ThePaddler May 2013 Issue 8

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Issue 8 - May 2013

ThePaddler ezine com .

International digital magazine for recreational paddlers

TOBEY’S Easter PADDLE WINTER Paddle in CHILE KENYAN Coastal SUP Join Tobey plus mum and dad

The very best of Chilean WW

Equatorial oddysey






Contents May 13

Photo of the month for May 2013 Evan Garcia riding ‘The Dome,’ Rio Santo Domingo, Chiapas, Mexico. 13th March 2013 By Francisco Lisci Editor

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

Advertising sales

Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081

Front cover: Chile by Seth Armstrong.

Huge thanks to: Francisco Lisci, Seth Ashworth, Erik Shore and Sara-Jane Daub, Sarah Wall, Joe Rae-Dickins, Matt Wilson, Evan Ross, Matt Klema, Maila Gurung, Simon Osbourne, Luke Green, Ollie O’Reilly, Sampu Samantaray, Craig Rogers, Lynne and Darren Percival, Tez Plavenieks, Dale Mears, Pete Marshall, Simon Everett, Phil Carr, Terry Wright, Leslie Kolovich, Jason Pereira and Chris Leesmith

Not all contributors are professional writers and photographers, so don’t be put off writing because you have no experience! ezine is all about paddler to paddler dialogue: a paddler’s magazine written by paddlers. Next issue is June 2013 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. ThePaddler 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. The publishing of an advertisement in ThePaddler ezine does not necessarily mean that the parent company, 2b Graphic Design, endorse the company, item or service advertised. All material in ThePaddler ezine is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission from the editor is forbidden.

Where we’ve been… 22



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94 96 98


Chile – South America First part of two on Seth’s winter long ww length and breadth paddle of Chile. By Seth Ashworth England The National Student Rodeo: the UK’s largest student kayaking event. By Sarah Wall

Peru – South America Taking on unchartered territory through Peru’s deepest canyons on a first descent. By Matt Wilson

Interview with Nepal’s Maila Gurung By Peter Tranter

Issue 8 Chile 22

Peru 44

Pyranha Loki review By Phil Carr

Kayak fishing – Wales Llangorse Lake Species Hunt. By Terry Wright


Cornwall, England Coaching along the beautiful Cornish coast. By Simon Osbourne

Cornwall 84


ThePaddler’s Planet By Leslie Kolovich

Devon, England The Head of the Dart Challenge. By Luke Green

Thailand – Asia Five star treatment at Starboard’s HQ. By Ollie O’Reilly

Kenya 114

108 India – Asia The Indian Surf Festival 2013. By Sampu Samantaray

114 Kenya – Africa Stories from an equatorial outpost. By Craig Rogers





Dream paddling locations poll 500 paddlers take part and turn up a few surprises. By Tez Plavenieks



Eight of the very best Eight must see paddling videos. By Peter Tranter

Testing, testing The Watershed Westwater backpack. By Dale Mears

124 Red Paddle 10’ Surfer review By Jason Pereira

Canada 130


130 Trans Canada expedition Part two of a 2600 mile expedition across the frozen north of Canada. By Pete Marshall 142 Inverpolly, Scotland See what happens when a five-year old takes mum and dad open canoeing and camping in the wilderness. By Lynne and Darren Percival

Scotland 142

156 Gatz Racoon review By Chris Leesmith

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The Trustees signing the legal documentation: Back row left to right: Martin Hurst, Ed Gibson, Simon Everett Front: David Taylor and Paul Fennel.

The use of kayak fishing as a means of rehabilitation has been proven in the US, where it has been demonstrated that the unique qualities of the activity give our heroes benefits beyond the paddling and fishing. Apart from the physical and mental stimulation, it also provides total relaxation and above all freedom and equality on the water for the injured, up to triple amputees and especially post traumatic stress disorder sufferers (PTSD). As the strapline says “Freedom captured.”

The charity will be a low cost charity with no requirement for property or dedicated facilities, however several hurdles remain and if anyone can help with the following please let me know.

Can you run a fundraiser at work or locally? It doesn’t have to be hundreds just something. Provisional costings from the US indicate a £30 per day, per participant cost for a group meeting but this rises to over £180 for a one to one session. We consider both to be equally valuable.

We call these BOSSes (Bums On Seat Sessions). It’s an easy way to measure your donations benefit e.g.

providing a half day BOSS is £15 or a full day BOSS £30. Or a full-day group session is £180.

We also need to build up a collection of still water fisheries where the owners will be willing to allow HOW to hold a couple of meets per year. If you know a lake owner that you think would be happy for some very positive PR let me know and I will contact them to hopefully get permission.

HOW UK isn’t just for kayak anglers, although the main centre of expertise is likely to come from this side of the angling community. It is an opportunity for angling in general to provide something very positive and get behind our heroe’s recovery.

Heroes On the Water (HOW) is a new charity that uses kayak angling to help in the physical and mental rehabilitation and social reintegration of our wounded heroes from military, emergency services and civilian life who have suffered while carrying out a public duty. Sessions will be provided free to all participants.

Heroes On the Water UK

Please spread the word throughout the angling and boating world, it’s an opportunity for everyone to pull together for a very worthwhile cause. Join us on Facebook and ‘like’ us. We will be launching a Heroes On the Water UK forum for both supporters and users of the service to share their ideas and generally get involved.

Thank you.

k a y a K

G N I H S ck I F

E Everything for the Kayak Fisherman

Fishing Kayaks

Sit In Kayaks

SUPS & Surf





Paddles & Seats

Drysuits & Clothing

Transport & Storage


Accessories & Safety

Second Hand & Ex demo

outdoor & field

Everything else

Happy to support

Heroes on the Water Flamborough Kayak Meet 25th August Check our Facebook page for details

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Ethos winner

Neil Legg from Dorset was the very happy winner of the Wave Sport Ethos. Neil received his kayak from competition sponsors Perception UK last week. Happy paddling!

Ready for registrations

Northern Forest Explorers, the signature youth program of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), has announced its summer trip schedule which provides week-long canoe and kayak trips for local youth.

Beginning in June, ten trips will take place in the four states of the NFCT: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. There are 125 available spots for youth, ages 10–14, from communities along the trail that will be given an opportunity to take part in these trips. Participants learn basic paddling and outdoor skills, environmental and ecological relationships, and the fundamentals of leadership. Children of family members serving in the Vermont National Guard will also have a dedicated trip of their own.

Trips are guided by local outfitters that include Mac’s Canoe Livery in New York; Montgomery Adventures, Northwoods Stewardship Center and Siskin Ecological Adventures in Vermont; Great Glenn Outfitters in New Hampshire; and Adventure Bound and Chain of Lakes Guide Service in Maine. Paddling gear, camping equipment and food are supplied.

Participation fees are based on a sliding scale and no deserving child will be left behind; financial aid is available. Space is limited. Applications are due June 1 and are available by contacting Youth Program Director Roger Poor at (603) 801-9597,, or online at and

The idea of a circumnavigation of mainland UK had been on our minds for a while. In May 2010 we were paddling around the Isle of Wight with Philippa and Jo and the subject of the ‘Around Britain’ came up – as it had done on numerous occasions before. The girls called our bluff, “we’ll support you” they offered – “unless of course you’re not really up for it!” – we were committed! Our initial approach was quite naïve. We could just paddle around the coast; break no records; enjoy the scenery; we could just ‘chill’. Our thought that raising funds for charity and completing a series of beachcleans would actually provide a welcome diversion to the otherwise dreary routine of paddling. That was until we bothered first to look at John Willacy’s website

“The limited number of paddlers to complete this trip shows just what a major undertaking it is. The UK circumnavigator has to contend with committing coastline, demanding tidal flows, busy shipping lanes and challenging weather. It is no surprise that many have had to return to daily life without quite completing the full distance, often after being delayed by the weather. To complete is an impressive achievement whatever the route or the timescale involved.”

Then we looked at the road atlas and marked out 30-mile sections thinking “we’ll never average 30-miles a day but let’s just see…” We got to day 82 before arriving back to Totnes – blimey! Soon realizing that at our planned ‘leisurely’ pace was going to take all summer!

Since then our plans have developed; we have teamed up with Clic Sargent and The Marine Conservation Society both to raise funds and to raise awareness; we’ve blocked three months out of our diaries and we’ve ordered the fastest boats we could get hold of, Rockpool Tarans, not to break records but more to stack the odds in our favour as much as possible!

Pledge whatever you can afford through our website. All donations go to Clic Sargent and MCS. Follow us throughout our adventure by following us on www.aroundbritain

FOLDING Canoes & Kayaks

Quest Folding Kayak

The Quests combine great looks with comfort and efficient cruising performance. Quests are ideal travel kayaks. Very light, yet ruggedly-built with space-age polyurethane materials which contain no toxic chemicals – the planet will thank you!

A new level of flexibility

Puffin Saranac

Point 65 Kayaks Sweden presents tthe take-apart Apollo! A rigid highperformance sit-on-topkayak that you ccan carry with a smile on your face, e easily stow on your boat and transport iin the trunk of your car. Go solo, go tandem go triple - go bananas! The Apollo snaps apart and re-assembles in seconds. Snap in the mid-section and your Solo transforms into a Tandem. Add another mid section and it’s a triple! The Apollo is a safe, fun and stable kayak for the whole family!

Puffin Kayaks are perfect travel companions. Great stability and paddling performance make Puffins enjoyable on the water. With good looks and light-weight price, they are a pleasure to own.


PakCanoes are excellent for remote wilderness trips or adventures closer to home. Light-weight, compact for easy travel and storage, yet rugged, dependable and easy paddling. Distributed stributed in the UK and ROI by Surf Sales Ltd. P Phone 01303 850553 | |

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Go Pro Kayaking

Evan Garcia International locations

Backyard Boulevard

The River Militia Yorkshire, England

Paddle for life

David Train International locations

Salty Sideburns

Thor F. Jensen The Baltic

Kayak Surfing

Graham Scott Hornsea, England


Joe Rea-Dickins International locations

Giant Wave SUP

HXS Hawaii

Test canoe Scout Gumotex

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Lionel Rossignol Ardèche

What will you do this weekend? W Whether you are seeking added excitement for your exercise routine, a quality afternoon with the family or the solitary adventure of a lifetime, Perception has the kayak to suit your lifestyle and your weekend agenda. So what are you waiting for? Start expanding your horizons in a simpler way and write yourself a tale worth telling.


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Tez Plavenieks (

When you ask the question, “what would be your dream paddling location?”, you’d expect replies regarding far flung destinations; palm trees gently swaying in the wind, sunshine blazing down onto white coral sandy beaches, the smell of coconut wafting under your nose and a sea that reflects an azure glow.



r maybe you’ve a leaning towards big volume water venues where raging torrents plummet over huge cascading waterfalls as indigenous wildlife screech and bound around the shoreline with anxious excitement.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall Photo: Fi Plavenieks

When posed this question to 500+ watersports enthusiasts, the usual answers did indeed filter back, but the startling aspect was the number of ‘other’ locations that featured – proving the ‘siton paddling beast’ is quite a unique and varied one.

The obvious – rivers

Mighty rivers such as the Zambezi, the Nile and the Amazon are kayaking destinations that wet dreams are made of. Which paddling aficionado wouldn’t have one of these names on their list?

These sprawling stretches of water appeal to the paddling fraternity for a variety of reasons. Challenging conditions where monstrous rapids and crazy wave trains entice the adrenaline seeker into pitting themselves against Mother Nature may be the draw for some, while others may salivate at the prospect of exploring calmer nooks and crannies.

Getting the opportunity to experience new cultures and observing exotic wildlife are also attractive lures when contemplating visits to the planets greatest rivers.

