better if the images have a similar look and feel. Whatever you do, don’t upload 2,000 photos from one playboating or river session; nobody will look through them all and you won’t get any useful feedback on what people like!

In the next part of this feature I’ll talk more about the artistic side of whitewater photography that I specialise in. Follow me on Facebook at and on twitter: @OnTheRiverDave and Instagram: @daveWortleyPhotography

Happy landings


A rand that stays put through the biggest hits. With a stretchy implosion proof centre; KNytex Kevlar reinforcement; and sticky Gripsil underneath. The Orbit is ready to take flight.








S A F E In the first part of this safety series, we will be looking at being prepared, staying safe and what kit and equipment we might carry to deal with incidents on and around the water. It is important to remember that there is no substitute for professional training in this area and this must be combined with experience in order to effectively use the ideas and techniques contained in this series. This article is not intended to replace formal training. Avoiding an incident happening in the first place should be one of our primary concerns and our tactics as a team of paddlers should mean that this is a constant theme throughout our time on the water.

By Ch ris B rain




Preparation is key Many incidents which occur on the water can often be traced back to ineffective or rushed planning and preparation. For example, the simple task of eating a good breakfast on the morning may give you the energy you need to avoid missing your roll and consequently taking that painful swim later on in the day.This might mean that you don’t lose your paddles and that your team don’t have to put their rescue skills into practice to unpin your boat too. (All this because you skipped breakfast!) Every river trip is different, but there are some key points that we need to make sure we cover:

What is our intended plan?

• Is this trip suitable for the team? • Do we need to adapt the plan to suit the group ability, needs and experience? • Have we got up to date information on the river and its hazards/features? • Has anyone paddled the river recently? • What is the current level of the river and how recent is our information? Often incidents can occur on the river when a team simply continue with the plan because no one speaks up strongly to either oppose it or hasn’t got the knowledge or experience to suggest a viable alternative. Simply continuing with the plan because it is “the plan” does not mean that it is the best or safest option.There have been too many times to count where I have been excited and ready to paddle a river, only to be in a situation where the levels/group/experience mean that it is a risky decision to get on. In this situation I change plans and the group and I live to fight another day.

Emergency plans

• Maps • Suitable egress points before the intended get out • Do we have the skills in the team to deal with an emergency? • Have we run through all of the “what if ” scenarios as a team? • Do we have information/knowledge regarding medical information/history and emergency contact details? My experience is that river paddlers are sometimes very ‘casual’ towards carrying maps and navigational equipment especially on rivers we know. We often know where the get on is, where the get off is and details of the grade and rapids, but usually little else about our location. I subscribe to Ordnance Survey’s online mapping software, which allows you to save and print maps to scale, which means you can print and laminate them, study them and annotate them as you wish. In the event of an incident we will need to know our exact location and have navigational strategies for how we might evacuate our team. I combine the use of traditional mapping tools, with apps and documents downloaded on my smart phone too. There is everything out there from grid reference apps to mapping software, however I try and avoid relying solely on technology which can run out of battery, fail or be dropped in the water.


Watershed kit bag Many coaches and paddlers use watershed dry bags to store their kit. Even though they cost more than a standard bag they are simply exceptional bits of equipment and are completely dry. I also have a set of lightweight bags that keep everything organised too. In the bag I keep: • First aid Kit • Vetrap • Group shelter • Blizzard survival jacket • Sol bivvy bag • Sol survival sheet • Map • Repair kit: Cord, zip ties, duct tape, repair putty, turbo flame, flashband repair tape foam bung, multi tool, stormsure repair patches, micro torch • Head torch (decent one carried over winter) • Energy gels and spare food • Buff and gloves Kit carried on me • 5m tape and HMS screwgate karabiner • Spare screwgate karabiner • Knife • Saw • Whistle • Phone • Keys • Earplugs • Energy bar/chocolate

What kit do we have in the group?

ThePaddle r ez ine te

Rivers vary from remote multi-day trips to road side park and play and it is important that the kit we choose to carry with us reflects the nature of our location. Is our kit simply going to get us out to the road at the side of the river and then wait for the shuttle, or do we need to have equipment that is going to get us down the next two days of constant grade 4? One question I get asked regularly is whether I always carry split paddles and how good are they. Having made the investment in a top quality set of VE fourpiece splits, I carry them virtually all the time now, the only time I don’t tend to is when I am doing park and play with the road very nearby. Our split paddles can be used as a direct replacement when someone breaks or loses their own or can be used simply to reunite a rescued paddler following a swim if their paddles have been recovered further downstream. I think that your splits need to be appropriate to the environment you use them in and there needs to be an understanding of your expectations as to how they will perform. Simply put you don’t want to be continuing down grade 5 with a set of wobbly plastic heavy paddles that you wouldn’t paddle a dingy on flat water with!

e will b nd it ed a view t re uc od

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est pad to


• • • •

. If you want y o tion u rp sta r st

• Is our kit suitable and appropriate for the intended trip? • Are we prepared for swims, rescues, first aid, keeping warm and fed? • Do we have a phone, or other way of communicating and calling for help?

Where will the vehicles be parked? dle rs - e Has all the team put dry clothes and food in the car at the end? mail us: r Do well all have the kit and equipment we need? eviews@t hepad Can we place a vehicle at an intermediate point just in case? d

What’s in the bag?

One question that I frequently get asked is, “What’s in your yellow bag Chris?” What we carry in our boat and with us on the river can make a big difference and could turn a situation from being something major to being a minor inconvenience. As a starting point you need to ask, what could actually happen and what are we prepared for? We might need to: • Fix boats • Fix people • Keep people warm • Reunite paddlers with their kit • Get swimmers out of the river • Get boats out of the river • Call for help and get help to our location To deal with these situations I carry some kit in my boat and some kit on my person.


lere zin e

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Time spent making sure your logistics work can make the whole trip run much smoother. On so many occasions I witnessed paddlers getting to the end of the river and realising that their dry kit is in the car that is at the top (and of course I’ve done this myself!). I’ve also been in situations where the keys haven’t quite made it down the river and we have had to walk for a shuttle. It might not be an issue in warmer weather, but in harsh conditions it could be the difference between someone being hypothermic or not. Where possible I am a big fan of placing a vehicle at an intermediate point to give us an additional strategy for an unforeseen evacuation. Usually this doesn’t add much time to a shuttle, but could genuinely be a lifesaver.

ThePADDLER 56 Dry Bag

• 4-piece split paddles • Over the winter I often carry a flask and a warm jacket in here too.

Pre-paddling checks • Check your own kit. • Check others in the group. • Boat, paddle and any kit carried checked? • Vehicle keys, food, water and rescue kit? An extra few minutes spent checking everything before you set off will be time well spent. Is your kit free from snags and loops and have you minimised the risks (where possible) of things getting caught? Is your kit in good enough condition for the trip? Do you have everything you need for your intended time on the water (and maybe a little longer if there are delays)? Common things that I find paddlers either not paying attention to or forgetting are things like boat fixings, chest harness webbing length, leaving throwbags in the vehicle, not taking water or food (even if just a snack bar and a small bottle of water.) I once started paddling down a pretty committing and challenging rapid, only to feel my seat fall off the rails and slide all the way back meaning I couldn’t touch the footrests – a simple check before I got on would have saved that moment of terror! If you ever come to use your rescue skills on the river, you will need your throwbag to hand and if you decide to use your chest harness, it is essential to your own safety and those around you that the webbing is the right length (which for most paddlers means cutting it shorter.) It’s a job that only takes two minutes to do – go and do it now if you haven’t already (don’t forget to heat seal the material so it doesn’t fray.)

Leadership and strategies

• Who will lead (will this be done as a team)? • How will we paddle together? • How will we make decisions? • What happens if someone swims? How will we rescue? Understanding what we will actually do when we get on the water is very important towards avoiding an incident. Even if we are in a peer/equals situation, a little bit of discussion and clarification will make a difference when the going gets tough. Don’t wait until you are half way down the hardest rapid of the day to discuss what your signals are and don’t wait until someone swims to work out how you are going to handle it. Many paddlers will look towards the most experienced person to make leadership decisions, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Kit carried in boat I usually carry all of my kit in two main bags apart from my throwbag and water which I have accessible when sitting in my kayak. Each bag is attached to the inside of the boat with another HMS screwgate karabiner, the same as the ones that I carry in my PFD.



This is only a snapshot of what I carry and depending on where I am and who I am with I change my kit and equipment accordingly, however as a leader I rarely carry less than this. With a little bit of careful planning and communication, this kit could be split across a few paddlers if needs be. It is essential to think about what you are prepared for and what you expect your kit to be able to do. Our kit should be matched to our experience, our role and our skills and of course we are doing our best to avoid getting any of this kit out in the first place!

Chris Brain

Chris has been kayaking, canoeing and coaching for the last 15 years and runs his own business Chris Brain Coaching, delivering paddlesport coaching, safety and rescue courses and REC First Aid Training. Email: Chris would like to thank Pyranha Kayaks, Immersion Research, VE Paddles and Go Kayaking for making fantastic kit and their continued support.

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Vietnam by Mark Rose

Words: Flo Jung Pics: Dave White and Pierre Bouras


Ireland by Doug Paton


20 questions The Sawyer family


Future of SUP racing by Dr Bruce Dyer


Airton and Gollito by Jeroen Aerts


Blind SUP part 3 by Dean Dunbar


Comparison reviews JP and Starboard


Gear Shed

SECRET wave riding

tips for Wave riding is probably one of the most enjoyable a s p e c t s o f S U P. Y o u a r e a p a r t o f t h e e l e m e n t s d r i v e n by the forces of nature. On some days you have small waves to play with whilst on others you have to overcome your fears to ride a big swell. Mother Nature has a lot of different faces and it is never the same. In the end riding waves is all about experience, the right timing and control. Remember: the more you learn, the better it gets. The following 10 tips are keys to one of the best feelings ever – enjoy and progress…




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NTS Living with purpose By Andrew Regan Photos: Chris Gragtmans It’s June 2015 and I am by the banks of the Klickitat River in southern Washington state.To my left is a middle-aged woman who has been battling cancer for longer then I can imagine. I gaze upon her weary demeanour in order to assess her state of mind. It’s hovering around 40 degrees Celsius; we are sweltering, sweat is pouring and the ground is burning our feet through our booties. I can sense the tiredness within her, she has been fighting a mental and physical battle through the heat and dehydration for the past five days. ThePADDLER 61


Her tired demeanour was replaced with the celebration and energy of somebody who hadn't been through round after round of

hellish chemotherapy

Intimidating We are scouting the final and most challenging rapid of the entire week, the rapid is intimidating and scary to a new kayaker, a Grade 3 with a definitive line in order to make it down successfully. This challenge is completely optional and last blast for stronger and often younger participants who maybe have some previous experience of kayaking. She had sat in a kayak for the first time just four days ago, and on her first day looked like a deer in headlights on roller skates. Her determination brought great success and achievement. She had progressed rapidly and even 'graduated' by navigating rapids solo without being led down, there was nothing left to prove. I look at her tired posture and think to myself she has had enough. I open my mouth to utter the words, “No shame in not doing this one…” I managed just the first couple of words before she turned to me and said, “Screw it, this has nothing on chemo, don't try to talk me out of this honey I'm doing it.” We burst out laughing and went back to our kayaks. She followed me down successfully with steely determination and her tired demeanour was replaced with the celebration and energy of somebody who hadn't been through round after round of hellish chemotherapy. This was just one notable example among dozens of situations where I was inspired by many of these wonderful people who have been dealt an incredibly hard hand in life. They all carry a fear and uncertainty about what the next day may bring but by being around a group of other people who all have similar stories and understand what it is like to have your whole world turned upside down, an incredibly supportive bond is created. At first I only felt comfortable being a fly on the wall during conversations, not worthy of sharing thoughts on hardships I couldn’t relate to. After a few days of being engaged and approached many times by participants, I began to realise the value of my contributions and of getting to know these people. On the water I could see how the challenge of kayaking made participants realize their own self belief and determination to keep trying despite setbacks. The mental therapy of being in the beautiful outdoors and the feeling of joy and accomplishment from navigating whitewater always brought the groups back to the same conclusion in the evenings.