Not so obvious – regions

The regional result is where the poll started to get interesting with ‘not so obvious’ locations cropping up regularly. Most kayakers could probably tell you where the world’s noted paddling areas can be found. The survey proves, though, that popular destinations aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Hawaii, for instance, may not immediately spring to mind as a dream kayaking location. A dream holiday destination maybe… And yet, when you stop and think about it, Hawaii has a longstanding history of paddle sports – many of the local population are regular outrigger canoeists and the stand up paddle boarding’s renaissance is reported to have been born on the island of Maui. In fact the Hawaiians are revered as being expert paddlers in general.

Maui, Hawaii Fi Plavenieks

The Hawaiian Islands are also stunningly beautiful and what better way to explore this volcanic chain than from the water.

Malaysia also made the cut, which is possibly the most surprising choice of all the regions. And yet, with the jewel of Malaysia’s crown on offer, in the form of Langkawi’s 104 Andaman Sea Islands, who wouldn’t want to paddle there?

The most interesting – UK

The expectation was the Dream Paddling Locations feature would be all about far flung exotic destinations. It therefore came as a surprise when we had to split the piece into three, with the final instalment focusing on the UK.

It’s encouraging that when given the opportunity to choose anywhere in the world, people still felt compelled to name destinations within their own backyard.

Scotland features heavily in this section. Those who have visited here will agree, the scenery, paddling potential and overall splendour is something every paddler should experience.

Four different southern locations also made the UK section. Cornwall and Devon’s beaches, on their day, can rival many palm fringed overseas resorts, while Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is a chance to literally paddle through history.

Results from the poll have proven extremely insightful and while nowhere near conclusive, it’s a good indication of the recreational paddlers’ thinking.

The Dream Paddler Locations feature demonstrates that sometimes paddling is about hucking down the nearest waterfall, but many aficionados are just as happy pottering about at their local beach.

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Survey inform


mation thanks to

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By Dale Mears

Testing, Watershed Westwater backpack

I have owned a Watershed Westwater dry backpack now for a couple of months and have fallen in love with it. This is one of the best bits of paddling kit I have owned to date. Watershed already have a great reputation for manufacturing quality dry bags for photographic equipment, allowing flexibility and protection from the elements so I was not surprised when I received my Westwater backpack that it shares this quality.

First impressions of the bag are its great size, the Westwater comes in at 80 litres, and there are also two smaller sizes one at 54 litres and the smallest at 24 litres. At first I thought is 80 going to be enough as my previous bag was 100 litres, however I have barely noticed any difference in size, the Westwater can fit just what my old bag could and will always

seal. A problem I found with most manufacturers bags is that they rely on the top of the bag being folders/rolled up to produce the seal and this isn’t something that is needed with the Watershed Westwater due to their Zipdry opening and closing method. You will be familiar with this if you have seen the smaller camera bags.



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

ThePaddle r ez ine te

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The backpack is easy to fill with kit, it features a 22inch opening which is much more generous that a lot of dry bags out there, allows you to grab kit easily and repack with ease. I personally own the yellow bag, which allows plenty of light through, making it easy to find bits of kit.

The backpack itself is submersible and Watershed have tested to 300ft and found that they stay completely dry. You can pay an extra fee to receive a pressure purge valve on your bag if you think there is a need. These backpacks are great for multi days/rafting trips.

The backpack comes with a range of straps and carry handles, making it ideal if you want to hike in, cycle wearing the backpack or just to make life easier day to day. I personally love being able to throw the bag onto my shoulders meaning I have hands free for paddles etc. Both shoulder straps are detachable and are padded and extremely comfortable, there is a detachable chest and waist strap if you want to further secure the bag to your person. There is a durable carry handle on the top of the bag which makes moving the bag around or into your car/van easy to do so. The backpack features a webbed strap with an adjustable plastic clip enabling you to secure the top of the bag to prevent the Zipdry opening from being caught likewise there are two other clips on either side of the bag to secure it.

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dle rs - e mail us: r eviews@t hepad dler ezin e

This is definitely the most stylish dry backpack/bag available in my opinion. All Watershed products are guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the original purchaser so you know your kit is in safe hands.

All in all a great bag a little more expensive than a lot of the rival products but I feel the quality is worthwhile and although new to me I can see this bag lasting a long time, where I am usually having to buy new dry bags each paddling season due to wear and tear and materials/stitching coming undone. I would recommend anyone to consider this bag as a serious contender.

Available in black, blue, red, clear, yellow and green camouflage ÂŁ110.00 / â‚Ź131.00 / $130.00

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58 70 76

Chile – South America First part of two on Seth’s winter long ww length and breadth paddle of Chile. By Seth Ashworth

England The National Student Rodeo: the UK’s largest student kayaking event. By Sarah Wall

Peru – South America Taking on unchartered territory through Peru’s deepest canyons on a first descent. By Matt Wilson Interview with Nepal’s Maila Gurung By Peter Tranter Pyranha Loki review By Phil Carr

Kayak fishing – Wales Llangorse Lake Species Hunt. By Terry Wright

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By Seth Ashworth

It took almost 48 hours of traveling before I arrived at my destination of Pucon, Chile. I started off with a flight from London to Sao Paulo. Then after a gruelling 15-hour wait in the airport, I flew on to Santiago. The short four-hour flight arrived at 2am. Although this meant I would have to wait around three hours in the airport before I could make my way to the bus terminal, I was buoyed up by the fact that my boat and bag had made it to Santiago without any hassle. Next up I made the first bus to Pucon, which added another 11 hours of traveling time to my journey. Once I arrived in Pucon my destination was Pucon Kayak Hostel. After asking for directions and eventually deciding that I had been lead to the wrong place I found a place to stop for an internet connection and figured out how to complete the last part of the journey.


Erik Shore and Sara-Jane Daub

Flag illustrations by Garyck Arntzen

Welcome to


Chile After a good meal and a good night’s sleep, it was time to hit the river. I joined some friends who I had worked with last summer in Canada plus some new friends and headed to the Rio Nevados. Although the water level was lower than ideal, this was still a fun low volume creek with some narrow, fun drops and a big slide. We took out just above the 50-footer called ‘Demshitz’ drop, I’m sure I will come back to it another day. From there we headed back for a spot of lunch then set off for the Upper Palguin. This run is super fun, slightly higher volume than the Nevados with a bunch of fun drops along its length. We made two portages and headed all the way down to our take out right above the Middle Palguin 70-footer. Again scouting took place but we decided it was something to come back for. Chile is usually cold and rainy at this time of year, and this year is no exception. It has been cold from the moment I got off the plane! The next day was even colder and rainier but I saddled up for another round on the Nevados. Once again more scouting of ‘Demshitz’ but once again left to another day.

Seth Ashworth on one of the smaller drops of the Siete Tazes, Rio Claro

The day that followed was the coldest and wettest so far. I honestly thought about going back to bed. However, we managed to rally a crew together and headed back to the Palguin. This time we got to the middle and Blair Trotman (NZL) and myself decided that today was the day.

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A tense game of rock, ThePaddler 24

paper, scissors decided that I would be going first. I have imagined myself above this drop so many times in the years gone by, it felt great to finally get it done. I seal launched off, made my turn. Took my forward strokes one, two, three. Holding the last stroke vertical as I rode off the lip, staring down as tried to spot my landing. Throwing my paddle high into the air and then tucking tight into my boat and holding on to the cockpit rim. The landing was soft and I hand rolled up no problems.

Blair had a sweet line too, but unfortunately deck implosion caused him to swim. After a quick chase of his boat and paddles we managed to recover everything with minimal fuss and made our way to the take out. So all in all Chile is going pretty well right now. I am so happy to be wearing my Kokatat Gore-tex Meridian Drysuit as being warm and dry on the river is a huge bonus. Right now we are hatching a plan to head to the Rio Futalefeu in southern Chile, so we will see how that goes.

into the air and then tucking tight

Throwing my paddle high

Seth Ashworth catching air on the big slide of the Rio Nevados

into my boat and holding on to the cockpit rim

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Blair Trotman watching on as Seth takes on Middle Palguin

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Futale-fail and Rio Claro winning

So a plan was afoot to head down to the Rio Futalefeu in the south of Chile. We had done some research and it seemed there are two main ways to get there. Option one was to drive the 1012 hour journey predominantly through Argentina where fuel is considerably cheaper than in Chile. To do this we need a hire car with special paperwork to drive in Argentina. Option two is to drive five hours south to the port town of Peurto Montte, then take an 11-hour ferry to a town close to the Futa, then drive the rest of the way. So either way we would need a car. After some internet research we (Erik shore CAN, Justin Kleberg USA and myself) had found a hire car company in a town two hours away that was reasonably priced and said we would be able to drive into Argentina. We knew it would be colder as we ventured further south, so on our way back to the hostel we stopped by the Pucon thrift store, and spent 1,000 pesos (ÂŁ1.50) on some vintage 80s ski suits.

nd re a s o h S it Erik igh spir h g in r e b n Kle Justi

The plan was for Erik and Justin to take a bus to the rental place then come back and pick me up with all our boats and gear in Pucon as it is on the route to Argentina. From the booking information we had it said we would get a VW golf or similar type car. When Erik and Justin arrived back at the hostal the car we had was considerably smaller than any of us had been expecting. A black Chevy Spark GT, described as “Black City Car�. It soon became apparent that Black City Car would not be able to drive through Argentina, so we were forced into option two, the drive and ferry. So we fashioned roof racks from some wood and set off on the 5 hours drive south. Upon arrival in Peurto Montte we eventually found our way to the ferry terminal. Justin and I use our limited spanish to discover there is no ferry today but there is one tomorrow evening, at 11pm. OK, not ideal but we head off to a national park on the edge of town and camp out.

Erik Shore Making the Rio Claro look easy

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Fun fact: Chile has one of the longest coastlines in the world, but also one of the smallest at being 6,500km long and 200km wide.

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The following day we explore the town and then go to buy a ferry ticket. At this point we are told (after a long and difficult Spanish conversation) that the ferry actually leaves from a place six hours drive south of here. We would have to buy a ticket from the office there and then and the ferry was departing in six and half hours. At this point we decided it was getting to risky, there was too much chance of getting lost and missing the ferry, thereby losing our money. Really we just wanted to go paddling, so we turned Black City Car around and headed back to Pucon. After a day of paddling and licking our wounds another idea had percolated: the Rio Claro, a fair drive north of Pucon. Since I have always wanted to paddle this river I jumped at the chance. Our crew was now one bigger with the addition of Canadian Sara-Jane Daub. An extra person in our tiny car meant we would all have to travel light. A sleeping bag each and two tents fill the tiny boot of Black City Car. Our paddling gear is tightly packed into our boats. I suggest we try and stay light weight and so leaving almost all of my belongings locked at the hostel I pack only one change of underwear, my toothbrush and of course my ski suit. The drive to the Rio Claro takes Black City Car around 11 hours and we arrive at nearly 3am. After hastily assembling our tents we hunker down for some sleep. When morning comes we negotiate a deal with the local hostel for a few night’s stay and breakfast and dinner. Then we suit up and head to the river. The first section we head to is the 22 Teacups section. An hour of hiking gets us to the put on of one of the most (If not the most) beautiful rivers I have ever been to. Crystal clear blue water allows you to see all the way to the bottom and the river bends through a narrow, steep gorge with many fun drops and chutes. At the first bigger drop, no more than two minutes into the run, Sara breaks her paddle. With no way to climb out and no break down paddle, I give her my paddle and use her half paddle for the rest of the run. This definitely made the run somewhat more sporty!

We spend our other days exploring the other sections of the river and enjoying the sunny weather and daily blue skies. Paddling the Garganta el Diablo waterfall (The mouth of the Devil). A perfect 180 degree downward slide into 20ft of freefall. Kind of like getting violently flushed down a toilet. We explore the seven teacups section further downstream and are lead to the wrong place to put on, which leads to an hour and a half of bush whacking, one sketchy abseil, one assisted climb back up, a lot of lining boats up and down until we eventually made our way to the correct put on. All of the sections were a similar character, narrow steep gorge walls and crystal clear blue water, and clean fun waterfalls.


New crew, new same great Chi

All Chile trips rely on two key ingredients a vehicle and a will leave you out of pocket and off the river. A bad crew unhappy and potentially put you and them into some da A month ago I was with Black City Car Crew, but as with all trips these guys had to start heading home, meaning I needed a new crew and a new ride. Luckily for me two friends I had worked and paddled with last year in Austria had just arrived in Chile and they were traveling with two others. And they had a rental pick-up truck. My luck was looking up, they had space for one more. Just. The crew consisted of three Brits: Andrew ‘Pundy’ Niven, ‘Wee’ Joe Taylor, Joe ‘Wookie’ Thurgate and Marco ‘The Austrian’. The boys picked me up and we headed straight for our first river: the Puesco. The boys informed me they had done a few laps of the upper Palguin earlier that day. I had paddled the Puesco a few days earlier with mixed crew from Spain and Chile. The river was steep and continuous fun but even with the low water it was still pretty committing and this led to three of the crew having to hike out with no paddles. I was hoping for considerably less carnage this time on the river.

Fun fact: Chile is one of only two countries in all of South America that does not border Brazil


A sunrise after day one of a long journey

a crew. A lame vehicle w will leave you angerous situations.

allows you to see all the way to the bottom and the river bends through a narrow, steep gorge with many fun drops and chutes.

Crystal clear blue water

An hour of hiking gets us to the put on of one of the most (If not the most) beautiful rivers I have ever been to.

w truck, ilean adventure Seth lining up the Garganta del diablo

Seth Ashworth on a bigger drop of the RIo Claro

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For lunch we eat bread, tomatoes and Avocados. The quantity of Avocados we eat quickly earns this crew the name the Avocado crew.

The Puesco did not fail to deliver fun moves, slides, boof and eddy hopping without a break from put in to takeout. But it did deliver some carnage as well. Not as bad as previously but we did still have two swimmers, luckily no lost boats or paddles this time! Given the low water levels we decided to head south the next day in search of some different runs. The first thing we did was fix a ferry ticket from Peurto Monte to Chaiten. After my last failed Futa mission I was pretty keen to get this sorted before we left Pucon. A few hours and some Chilean Pesos later we had a confirmed ferry in seven days. We loaded up the truck and headed out to our first stop. The Rio Fuy.

Quality of sleep

Morning comes the day before we paddle the Fuy and the night brings heavy rain. As I hear it pounding down on my tent I also hear the car door open and close four times as the boys, one by one make their way into somewhere dry. All of our kit is soaked. Motivation is at an all time low, putting on our kayaking gear is all we can do to be dry. The river is fantastic, high water waves and waterfalls the Rio Fuy really has it all. But it had its fair share of carnage too, with three of our five taking a swim at the same spot, almost one after another. Once Pundy and I have cleared up the carnage and recovered all the stuff, we get off the river and head to a

A typical night in the Chilean wilderness

Wild camping is the norm for the Avocado crew, every night we find a new spot. Gather wood, prepare and cook dinner in one pot on our trusty Grill, wash up with water from a nearby lake, river or stream. I sleep like a king in a small tent which I have kindly been lent. But the others are sleeping in bivvy bags under the stars. Their quality of sleep varies from average to poor depending on the temperature.

Busy lines on the Rio Puseco

Follow the leader on the Upper Palguin

hostel in a near by town. The next day dawns with beautiful sunrise and dry kit, dry clothes, dry sleeping bags, dry tents and a happy Avocado crew. Our next stop is the Rio Curringue. A misleading guide book description means taking a long time to find where this beautiful river begins but eventually we find it and put on to a fun grade 4 boulder garden gorge, which flows through an enormous natural arch. The arch is beautiful and can only truly be seen from a kayak, it stands around 30-metres high and both sides meet at the top – it is breathtaking.

Bright and vivid

We camp another night at the put in on one of my favourite campsites so far. Nicknamed the Hole, it is a small abandoned quarry which dips down beside the road. The night is clear and the stars look like something out of a film – so bright and vivid. Another quick run in the morning and then we are headed to a park and huck the Salto de NIlaque. We arrive just before lunch and do some scouting. It takes me about three minutes to figure out that this is a 60-footer that I definitely want to run and another three minutes to scout and visualise the seal launch, entry and the point I am going to tuck. Then one last scout of the pool to make sure there are no hazards down there.

Photos by Pundy, Marco, Todd Wells and Seth Ashworth.

I express my intention to run it and we discuss safety, get changed and then make our way to our different spots. The drop itself is a no brainer. Seal launch out, paddle into the middle of the flow, stay straight on the ramp which is the first half of the drop and then tuck up for the last half of freefall. Once I style the line I run back up to the top to help Pundy seal launch in. His line is sweet but a broken paddle leads to him swimming. Wookie Joe ensures a quick clean up and wee Joe comes up to fire it off. He too has an excellent line but swims. Lastly Wookie Joe comes up and fires it off, and makes it look good. We camp there at the waterfall before heading off for the ferry the next day.

Part two next month.

from a kayak,

The arch is beautiful and can only truly be seen it stands around 30-metres high and both sides meet at the top – it is breathtaking A lakeside wild campsite

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INFORMATION LOCATION: Situated south of Peru and west of Bolivia and Argentina, Chile fills a narrow 2,880-mi (4,506 km) strip between the Andes and the Pacific. One-third of Chile is covered by the towering ranges of the Andes. In the north is the driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert.The southernmost point of South America is Cape Horn, a 1,390-foot (424 m) rock, which belongs to Chile. Chile also claims sovereignty over the Juan Fernández Islands, about 400 mi (644 km) west of the mainland; and Easter Island, about 2,000 mi (3,219 km) west.


WEATHER: Chile encompasses a wide range of climates (and micro climates). Its seasons are the reverse of those in Europe and North America, with, broadly speaking, winter falling in the June to September.

Google and map summer in the December to March period. period

PADDLING: Chile’s many rivers afford incomparable rafting and kayaking opportunities.The country’s top destinations, the mighty Río Bío Bío and the Río Futaleufú, entice visitors from around the globe. In addition to these challenging rivers, gentler alternatives exist on the Río Maipo close to Santiago, the Río Trancura near Pucón, and the Río Petrohue near Puerto Varas.The Maipo makes a good day-trip from Santiago, while excursions on the latter two are just half-day affairs and can usually be arranged on the spot, without advance reservations.

Chile’s white-water rapids also offer excellent kayaking and sea kayaking is becoming increasingly popular, generally in the calm, flat waters of Chile’s southern fjords, though people have been known to kayak around Cape Horn. Note that the Chilean navy is very sensitive about any foreign vessels (even kayaks) cruising in their waters, and if you’re planning a trip through military waters, you’d be wise to inform the Chilean consulate or embassy in your country beforehand.

GETTING THERE: Airfares depend on the season.You’ll pay the highest fares in the December to February and June to August periods, the southern and northern hemisphere’s summer holiday months, respectively. Fares drop slightly March to November – and you’ll get the best prices during the low seasons: April, May, September and October.

TRAvEL: Travelling in Chile is easy, comfortable and compared with Europe or North America, inexpensive. Most Chileans travel by bus, as it’s such a reliable, affordable option. However, internal flights are handy for covering long distances in a hurry.The country has a good road network and driving is a quick, relatively stress-free way of getting around. Chile’s rail network has fallen into decline and only limited services are available. South of Puerto Montt, ferry services provide a slow but scenic way of travelling as far as Puerto Natales.

FOOD: On the whole, eating out tends to be inexpensive. In local restaurants you can expect to pay around CH$3500–5500 for a main course. If you’re aiming to keep costs way down, rather than resort to the innumerable fast-food outlets, you could head for the municipal markets found in most towns; besides offering an abundance of cheap, fresh produce, they are usually dotted with food stalls.The best trick is to join the Chileans and make lunch your main meal of the day; many restaurants offer a fixed-price menu del día, always much better value than the à la carte options.

Chile’s seafood rank among the best in the world.To sample the freshest, head to one of the many marisquerías (fish restaurants), particularly those along the coasts of the Litoral Central and the Norte Chico.

The Sparky has everything you will need to get out and enjoy the outdoors. The smaller design and semi-flat shallow “V” hull allows for easy maneuvering without compromising the stability found in larger boat designs. The Sparky comes equipped with built in side handles and a front toggle handle to make transportation a breeze. The sit-on-top design allows for easy in and out access for those times when swimming is a must. The specially designed kid’s tankwell offers plenty of storage for squirt guns, water balloons or anything else you’ll need for a day on the water with the family!

£199 RRP

The Spitfire is designed for stability, performance and affordability. The ST Performance Hull gives this shorter kayak a surprising amount of speed and tracking for its size without sacrificing stability. It is equipped with great features like our CRS Seat and a tankwell with Cargo Net Lacing System that is typically found on more expensive kayaks. The extra volume and high capacity (up to 240 pounds) makes this kayak the perfect fit for just about any size paddler from kids to adults.

£349 RRP

The newest and biggest member of the Spitfire family, the Spitfire 9 has all the stability and performance of our smaller version with added features and upgrades. The extra length adds speed and tracking while maintaining the excellent stability of the smaller Spitfire 8. We have added a new CRS 2 Next Generation Seat with bottom and back padding. Other new features like our new Solace Hatch and Cargo Net Lacing System are sure to keep you looking sharp out there on the water.

£399 RRP

Contact White Water Consultancy for your nearest dealer: Old Village Hall Bronwydd Carmarthen SA33 6BE Tel: 01267 223555

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The National Student Rodeo (NSR)

Story: Sarah Wall

in Nottingham hosts the biggest UK student kayaking competition in the ‘known universe’. It also claims to have the ‘greatest paddling party on the planet’. Sarah Wall pitches a tent for the weekend to see if it lives up to its name.

Run by Leeds University, the National Student Rodeo is attended by over 40 universities from across the country each year. Run completely by volunteers, the event has made a name for itself both in regards to the quality of kayaking on show and the top-class parties held once the sun has gone down.

I arrive in time for the staff party with River Legacy. River Legacy is a charity aiming to support paddlers and increase participation in kayaking across England and Wales and at NSR they are in charge of the party, food and drink. Not sure what to expect of the ‘club in a field’ that I have been told about, the three huge marquees which the voluntary team have constructed take me by surprise. A solid bar stands proudly in the first marquee, equipped with the specially produced beers: ‘Rodeo Rabbit ale’ and ‘River legacy best bitter’.

It seems I have arrived at the right time – dinner. Out come four massive pots of different curries all cooked from scratch, I am told, by head-chef Kayleigh.The food is prepared and cooked by a team of 13 scouts, which is no easy feat when cooking for around a thousand people. The team rarely leave the kitchen, but they love it, they tell me, “It can be stressful but it works, the teams wouldn’t keep coming back if it didn’t!” Marvelling at the 250kg of potatoes required for the mash they’re planning on making for the thousand students on Saturday night, the team explain they’ve acquired a potato peeler this year, a poor guy was sat for two days last year peeling potatoes!