The importance of living with genuine purpose, as if you could feel time was ticking down and you need to grasp every ounce of what is important to you in life you can before the clock ticks down. Don’t put things you want to do on the back burner as nothing is guaranteed. While it seems like a cliché, I watched that attitude put on display day after day, by these people many of whom have a very real countdown in life. I saw many traits in these people which I would like to try to emulate. Working with First Descents has helped me prioritise and appreciate many aspects of my own life which maybe I overlooked before. First Descents is one of those organisations which gives me huge faith in humanity: for the life-changing experience it provides for both participants and anybody else involved. Thank you to all the people who make First Descents what it is from the participants to the staff and volunteers. I am a better person for having been involved with you all. #outlivingit

Greetings from Grandma (Aka Jacklyn Brown)

I use the word incredible quite sparingly, because in today’s society it is over used and lacks the essence of its origin. However, the week I spent in Oregon was nothing short of it.To encapsulate the experience is quite hard; the feelings I experienced were stronger than language has the power of telling. My friend Sam ‘Ten,’ introduced me to First Descents. She persistently urged me to consider applying, but I politely declined each time. I later reconsidered and completed the application. My application was accepted a few months later, though I

was still unsure if I was going to commit to a trip. Unfortunately, Sam passed at the beginning of April 2015 after a third relapse with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) . I got in contact with First Descents a few days later and signed up for kayaking in Hood River. As much as I thought I had processed my own cancer diagnosis, I hadn’t; equally, the same regarding grieving Sam’s death. This trip offered a great platform of understanding, healing, hope, and redefining who you are by ‘Out Living It’ – I even grew to really love my nickname too, of Grandma! Wholeheartedly, I am glad I got on that plane for it was the best week of my life.

First Descents is one of those organisations which gives me huge faith in humanity ThePADDLER 65


Water washes away the

toxicity of despair and ire, while harmoniously offering a platform for self-reflection

Each morning we woke early to eat and pack our gear. We then loaded into our squad vans and rolled out for a short drive into Washington. I went swimming more than I planned and I failed at ferrying but I surfed successfully, and crushed it on the Klickitat’s Class 3 rapid Ishy Pishy. When it was time to take that descent, I looked up to the heavens and told Sam that this was for her. The water relentlessly crashed on both sides of my green Dagger kayak, splashing vast amounts of water in my face. With fortitude, I speared the turquoise river with each paddle stroke, and Shakira hipped my way down. I spun my kayak around and thrusted my paddle in the air, with endless cheers behind me, as my smile shined brighter than a thousand splendid suns at that moment. Although an old soul at heart, I learned that I too have a conscious desire for adventure, thrill, and challenge.

A platform for self-reflection

I recognized that often taken for granted, water is more than just a moving force within earth’s system. Water washes away the toxicity of despair and ire, while harmoniously offering a platform for self-reflection. Moreover, water challenges one to connect with the soul in a way that makes the heart race faster than anything ever felt before; a feeling that should be experienced every day of one’s life—not just once in a while. Ultimately, water inspirits us to serve our highest selves and continue a relationship with nature, for it endlessly offers more than one ever seeks. Through the continued pursuit of kayaking, I will marvel in ‘Out Living It’. Off the water, I found haven in the conversations we had around campfire with the coach provoking some deep thinking each night from various questions. I believe that as much as one can learn about someone on the water, the reflection we offered to each other spoke greater volumes. Our guides, from Wet Planet, even attended. I found this remarkable, for such a simple gesture had a great effect on all of us. On another note, around the fire, I was also bestowed the glorious pants for best smile. Not only that, I had the privilege of passing the pants on to Shuffle, laughing so hard my stomach hurt with Wino and planking with Phyllis. This aspect of the trip was notably my favourite; for it really helped me reconnect to the self I thought I had lost. The trip set up everything to fall apart but for everything fell back together, better.



Since returning home, I decided to take a huge leap of faith. I changed my major from Elementary Education to Recreation and Business Management; to chase my passion of helping others, while spreading the magic of such an experience. Life may be taking me in a whole new direction, but I am more than excited to begin this new journey with a whole lot of happiness I didn’t even know existed prior to this trip. Altogether, I may not have control of the lulls and misfortunes life presents, I do have the power to create a positive after. Cancer may have made an untimely entrance in my life two years ago, but it does not define me. I choose to be alive and well with my soul again through nature – now being a benefactor of an epic expedition with good friends. Inevitably, I am glad I got on the plane last June, for my first descent propelled me into a new world Grandma would have missed. Finally, this experience is yet another reason I describe my case with cancer as nothing less than a blessing in disguise.

More information about First Descents

Kindest Regards, ‘Grandma’ Jacklyn Brown

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Freestyle development camp

Photo: Dane Jackson at the ICF Development Camp. Emily Ward Photography

For the last two weeks 10 kayakers from six different African nations have come together for the ICF African freestyle development camp run by world class coach, Sam Ward and world number one – freestyle kayaker, Dane Jackson. By Beth Ward

PARTICIPANTS – what they have to say… “I’m very happy and excited to win the first ever African Freestyle championships. I listened to what Sam and Dane taught me and tried to relax and enjoy the competition.” Sadat Kawawa (Uganda)

“I’m looking forward to taking the knowledge that these worldclass coaches have been pumping into me back to Zambia, so I can teach my fellow kayakers back home.” Julius Nalishebo (Zambia)

Photo: Yusuf Basalirwa with his winning ride in the Ugandan National Freestyle Championships. Emily Ward Photography


ThePADDLER 74 In the 2015 ICF World Freestyle Kayak Championships only one of the 54 African nations was represented, and their journey there was by no means easy. The Ugandan freestyle kayak team spent months raising the funds and negotiating with immigration in the run up to the competition and only through dedication and perseverance did they make it their at all. It was during this period, inspired by the story of the Ugandan Team, that the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Freestyle Committee hatched

the plan to launch a freestyle development scheme in Africa. The aim of this scheme was to encourage freestyle participation and grass roots competition across the continent and increase African nation participation in major freestyle kayaking events. The ICF Freestyle Committee approached Sam Ward, a world-class freestyle kayaker, coach and owner of Kayak The Nile in Uganda, with the hope of working together to bring this idea into reality.

Photo: Spectators enjoying the show at the African Freestyle Championships. Kayaker: Will Clark (Ug

Four months later, ten of Africa’s most promising kayakers representing six different African nations received invitations from the ICF to join Sam Ward and Dane Jackson for a two-week training camp on the Nile.These kayakers were not only chosen for their kayaking abilities but also for their dedication, motivation and enthusiasm for the sport. On March 24th the participants,Tammy Muir (South Africa), Philip Claassens (South Africa), Paul Teasdale (Zimbabwe), Julius Nalishebo (Zambia), Melusi Magagula (Swaziland),

Shane Walker (Kenya), Francis Mwangi (Kenya), Sadat Kawawa (Uganda),Yusuf Basalirwa (Uganda) and David Egesa (Uganda) arrived full of enthusiasm and nerves, ready to get stuck into some freestyle kayaking on some of the world’s best features. For some of these participants, particularly Melusi, the ICF African Freestyle Development Camp truly was a life-changing experience. Having never left his country he was exposed to a whole world of new opportunities over the course of the two weeks.

PARTICIPANTS – what they have to say… Talking about the African Freestyle Championships, “ The crowd got into it, the competitors enjoyed it… I loved it!” Philip Claassens (S.A)

“I want to try as many disciplines of kayaking as I can. I just love the sport.” Shane Walker (Kenya)

ganda). Marcus Farnfield Photography ThePADDLER 75

Sam Ward coaching South Africa representative Philip Claassens as he surfs the huge Vengeance wave. Emily Ward Photography


The camp took place on the upper section of the White Nile in Uganda splitting its time between the Nile River Explorer’s campsite which used to sit on the banks of Bujagali Falls, and the Hairy Lemon, a tropical island paradise only a 10-minute paddle from the world renowned surf wave, Nile Special. The camp was designed to develop both the freestyle skills of the individuals as well as providing the opportunity to share knowledge, cultivate fresh ideas and fuel the enthusiasm and motivation that was already prevalent in these kayakers. Sam and Dane carefully guided the participants through workshops both on and off the water to ensure that the participants were provided with the information and skills necessary to run fun events and competitions and further develop the sport upon their return to their home nations. On the penultimate day of the development camp (April 2nd) the first ever African Freestyle Kayak Championships were hosted on the Nile

Special Wave. With six African nations represented in the competition and with locals and spectators cramming the banks to cheer and support, it was a day to remember. Having had 10 days of training and coaching, the participants of the camp (some of whom have never taken part in any competitions, let alone one of this calibre) performed exceptionally well with Melusi getting the biggest cheer from the crowd on his final run. Tammy Muir (South Africa) placed second in the Womens impressing the judges with a huge roundhouse and Philip Claassens (South Africa) was one of the most consistent paddlers on the wave that day. The participants made sure to give the crowd a good show throughout the afternoon throwing huge airscrews, blunts and helixes. Uganda’s presence on the podium was hard to ignore, taking first, second and third in the Mens and first and third in the Womens.

PARTICIPANTS – what they have to say… “During this camp I have learnt a lot. I am getting better and better with lots of my tricks and the coaching from Dane Jackson and Sam has really benefited my kayaking.” Yusuf Basalirwa (Uganda)

“I’m looking forward to taking the knowledge that these world-class coaches have been pumping into me back to Zambia so I can teach my fellow kayakers back home.” Julius Nalishebo (Zambia) Women’s podium, African Freestyle Kayaking Championships. 1. Amina Tayona (Uganda) 2. Tammy Muir (South Africa) 3. Amina Nakiirya (Uganda) Marcus Farnfield Photography



The ICF African Freestyle Development camp marked the beginning of what we hope to be a positive and successful future for the sport in Africa. With plans for an African competition circuit already being put in place linking competitions in Uganda, South African, Zambia and Kenya the freestyle-kayaking scene in Africa is already making progress. However, it is crucial, if schemes such as this are to have a lasting effect, that ongoing support and guidance is provided to paddlers ensuring that the motivation and enthusiasm cultivated through the course of the two-week camp is put to good cause.

Not so long ago, some of these kayakers never thought they would get the opportunity to leave their home countries let alone kayak with some of the world’s top kayakers on the Nile in Uganda. With more events being planned, more support available and greater participation in the sport across Africa, suddenly representing their home nations in the next ICF World Freestyle Championships in Brazil might not be such a farfetched dream.

Men’s podium, African Freestyle Kayaking Championships. 1. Sadat Kawawa (Uganda) 2. Yusuf Basalirwa (Uganda) 3. Will Clark (Uganda) 4. Philip Claassens (South Africa) 5. Twaha Mabonga (Uganda) Marcus Farnfield Photography

PARTICIPANTS – what they have to say… “I used to be a career-orientated person who sat in an office to make money. Now I’m a kayaker and I’ m really stoked to learn freestyle, I’m keen to learn what ever I can.” Paul Teasdale (Zimbabwe)

PARTICIPANTS – what they have to say… “Talking about his heat in the African freestyle Kayak Championships, “The times that I was not catching the wave I was feeling bad of myself but the moment I caught the wave I was so proud and I heard the cheers from the group.” Melusi Magagula (Swaziland) “Freestyle is fairly new thing in Kenya so I’m looking forward to going home and telling people about the sport and getting the next generation into it.” Francis Mwangi (Kenya

Sadat Kawawa (Uganda) enjoying the down river freestyle session. Emily Ward Photography ThePADDLER 79


PARTICIPANTS – what they have to say…

“It’s exciting, it’s a new set of skills. I’m really excited to, above everything else that we have planned, to work on my own skills and see how far they can go.” Tammy Muir (South Africa) “After this camp I will be able to put much time to train hard and get to the world champs next time and paddle with worldclass kayakers… mainly competing with Dane Jackson!” David Egesa (Uganda)

Photo: ICF Development Camp. Emily Ward Photography Tammy Muir (South Africa) cheering on her team mate Philip Claassens in the Men’s final Marcus Farnfield Photography ThePADDLER 81





A crisp March morning. Mist wreaths the trees and light frost candies the grass on a campsite in the East Midlands. A noise rings out.The gentle song of a bird? The light footsteps of a fox, late to bed? No, it is a man, looking as if his head is about to burst, bellowing through a megaphone to wake his similarly broken compatriots, his voice crackling out, eyes bloodshot and squinting, what could he have done to get here? What did he do to deserve this? Oh yeah, it's the Rodeo! ThePADDLER 83


Getting students on the water at 8am can be a

mammoth task

As has been tradition for two long decades, the good, the bad, and the ugly of Britain's university kayaking scene descended once again on the hallowed, if slightly polluted, turf and water of Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham, with entrants even travelling from as far afield as Cologne to compete in what has cemented itself as a truly legendary event, with over 600 competitors, and dozens more just there for what has become renowned as one of the most raucous parties of the boating season.

The event started, as usual, on the night of the first Friday in March, marked out by massive spotlights combing the sky for any signs of Santa (this year's fancy dress theme was, after all, Christmas), as, after sunset, contingents from each university slowly began to filter in, making their way down towards the course for the first party of the weekend, run, for the last time this year, by the inimitable Extreme Events crew, throwing out tune after tune until the early hours of the morning.

Saturday began slowly, with the first start times for the Extreme Slalom seeding event being largely devoid of competitors (it turns out getting students on the water at 8am can be a mammoth task), but the safety crew were in fine fettle, despite some of them having had to share a campsite with at least a dozen after parties. The opening went smoothly, with competitors performing a variety of tricks and skills on their way down the early part of the course (a 360 in any plane, an old skool move on the inlet gate, hitting a ball in an eddy, a new skool move on twin wave) to sort them into their various heats. At this point, the banks along the course began to fill with spectators, as the pace began to slowly creep up, and the Extreme Events crew began pumping up the volume and shenanigans again, once again bringing the Rodeo Rabbit, a strange being thought to be part man, part pinata, who if tackled hard enough, will give you free stuff. Before long, the event was in full flow, with heats starting just after noon, including the biggest draws of the weekend, the Duo and Old Skool heats, because, much as we all like to see truly skilled kayakers going huge on a wave, there's an uncomparable joy that exists in watching a man in a 30-year-old fibreglass boat fall over a lot, and narrowly avoid landing on his mate's head, and this year, a frenchman and his friend, with berets taped to their helmets, attempting to compete in a Ducky full of presents.

Rodeo rabbit



The Saturday wound down,

bringing everyone back to the party marquee for dinner, the showing of the annual NSR Film Festival, before people left to the campsite to change into their festive regalia for the biggest party of the weekend. And so it began, countless baby Jesuses, Christmas jumpers, donkeys, snowmen, and one deviant inexplicably, but unavoidably, dressed in a mankini descended on the party tent for the most oddly-timed Christmas party I've ever experienced. Beer flowed freely, the dancing was unhinged, and everyone slept soundly through the classic combination of exhaustion and plenty of drinks.




Final day

The final day began, much like the day before it, slowly, but brightly, although the odd smattering of snow did add a truly festive feeling to the event. Once again, the Extreme Events crew were up, giving commentary, music, and occasional abuse to competitors, as the judges, huddled under their blankets in the chilly morning air, began the arduous job of scoring people who felt as rough as they did. There were of course, many highlights from the final day, the novice finals producing some strong competition as to who could make the biggest idiots out of themselves to impress the judges, some good rides in the expert competitions, and the fairly impressive sight of Sandra Hyslop looping the new ZET Toro. The rodeo rabbit was out again, as was his new compatriot, the Rodeo Reindeer, as well as several apprentices, looking to take up his prestigious mantle, dressed, oddly, in pig suits. The free gifts flowed freely and the sponsors seemed be doing extremely well with demos, most of the interest being focused on Dagger’s new Nomad and the aforementioned Toro, with a lot of people realising that the large 9R is a fantastic boat for big popouts.

But finally, the regular competitions came to an end.The Novice, Intermediate and Expert classes were all decided, leaving only the Old Skool and Duo events to close out the weekend.Truly remarkable displays of athleticism were on show in the Pre-2000 class, as these great sportspeople wrestled their ancient, rickety, oversized craft into performing incredible feats (a personal favourite being, as always, Dave Burne, king of old skool), and what is there to say about the Duo final?

Twice the people, twice the fun, twice the carnage (and not to mention twice the inconvenience for the safety crew when they find one with no airbags). Traditionally one of the most fiercely-competitive events, this year was no different, with moments of king of the wave, which is no mean feat in duos and tired limbs leading to no end of work for the safety teams lining the banks trying to clear all the mess from the water.



Prize giving

As compère extraordinaire Tom Parker sounded the horn, though, competition was complete. The course was closed, and the attendees retired to the grandstand to watch the prize giving. As always, the best prizes went to the novices, showing how much of a grassroots event this is, trying to draw more beginners into the sport, but everybody who podiumed went away feeling well-rewarded. The overall university prize of a custom boat from Palm/Dagger went to Nottingham Uni, with Sheffield and Southampton coming second and third and winning boats from Wavesport and Zet respectively.

The PGL award for the university that most embodies the participatory ethos of the rodeo went to Birmingham Uni, giving them a year’s sponsorship from PGL, as did this year’s Pyranha #BeMoreBeth prize, given out in memory of Beth Hume, a shining light of the UK, and global, kayaking scene, whom we sadly lost last year, to the university group that most embodied her great enthusiasm for kayaking, life, and everything that came along with it.

With that, the event was over, the only thing left to do was to head back to the campsite, gather possessions, and make our way back home, knowing, sadly, that this wouldn’t happen for another year, where, according to next year’s bosses, we’ll be bringing the apocalypse to Nottingham.



Final results:

Thank you

Men’s Novice 1. Michael Edwards, 2. Angus Bangs, 3. James Herron

Thanks to Leeds University for organising the event, particularly Rhys Williamson, Sarah North and Struan Fishburn. Thanks also to River Legacy, for organising the bar, catering and venue, Extreme Events for their final, legendary weekend after giving us all a bunch of nights we’ll never forget (or remember) for the last 10 straight years. Gareth McMann and Ben Plunkett of the University of DamX for organising the safety team, the countless volunteers who help run the event, and, of course the sponsors – Palm, Pyranha, ZET, Wavesport, PGL, Dewerstone, Aquapac and all the other sponsors – without whom the event could not run at all. You’re a bunch of legends.

Men’s Inter 1. Joseph Moorhouse, 2. Oli Bragg, 3. William Johnson Men’s Expert 1. Hugo Scott, 2. Johnny Stitt, 3. Sam Valman Women’s Novice 1. Alice Breed, 2. Abbie Cresswell, 3. Melissa Wright Women’s Inter 1. Charlotte Johnson, 2. Erin Riley, 3. Anna Richardson Women’s Expert 1. Jen McGaley, 2. Helen Tatlow, 3. Molly Sanger C1: 1. Jonas Unterberg Squirt: 1. David Rogers Old Skool: 1. Dave Burne Duo: 1. Josh Veasy & partner Overall: 1. Nottingham, 2. Sheffield, 3. Southampton


2 0 1 6


Low grey clouds rolling over lush green hills provided a moody backdrop to the 2016 edition of the Thrombi X-Fest, South Africa’s oldest and largest whitewater festival, held on the Umzimkulu River near the town of Underberg in the highlands of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Each year, there are a few foreign paddlers who make the flight to join the event and experience the great vibe that makes Thrombi such an awesome event, as well as to sample some classic South African whitewater.This year, paddlers from Sri Lanka and Australia made the flight across to experience one of the best kayaking festivals around. Story: Luke Longridge Photos: Terence Vrugtman Flag illustration: Garyck Arntzen



DiD you know… South AfRicAn hAS thE highESt commERciAL bungEE jumPing bRiDgE in thE woRLD At boukRAnS

From the lush scene, one wouldn’t guess that just two weeks prior to the event, water levels were so low that the Umzimkulu River wasn’t even runnable. After a massive El-Nino event in late 2015 led to one of the worst droughts South Africa had seen in decades, little rain had fallen in months. With heat-waves and record temperatures across South Africa, kayakers were nervous that the annual Thrombi X-Fest would have to be cancelled. However, the rain gods delivered at the 11th hour, with the river rising to paddleable levels a week prior to the event and enough water for a lowmedium level on race day. Having run since the late 1990s, at the infamous Thrombosis Gorge (from where the event gets its name), Thrombi X-Fest owes much of its success to the magnificent venue at the Umzimkulu River Lodge. In contrast to many whitewater festivals, spectators have easy access and can walk up and down along the river, watching the action from close-up as kayakers race down 700 metres of class III-IV whitewater. Since 2015, whitewater stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has been added to whitewater kayaking, adding to the diversity of the event.

Thrombi X-Fest Held as a small charity event alongside the larger Drak Challenge canoe race, Thrombi raises a little money each year for Pevensey Place Adult Cerebral Palsy Centre, and commemorates the brothers Guy and Graeme Anderson, well-known kayakers from the Underberg area who died in tragic circumstances in 2012.



head-to-head racing

Whilst there was a massive turnout for the 2015 event, the drought meant fewer paddlers made the drive down to the beautiful town of Underberg at the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains. Those that did make the effort were rewarded with one of the best festivals yet. Thrombi is the only whitewater festival in South Africa to feature head-to-head racing down rapids with names such as Tonsils, Slot Machine and Supertubes – loads of fun for paddlers and action for spectators.

Paddlers must race down a short section of class II whitewater, before dropping into Tonsils and then Slot Machine shortly thereafter. These rapids provide most of the action, with loads of possibilities for overtaking and spectators usually sit in the shade here, watching the action. This is followed by a section of smaller rapids and pools, before the lead-in to Supertubes, a tricky rapids with a 90-degree left turn where many races can be lost at the last minute, and onto the finish at the end of this rapid. Races are untimed, meaning paddlers must only beat the other competitors in their heat. Racing begins with a first round of heats, where five kayakers battle it out, with the top two from each heat going through to a semi-final.