Mingling with the kayakers and partiers the next day, I am eager to discover what everyone thinks of NSR. The theme of the weekend is circus, and universities across the course have put everything into the fancy dress theme. Having talked to the group from Birmingham University for five minutes, it’s already clear to me that they’ll win the team spirit award, “We want to make it more of a big deal, especially for the freshers.” I’m told, and in an aim to make the event more appealing to their students, Birmingham have gone all out – there’s a candyfloss machine set up and someone is doing face paints to add to the clown outfits they are all wearing. As we are speaking a guy rides around us on his unicycle.

s kin Dic ayeR : Jo os ot Ph

Speaking to the River Legacy team, I am amazed at how much goes into planning the event. £37,750 is the estimated total cost of the weekend, and with 850 people buying tickets there is no profit to NSR or River Legacy. Most of the team have been on site for a week, putting up the marquee and getting it all ready, all of them volunteers and a number of them students themselves. Asking how they got involved, many of the team found out about river legacy through having attended NSR with their universities over previous years. “I just wanted to give something back,” says David, “They’d made it a good time for me before so I wanted to be able to do the same for others.”

tying HARD but

ting even


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I spy Rodeo Rabbit

Andy Turton and Orlando Hampton – River Legacy team, with the speciality beers.

without any followers – finding this guy without a trail of people chasing and rugby tackling him to the ground is a rarity, so I make the most of it and have a chat. I find out his real name is Jam, and he became ‘Rodeo Rabbit’ four NSRs ago, “In 2010 I put the rabbit suit on, started dancing and people liked it,” he tells me, “they gave me a prize and people chased me – it was meant to be like ‘tag’ but it was never going to be that simple was it really.” He tells tales of being chased and jumped on again and again by students hoping to get their hands on a prize. “The guy on top of me in a bundle last year ended up breaking ribs,” he says and it seems the role of Rodeo Rabbit is not a particularly safe or comfortable one. As we are talking the DJ announces that Rodeo Rabbit is undergoing his debut interview… and with that a mob of students start running over the hill towards him. Having just told me how it takes a few days to recover after the event I can see why, as he sprints over the hill and is instantly taken down by a group of guys… and yet he does it every year.

Liverpool University seem to have forgotten the circus theme, and have come dressed as pirates. When I ask them why, they say “because we arrrrr. We wanted to be different,” they say, and fair play to them they certainly are.They’ve brought a ship with them made out of plywood, which they carry around the course and as we stand talking they erect a ‘double octobong’.This is a first, and I watch in amusement as the structure, created by the University’s engineers, is hoisted

up on a pulley, attached with tights and ties.This is student drinking at its best. There are 16 ends to this contraption, taking a whole new spin on ‘team spirit’.

On the course, the safety team have been kept well and truly busy with the number of swimmers coming out of their kayaks. Ben, or Big Ben as he is known due to his height, is one of the team and comes out of the water grinning each time, “Great fun” he says, “we’ve had lots of saves today!” It seems the more swimmers the better in the eyes of the safety team, who jump into the water just for fun if no one falls in. Some of the kayakers coming over the waves manage a trick or two, and for that they are met with a cheer. Those managing to simply stay upright are booed, everyone here wants a show!

I meet a guy with stitches across his eyebrow who tells me his own partner whacked him with his paddle in the duo kayaking category: ‘Duo cartwheeling isn’t a good idea!’ he tells me, yet still smiling! Later on I see Sam from Loughborough Uni kayak, and he manages to dislocate his shoulder whilst doing a trick – but carries on and doesn’t swim! The first aid-team is top-notch, and Dan pops Sam’s shoulder back in place with no problem, saving a trip to the hospital and allowing for more paddling time! These guys are really dedicated to the sport, and somehow have managed to get back out on the water as early as 8am after a heavy night of partying.

Rodeo Rabbit tells tale chased and jumped on a by students hoping to ge on a prize. “The guy on t


8am the next day and students are shuffling along, hats and sunglasses on, many utilising the bacon stand for a strong cup of black coffee. Kayakers are out on the water, proving that the kayaker can both party and paddle.Talking to Harry and Tom, two of the Rodeo bosses, I ask them what their highs and lows of the event have been: ‘Seeing it all come together is really nice,’ they tell me: ‘We’ve been planning for a year,

meeting every other week, so it will be weird to start Uni work again! Saturday night went really well and we enjoyed the party last night.There’s been a lot of nakedness, and Rodeo rabbit keeps being destroyed – that’s always a highlight.The weather’s been great for a change and there have been some awesome duo crunches out on the water! River Legacy put on a great party – we enjoyed it and we can see everyone else enjoyed it too, so thanks to them!’

It seems this event has been an all-round success. Everyone I speak to has only good things to say; from drunken antics to kayaking wins and fails. Spirits are still high by Sunday evening at the prize-giving NSR is ultimately a kayaking event showcasing great talent on the water, the partying and teamspirit of the event was, it seems, the highlight for most people I spoke to. River Legacy put on a great party both nights of the weekend, and the DJ kept the party going all day at the rapids, with everyone being just as energetic about kayaking and supporting as they were about raving and dancing at night. As predicted, Birmingham Uni win the team spirit of PGL award, presented by PGL, sponsors of NSR: ‘It’s not about how good at paddling you are, it’s how much you put into paddling and have fun’, which, I think it’s fair to say, summed up the entire weekend.

Birmingham Uni

s: Sarah W to

Ph o


The Saturday night party has to be the highlight of the week. It kicks off around 7pm when near enough a thousand students cram into the marquees for (the most amazing) pies, mash and mushy peas, served with smiles by the ever-cheerful River Legacy volunteers and kitchen team. The drinking starts slowly, pints at the bars going down nicely and people start disappearing off to their tents and returning in their circus fancy dress. Many of the outfits don’t stay complete for long as I discover a couple of hours later, and in a full marquee you’d never know you were in the middle of a field in March, more like a club in Zante. People are dancing, topless, on each other’s shoulders jumping and singing as the DJ plays music, which is probably great but nobody really cares by this point…

es of being again and again et their hands top of me in a bundle last year ended up

eaking ribs!”

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Photo: Tim Roper

For the first time in years the NSR was blessed with sunshine, which made the early mornings on the water much more manageable after the world famous NSR party nights.

Photos: Joe RaeDickins unless stated.

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M By

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Enterat your own

RISK As the river disappeared under a chockstone, created by 30-foot wide boulder wedged between the canyon walls, the size of our undertaking had become completely clear. Beyond this point we’d be totally committed to the river corridor with no possible escape, and what lay downstream was uncharted territory. I cracked a fake smile as Ben turned to me and said, “only the penitent man shall pass.” The roar of the river took on a new menacing feel as a cool light rain began to set in. Ryan took a long, drawn out look of the overall scope of the canyon, probing the area for a possible route out. His expression said it all!

Checking coordinates at the Chalkstone Photo: Evan Ross ThePaddler 45

N ate Kle m a( ru nn ing th eC ha lks to ne

ra pid ). P ho to :E va nR os s

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Our mission here


Pow-wowed up on the last possible rock outcropping before committing to the gorge, we consulted our map and GPS waypoints. Our satellite readings confirmed we had travelled 35km in the last 24 hours putting us at the entrance of the Chockstone Gorge. This would be the first of three inescapable canyons, and the location where the previous team had aborted their mission.

in Peru was to be the first to kayak through ‘Pongo De Aguirre’ of the Rio Huallaga, (why-ya-ga), the last major tributary of the Amazon River, yet to be navigated. This river is born high in the eastern slope of the Northern Andes and descends northeast through canyons of metamorphic boulders and limestone gorges until it’s confluence with the Amazon River. While most contemporary river first descents consist of one particular drop, or some obscure creek where kayakers have the luxury of light boats and the close proximity of civilization, the Pongo De Agiurre of the Huallaga is a remote 52-mile stretch of river with an average gradient of 100 feet per mile located within the confines of a 7,000 ft deep canyon. This foreboding section of river has eluded two other previous attempts due to the unportagable and unscoutable gorges that lay within the heart of the canyon. Although I had been a member of multiple international first descents from Russia to Madagascar, this river would be the most serious undertaking in my 13 years of expedition kayaking. With no major sponsorship or detailed information for what lay within the heart the canyon, convincing paddling partners to spend their hard earned cash on a possible wild goose chase would be difficult. A Peruvian team member would also have been an asset, as they would help to negotiate the cultural nuances that inevitably come into play when travelling as a group of foreigners. After multiple attempts to reach out to the Peruvian whitewater community via Facebook and email, with no response, I conceded to the fact that it would have to be team of gringos to get the job the done. Two months before our window of low water - which would be essential to make it through this unexplored canyon - the team started to fall into place. Our group would be a mix of experienced old hands and talented youth.

I had meet Matthew and Nate Klema while teaching a swiftwater course on the Grand Canyon in 2008. These two brothers, from Durango, Colorado, seemed wise beyond their years. Matthew, 26, a student of geology and engineering, had already been leading Grand Canyon trips for five years. Nate, 21, fun loving and gregarious, starting kayaking at the age of 10 years old and it shows within his motivation for running bold rapids. Ben Luck, 21, from Homer Alaska, is quiet and humble and has an evenkeeled intensity for adventure that is always welcomed in any situation. I spent the spring of 2010 enjoying the classic southwest rivers with these guys and by the end of June, I had convinced them to miss a semester of school with the worn out saying, “college will always be there.” When Ryan Casey, 33, from Ketchum, Idaho agreed to come, I knew we had the makings of a very solid team. Standing 6’7”, this soft-spoken giant is an Idaho legend and arguably the best kayaker in the world. A last minute addition to the team was Evan Ross 26, from Jacksonhole, Wyoming. Evan and I had paddled in remote places together such as Madagascar and Russia during the last six years. To this day, the man never ceases to amaze me with his classic one-liners and ninja-esque Top: Take out paddling skills.

Bottom: Nate Klema Day 2

Getting to the country of your destination with Photos: Evan Ross a kayak is half the battle for all international paddling trips as passing off your cloaked kayak as a ‘surf-ski’ is getting more difficult each year. Every time I get to the check-in counter it becomes a roll of the dice whether my boat is happily greeted by some adventurous airline employee, or the dreaded words, “Air Cargo” are muttered between the check-in attendants as they look suspiciously at the so called ‘surf-ski.’ In order to avoid this whole scenario of getting shut down at the airport before the trip even began, we decided to send our boats on a container via the Panama Canal. Upon arrival in Lima, we soon learned what the word “tramites” meant.

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The team just beyond the chalkstone Photo: Evan Ross

which banned

A new law had been implemented in Lima,

Matt Wilson at Matthuaga Canyon. Photo: Evan Ross

This word (with no direct English translation) is a nice way of saying: a mountain of bureaucratic nonsense to spring our kayaks out of customs. Since this was my big idea, and my Spanish was the strongest within the group, I spent the following week in the lovely Barrio of Callao where one can enjoy the many smells of death on a stick. As I took off from our Mira Flores hostel, in an unmarked black taxi with dark tinted windows, the driver informed me, “hay mucho pistoleros en Callao.”

the transport of all goods on top of vehicles

After a week of shenanigans in Lima, we finally had our boats. Our next challenge was to get them to Huánuco, the launching point for our expedition. We were soon to find that, prior to our arrival, a new law had been implemented in Lima, which banned the transport of all goods on top of vehicles! This forced us to ship our boats from Lima to Huánuco, which would take another three days. When it was all said and done, it had taken us a total of ten days of travelling from Durango Colorado to arrive at the put-in of the Huallaga. ‘Operation Huallaga’ had now become ‘Operation blue balls.’ Huánuco is town of about 30,000 inhabitants and has the self-proclaimed slogan, “El mejor clima en el mundo” (the best climate in the world). While unpacking our boats on the roof of our hostel in oppressive heat, this claim to the best climate in the world seemed a little farfetched as we were eaten alive by sand flies. These pesky insects attack every piece of unclothed skin with vigour, and would accompany us throughout the journey.

“Great,” I thought. “Am I going to get shot before I even get to the put-in?” I spent the next three days running around this sketchy zone like a headless chicken. “Ok gringo, you go to this place to get this invoice and go to this bank and deposit this amount,” I’d hear over and over. Once every company, which had any hand in the process of taking our boats off the container, was paid off, it was time to deal with the Aduana. “Ok gringo, do you want to import your kayaks to sell, which will take a few days, or do you want import them temporally which will take ten days,” the Aduana asked. I went for the importacion simplificado, which took two days and we were charged a reciprocal tax of 20% of the total value of our boats.