DiD you know… South AfRicA nAtuRALLy hoStS fouR of thE SEvEn fAStESt mAmmALS in thE woRLD, nAmELy thE wiLDEbEESt,thE AfRicAn Lion,thE SPRingbok AnD fAStESt of ALL,thE chEEtAh



Competition is intense Losers from the first round have another chance to make it through in a second round of heats. The top two paddlers from these heats (where between eight and ten paddlers race against each other) go through to the semi-finals. The semis usually dish up a large amount of action, with eight strong paddlers going head-to-head. The competition is intense, as the top four paddlers from each semi-final go through to the final. The event takes place at a leisurely pace, allowing time for paddlers to walk back up after their races, and for safety to be set up. Spectators can chill next to the river, listen to music from the Red Bull event vehicle, demo SUPs or swim in the calmer sections. Before the finals take place, SUP sprint races take place over a shorter section of about 200m, finishing below the first drop of the gorge, a rapid known as Tonsils. Three heats of SUP racing lead up to a final. Although still small compared to kayaking, whitewater SUP is growing and provides spectacular spectator value for the event, with people crowding the deck overlooking the finish of the race to see if anyone can stay upright and on their boards. After the SUP races are the kayak finals, where eight top kayakers race for the glory of being the Thrombi X-fest champion. In 2016, Philip

Claassens narrowly beat local paddler Mark Willment (the 2015 champion), who was followed in third by Will Rorich. After the racing, competitors trip down the gorge below the racing section. Filled with numerous fun class III and IV rapids, the gorge is regarded as one of the classics of South African whitewater. The real action comes as kayakers run the nine-metre Thrombi Falls, a deceptively simple waterfall that can easily dish out beatings to unsuspecting paddlers but mostly rewards kayakers with awesome photos and great memories. Running Thrombi for the first time is a milestone in any South African kayaker’s career. Surrounded by friends, with loads of spectators and cameras, many kayakers run the falls a few times at the event. This may also be because they want to maximize the value of the trip, as any run down Thrombi is followed by a lungbusting, quad-breaking hike out of the gorge afterwards. Reaching the top of the hill, one is always greeted by cold beer, and it is here that the events of the day begin to be reminisced about, and the beers get everyone warmed up for the Saturday night party.

did you know… South AfricA'S tAble MountAin Alone hAS More flower SpecieS thAn englAnd, wAleS, irelAnd And ScotlAnd coMbined

ThepAddler 101

ThePAddler 102

Held in the town of did you know… South AfricA hAS the longeSt Stretching wine route in the world

Underberg, the Saturday night party is the crux of the event, and always delivers a great time.The organisers of the Drak Challenge (a canoe race held on the upper section) put together a great venue, with a well-stocked bar, DJ and dance floor.The folks from the town of Underberg joined in for an awesome party, which as always, ended in the early hours of the morning.The Sunday is always greeted with solid hangovers, easily cured with a hot breakfast and another run down Thrombosis Gorge, a run of the falls and a hefty hike out to burn off any alcohol remaining in the bloodstream. Held at the prime of the South African kayak season, Thrombi is a great place to meet the South African kayaking community, and

Underberg is also a great start to any kayaking trip around South Africa, being in close proximity to the classic runs of Kwazulu Natal (Deepdale Gorge, the Polela River, and the Waterfalls section of the Umzimkulu), as well as the spectacular whitewater of the nearby Transkei (the Tsitsa, Inxu, Pot and Hawespruit rivers). Numerous local operators and guides are available for international paddlers wanting to check out the South African kayaking scene. Paddlers wanting to know more can check out or


t h e






R I V E R Story: Darcy Gaechter Small World Adventures

Often, the best adventures are those you don’t plan. Conversely, you can plan every last detail down to the exact number of calories you need to consume during each meal and have things fall apart. One thing I’ve found, is that weather – and the ability to deal with it – is a key factor to the success of any paddling expedition. Weather is also the one factor in pre-trip planning that you can’t control. Often, you just have to hope you get lucky.



Then we looked at the Northern

Grand Ca

“Spectacular grade 5 multi-da Don and I headed north to British Columbia in the late summer of 2015 with a month of free time and a long list of river objectives. Despite a successful first trip down the Babine River – which included the special treat of watching six grizzly bears snag salmon straight out of the river with their quick jaws as the salmon tried to jump up the small falls at ‘Bear Drop’ rapid – it seemed our BC kayak trip was destined to fail. Things quickly went downhill after that first trip. We spent a lot of time driving around in the rain, paddling in the rain, camping in the rain, and watching in dismay as the hydrographs for many of the rivers we wanted to do steadily climbed upwards, not downwards as we were hoping. We went down our list checking off planned rivers, not because we had done them, but because in a perfectly bad weather pattern we found that most of our rivers were too high, while the few select that weren’t raging out of control were actually too low. We lost one bid on a permit for a trip that would have “saved our fall” and then, due to a family emergency, we had to fly back to the US for five days. It seemed this British Columbian kayaking vacation wasn’t meant to be. Having chalked up this paddling trip to a lovely, albeit very long, road trip through North America, we flew back into Terrace, BC from our last-minute trip to Texas expecting to do a little sightseeing and then start the 36-hour drive home. That’s when Greg called and said that two people had dropped out of their upcoming Clore River trip and they were looking to fill the spots for the float plane ride in. We’d never heard of the Clore River before; but Greg guided for us at Small World Adventures, and we knew any trip he was planning was sure to be a good one. Having no clue where the Clore River was, what it entailed, or how hard it was, we said, “hell yes we want to join you Greg!” We had to move fast as the plan was to fly the next day. The trip was only two days long so didn’t require too much gear, but still we had to throw together sleeping bags,

tent, food, stove, rescue gear, emergency gear and paddling kit. Our final preparation was to Google the Clore River, BC and see what we were getting ourselves into. We watched a few videos full of kayaker boys running around in board shorts and no shirts the in sunshine, surrounded by blue skies, beautiful scenery, and running some fun-looking whitewater. Then we looked at the Northern BC kayaking guidebook which said of the Grand Canyon of the Clore, “Spectacular grade 5 multi-day trip; continuous committing 10 km canyon; every drop is huge; remote wilderness.” Perfect. Just the kind of river adventure we needed to salvage our BC trip.

“As deep as the Stikine”

We woke up to a steady rain and 10 degrees Celsius and prepared to drive to the lake near Smithers, BC where we would meet our float plane. It was a stark contrast to the videos we’d watched the night before, and I was getting more anxious by the hour about our water levels. Two of the guys in our group had done the Clore before and talked about the inescapable canyon, “As deep as the Stikine” and how disastrous high water could be in the gorge. Rain continued to pour down. and someone from Alpine Lakes Air called to tell us that our flight was delayed due to the poor weather. I tried to keep my anxious thoughts to myself, but inside, I was certain we were screwed. We wasted a few hours in Smithers and then made our way to Alpine Lakes Air where we started to load the float plane with all of our gear. It was a tight flight, but we managed to cram all seven kayaks and people into the little plane. Our flight in was spectacular with cloud-shrouded peaks all around us and a turquoise blue lake system below us. We landed on Bernie Lake and made quick work of unloading the plane as our pilot had more flights to make and we had to paddle 28kms of Class II/III in order to camp just above the gorge and give ourselves the best chance of making it through the difficult whitewater the next day.

n BC kayaking guidebook which said of the

anyon of the Clore,

ay trip; continuous committing 10 km canyon; every drop is huge; remote wilderness.�



Grand Canyon of the Clore

We reached camp as it was getting dark and set to work collecting firewood and setting up tents and tarps. We were directly above the entrance to the Grand Canyon of the Clore and it was, perhaps, the most intimidating place I’ve ever camped. The walls just below us immediately closed in on each other and the gradient was steep. Looking downstream, it was painfully obvious that tomorrow was going to be intense. It had continued to rain all throughout the day. No one besides me vocalized any doubts about the potential for a high water situation, and I desperately hoped that they, not I, would be right in this situation, but still, I wanted a ‘back up plan.’ I had paddled down to camp assuming that if the river did flood, we could all hike out before dropping into the gorge. I had even done a quick scout on Google Earth that morning before we left Terrace to see if this seemed reasonable. On the computer, the hike out looked difficult, but doable. In real life it looked nearly impossible. I didn’t sleep much that night. Despite a steady drizzle throughout the night, we woke up to the same water level we’d had the day before. Everyone was excited to get to the whitewater and we packed up camp quickly and got on the water. The first rapid was ten metres downstream of camp and for the next four hours we faced a relentlessly continuous river locked into the bottom of a deep, tight, and menacing gorge. There are no easy sections in the heart of the Clore Canyon and it is not pool drop, it is the very epitome of continuous. The only break a kayaker gets is when they catch an eddy, otherwise it’s non-stop hard whitewater forcing paddlers to stay

alert. The two guys in our group who had done the run the year before remembered a good deal of it and took the lead. As we bombed down some of the most continuous IV/V rapids I’ve encountered, we each fought personal battles with strong hydraulics, huge ledges, sharp rocks and the mental strain of going deeper into the crack in earth that is the Grand Canyon of the Clore. After one sketchy portage that required charging into a tiny, boiling, must make eddy and then climbing out of our kayaks with the aid of a rope (put into place before the first kayaker ran), the pressure of the inescapable canyon walls and the persistent hard whitewater started to get to me. I started to lose my focus and began wondering if we were close to the end of the run – a dangerous thought in a canyon like the Clore; and a useless one as well since there were absolutely zero options besides finishing the run. Reminding myself of this, I had a quick snack of a Clif Bar, refocused myself, and harvested my reserves of energy. Then I got back into my kayak and did what I had to do.

For the next four hours we faced a

relentlessly continuous river locked into the bottom of a deep, tight, and menacing gorge



We also had that incredible feeling of satisfaction that only

adrenaline sport junkies can understand

Whitewater mellowed

After four hours of the physically and mentally draining task of surviving non-stop Class IV/V, we reached the regularly paddled ‘Flintstones’ section of the Clore and the whitewater mellowed to Class III/IV. We flew through this section with high spirits after having completed a successful descent of the Grand Canyon of the Clore. At the take-out we hiked and bush-wacked our way through an old clear cut to Louis’s truck. It was pouring down rain and we were all cold and tired, but we also had that incredible feeling of satisfaction that only adrenaline sport junkies can understand. It’s that feeling you get after pushing your limits, after feeling you’ve faced danger and come out alive; it’s the elated calm after the adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like it and, just like a drug, it leaves you begging for more. Then, six guys and me piled into the truck in a steamy, soggy mess, cracked our beers and started down the long, bumpy logging road back to Terrace. It poured all night long and most of the rivers were flooded the next day, including the Clore. Luck had been on our side for this one.

Google map:

Paul Ramsdale. River Dee. Image: Pete Astles


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DW 16

A storming performance

Travel the world for adventure if you like, but the annual Devizes Westminster International Canoe Race provides a test as good as any if you want a challenge in the UK. The 2016 race, like every year, is a story. Records were broken in the non-stop Senior Doubles race, while 70 mph winds from Storm Katie forced the cancellation of day four, the final stage. It was calm on Devizes Wharf on Easter Friday before the storm. Clear skies and sunshine encouraged stage race crews on their way. Gentle applause and cheers accompanied boats setting off on the four-day 125-mile challenge. What a difference a day makes. On Easter Saturday, Senior Doubles crews were setting off on the non-stop race. Gusting winds up to 45mph and seemingly spontaneous torrential rain crashed in from time to time. It was positively gentle compared with what was to come. By Peter Hutchison

Peter Maycock and Tristram Turner crossing the line at Westminster - DW2016 Photo: Ollie Harding –



Senior Double crews take on the course nonstop leaving Devizes on Easter Saturday, finishing the next day. Senior Singles, Junior Doubles, Junior Vet crews and the Endeavour touring class take on the course over four days, leaving on Good Friday to finish on Easter Monday. The challenge is physical from the endurance and, particularly for non-stop crews, mental as paddling through the night demands fighting off sleep as well as the requirement to arrive at Teddington within a four-hour time window. It might sound easy, but when the body is screaming with discomfort, each stroke is pure pain and the time just falls away. Just over a quarter of the 136 entry field retired. While the fastest crew was just over 17 hours, the slowest took over 40. It’s also a logistically demanding event as your support crew providing food and hydration must follow you down the course. They can’t paddle the boat for the team, but miss a couple of stops and the team in the boat quickly lose energy and motivation.

Senior Doubles open field

Before the start, there was no clear Senior Doubles favourite but a handful of crews that could be in the running. To win the race you’ve got to complete the course and record a time. Two of those crews were out of the race retiring at Reading and on the tideway, one faded way below expectations. Fastest over the line was the crew of Tristram Turner and Peter Maycock. Turner was on his fifth DW, with a win in 2007 under his belt, Maycock was a rookie. The Bristol-Exeter pairing crossed the line is 17 hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds. Maycock recalls a gentle lead-up to the race, completing the Glasgow to Edinburgh Challenge in October. A couple of Watersides, one Thameside and a decision on deadline day give a laid-back impression. Behind the scenes was a carefully planned approach, creative training, a focussed attentive support team and a determined crew. “We were fourth in the runners and riders list,” said Turner recharging on food at the finish, “I thought that was too low and wanted to prove it!” Turner added the 2016 victory to his first nine years ago, while Maycock has a 100% record of first places.

Crews setting out on Good Friday Photo: Peter Hutchison

The female crew of Kat Burbeck and Alex Lane came in second, with a time of 17:59:45, smashing the 21-year record of 18:47:05. If that wasn’t enough, Kat completed her eighth race qualifying for the exclusive 1,000-mile club. “This

has been the best year,” said Kat on London’s Southbank, “but I’ve never worked so hard on the tideway in all my life.”

Winding down the Thames on Easter Saturday morning Photo: Peter Hutchison

Celebrating the achievement and milestone Kat added, “It just goes to show that girls can.” referring to last year’s race victory by mixed crew Lizzie Broughton and Keith Moule, and Alex’s third place position in a mixed boat with Radek Zielski. Writing on the themixedzone Kat writes they thought the record was breakable and planned for a top five finish. The combined experience in the boat with great support from the bank and good conditions – for an elite crew – delivered. “Our place is incredible, and I’m so proud of it,” said Lane, “but anyone who achieves this race deserves this race deserves the biggest pat on the back.” Third place went to the mixed international crew of Michael and Rebecca Davis from Michigan in the USA, with a time of 18:23:48, another record with just a week of portage preparation.The couple of experienced endurance canoeists met a group of British canoeists at a training camp in Florida back in the summer of 2015, talked about DW and made the decision to enter. While they sourced a boat in the UK, that group of Brits became the support crew and provided advice on strategy and portaging, as well as helping with the logistics. “We had a lot of fun, training with fantastic paddlers who have all done the race and helped us with our boat – all their time and effort really paid off,” said Rebecca at the finish.That’s the DW spirit for you, an instant community built round the race. Canal portages went well for the team, but the wind and mud meant running wasn’t an option, giving way to a sliding mud-ski technique.The river section was more like home, with flow, even if the slower kayakers created hold ups. And what of the tidal stretch? “There are probably 40 too many bridges between Teddington and Westminster,” said Rebecca laughing, “but it’s an iconic finish.”

Devizes Westminster has been running since 1948 – 68 years. It’s a 125-mile, 77-portage time trial race down the Kennet & Avon Canal to the River Thames at Reading and on to Teddington to meet the tidal Thames at high tide and then to Westminster Bridge.

Left: Second placed crew Kat Burbeck and Alex Lane at Westminster Photo: Peter Hutchison ThePADDLER 115


With very high winds forecast the DW organising team took the

reluctant and difficult decision to cancel day four

Senior Doubles second place crew Kat Burbeck and Alex Lane Photo: Peter Hutchison Stages race

Conditions for the straight through Senior Doubles were tough and mixed. Overcast and chilly, the conditions were as tough on the water as they were for support crews. For the stages race, the conditions were building to impossible having escaped the worst of the weekend with a sunny Friday departure. Senior Singles was dominated by Chelmsford CC’s Keith Moule, Senior Doubles winner last year, who was hoping for conditions that might make an attempt at the Senior Singles record possible. While Moule led the field, it was outside the record. Veteran Junior doubles was led from the start with a commanding lead created by Kim Hollman and William Playle from Barking & Dagenham. Meanwhile the Junior Doubles, coveted by clubs and schools with equal measure, was led by Dougal Glaisher and Francis Huntingford from Blundell’s School after day one. The lead had been cut from 10 to three minutes at the end of day two by the

chasing mixed pair of Daniel Palmer and Bronte Holden from Fowey CC. Resting at Teddington after day three, the lead was down to 28 seconds. The stage was set for a tideway race.

Who would win the day?

We’ll never know. Storm Katie was approaching fast and with very high winds forecast the DW organising team took the reluctant and difficult decision to cancel day four. By 0300, it was clear the decision was correct. As 70mph winds cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport nearby and flipped over moored boats in the lower Thames, high winds hammered the tents at Teddington.

DW2016 winners Tristram Turner and Peter Maycock at Westminster Photo: Peter Hutchison



120 United Kingdom

Maunsell sea forts by Richard Harpham

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Islands of the Zadar Archipelago by Marko Mrše

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Maunsell Sea Army Forts, UK Located off shore on theThames estuary, the Maunsell Sea Forts are named after the civil engineer that designed them, Guy Maunsell. Built in 1943 and decommissioned in the 1950s, after which they were left abandoned they still stand to this day. Currently the Redsands Project aims to restore the Redsands Army Fort with plans for an onsite museum devoted to the wartime and the pirate radio history, with a recording studio, and possibly broadcast facilities. By Richard Harpham





Paddling iconic and inspiring locations can be addictive and rewarding, however, there is a warning as this can result in the collection of boats and associated kit! The ‘feel good factor’ of exploring, taking a certain line or being in the moment is both exhilarating and liberating. Here at the Paddler we thought we would kickstart the sharing process by highlighting some great paddling locations that you can add to your paddling ‘bucket list’ wherever you are. As this feature develops we hope you will share some of your ideas and favourite places with the Paddler ezine from right across the planet.We aim to make them simple bite-sized chunks so keep them brief. Obviously we hope to share a wide and diverse selection of paddling destinations that will vary in skills, commitment, local knowledge and if professional instructors and guides can help move the trip from your list to reality. The first location to share is sea kayaking to the Maunsell Forts on the Thames Estuary. We picked this because simply it appears like a scene from ‘War of the Worlds’ as you approach these WWII Forts.The Guardian newspaper described them as, “Some of Britain’s most surreal and hauntingly beautiful architectural relics.”They were designed to protect the Thames and London from enemy planes and were credited with downing 22 planes and 30 doodlebugs during the war. Our trip coincided with a Force 3 rising to Force 4 and a little chop making the 20-mile paddle fairly challenging. We set off from the Isle of Sheppey and headed out into a void with the forts not visible on the horizon, working on a bearing and using the wind farm to the south of the forts. There are two sets of forts: Red Sands Forts in the Medway Channel and 6.5km further, Shivering Sands Fort. Beyond this is Knock John Tower, which was a Royal Navy (with a concrete base) and is sufficiently far that landing in Kent is a more sensible route.

We used the shipping lane channel buoys as guides for our route and also to avoid any unfortunate incidents with the larger marine traffic. We were pleased when dots appeared on the horizon confirming our compass work and this spurred us on. With the wind and tide on our side, the progress was good but we also knew the return leg would be more challenging.The tripods grew in size as we made progress towards our target, as did our excitement. I was paddling with two members from the Viking Kayak club, Steve Gray and Dom Milner who are always good company. As we approached, the light provided amazing profiles of the forts and highlighted their spectacular colours. Personally I love the sense of living history, exploring sites and our heritage, where you can touch a railing or artefact and connect with the past. The wind and tide meant a speedy flyby of the forts and after a quick play we knew it was time to head back. Winter daylight hours also meant if we didn’t cut and run we would be facing a lengthy night paddle. With the wind against us and a slowing tide, the return paddle was certainly tougher and we punctuated it with mini snacks to maintain energy levels. As we landed at dusk fading to darkness we were chilled with the bracing winter air but felt a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. Certainly it was one ticked off the bucket list and plenty more to do. The Maunsell Forts are a challenging paddle so please make sure you have the right equipment and experience for the paddle and of course check the conditions for the day.You can see more about route planning and logistics in ‘South East England and Channel Islands Sea Kayaking’ by Pesda Press. The forts were home to various pirate radio stations between 1964 and 1967 and featured in a Dr Who episode with sea monsters attacking the towers – we saw no sea monsters! They were also home to artist Stephen Turner in 2005 who spent 36 days in solitude at the fort.

Due to their good communication and their professional performance of duties, I chose

Mauricio and Alex ThePADDLER 123


To share your ‘Perfect Paddling Place’ then please send us 800-1200 words describing where and why. We of course need a minimum of eight high-resolution photos. Please send your ideas to

Examples of incredible places Richard has paddled include:

• Canoeing the Yukon River • Sea kayaking Glacier Bay, Alaska • Kayaking on the River Thames through London • Canoe camping on the River Great Ouse • Paddling the Inside Passage from BC to Alaska • Sea kayaking the Erie Canal and Hudson River in New York State • Canoeing the River Tweed on the Scottish Borders

Richard is a human powered adventurer and paddler who has completed over 8,000 miles of adventures by kayak, canoe, ski and bike He runs with his wife Ashley and co-founded, which inspires young people and communities. He is a motivational speaker drawing on his stories from adventure, in corporate life and managing the Ghana Ski Team at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Richard’s adventures test equipment in the harshest conditions and he is proud to be supported by: Paramo Clothing, Valley Sea Kayaks,, MSR, Leatherman Tools, Canadian Affair, Aquabound Paddles, Reed Chillcheater, USE Exposure Lights, Garmin GPS systems, Sealine Drybags and l

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Kayaking the maze of islands in Zadar Archipelago What happens when you combine Croatian, Italian, Illyrian culture with a dash of Turkish, put it all on dozens of small islands and islets covered in thick green maquis dotted with little fisherman villages, sprinkle some unusual carbonate rock formations, keep it all in crystal clear waters and then you go paddling there? We’re here to find out. By Marko Mrťe



You smell the intense

and refreshing scent of the pine trees.You figure out it’s coming from the little island not wider than 100 metres that you are approaching with your kayak. It’s your third crossing of the afternoon as you work your way through the dense archipelago towards the open sea. Italy is some 100km behind the horizon.The light wind has picked up carrying your kayak downwind to a little pebble stone beach.You look back and observe the poles of the shipwreck half standing above the sea level – this is the gist of what to expect here. On the one hand there is the intact nature that relaxes the senses with stunning views, diverse vegetation with intense scents of self-grown medicinal plants. Juxtaposed with this are historical leftovers of human intervention: be it a Roman quarry,Yugoslav submarine cave or an Italian shipwreck. What you see only scratches the surface of the rich and turbulent history that merged Croatian, Italian, Illyrian, Roman and Illyrian destinies.

The area is a collection of small natural harbours, villages, fishing settlements scattered on tens of islands. While tourism infrastructure is developing on many other parts of Dalmatia, this hidden gem is still intact and ideal for kayaking exploration of Croatia as it once was: wild, personal and beautiful.That includes the very basic infrastructure: organic shops (the kind that never were labelled organic because it has been that way the whole time), cafes (a Croatian necessity) and a boat to get you there (just one a day to keep the crowds away). There is one ideal starting point for exploration of the archipelago. It is a former military base that hints at its strategic position and explains why the local life is still unscratched by the influences of tourism. It is the village of Molat on the island of Molat. The archipelago is ideal for intermediate or more relaxed paddlers looking for shorter island crossings and distances (up to 20km per day).

The area is a collection of small harbours, villages and fisherman settlements scattered on

tens of islands keeping the laid back small town vibe.



It is the best place for island hopping

and visiting numerous small picturesque villages. In other words great for getting a feel for what real Croatia is like – for living with the locals and moving around with your own power. There is plenty of things to discover even if you stay for 14 days.

Here are a few things you will find… Paddling through history

Molat and ‘Seven-door’ passage is one of the first areas in Croatia for which a fishing permit was issued. It illustrates the importance of this area for people throughout history. Unlike other parts of Croatia where island settlements developed into town-states (and islands were bigger and wider apart), here in the north, the villages remained small and functioned more as neighbourhoods of the nearby town of Zadar. That vibe is still preserved today. No hotels, very few tourists and a setting where everyone knows everybody else. The shipwreck that it is located in the area dates to the 1960s and is reminder of the Yugoslav approach to sustainability (it was just left there after it’s maritime accident). Within 30km from this point there are submarine caves and hundreds of metres of underground military tunnels – infrastructure used to defend this archipelago from neighbouring Italy. Today it is an absolutely surreal site. If you’re not much of a history buff, you can always appreciate the echo in the cave or the feel as you paddle deep inside the island. Paddle on and you will find yourself next to the old Roman quarry. The area is not all about history – the nature is stunning and there is much to see in a couple of days.