After haranguing two taxies and halfhazardously tying our kayaks to the roofs, we arrived at our put-in bridge ten miles north of Huánuco. As we rushed to put on our gear before the sand flies arrived an older woman approached us dressed in the traditional alpaca attire. She began to wave her finger at us, “Es muy pelegroso y no es posible.” She went on to tell us that her husband helped the previous group out of the canyon and that we were fools. Although this was all information we had already known it was not comforting to receive it first hand from a local. We told her not to worry as we scurried down to the river through a disgusting heap of trash, which had been thrown from the many buses travelling between Huánuco and Tingo Maria. Continued on page 30.

Team Beer. Photo: Matt Klema

Left to right: Ryan Casey, Ben Luck, Nate Klema, Matt Wilson, Evan Ross, Matthew Klema

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Past expeditions that failed Peru, most famous for the tourist trap of Machu Pichu is also endowed with the deepest river canyons in the world.These rivers, which are fed by the receding glaciers of the Andes, make up the mother of all rios,The Amazon. In 1977 a team of Colorado kayakers made their way to Peru with the intention of completing the first descent of the Apurimac.This river makes its boldest statement in the bowels of the Acombamba Abyss and is recognized as the headwaters of the Amazon. Since then, other teams have been picking away at the remaining major tributaries such the Paucartambo, Urubamba and Marion.

With all of the major tributaries of the Amazon completed by 2001– the Great Bend of the Huallaga has stood out as a bulls eye – the last remaining tributary of the Amazon yet to be explored. In 1999, Peruvian river pioneer Kurt Casey, led the first team into the depths of the Huallaga. Starting near the source, high in the altiplano of the Andes, his team paddled five days into the depths of the canyon before retreating due to ill health and rising water conditions. Kurt’s recount of what was downstream from where they had exited the river,“We spent two hours fighting our way up to a pampa to scout the gorge and what we saw was a maelstrom, cascading into a vertical walled abyss.”

In July 2007, a high profile group of kayakers would make the second attempt.With a major sponsorship from Immersion Research, a whitewater apparel company, a team of Northwest kayakers known as The Range Life, made it into the heart of the Great Bend. Arriving at an un-scoutable and un-portageable gorge after four days on the river, the group became divided on whether to continue downstream.They felt the only way to do it safely was to scout the gorge by helicopter.They subsequently decided to abort the mission, leaving their kayaks and embarking on an epic hike out of the 7,000-foot canyon.

Peru food facts

The potatoe is from Peru The tomatoe is from Peru The avocado is from Peru Peru’s corn has the biggest kernels in the world

Committed beyond the chalkstone Photo: Evan Ross

Engulfed in the Abyss Shangrala Photo: Evan Ross Photo: Evan Ross

Our plan

With a budget that wouldn’t allow a flight over the canyon, and topography maps that actually showed the river going uphill in the crux of the canyon, all we could do was plan for the absolute worst. I took solace in the fact that we had the most experienced and talented team possible for the task at hand. Ryan, Evan and I had faced these particular circumstances during our 2004 first descent of the Chebdar River in Russia.

While the heart of the Huallaga had not been explored, we did have the advantage of a video from The Rang Life (the previous team to attempt the descent), documenting the river’s character up to the Chockstone Gorge.When the team members had arrived at this gorge, they only had four days of provisions remaining, which subsequently was a major factor in their decision to hike out.

A low volume of water within the river would be the most critical aspect for a successful descent. If the water came up on us in within the gorge, it could be deadly. Prior to our departure for Peru, we had received reports that the Amazon was at a record low level due to draught and receding glaciers in the Andes.The dry year had left certain towns stranded from the outside world since the only means of transportation and delivery of goods is via the river.While this low-water season had a negative affect on tens of thousands of people in the Amazon Basin, this unusually low water level boded well for our expedition.

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We had been on the water for three hours paddling through consistent class IV-V rapids before we reached our first portage. Arriving at the top of the incline I said, “Man, I’m not gonna lie, that hill kicked man ass.” Ryan gave a knowing, dirt-filled smile, which said, “We’re just getting started buddy.” After getting all six kayaks to the top of the plateau we gazed downstream at the encroaching canyon walls. On this particular portage we were lucky to find a flat bench that was only 500 feet above the river, where we could easily walk around the un-runable mini canyon below. Further downstream the canyon choked, which would make further portages much more difficult or impossible

Returning to the river, we started to make good time. Our team seemed to be working well together, getting into a good rhythm of ‘leap frog.’ This technique is where the lead kayaker scouts on behalf the rest of the group and gives verbal direction of where to run the rapid, allowing the other team members to stay in their kayaks. This method is fast but it can bite you in the ass if there is any miss communication. On a previous expedition my paddling partner swam through a rock sieve due to a misunderstanding of my hand signals. The character of the river was perfect for kayaking. Big round metamorphic boulders seemed to be placed just far enough apart to get our kayaks through. Aside from the water quality being utterly disgusting, the rapids leading up to our first night’s camp was nothing short of worldclass. After spending a week in Lima wrangling our kayaks out of customs, this first day of kayaking was sorely needed. At camp we cooked up our glorified prison food and relished on the fact that we had just paddled

some incredible whitewater. Our GPS waypoints led us to believe we had made 30km, and had dropped 500 metres. It looked as though we were well ahead of the previous group’s pace. We would be dropping into the unknown sometime the following day.

After getting on the river at 7am, the rapids became steeper and more consequential compared to the previous day. After two hours of making our way through countless class V drops, we had arrived at the Chockstone, the entrance to the first gorge. Fumbling around the slippery hunks of metamorphic rocks we found a good spot to gaze into the abyss. I was not alone in my apprehension, as many of the poker faces had changed to looks of serious concern. We were going to have to break the number one rule of whitewater kayaking: never drop into a vertical walled gorge without knowing what lies within. Scouting from above would be impossible due to the thick vegetation on either side of the river. The plan was to paddle into the gorge, committing as far as possible while staying within line-of-sight of each other. We would leave all of the high angle rescue gear out of the immediate inner gorge with Ryan and myself. With 11 days of provisions left and an ideal low flow, we all felt good about continuing downstream. Matthew Klema and Ben Luck volunteered to take the leap of faith first into the canyon. As he disappeared into the void, a sense of optimism began to sink in. “He must see something we can’t,” Nate muttered. This hope was confirmed when Ben, who had line-ofsight with Matt, gave us the hand signal that it was okay for the rest of the group to continue under the Chockstone, and into the gorge.

We were perhaps the first humans ever to see this magical place from river level!

As we paddled through the first inner canyon, there was an eerie sense of calm. We were anticipating the worst-case scenario – a boxed in waterfall or rapid with no possible portage or runnable route. We floated 800 metres through a vertical canyon before the limestone walls gave way to steep jungle hillside. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a 100-foot cascading waterfall came barreling into the river. It took me a moment to process the perfect beauty of it as it looked to be super imposed on the dramatic canyon.

We were perhaps the first humans ever to see this magical place from river level! The canyon’s ecosystem had made a dramatic change form a semi arid climate to lush jungle. While we could have spent hours in that spot, relishing the ambiance, we had to make haste. With two more gorges still to go, we knew that if we were forced to portage, it would take days. As the first inner gorge opened up, the whitewater began to pick up. We anticipated the coming of the second gorge while navigating a series of class V

We were going to have to break the number one rule of whitewater kayaking: never drop into

a vertical walled gorge

Ryan Casey Surveying the scence. Photo: Evan Ross

without knowing what lies within

The oldest occupation of man in the America’s is traced back to the sacred city of Caral-Supe a few hours north of the capital Lima. The 626 hectare (1546 acre) site dates back 5,000 years.

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Peru has over 70 million hectares of the rainforest; the fourth largest area of topical forest in the world

pool-drop rapids, which kept us on our toes. Just like clock work we arrived at the towering gates of limestone rock, which marked our second gorge. Matthew Klema, our team geologist, had an optimistic view of the make up of the canyon. “It looks to me that the rocks which have fallen into the river over time, creating rapids, cannot make it into these narrow limestone gorges.� Ironically, a few moment latter, we heard a shotgun like crash and thunderous roar as kayak-sized rocks careened into the river. The constant drizzle throughout the day had caused the steep jungle walls to let loose of rocks held precariously in vegetation. While it

was awesome to watch the morphology of the canyon take place, our already sketchy situation had now become a game of Russian roulette. Ryan, our team navigation leader looked at the map and scanned the air with the GPS unit looking for a signal. Sure enough, we were making our way through the Great Bend of the Pongo Aguirre. It looked as though we were beginning a turn to the north towards the Amazonian flat lands. As the light misty rain continued, worry began to spread among the group. From our vantage point there were no signs of vertical drop, so we continued down river in

I pondered why we must live so close to death to feel alive. For us, seeking out first descents has become a drug, and its euphoric affects are so invigorating yet so temporary.

standard formation, youngest to oldest. Matthew’s prediction was spot on, as we navigated class II ripples through the depth of the second gorge and further into the unknown. I looked over to Evan and watched him gaze up into the hour glass shaped canyon. “This is our Shangri-La”. While relishing our good fortune, I heard a thunderous crash-boom-whiz curplunk. Not inches from where I had been, three watermelon-sized rocks came crashing into the river from above. Even though the gorges had thus far been relatively benign, just the sheer nature of the canyon was formidable. “This canyon ain’t no gimme,” Nate said nonchalantly.

Camp 1

Matt Klema and Ryan Casey probing into the unknown Photos: Evan Ross

If only we could take these feelings of complete presence in the moment and translate them to every day life. Perhaps in another lifetime I would be evolved enough to accomplish such feats. ThePaddler 55

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According to the map, our third and final gorge, appeared to have the steepest vertical drop. Our map showed three topo lines crossing the river within the gorge, which could have been a 300-foot waterfall. We would want a fresh start in the morning if this scenario was to play out. We found a small camp with a fresh water spring right at the top of a very stout class V rapid. Though we wanted to maintain our momentum we knew if were forced to portage a 300-foot waterfall, we would need clear heads and loads of energy. So we spent the rest of the day setting up shelter, collecting firewood and sipping on fine Pisco, which is strangely necessary on all Peruvian kayak expeditions.

press of coffee, I noticed something was amiss. “Where’s Evan?” As I approached his cocoon I could tell it had been a long night. “You hurtin’ buddy?” “I’ve been ill all night, and I’m not sure I can kayak class V and portage through jungle today.” I looked over at the rest of the crew and could tell they were rearing to go. We needed to get on the river today. I talked him into taking a butt plug pill and starting a course of Cipro. “Give me an hour and I’ll be good to go. You’re just going to have to carry my kayak for me today.” “Not a problem, I’m sure Ben and Nate won’t mind.”

The nights are long in Peru, as darkness sets in like a light switch at 6pm. Once night falls, the jungle becomes alive. So densely filled with life, a high pitch buzz fills the air and reverberates through the deep canyon walls. Sweating in my 20 degree sleeping bag, I tossed and turned with thoughts of the third gorge and some of the close calls of the day. All I could do was listen to the wild river, cradled in the arms of an old canyon until the constant roar of the rapid, lulled me to sleep.

From the map readings we were only 2km from the entrance of the third gorge. As a team, we were all mentally prepared for a portage of epic proportions, apart from Evan. With nine days of provisions left and 30km to go until the river made its bend back to civilization, we felt, at the least, we would not starve to death out here in the jungle.

Morning greeted us with clear skies and, thankfully, a river that had not risen. As we huddled around our one French

The Pisco Sour is Peru’s national drink and is made using Pisco brandy, lemons, sugar water, egg whites, ice and finished with bitters.

Mentally prepared

After successfully firing a seal launch into the rapid at camp, we entered a truly classic section of whitewater containing juicy slot drops and perfectly symmetrical ledge pourovers. All of our stomachs were in our throats

as we continued to paddle downstream imagining what may lie ahead. Again we could see the canyon walls closing in. Upon reaching the last possible eddy, we took a glance downstream to see that this was just another mini canyon. The gorge opened back up within 200 yards from the entrance. After paddling through this short mini canyon, we consulted the GPS. We all felt as though we had travelled more than 2km, and as Ryan dialled in his reading, we all anxiously waited for the good word. “Our little buddy here is telling us we are beyond the gorge.” We all looked at each other dumbfounded. How could that be? The cartographer must have been making up for lost gradient along the way. With such steep canyon walls, and no other access to the river corridor, obtaining readings from the air must have left the map makers to do their best guess work.