Stunning nature

The nature is very diverse and geologically the area is very old (Triassic period). Expect sandy beaches, pebble stone covered coves, turquoise water, carbonate cliffs, numerous islets, coves and meandering rock shore (ideal for slaloms in high tide). Jump in the water and expect to find equally dynamic sea floor with caves and cliffs.

One thing that comes as a surprise in this warm climate is the greenness of the area. Tall pine trees, thick maquis and a number of self-grown medicinal plants unique for this part of Europe. It explains why one of the islands was named after honey (Mellitus – Molat).Yes, there is a local beekeeper for sampling its products.

Picturesque fisherman villages

A unique kayaking twist is the fact that itineraries include island hopping on both uninhabited islands and a collection of small fishing villages, known for sticking to their traditions. One day you may be on Zverinac Island sampling its olive oil, the next day in Molat sampling its honey and local goat cheese, whilst further north, Silba will offer a wide variety of bars and restaurants and a slightly more upbeat vibe (but still on the very laid back end of the spectrum typical for the archipelago).



Paddling heaven: from cliffs and coves to

shipwrecks and submarine caves

Cultural shock

Depending on where you are coming from, or how much you have travelled in the Mediterranean, expect a bit of a surprise – it’s as if time has stopped.The islands have their own relaxed pace and you feel the easy going mode as soon as you step on the island from the public catamaran boat. It’s all about small rituals. By the third day you will be drawn into the small town life and start connecting the dots and subtle social hints. For example, why is the baker late today or why fisherman are rushing to the sea before the winds change? Things work perfectly in their own rhythm and people will be very friendly and helpful, even if they reply in perfect Croatian. The climate is mild.The sea is crystal clear. Traditions are well respected.This may explain why even after years of paddling in the area, the kayak is still considered the most unusual vehicle. Locals will always dismiss an invite for a short paddling session with a nod and a slight grumpy murmur, “I’m not getting in one of those (kayaks). I can’t install my outer board motor! What if I capsize?”

Your neighbour may not be a paddler, but there is a big focus on organic and local food. Be it locally caught squid, fish or calamari, you get your share of organic produce served at the end of a long paddling day. Same goes for locally grown vegetables, olive oil and a few more surprises.


Croatian outdoor policy may be far from the Swedish ‘Allemansratter’ (every man’s right or free to camp anywhere).You can only camp in designated areas, the main reason being the fact that fires are a big issue in Croatia. Particularly so in July and August when the grass dries out, temperatures reach the 30s, rain is infrequent and it doesn’t take much to start a fire. Add in to the mix many first time campers from the hordes of tourists that come to the mainland and it’s a very real hazard. On the islands there are very few camps since most are on the mainland for easy car access. Independent paddlers will find it fairly easy to arrange accommodation in B&B, or improvise – it’s the Croatian way to do things.




Historically most of the people that inhabited the islands were brought in to work on the land and grow crops and they brought their animals.With time agriculture significantly reduced and animals adopted well to the island and today form a part of the wildlife.Wild goat or sheep herds can be found in the coves cooling down knee deep in the sea. Donkeys often come by our kayaks in one of our bases to get their share of water in the summer months.

Cormorants are common all around the area and sea gulls are particularly ‘talkative’ in May when defending their nests on remote islets. On trips it is common to see bottlenose dolphins that are an endangered species in Croatia, but their population has stabilised. Molat Island is also a hub for Dolphin research in the area and there you can find out more about the protection work being undertaken. If you keep an eye on things you may also run into large owls and falcons.

Planning your trip/quick facts… Best time to come: from April to October.

Airport: Closest airport is Zadar (30-minute drive from the Old Town) and alternatively Split (90-minute drive)

Getting to the base: passenger boats for Molat depart daily from Zadar Old Town

Other activities on Molat Island: cycling, yoga, beekeeping tour, local wine and cheese sampling events.

For any questions or assistance with planning your trip in North Dalmata you can reach


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With its vast and stark lunar landscape, limited vegetation and dark coloured Pacific Ocean, it might be difficult to understand how Peru can be described as a tropical paradise. While this South American country lacks the stereotype of blue water, palm trees and white sandy beaches, it’s the never-ending point breaks found in remote locations - resulting in kilometres of unridden gems – which have kept me here for the past six years. Story: Nathan Eades

t h e




Accompanied by only three other surfers, we hopped into the water and

surfed throughout the day

Strong equatorial sunshine

Where the Humboldt current meets the strong equatorial sunshine, the tepid water temperature provides an escape from the cold, bleak British coastline and enables the year round use of a 3/2 wetsuit even in the heart of winter. Peru is not the board short and rash vest surfing destination many associate with perfection, but the lack of extreme heat reduces the trade winds usually found in tropical surf destinations. Here the wind will not cut your session short and you do not have to restrict your surf trip to early mornings in order to enjoy glassy waves. Surf travel in the land of the Incas is fairly straight forward as the public transport is

first-class with internal flights linking all the major cities along the coast and the excellent overnight bus services being more than accommodating with the carriage of your kayak, waveski or surfboard. To discover the magic of the secret spots and unpopulated line-ups, however, investing in a truck is the key to this wave rider’s dream.


The temptation eventually got the better of top French waveskier Pablo Arrouays who decided it was time to pay Peru a visit. After collecting Pablo from Jorge Chavez international airport, we reviewed the forthcoming swell and decided the only

logical decision was to load up the truck, set off from Lima at 0500 the next morning to miss the traffic, navigate our way through the menacing Callao district without losing our toys and cruise north towards the area of Ancash to score Bermejo.

Perfect two-metre high walls

Some three hours after setting off on our road trip, we found the small dirt road that abruptly exits the Pan-American Highway approximately 250km north of Lima. As we approached the end of the track, we turned the corner and our eyes almost jumped out of their sockets at the sight of perfect twometre high walls of water running for approximately 300 metres from the point.

Bermejo is fickle and rarely works – this was my third attempt to surf the wave. It requires a strong southerly with enough west in it to kick the swell into the bay, clip the rocky point and peel off along the remote beach. Our hard work had paid off and accompanied by only three other surfers, we hopped into the water and surfed throughout the day, stopping for water and shelter from the sunshine under what little shade the truck would afford. In Europe, when we receive swells with a period of ten or even 12 seconds, we consider it a good day. Pablo and I enjoyed dry hair paddle outs, which were a result of the 22-second period, which this swell rolled in at.

Peruvian facts: The potato is originally from Peru, and there are over 3,000 different varieties.



Taking the gamble

Sensing the swell might be strong enough to light up Chicama; one of the best waves in Peru, 600km north and near the city of Trujillo, we had to tackle a tough decision… stay put in Bermejo and surf a second day, or leave a perfectly functioning wave behind and possibly arrive in the north empty handed. We took the gamble making the call to drive through the night trading 300 metres for (potentially) onekilometre long rides. Without the luxury of service stations and roadside assistance afforded to us when driving in Europe, coupled with the aggressive driving commonly found on the congested, poorly surfaced Pan-American Highway, it's always an energetic and emotional mission to Trujillo. After five hours in the water at Bermejo and a seven-hour journey north, we woke the next morning in Puerto Malabrigo (the other name for this surfing mecca) and looked out at corduroy perfection rolling into the bay. She lived up to her reputation as one of the longest lefts in the world and reminded all those lucky enough to surf her that day, that Machu Picchu really isn't the only reason to make the gruelling flight down to this incredible country.


Chicama relies on a wrap-around swell which sweeps up from the south and connects with a large peninsula known as El Cape before it pendulums into the bay. It requires a little bit of west in the direction to ensure that the walls hit the long bay square-on preventing the wave from softening up as it grinds along its seemingly never ending journey. I never get tired of this place… after a marathon walk up to the point, shortly followed by an aggressive paddle out against the strong closeout, you eventually arrive at the start of the ride. Next you find yourself participating in an endless battle against the strong current which thrashes through the critical take-offzone near jagged rocks, distracting your concentration and unsettling your nerve. Paddle reps are high in this tiring ordeal which leaves you doubting why you made the effort, but once you take the drop, your world becomes eerily silent and the elements which you were fighting against seconds before now send you gliding towards your first kilometre of the day.

Peruvian facts: Guinea Pig is a traditional dish eaten in Peru.

Peruvian facts: Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru is the world’s highest navigable lake, and South America largest lake.

Peruvian facts: Peru is a surfer’s paradise. Chicama has the world’s longest left-handed wave at 2km long, and the coast is littered with world-class point breaks.



Watch the videos‌ Footage by: Pablo Lacanau

the local Chicama surfing community were still trying to work out whether the Frenchman was riding a

kayak, SUP, or a UFO! This was a good day to ride the wave with almost all essential ingredients aligning for us resulting in a modest wall, which, assisted by the swell direction, lit the fast and hollow El Hombre reef section alight all day long. Pablo hid from the sunshine and tucked himself away inside barrels all morning before launching off the lip all afternoon. As the sun set at the end of the day, all that was left to do was sample the refreshing taste of Peruvian cerveza with the company of the local Chicama surfing community who were still trying to work out whether the Frenchman was riding a kayak, SUP, or a UFO! The main attractions to Peru – for many surfers – are the infamous long left point breaks of the north, and rightly so, yet many surf travellers are too quick to escape Lima and head for Chicama overlooking the exceptional surfing spots just south of the capital. Due to the amount of energy in the Pacific Ocean, you can find a ride-able wave 365 days a year in Peru if you know where to look. As the swell dropped, and the point breaks of the north went back to sleep, it was time for us to head south and seek out some of the reef breaks around Punta Hermosa and San Bartolo.

Due to the high standard of surfers around Lima, the line-ups become a little more competitive and two waveskis joining the mix were not met with the warmest of receptions, but, as the swell pulsed and the size increased enough to deliver the power required to unlock aerial activity, the frowns converted to smiles and the silence to conversation. It always seems to be the case, wherever you surf in the world; waveski riders and kayak surfers alike are at the bottom of the food chain and it takes a little longer for us all to establish ourselves in a surfing environment. My opinion is that the hostility stems from a doubt that we do not have full control of our crafts – experience has taught me that providing you show respect to other riders and remain humble, the ambience quickly improves. The way forward could be to expose our sport within more line-ups and illustrate to the surfing world exactly what paddle surfers can do with high quality waves. With the ever excellent level of paddle surfing taking place in Europe and the introduction of exciting, innovative new British brands such at Ride Surf Kayaks and VE paddles, waveski and surf kayaking is taking more traction now than ever before.

Peruvian facts: Cotahuasi Canyon in the Arequipa region is considered one of the world’s deepest canyon at 11,597 feet deep – twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. ThePADDLER 143


If you haven't yet sat on a waveski or surfed a kayak in the ocean, give it a go this summer – I promise you will not regret it.Those readers who have already begun riding waves in surf specific crafts, the next thing for you to do is buy yourself a flight ticket and find your surfing paradise. For now, Peru remains my paradise and has enabled me to enjoy countless miles of Pacific point break and cultural surfing adventures. For those interested in a trip to South America, don't be put off by the long and expensive flight across; once you are here you will find that accommodation is cheap, the excellent cuisine is very reasonably priced and the waves will blow your mind! For more information contact Nathan Eades:

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148 Bolivia

Exploring the Rio Enatahua by Simon Chapman

160 United States

Ain’t Louie Fest,Tennessee by Steve Childs

170 Coaching

Effective tandem forward paddling by Paul Bull



RIO ENA Story: Simon Chapman



This mountain has no name. No one has ever climbed it. No one has ever seen it, except perhaps from an aeroplane, one of many rain-forested ridges, the last and lowest of the Andean foothills that cover the bulk of Bolivia’s Madidi National Park. The redoubtable Colonel Fawcett passed close-by in 1913, after mapping the border with Peru, but even he avoided finding a route through the ‘serranias’, preferring to go around them as do the present day narco-traficantes who use the lower-lying rivers as a convenient route to bring in their bundles of cocaine.The high ridges are still unexplored.