Where was the suffering?

We immediately took a break for lunch where we lounged like lizards for a few short minutes before the sand flies made a timely arrival for their

gringo feast. I was left with both of a sense of relief and a feeling of “where’s the beef?” We had prepared for absolute battle. That’s not say we had not paddled through the most amazing canyon of our lives but where was the suffering? As far as we were concerned, this canyon had been crafted by the Incan gods to be explored by a kayak. Perhaps we had paid our dues by simply arriving at the put-in. After lunch we put the hammer down and set our jets to paddle out the last 30km to the town of Chinivato. After a few miles we came upon a few dugout canoes along the bank, which lead us to believe it would be flat water out to civilization. There was also some large-scale machinery and it looked like a group of workers were taking rock samples from the canyon walls. Later we discovered that a dam is slated to be built in the heart of the Pongo De Aguirre by a Brazilian company. It should be completed by 2013. As we pondered the heartbreaking ramifications brought on by a dam, blocking the flow of such a powerful river, a big and brown water tributary entered the river, which more than doubled our water flow. Immediately after being greeted by this new tributary we were thrown right back into the action – 20kms of continuous class V rapids.

Nate’s endearing smile said it all

Packing in Huanuco. Photo: Evan Ross

During this last section of river we did not scout or even stop as we navigated the read and run rapids. I had the luxury of following Ryan, silhouetted in the sun. After running one drop, I turned to see Nate drop blindly into big, meaty hydraulics, which I had intentionally missed. After popping out, Nate’s endearing smile said it all. This was a perfect moment. We had accomplished our mission. At the same time, our adventure was just beginning. We had many more rivers to run in Peru. For everyone in the group, this is what kayaking is all about. Rather than competition or running 100-foot waterfalls, an accomplishment, which completely transcends the individual and forms unbreakable bonds among friends. It’s about a simultaneous inner and outer journey, and for a moment, you can feel the pulse of the earth through its veins… the river. Upon reaching the take out we could see there was a well travelled road with trucks and buses going towards Tingo Maria and Huánuco where we had started the trip three days prior. There was no way I could imagine that we would be back in Huánuco, at our posh hostel, with only a four-hour bus ride over the summit which separates the Andean alto Plano from the jungle. Our ideal river experience was to be made true with a cheers of delicious Pilsner beer, ironically made in the Barrio de Callao where, a mere week before, I had travelled the docks, grappling with Peruvian customs officials to free our kayaks for our mission down the Rio Huallaga.

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ThePaddler 58


INFORMATION LOCATION: Peru is located to the north west coast of South America and boarders countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.


Peru can be divided into three areas known as the highlands, this area is in-twinned with the andes mountains and runs directly through the centre of the country. Secondly the jungle regions are located around the amazon rainforest to the east of Peru and finally the coastal regions to the west of the country.

LANGUAGE: The official language of Peru is Spanish however Quechua is also recognised as an official language.

Plotting coordinates Photo: Evan Ross

Ryan Casey in his happy place Photo: Evan Ross



Peru Google map

PERU AMAzON: The Amazon rainforest stretches over a vast area of South America and covers an area of seven million kilometers (1.2 billion acres) with the amazon rainforest covering an area of 5,500,000km running through a range of South American countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, bolivia and Peru.The Amazon contains over half of the planet's remaining rainforests and has the largest majority of species throughout the world’s rainforest population containing over 70% of the worlds species.

The Peruvian part of the Amazon jungle is considered to be one of the best parts of the Amazon as in this area of Peru it is believed to be untouched, as other areas throughout the Amazon have been affected by deforestation however the Amazon basin of Peru is protected by law. The area in which the Amazon is located in Peru is to the northeast of the country and covers nearly two thirds of Peru itself.. PADDLING: Through the Andes Mountains and into the Amazon run many rivers, from gentle Grade 1 through to Grade 6, which the most experienced kayakers will find fearful. Some kayak tours include treks and team-building on white water rafts..

BEACHES: Punta Sal is, according to many, the top entry for best beaches in Peru. Punta Sal isn’t too far from the Ecuador border, and it is surely one of your best bets for beach resorts Peru vacations. Besides surfing, you can explore options for scuba diving, deep sea fishing, and wind surfing at Punta Sal. Surfing is best enjoyed from December to March, and the area’s abundant sunshine means that you will more than likely grab some sun rays with your waves.

WEATHER: As a rough guide you will find that the summer regions of the coast are usually extremely hot and sunny during the dry season that last from December to April. The mountain regions have a slightly different dry season that lasts from April to October when the conditions range from hot temperatures during the day with little rain, followed by a dip in temperature as nightfall approaches. The jungle region of Peru has a similar dry season to the mountains as it lasts from April to October were during this period temperatures can average between 30-35°C. To summarize you will find the best weather on the coast during January with the mountain and jungle regions being visited after the wet season is a good rule of thumb when Peru

CURRENCY: The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/.) and there are 100 céntimole (cents) in one sol. The sol is available in a range of bank notes from 10, 20, 50, 100, 200. There is also a selection of coins in use in Peru these are 1, 2 and 5 Neuvos Soles, other coins that are in circulation are 5, 10, 20 and 50 céntimole.

vISAS: Most tourists can enter Peru with a valid passport and a Tarjeta Andina de Migración (TAM), depending on their nationality, which you fill out on the plane or at a border crossing point before entering Peru and entitles you to a maximum stay of 183 days. Visit: Dirección General de Migraciones y Naturalización for up to date information.

Beginner to Expert Kayak Instruction and trips

& Peru

Southwest Colorado Email:

Phone: 1.888.723.8925

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In the spotlight this month is a giant of the Nepal kayaking world‌

Gurung Maila

Multiple winner of Himalayan Kayak and Himalayan Whitewater Championships Owner of GRG's Adventure Kayaking and Guest Kayak Coach at the World Class Kayak Academy

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here and what was your first paddle?

I grew up alongside the Trisuli River in Nepal, my eldest brother was a raft guide so I was always hanging around the river banks watching them working. When I was 13 one of my brothers friends put me in a kayak for the first time and I was hooked from then on!

What and where was your first competition?

2001, Rishekesh in India. It was a marathon and I actually came first! I was 18 and had been paddling for around five years. There was only 25 competitors, but still, I was pretty proud!

With all those competitions which was the most memorable?

Although I've competed overseas in the past, I think the most memorable was on my home turf and winning the Himalayan Champs for the first time in 2006. Then I was not a business owner and was freelancing and earning around $10 a day so to win my own kayak was just incredible! I still have it now, I'll never part with that kayak!

slow rivers in England

It was great to take kids out on lakes and flat,

and go over the basics of kayaking – there's some pros in the making there

their recent Congo trip

Rush Sturges and his friends do some epic stuff,

was really inspiring. I hope one day I'll get to paddle with them, maybe I could guide them on a Nepal expedition?

You've coached all over the World, which part is your favourite?

I really enjoyed coaching children in England. In Nepal we don't get many children interested in kayaking, so it was great to take kids out on lakes and flat, slow rivers in England and go over the basics of kayaking – there's some pros in the making there.

Is there anyone in particular in the sporting world who has influenced you?

I've been friends with Capo Rettig for a long time now so I love watching what those guys are up to. Rush Sturges and his friends do some epic stuff, their recent Congo trip was really inspiring. I hope one day I'll get to paddle with them, maybe I could guide them on a Nepal expedition? The Dudh Kosi, Thule Bheri and Humla are wicked rivers.

What is the biggest accomplishment in your career?

I think it has to be GRG's Adventure Kayaking. I came from a very humble background and I thought I would be a freelance guide for the rest of my life. Now, after three years of business I own over 40 kayaks, five rafts and run trips daily for clients all over the World. Whether it's taking experienced kayakers on expeditions or taking tourists on their first rafting trip, I get a real kick from seeing how much joy my Nepali rivers can bring to others.

What would be your ultimate achievement?

To get a Nepali team to the Olympics before I'm too old! Nepal has some of the best paddlers in the world and yet as a country there has never been the organisation to send a team to represent. I would love it if myself and others could get to Rio 2016. Watch this space!

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Ever been scared?

Yes. I had a bad experience paddling the Tons in India when I was about 20. I was getting a bit cocky, I was young, thought I was untouchable as I'd never had a swim and was paddling these epic big volumes rivers with no problem. One day I went out by myself on a river I had done maybe 50 times and got caught in a really nasty hole. It took me five long minutes to get out, I didn't swim, but when I reach the side I was exhausted. Fortunately I had good kit on, because if my deck had popped, who knows how that story would have ended. Stuck in a gorge though, I had to paddle on and get out. I think after that, I grew up a bit and take less unnecessary risks now.

Any advice for those starting out in white water kayaking?

Just go for it and don't give up. Kayaking is like any skill worth having, it takes time to master it. Practise makes perfect!

Which paddlers out there are currently pushing the ww boundaries?

As mentioned earlier I love watching the stuff Rush, Ben Brown and Steve Fisher come out with (Guys, your welcome in Nepal any time!).

What's next for GRG?

Who knows, maybe buy some land for a camp, maybe introduce new water sports to Nepal, maybe start paddling in other countries. Whatever happens, it will definitely involve water!

Just go for it and Kayaking is like an it takes time to m

d don't give up. ny skill worth having, master it.

Practise makes perfect! ThePaddler 65

ThePaddler 66

Thanks Maila let’s finish with something short and snap

If you could surf with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?

James Bond, although fictional, I'd love to see how he coped with some rad rapids. I think that would make a great chase sequence in his next film. I'd happily work as his stunt double!

Facebook or twitter?

Facebook, I'm not a twitter user (yet).

On your iPod you're listening to? Am I allowed to say Adele?

What would you do with $100,000?

Buy a small plot of land by the river where my family and myself could live, take my girlfriend on a holiday to Peru (we've been together five years and never been able to get away as we are always working and she's been obsessed with Peru since she was 8!) and start a youth programme introducing children to whitewater in Nepal.

An ideal night out for you is?

Having a hot rum around the bonfire on the river banks of the Karnali river.

What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island?

My Raybans, I can cope without everything, but I couldn't cope without them!

What do you do to let off steam?

Kayak! Generally because of my job and where I live I kayak nearly every day. If I don't kayak once a week I get a bit grouchy (ask my partner!). A good paddle gives you time to think, burns some calories and makes everything feel better!

ppy‌ What do you get really angry about?

The state of some of the rivers in Nepal. Litter is a BIG issue here. I've recently started a campaign to clean up the Trisuli near my home town Mugling. We've been litter picking and recycling in our spare time. We've also set up meetings with the local officials and the litter pickers to change the way the waste is dealt with. We've employed a group to sort the rubbish (in Nepal you get money for glass and plastic recycled so it's worth their while) and we have set up a new, more sustainable landfill for the rubbish that cannot be recycled. You can see pictures here 301424498.609351.71356729497&type=3

The one thing I’d change about kayaking is?

How much it costs to get to all these incredible destinations.They should make plane fares free for paddlers!

If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why?

Breathing underwater - as you might have guessed I'm a bit of a water lad and to be able to dive for 24 hours without having to worry about oxygen would be amazing.

What three words would you use to describe you? Determined, dynamic, excitable.

Thanks for your time Maila

ThePaddler 67

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ThePaddler 68 Photo:



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69 ThePaddler 69 ThePaddler

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lC i h By P


l a e r A

i k o L a h n a r y P e h T

The Pyranha Loki takes a massive departure away from the cookie cutter playboat shape that we have all seen developing over the last few years with the new Loki. Paddler: Sam Ellis. Photos: Phil Carr



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Designs such as the Jed, Project X, and Jitsu

have all to some extent been developed in one particular direction – to allow paddlers to pull off some of the more modern aerial moves.The Loki on the other hand has been designed to allow paddlers to return to a time when cartwheels, stern squirts, stern stalls, flat spins and blunts were the moves of the day. In essence, Pyranha have set out to capture the feel and performance of old school playboats.

It’s taken a couple of years for the Loki to finally arrive in stores and the sound of an old school boat but using the newest design tools and outfitting has created a great deal of interest in the paddling world, especially those who were paddling playboats 1015 years ago. There is something really special going on when you sit in a boat for the first time and it seems instantly recognizable yet at the same time different.The Loki definitely fits that bill.

The Loki is supplied with the Pyranha’s excellent Connect 30 outfitting system, which is very effective and easy to set up. Seat, thigh braces and backrest are easy to move and adjust to suit your style of paddling.The backrest is super comfy and is adjusted via a ratchet strap system attached to the thigh braces.The footrest is a foam block that does take a little longer to set up, as some cutting/fettling is required. It is worth taking the time to get it right.

Of course I am familiar with the outfitting as I own a Jed, but there is something else, being in a longer playboat after so many years brought back a load of memories including my first paddle of the Pyranha Inazone series.Visually it looks in many ways, (especially its side profile) like a combination of the Pyranha Inazone design and a squirt boat.That in no way is a bad thing, as the Inazone was one of the most popular boat designs of its time.

The Loki is designed to revive the classic moves that we learned when we played the river the first time. If you want smooth linked cartwheels, a smile on every eddyline and enjoy serious vertical time then this is the boat for you. The Loki is loose and fast on river and ocean waves, vertical moves will be more controlled and more impressive than in a short boat and the Loki is great downriver, extra length means more speed making eddies and must make ferry glides easier and more controlled. Medium Length: Width: Volume: Weight: Paddler weight:

220cm 62cm 185lts 15kg 55-90kg

Large Length: Width: Volume: Weight: Paddler weight:

222cm 63cm 223lts 15.5kg 80-110kg

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What Pyranha says‌

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The bulk of the volume is centred around the cockpit, which creates that stability.This also gives a comfortable area to sit in that doesn’t feel too cramped.The volume tapers out to the ends of the bow and stern to create a sleek and slicey profile. When I moved the Loki into the vertical plane during a cartwheel it didn’t have that bounce from end to end feel that you get with a shorter/high volume playboat.

The transition from bow to stern felt smooth and controlled despite my rusty cartwheeling technique. Cartwheeling the Loki is also a great deal more impressive than in a shorter playboat and it’s fair to say that cartwheeling the Loki on both flat and moving water is a great deal of fun.

As well as being a great playboat the Loki is also quite a capable river-runner. I paddled the Loki at various locations on Grade III-IV water and out in some fairly meaty surf. I found the Loki to be a capable river running playboat that can handle various water conditions. Due to its relatively long hull length, speed was good. Catching waves (even poorly selected ones) was easy and moving across the flow and sprinting to catch small eddies was simply fun. Playing on waves of various sizes I found the Loki easy to flat spin and blunt, it moved well across the face of the wave but I did have to remind myself that the boat was longer than I have been used to in recent years and use it to my advantage.

For many paddlers looking for a fun river running playboat with performance and a classic feel then the Loki is well worth considering.The Loki could show you a whole other side to playboating.

As well as being a great playboat the Loki is also quite a capable


Llangorse Lake A very special place

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South Wales Kayak Anglers

is a unique web site and forum, in as much as they have created the UK’s first kayak angling club.Through the club they organise VHF radio courses, safety courses and group fishing trips.They also host a number of major events in the kayak angling calendar.

One of these events is the Llangorse Lake Species Hunt. Freshwater fisheries that allow kayak angling are not very common but Llangorse positively embraces the sport.This year’s event was planned for Saturday 29th March. It looked as if there was going to be about 30 competitors, which would be a great show.

Llangorse Lake is a great venue set in a beautiful valley within the Brecon Beacons National Park. We were all to be staying at the excellent on site camping and caravan site.

By Terry Wright

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March 2012

offered up a beautiful spell of very warm weather and thoughts of a similar mild spell would make camping in the Brecons a pleasant alternative to hot cross buns and Easter Eggs. So on this hope of nice weather and some early Spring fishing my colleague Daz Harrison and myself loaded up the kayaks at 6am on Good Friday morning and headed 150 miles south west to the land of the Red Dragon.

A pleasantly quiet Bank Holiday journey brought us a view of Llangorse Lake and my first sight was white horses rushing down the lake. This was going to be a challenge. On arrival we were greeted by the ladies in the site reception with a cheery smile and details of where the electric hook-up was for this pair of Leicestershire softies to plug a heater in overnight. The pitches were flat and spacious. Despite the rain and snow that had fallen in previous weeks the ground was very firm. After meeting and greeting a few of the lads, Daz and I decided to take advantage of a practice session on the lake.The first surprise we had was that the water at the launch point was covered with a centimetre or so of ice! Oh dear! Safety is always a priority when going on the water so without question the drysuit is the first item to be sorted, a couple of layers of thermal clothing with good wicking properties followed by a one piece fleece suit. The drysuit is of a breathable material, it should always be remembered whilst a drysuit offers protection from wind and water it has almost no thermal insulation properties, so make sure you have layers underneath for warmth. This was all finished off with a nice thick pair of thermal

Paul Fennel had caught a really decent pike. On such a tough day, that was a special fish

The overwhelming feature that immediately strikes the paddler is the backdrop on this lake. Beautiful snow capped mountains, this really

is God’s country Flag illustration by Garyck Arntzen

socks. Then we come to gloves, always a topic for discussion. Personally I rarely wear gloves when paddling I find the blood circulation keeps me warm. However I always have a towel with me and if my hands get wet I dry them off thoroughly. It is the wind chill on wet hands that is your worst enemy. Other options include Seal Skinz, neoprene gloves, cycling gloves and a variety of branded kayak gloves. The best option is to try a friends and see what suits you. Oh! I also have the benefit of using a Palm Kaikoura Tour PFD with the fleecy hand warmer pockets, a real benefit when paddling in Winter. We broke through the ice and made our way onto open water and as I had already seen there was indeed white horses being chased along the lake by a brisk easterly wind. That old anglers adage came to mind, “When the wind’s in the east the fish bite least!” The overwhelming feature that immediately strikes the paddler is the backdrop on this lake. Beautiful snow capped mountains, this really is God’s country. The idea of the paddle was to survey the lake, to spot features and using the fish finder to identify deep holes and ledges and drop offs. The lake is predominately rush lined with very limited access to the the shoreline. The first thing I noticed from the fish finder was that the water temperature was only just above

freezing at 1.80 C, the only reason there was not more ice was the waves. This was going to make the fishing very tough. After three hours paddling around the lake with a little bit of fishing done and having chatted to the other anglers paddling the lake we found that just one fish had been caught, a nice pike by V8Rob (Rob Appleby-Goudberg). It was time to get warm and join the rest of the lads in the bar for the obligatory social side of such meets. Throughout the evening in the warm and welcoming bar we met kayak anglers mainly from the south coasts of England and Wales with just a few ‘inlanders’. Tactics were talked, baits and lures were assessed but mainly beer was consumed. Two entrants had dropped out because of the weather so we were down to 27 guys who had to brave the elements on the lake in the morning. First, however there was the ordeal of getting back to the tent and sleeping through a forecast -5C night. Brrrr. The next morning broke dry and sunny with a gusty wind blowing down the lake and a hard frost on the ground. 6am saw the formal briefing at the cafe with a host of Full Welsh breakfasts. Between them Ed (Floydyboy) and Martin (Egbertnobacon) went through the obligatory health and safety guidelines. The match rules were simple: Most species caught wins!

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So 27 kayak anglers

faced the prospect of breaking the ice and getting out onto the lake and catching some fish. It was not the great rush that might have been expected. I think the haste to launch was inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed the previous evening. Believe me there were some very slow starters.

Rob ApplebyGoudberg with his pike. A decent fish – but what made it even more impressive, was that it was Rob’s first crack at pike fishing!

The sun shone and paddlers paddled to every corner of the lake. As they crossed the wind many had to learn about changing paddle techniques and seating positions to combat windage. A great


1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

Paul Fennel (pike est 17-21lbs) Alistaire Cole (pike est 9-11lbs) Ian Harris (pike est 6-7lbs) Dave Morris (pike est 4-6lbs) Martin Hurst (Roach)

The weekend finished as it had started for many, a little liquid refreshment and a singsong before another night of sub-zero temperatures in tents.

Events like the Langorse Species Hunt are a great way for novice kayak anglers to quickly gain knowledge of their chosen sport. Experienced guys are around and are always keen to offer advice and guidance on tactics, kayak rigging and safety. Fishing is done in company thus giving a secure feeling for early fishing trips.When these events are organised by the likes of Ed and Martin you are assured it will be a quality event and very safe.

lesson for all paddlers to learn. Many ran for the flat water at the east end of the lake in the lea of the tree lined bank. Some braved the wind and anchored in the windy deeper water and some just paddled around the lake trolling brightly coloured lures in the hope of finding a pike. The sun came and went the wind blew and eased and anglers worked and worked. It was obvious that the fish were going to be few and far between. Ed had manage to get three trophies and prizes from the event sponsors Escape Watersports, it was beginning to look like that might be too many.

Keep your eyes open for the next big competition: Oxwich 2013 at Oxwich Bay on the Gower Peninsular on 20th July. Many thanks to Ed, Martin and all staff concerned for a very safe, friendly and well organised event at a great location with a stunning backdrop. Also to Escape Watersports for providing the prizes.


were circulating of who had done what but no one Word came that Ian (Dizzyfish) had caught a pike knew for definite what had actually been caught. on his very first cast of the day so we did indeed Eventually just after 4pm Ed did the necessary with have one prize winner at least. Everyone fished on checking everyone in off the water to make sure we with renewed enthusiasm, most of us to no avail, it had not left anyone behind. A lot of cold and did give time to soak up the scenery and wildlife forlorn paddlers started to to pack their gear away though. Seagulls were grazing on a new hatch of and keep their ears open for news of fish caught. midges competing with the low flying swallows Now was the time for everyone to gather at the skimming the surface of the lake and I saw several clubhouse to eat drink and be red kites patiently patrolling the Ian Harris (Dizzyfish) with his pike. merry. Results were assessed and woodland and fields. In a place and the only four anglers lucky like this, catching a fish is second enough to catch fish were to the privilege of being here announced. All the guys had enjoying the stunning landscape worked hard for their fish and surrounding you. deserved the praise they received. Slowly people started to feel the Ed, Martin and Gus from Escape bitter cold and drifted back Watersports did the presentation. towards the launch point. Rumours

We offer the UK’s widest range of BCU coaching, performance & safety qualifications. All delivered by the UK’s most experienced and most qualified instructional team. bespoke dates, tailored courses, off-site training, group bookings and non residential prices all available upon request

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Cornwall, England Coaching along the beautiful Cornish coast. By Simon Osbourne

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ThePaddler 84

When coaching, the most important aspect of the day is to choose the right location to achieve the learning goals of your group. If you get this right everything else just falls into place. Get the wrong location and the day is an uphill battle to achieve the desired outcome.