They are simply too hard to get through. ThePADDLER 149


We (Julian Singleton – fellow Brit, Reynaldo – Mosetene Indian guide, Dañel – our porter, and myself) have paddled and dragged a pole-and-skin canoe up an untravelled river to get here. We want to get to the unknown Rio Enatahua. There could be lost Inca cities, new species to discover and uncontacted Toromonas Indians. This will be our third attempt at reaching the Enatahua. ‘Third time lucky’ we have assured ourselves. The vital piece of kit for the expedition was a portable ‘Pak-canoe’. It consists of a five and half metre red neoprene skin held rigid by aluminium poles tensioned around cross ribs. The whole thing weighs around 24 kilograms, can be split into several loads (poles, frame and skin) and is good for three people plus expedition gear for a month. As much of our trip would be on foot carrying everything, we decided to keep a porter (Dañel) with us for the duration of the

trip. This meant we would be overloading the canoe when we floated it but we figured that would be fine for flat water and when we hit rapids, someone would just have to get out. This was not to be an issue for the first few days at any rate. Paddling up the first river, the Madidi, was tough on our arms (recent rain had made the current stronger) but otherwise a joy to canoe with emerald kingfishers flitting in front of us, spider and howler monkeys in the trees and the screeching of macaws morning and night to break the constant, gentle ticking of the insects.

Tapir, giant otter and jaguar tracks

Three days in, we arrived at the unnamed river, which we would follow upstream to its source before crossing over the watershed to the Enatahua.The mud bank at its mouth was churned up with tapir, giant otter and jaguar tracks. A few meanders in and the mud had been replaced by pebbles that became larger at each subsequent river bend as we neared the ridges that separated us from the Enatahua. We used the canoe now mainly as a load carrier to drag the rucksacks of food closer to our goal, sometime paddling but increasingly dragging the boat and occasionally portaging it past larger rapids.

The insects were horrendous.The payback for calmer sections of river were marahuisa sand-flies that left itchy bloodspots on any exposed skin. We kept hats on and sleeves rolled down and sprayed on repellent even though it washed off virtually straight away. Reynaldo wore woollen gloves. After six days we reached our set-off point for the trek over to the Enatahua. We made a base camp on a high shingle bank backed by a red mud cliff and waited while rain poured down – and the unnamed river rose.

A joy to canoe with emerald

kingfishers flitting in front of us, spider and howler monkeys in the trees



On expeditions like this you measure the distance you travel in days or hours, not kilometres. Reynaldo led the way across the watershed, machete-hacking a trail up a fractal pattern of ridges that led one to another not unlike leaflets in a fern frond. The tops were a metre wide and choked with vine tangles or thin bamboo with nasty hooks. Their sides were sheer. On the first day, nine hours trail-bashing made us only two kilometres headway. Julian and I were worn out and ready to give up then, and that’s where Reynaldo’s strength as a guide came in, not that he had been here before. “You can’t give up now,” he said, “there’s only six kilometres more to go.Tomorrow we might do three of them.” A large group of spider monkeys bedded down in the trees above us that night. I think both them and us found the company reassuring.

Our elation at arriving at the Enatahua after five hours of slippery descent on the sixth day nearly dissolved straightaway when we saw the state of the river. With nearly two days of continuous rain during the crossing, we had delayed our descent hoping any flash flood would have subsided. Judging from the tide mark of debris four metres up its banks the river had certainly gone down but it still looked wild. Reynaldo’s ‘short route’ across the mountains had landed us at a seething mass of cataracts that spurted down a rocky defile, walled-in by dark cliffs and lorry-sized boulders. We built up the canoe and started seriously wondering how we were going to get back home. Downstream were rapids that would mash the canoe and going back up or walking round were now out of the question. That’s when Reynaldo did something totally brave – or totally foolhardy. Holding the 20-metre rope that was attached to the front of the boat, he launched himself into the flow. He was lost for an instant in the frothing brown water, then he surfaced behind an egg-shaped rock that seemed to divert the current to either side. His yelling was lost in the roar of the river but his hand gestures were obvious.

We kept going, reaching a point just short of, but hundreds of metres above our river.Then we went back to fetch the packed-up canoe and the rest of the food. With a trail cut, the going was faster but, struggling to keep up with the others, I almost made a fatal mistake. Luckily some part of my subconscious was looking out for me. As my foot went down, brushing through a palm sapling, “Get in the canoe. I will lower you down.” my internal alarm went off. Something like a long, squiggly turd glistened in the leaf litter. A squiggly We built up the canoe and started turd with a yellow head. And eyes. Suddenly I was hyper alert. I stepped back and peered under the palm leaf. Fer de Lance. A one-biteyou-die snake.Though I am not religious, I crossed myself and whispered ‘Thank you’. how we were going to get back home

seriously wondering



Watch the videos

Superhuman strength

Daùel, then Julian, then I vaulted in and were swept down – almost to a waterfall.Then the rope was taut, we were rowing across the current and Reynaldo, with superhuman strength, was pulling us up and around the drop.We made it to the other side.There was a ledge high above the river and, after that, a stream that spurted across.We carried the canoe along the ledge, holding it tightly as the water tried to push us over. Finally when the rocks ran out we slid the boat back into the water and paddled the last bit of the rapid until we reached a sheltered pool. We had a week of this. The white water was continuous. At first, we lowered the boat down with the rope or carried it around the boulders, only getting into it when it was too deep to wade across the river. But, little by little, the severity of the rapids eased up and we dared take them on in the canoe, riding a roller-coaster of stoppers and standing waves often hundreds of metres long. Hidden amongst the waves were boulders that the canoe would bounce off or ride over, bending and sometimes snapping its aluminium hull poles. Trying to avoid these required such complete concentration that when a jaguar came out onto the river bank, Julian and I missed seeing it; we were so focused on not wrecking the boat.



Things came to a head at the final canyon At a drop that we clearly could not ride, we all got out and pulled out the rucksacks. This was going to be a whole-canoe portage, or at least that’s what Julian and I presumed. Not Reynaldo. Ignoring the way that the boulders jetted a side current across the main flow, he started ‘longlining’ the boat down. I had just clambered around the rapid and was turning to go back and get the paddles when I saw the canoe twist like a sweet wrapper as tons of river poured into it. That’s all I saw. With the paddles now floating away, Dañel and I dived in to fetch them and we too were swept with the current. When we eventually made it back (with one paddle between us), Reynaldo had pulled out the twisted wreck and Julian was surveying the damage. Three frame pieces were bent to the point of snapping and two more were completely missing; washed away. “We’re stuck. We can’t walk or swim out,” Julian pointed out. “This is the end,” muttered Dañel. “How do the drug runners get through?” I asked Reynaldo. “They make little balsawood rafts,” he answered. “But I haven’t seen any balsa,” he added. “It’s the wrong time of year and were too high up the river.” He looked down at the mass of poles and frame pieces, Julian was busy dismantling.

“I will mend it,” he said quietly, then, taking one of the machetes, he started climbing the canyon wall. The repair was a masterpiece of resourcefulness. In two hours of blistering midday sun and voracious insects, Reynaldo saved us from disaster. He fetched saplings with the same diameter as the canoe’s aluminium frame, stripped off the bark and bent them into shape, leaving them in the sun to set hard. He splinted the other broken pieces. When we built the canoe again, we tensioned para-cord across it to stop it flexing and we promised that we would never attempt another rapid.

Three frame pieces were bent to the point of snapping and two more were completely missing;

washed away ThePADDLER 157


But, some of the rapids were unavoidable So, equipped with one proper paddle and two flatcarved pieces of balsa wood tree trunk (found after the end of the canyon) we alternately rode white water and drifted two more days back to the River Madidi and a trail we knew would get us out of the jungle. In nearly four weeks we had explored an unnamed river almost to its source, climbed an unknown mountain and been swept through the rapids and canyons of a river that no one had ever been to before.

Amazingly, we had arrived ahead of our selfimposed schedule. “We could carry on down the Madidi,” Reynaldo suggested. “We’ll find that jaguar that you want to see.” I looked at the red plastic skin of the canoe with patches stuck on the sides, at the hull poles, splinted and wrapped in duct tape, and at the frame, now half replaced with bent sticks. “Perhaps next time.” I answered him.


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‘ 1 6

TENNESSE We didn't really know what to expect of paddling in the southern states of the US. Sure, we'd all seen pics of classic creeks, we knew of rock island and the play boating Mecca it has become, and rivers like the Occoee and the Green were names we've been hearing for what seems like forever, but beyond this we knew very little about what makes the south such an irresistible boating destination for so many, and why every year OC1 paddlers from across the globe congregate on the sleepy settlement that is Lenoir city in Tennessee for the annual A.L.F. Festival (Ain't Louie Fest) Now, travelling with open canoes is always fun, but when it comes to convincing airlines that they are sporting goods it can get interesting to say the least! Luckily for us here in the UK,Virgin Atlantic still have an awesome sporting goods policy, and even more convenient for us is that the Silverbirch Covert is (just) small and light enough to fit into this policy meaning free air travel for our boats to America, and courtesy of Virgin's awesome customer service we even managed to skip the huge check in queues – happy days!





We flew into Nashville

and were met by the infamous Louie and his wonderful wife Lucero.We had a good three-hour drive back to Lenoir city from the airport and it didn't take long to work out that there are more creeks in this part of the world than you can shake a stick at and that Louie seemed to know a whole heap about most of them!

creeks to big dam released rivers, from rivers you have to wait for it to rain five days solid to get on to some that run after two months of drought and absolutely everything in between. Clearly six days wasn't going to be enough, and without even seeing a river in daylight I was already mentally planning my next trip to the south east US!

Our drive from the airport took us along the Walden ridge, which separates the Cumberland plateau from the Tennessee River valley. The plateau is made up of soft sedimentary rocks like sandstone and is a giant sponge, which

The next morning came round all too soon and we rushed to get ready to go across to the Tellico River.The Tellico is a Grade 3-4 ledge drop kind of river and is super consistent – running in all but the driest of spells making it the

offers literally hundreds of rivers to paddle. I've been lucky enough to paddle in a lot of countries around the world and I can honestly say I've never come across such a high density of paddleable rivers anywhere else, things were looking very good.

understandable epi-centre of paddling during ALF and the site of the annual O.U.T. OC1 race.

Louie barked more river names at us than we could possibly remember with jet lag when just as we thought he'd come to the end and we were dropping off the plateau towards Lenoir city, he started gesticulating towards the distance and began to describe the other two ‘areas’ within driving distance, how they differed from the plateau, and what they could offer us. So if we understood Louie correctly – there were about 200 rivers within two hours drive, covering everything from super steep micro

We arrived at Tellico plains to blazing sunshine, and in spite of the fact it was still a few days before the big weekend and race day, there were already dozens of paddlers in the valley trying to dial in their lines for the race, but mostly just hanging out, having fun, and hucking drops. Spring in Tennessee can be pretty changeable, and in previous years there has been snow on the floor for ALF, so it makes sense to bring warm clothes and that's exactly what we did – especially as Louie had laboured the point so much to us before we left the UK. School boy error number one was to not realise Louie worships the sun almost as much as his wife and school boy error number two was to not be typically British and pack for all eventualities…

Clearly six days wasn't going to be enough, and without even seeing a river in daylight I was already

mentally planning my next trip to the south east US



It may have been cold relatively speaking to the brutal southern summers, but being from Britain 85+ degrees is definitely not cold, and is certainly not drysuit weather! Totally overdressed, the guys got on the river and I elected to take photos as the sun was shining, water levels were good and there was a great atmosphere on the water.

Upper Tellico

The Upper Tellico (or ledges section as it often referred to) really is a gem. The surrounding countryside is stunning and is part of the Cherokee National Forest, the ledges provide plenty of sport for solid paddlers, but with decent pools in between to collect swimmers and with a road running along the river left bank for the entire section, access and shuttles could not be easier.

We probably spent an hour here, as did lots of other boaters, hanging out in the sunshine and lapping the drop and it was about this point I realised what a genuinely welcoming bunch the OC1 community is! Everyone was super-friendly, people went out of their way to make unfamiliar faces feel at ease, people swapped boats, advice, stories and everyone was noticeably grinning from ear to ear.To me, it felt a bit like the early rodeo events before freestyle exploded back in the 90s but with more people around and I was ensured that there would literally be a 100 or so more paddlers come race day!

The guys eventually paddled down from middle ledge. Another few hundred metres of Grade 2 leads to a distinctive left hand bend in the river and a narrowing of the river channel a little. This marks the lead-in to Baby Falls, which are the halfway point of the upper Tellico section and the finish line for the Everyone was super-friendly, people went O.U.T. race.

out of their way to make unfamiliar faces feel at ease, people swapped boats, advice, stories and everyone was

At 15-foot, Baby Falls is just big enough that you want to think about your line. Levels were relatively low so there was more risk of a hard landing than a beating but all the same the thought of from ear to ear dozens of canoes piling off the lip at the same time on race day bemused me, it was certainly going to create a spectacle come race day! A quick 200m walk from the put-in and we were at the first rapid which is called 1st Ledge. It's actually a series of several small ledges and Heavy rainfall one larger ledge at about six-foot, it provided a We were woken just before dawn on race day by nice warm up for the guys, but I couldn't help heavy rainfall.The rain just added to the but imagine the carnage that was going to excitement and Louie's house was awash with occur on race day here as everyone piled into paddlers from far and wide – I have no idea 1st Ledge from the start. where they all came from to be honest, but the garden was littered with people making lastNext up was ‘Dirty S’ another ledge but with a minute adjustments to outfitting, repairing the slightly awkward line down river left – I guess odd cracked boat and just generally milling about. this is where the name comes from! The Canadian contingent were out in full force Another few hundred metres of gentle Grade 2 and were their usual positive, bouncy selves in lead into middle ledge, which is quite possibly a spite of the unearthly hour. Andrew and Carole photographers paradise! Whilst not a big drop Westwood had even been kind enough to at approximately eight-foot, the lead in is drive via Starbucks to get me some half decent straight forward. The drop practically boofs for coffee, Andrew then proceeded to help me you, there are many angles to easily shoot from adjust the outfitting in my boat, giving me the and the sun gets in to this part of the valley benefit of his vast experience and topped it off virtually all afternoon – it could not be easier to by giving me a lift to the river – I think the lap – with an eddy immediately above and Westwood's must be in the running for nicest immediately below the drop. couple on the planet!

noticeably grinning


ThePADDLER 166 Upon arrival at Tellico Plains it was hard to believe quite how many canoes were around. Until I arrived in Tennessee the most canoes I had ever seen on a whitewater river together could be counted on one hand, but here canoes had taken over. The river was full of canoes, the car parks the same, the paths the same and with several hundred spectators to boot the Tellico Valley was alive – the race was going to be fun! We got to the put in with plenty of time to spare, which was a good thing as the crowds quickly descended on us to take a look at the Covert, feedback from the few who'd already had a chance to try the boat was quickly spreading and there were questions being thrown at us right, left and centre.

There seemed to be some confusion over the start of the race, but to be honest it felt more like a mass paddle than a race and again it was very obvious that to the vast majority of paddlers the atmosphere and the experience was way more important than winning! Having fun was the main order of the day! So around 12 noon (ish) the first few canoes began to appear from around the corner and before long what seemed like an endless stream of Jelly beans was pouring over the ledges taking every conceivable line imaginable. I sprinted down to the middle ledge to ensure I got there before the carnage arrived. I wasn't disappointed. I quickly set my camera up and snapped the first few paddlers but just wasn't ready for the deluge that followed.

Until I arrived in Tennessee the most canoes I had ever seen on a

whitewater river together could be counted on one hand ThePADDLER 167


The paddlers were now more compressed than they had been at the first ledge I guess because the river had narrowed and the action/carnage came thick and fast. With plenty of swimmers it was inspiring to see some of the best whitewater canoeists in the world, people with a genuine chance of winning the ‘race’, stop and help rescue people, help people choose lines and in some cases just help with encouragement in the right places. I probably spent too much time at Middle Ledge because by the time I had got down to baby falls the first few paddlers had already made the drop and finished. What was great to see over the next 20 minutes or so though was the eddies fill up with people as more and more piled over Baby Falls – some with style, some with trophy moves, some without their boats, some on rafts, and the highlight for me personally, which was the boof-sisters dressed as minions (thank you Marie-eve and Holly, you guys are awesome!) By the time the last ‘competitors’ had crossed the finishing line the atmosphere was electric and I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where you can see so many whitewater canoes in the same place at the same time.

Silverbirch canoes, Steve, and Kelvvin would like to thank everyone out at ALF for making us so welcome and helping us out at almost every turn! Special thanks goes to Louie and family for putting us up, driving us around, and feeding us great food!

For the remainder of the afternoon most paddlers ran laps of the Upper Tellico, continuing the party atmosphere until it ultimately turned into the after party down in Tellico Plains. A film festival, BBQs and moonshine ensured the evening went by with plenty more carnage – a great end to an incredible day. Over the next week the rain gods did not smile on us, but despite this we managed to paddle rivers all over the south east. The beauty of this part of the world is that there really is something to offer at any time of the year and in any conditions, but I think that’s a whole new story! What I will take away from my time in the south east is that the people are so amazingly welcoming and as a kayaker first and foremost, I really did learn a lot about having fun on the river – that’s what it’s all about after all, and the OC1 crew haven’t forgotten that. ☺

Steve Childs



By Paul Bull –UKCC Level 3 Coach at Paul Foundation Canoe Skills

Effective tandem In the last Early Spring edition of the Paddler, I described some methods for downwind sailing in kayaks. In this article I’d like to explore some more tandem canoe skills and look at efficient forward paddling and also hopefully bust some myths.Tandem paddling for me is an art form where two paddlers work in harmony, and with everything working correctly there should be no need to correct at all as we glide along on our journey.

Lets break down our tandem paddling into seven key concepts: 1. Offset seating positions 2. Pre-rotation 3. Stacked hands/vertical paddle 4. Blade following a line parallel to the centre line of the boat 5. Trim 6. Timing of the strokes 7. Equal weighting of power

Let’s start with our seating position. As a tandem pair, each paddler will work on opposite sides of the canoe. To aid paddling, rather than sitting square on facing the bow, each paddler should be slightly turned or offset to the side that they are paddling on. This offset seating position enables our hands to operate over the side of the boat rather than inside the boat and enables us to stack our hands more effectively. Unless we get our fundamental seating positions correct, the rest can’t happen.

Have you ever paddled on a long journey and found that your arms quickly tire? If the answer is yes, then it’s likely that you’re using too much in the way of arms and not enough of your core muscles. Pre-rotation winds top our core muscles and allows us to drive the boat forward more effectively. When paddling on the left side, a good flag for effective pre-rotation would be as you reach forward to catch the water, your left shoulder is pointing forwards and your chest starts to face to the right. For a right handed paddler the opposite is true.

Bull Coaching

forward paddling The third principle for forward paddling is making sure our hands are stacked (one over the other) and the paddle is as vertical as possible.This means that as we plant the paddle into the water, we drive the boat forward and past the paddle.The moment our top hand drops inside the boat’s gunnels we start to turn either push the bow away from the paddle or pull the stern towards the paddle and the boat starts to turn.

The fourth principle is ensuring that we drive the boat past the paddle in a straight line. Draw an imaginary line in the water to the side of the boat that is parallel to the centre line of the boat – the line from bow to stern. Again, if we plant the paddle too close to the boat we end up following the gunnel, and at the bow we push the boat away from the paddle and at the stern we pull the boat towards the paddle.

The fifth principle of tandem forward paddling is ensuring we have the correct trim. I often hear people say that the most experienced person should be at the back to correct. But actually the heavier person should be in the stern position. If we were to place the heaviest person in the bow position the boat is trimmed bow heavy and directional stability is lost and the boat always wants to turn.We should therefore swap bow and stern paddlers around so that the boat is trimmed stern heavy and the boat will track in a much straighter line.

The sixth principle of tandem forward paddling is the correct timing of the strokes. If both paddlers time the strokes effectively so that their blades enter the water at the same time the boat remains balanced, moving forward in a straight line. If we mis-time the strokes the boat will again have a tendency to turn.Who should dictate the pace and cadence of paddling? I’d argue the bow paddler should, as the stern paddler can easily see and time their strokes accordingly.

The seventh and final principle of tandem forward paddling is the equal weighting of power between bow and stern paddlers.This is a really important principle and is easily identified. If the boat turns away from either paddler then that paddler is responsible for delivering too much power. So for example if the bow paddler is paddling on the left and the boat consistently turns to the right then it is the bow paddler who is delivering too much power. So how do we fix this? Does the stern paddler deliver more power to compensate? I”d argue that the bow paddler needs to reduce their power.You often see it with male/female or adult/junior crews - an adult male can deliver more power and often turns the boat whilst telling the other paddler to put more effort in! The other paddler may already be operating at 100% and may not be able to. Net result knackered paddler after only 10 minutes! Always work well within the strength range of the weaker paddler. If you get all of these 7 principles ingrained into your forward paddling the trip will be smooth and effortless. Have a go at these tandem canoe paddling concepts if they are new to you and let me know how you get along! Happy paddling!

Paul Bull I'm an enthusiastic full time UKCC Level 3 Coach who’s passionate about helping people to develop and enjoy kayaking and canoeing whether that be more advanced skills on the more technical or bigger volume rivers of the UK and Europe or grass roots sessions nearer to home. I deliver a range of BCU and Personal Skills courses in both Canoe and Kayak around the country and from my very own recently opened centre at Tittesworth Water (, Staffordshire. More information about me and the courses I offer can be found at or via Facebook via Facebook at


The UK’s only home grown SUP magazine

SUPMagUK SUP Mag UK’s spanking spring issue is now alive, kicking and ready to order… Featuring a huge array of stories from across the planet – and the crème de la crème of UK stand up stories, it’s a must have read for anyone into the art of propelling themselves forward on a board with a paddle.



SUP diving Maldives by Fernando Stalla


10 secret tips by Flo Jung


SUP polo BBC Breakfast takes a look


School profile Surf Steps by Andy Joyce


SUPing the Clyde by Ian Cormack



Vietnam by Mark Rose

Words: Flo Jung Pics: Dave White and Pierre Bouras


Ireland by Doug Paton


20 questions The Sawyer family


Future of SUP racing by Dr Bruce Dyer


Airton and Gollito by Jeroen Aerts


Blind SUP part 3 by Dean Dunbar


Comparison reviews JP and Starboard


Gear Shed

SECRET wave riding

tips for Wave riding is probably one of the most enjoyable a s p e c t s o f S U P. Y o u a r e a p a r t o f t h e e l e m e n t s d r i v e n by the forces of nature. On some days you have small waves to play with whilst on others you have to overcome your fears to ride a big swell. Mother Nature has a lot of different faces and it is never the same. In the end riding waves is all about experience, the right timing and control. Remember: the more you learn, the better it gets. The following 10 tips are keys to one of the best feelings ever – enjoy and progress…




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The Paddler issue 29 Late Spring 2016 Kayak cover  

The International paddling magazine for recreational paddlers. Read expedition features on white water, sea kayaking, expedition kayaking, o...

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