Coaching along the


h coast By Simon Osbourne of Sea Kayaking Cornwall

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g the n o l a g n i C o a ch astaking for over 11 o c h s i n r ay Co elp ing sea k

to h en coach h waters I have be g Cornis n si u ieve their e h v c lo world a e th years and r e v o be in a from all er the glo v o ll paddlers a d e love to ave work t I always u b ts aims. I h oasts n e m tacular c f environ and spec e rs variety o e iv d e me to th come ho . ll a swells of of Cornw ep ocean e d e th d to many is expose ere are so th r e v e Cornwall w , ho lop tic Ocean kers deve the Atlan help kaya to to simply s r u o s to pen , rescue ls il sk run l options o a n ether we and perso n and tog e ll s A leadership h ff Je h uth. It a work wit in Falmo d se f a o b explore. I ll ll a wa know ing Corn lly get to a ill re w to Sea kayak e c rs yea ach pla ite a few d when e n ta in rs taken qu e se d n r ba ons and u From ou the locati r the day. fo n oose from o h c ti p st o areas to in a m be the be e v we have fi urse: Falmouth uring a co d se u e w that

Bay Falmouthfrom the Atlantic swellsreantwd tho emain re a eltered inds. The Usually sh . The esterly w -w th ord rivers u lf e so H g d in n il a a l v a re p line of the F the discip to explore to s d e e ri c a u u d st e es and e intro ote beach rfect to b e m p re is s, a ff li re a aves, c ing with c sea kayak explore. to s stuarie e f o s e il m

sulawrest n i n e P d r d TheizardL' hizasathree sides: eastr ,osof Fuathlmaonuth Bay the

The 'L the shelte efs and you leave jagged re s s a A h . g th in u c fa he so ny crews to flow. T ves of ma li e th n tide starts e there are e tak right day s that hav e th n o r tidal race weve ell as to years. Ho from, as w h c n u la over the and r to the es to land the corne d n u ro a good plac d hea ote and efore you est is rem w f e h T . explore b ard h miles o of the Liz swells, wit rn e st r e o w west coast r ou the luded harb xposed to directly e n by a sec e k ro b y ll siona cliffs occa ch. a e b sandy

Mounts Bay Moizuardnthtesn gives way to thgeet swto ePeepninzagnce the The L ser you ud in the ally the clo nding pro ta S s. Bay. Norm e m o astle e surf bec ctacular c smaller th is the spe ay B ts n u Mo t. centre of els Moun f St Micha o le is d e topp

nd th-taking with its blocks Tohf e LanEndd isssiE waters. mply brea turquoise

Lands s on om the tidal race ering up fr w to e it end with n e th gra Lands ff r o a e g stron beach n w o in fl a n m a c e tide is little fter th Ives there adlands. A e t h S s in a rd a m the dled orth tow often pad u move n area not n a End as yo is l race , a d so ti ad and ificant n ro g si y b a d ss n e a acc a cliffs mazing se that has a en. off Pende

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ThePaddler 88

The North Coast

This is where the surfers flock for some of the best surf in Europe.There are lots of beaches to choose from with many different characteristics. In-between the many beaches are further sections of spectacular cliffs, which are rarely visited by any other crafts other than the occasional intrepid sea kayaker.

You need the right day but when you are lucky enough to be granted a day with small swells, then you are in for a treat. Out of these main areas there are a few locations that I seem to find myself going back to time and time again. My favourite locations to use for coaching and developing skills are:

Carbis Bay – Godrevy

Carbis Bay is three miles of golden sands in a perfect crescent shape. I am asked to teach many times in the surf and getting on at the west sheltered end of the beach in Carbis Bay and then paddling along the bay until you find the right size surf you are after works nearly every time. Generally it is too big for coaching by the time you get to Godrevy at the far end of the bay. Surf is the best environment to develop your dynamic boat handling skills if you are a sea kayaker and I find that the wide-open sandy beach with clean organized waves are the best environment to relax and learn.


Portreath is the closest place to Falmouth on the north coast and my favourite location in Cornwall. I have never seen another group of kayakers along this section but it is simply incredible as a training ground. There are deep caves, gullies, islands, and areas of clapotis, secret coves and deserted surf breaks. On the right day it gives so many fun spots to practice rescues or timing or to simply enjoy learning strokes along a spectacular coastline.

'The Classroom' – Falmouth

Just off to the right of Swanpool Beach is a small little bay that we call the classroom. It is the most perfect sheltered bay that we use to teach people how to get into sea kayaking as well as practicing advanced rescue skills in the sheltered waters before heading out to pressure test them in the open seas.

Every time I think I know this amazing coastline I spot something new or discover a new gully or visit the same section in different conditions. I don't think I will ever truly know the Cornish coast but I guess that's what keeps me interested after so many years and makes sea kayaking so special.

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ThePaddler 90

INFORMATION LOCATION: Located in the far west of Great Britain on a peninsula tumbling into the vast Atlantic ocean, almost completely surrounded by the sea, a magnificent coastline wraps around Cornwall for almost 300 miles. Cornwall is also the location of mainland Great Britain's most southerly promontory,The Lizard, and one of the UK’s most westerly points, Land's End, while a few miles off shore and even further west is an archipelago of tiny islands that make up the Isles of Scilly.


WEATHER: Cornwall has a temperate climate and the mildest and sunniest weather in the UK as a result of its southerly latitude and the influence of the Gulf Stream.The average annual temperature in Cornwall ranges from 11.6°C (53°F) to 9.8°C (52°F).

Google Map

CORNISH PASTY: The Cornish pasty was first made for Cornish miners. It is traditionally half savory and half sweet. The miners held them on the crust, eating everything around it and then threw the crust away. This wasn’t because they didn’t like the crust but to avoid eating the poisonous chemicals which were covered on their hands from mining. The pasty is, and always shall be associated with Cornwall. It holds a special place in Cornish culture. For many people the pasty is the greatest symbol of Cornwall. When the Cornish Rugby team plays an important match, a giant Cornish pasty is symbolically hoisted over the bar before the start of the game. It is a tradition that dates back to 1908, and the original giant pasty is still used to this day.

RIvERS: The principal rivers are the Tamar, which forms most of the border with Devon, the Fowey, the Fal, and the Camel.

LANGUAGE: Cornwall has its own language called Kernowek. It is a Brythonic Celtic language and recognised as a minority language in the United Kingdom.

OLDEST: Just south of Newquay – the remains of what is probably the oldest Christian church in Britain lie buried in the sand? St Piran, for whom the village is named, was a 5th century saint thought to be of Irish origin. He built an oratory just beyond the beach, whose sands centuries later overwhelmed the building – as they did its 10th century successor.

The first mention of Britain in writing detailed tin dealing on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall? Pytheas, a Phoenician from Marseille, travelled to Cornwall in 325BC on a trading mission that he recorded: his text was lost long ago, but its information was quoted in a later Greek history. Some say the use of saffron in traditional Cornish cookery results from exchanges made with the Phoenicians.

FLAG: Cornwall’s black and white flag is the banner of St Piran. The white line between the black represents white lines of tin between dark molten rocks.

TOURISM: Cornwall is one of the major holiday areas in England attracting more than five million visitors a year. At the peak of the season there are over 270,000 visitors to county adding more than 50% to the all year population.

6 H D . D \ Â…


Z Z Z K R E To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081

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Active360 are developing Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) in London, Mersea Island and Brighton

We run lessons, trips, courses, parties, equipment demonstrations and events to suit your individual requirements. With our new Boarding Pass scheme we hire boards at very competitive rates to keep you paddling. Our new SUP City urban racing for everyone will start in Paddington in June. Our new SUP shop is open at Mike’s Dive Store at London W4 5PY with a great range of the best equipment available. You can try out boards at our test centre at Kew Bridge 10 minutes walk from the store. T: 020 3393 5360

We are off on expedition to the Arctic waters of Greenland this summer and we are planning to run trips to Greenland, Iceland and a range of other exciting locations from 2014. polarbearsandpaddleboards

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ThePaddler’s Planet By Leslie Kolovich

Devon, England The Head of the Dart Challenge. By Luke Green

Thailand – Asia Five star treatment at Starboard’s HQ. By Ollie O’Reilly

108 India – Asia The Indian Surf Festival 2013. By Sampu Samantaray

114 Kenya – Africa Stories from an equatorial outpost. By Craig Rogers

124 Red Paddle 10’ Surfer review By Jason Pereira

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h e c i i l y s B e ov L ol K Photo: Joan Vienot

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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


or nearly five years as the host of The Stand Up Paddle Radio Show, I have been talking with paddlers from around the world in all aspects of the sport. I now can say I have found a trend. Stand Up Paddlers are becoming more involved in touring, exploring, adventure and conservation. The question I have is this: has paddling made paddlers more eco-aware or do ecoaware people get drawn to the sport of paddling? For me personally, paddling awakened the true conservationist in me. I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors, camping, mountain biking, river rafting, feeling the exhilaration of clean air, and the immediate release of stress with the first step away from asphalt and concrete. But now I feel a calling.

Stand Up Paddling introduced me to the water in a way I never knew was possible. This is where my love affair for the planet began. I believe it’s the ‘slow ride’ of paddling that puts us in the middle of Mother Nature’s most plentiful and most valuable gift, water. It is this slow ride that allows us to connect and understand what really is at stake. It’s the consistent gifts of beautiful sunrises, glassy water, perfect waves and almost indescribable reflections of sky and earth on the water as the sun goes down, that keep us filled with hope and passion to protect and preserve.

We know that the ocean covers 71 percent of the earth’s surface, and contains 97 percent of the planet’s water. It also produces over half of all the oxygen produced on the earth, and our oceans absorb almost 50 percent of all the C02 produced! Our oceans support the life of nearly 50% of all species on earth! Two hundred million people are reliant upon the fishing industry for income, and revenues from coastal tourism are estimated at $161 billion or greater. Looking at these numbers we can see the global impact the oceans have on our economies. This very small sampling of statistics makes me feel more passionate to protect our planet. It just makes sense.

Writing this column, ThePaddler’s Planet, will help advance our eco-awareness. I’d like to think I’m preaching to the choir. I may very well be, however you may be in the choir, but not really singing. Let’s feel the music, and bring our voices together loud and strong! Our passion for life must carry through to our relationship with the planet. It is time to give a gift back, the gift of being good stewards, doing and being the change we want to see if you are going to be in the choir, really be in the choir! It’s more than just wearing the robes!

I have the honor of hosting an important event this October in Panama City Beach, Florida, with the goal of bringing paddlers in any kind of paddlecraft together to send a wave of change to the planet. Leading by example, we will work together to spread the word that we can make a difference. Join us for World Paddle For The Planet.

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The Head of the Dart Challenge Stand Up Paddleboarders came to attend the most prestigious of all events on 20th April – The Head of the Dart Challenge.

Totnes and Dartmouth rowing clubs invited the paddlers four years ago, when just a small local group of 12 joined in with their historic race the length of the River Dart from Totnes to Dartmouth.The direction of the race alternates each year. On Saturday at precisely 14.15hrs (which is how the rowers like to run events), 98 Stand Up Paddlerboarders, of all abilities headed down the Dart on a 10-mile journey.

Saturday was a fine day, Jeremy Robinson of Dart Adventures who helmed the lead rescue boat said, “I have never seen the Dart so picturesque. I had just bought a new lens for my camera, and as the racers came around each meander I was snapping away like mad.Thankful the weather was so good we were not busy rescuing.”

The event was also a very special tribute to a local paddler Andy Cole. He was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and kindly offered to donate trophies for the key classes. He died just five days before the event. He will always be remembered.

Dave Hackford from Starboard, the key sponsor commented on the race, “The reason the event has become so popular is because it is a personal challenge for many, rather than an out-and-

out race. And being associated with the rowing clubs gives it a great, friendly feel. I am sure some paddlers set off from Totnes not actually realising that their destination will not be where their car is, so everyone joins together with car lifts back, and paddling back is out of the question.”

The UK’s best racers did come as well. Ryan James, who competes on the World circuit led the race from the start and never missed a stroke.The south easterly breeze, which was discussed in detail by every participant at Dartmouth, was enough to peg back times. Ryan James crossed the line in 1hr 24mins.


14ft Class: Peter Kosinski & Ryan James

Women: Lindsay Frost & Anna Shekhdar

Two special awards go to Anna Shekhdar – first women (1hr 48mins) and a young 16-year old from Ireland winning first youth, first ‘first timer’ in the race but also, most impressively 2nd in class and 3rd overall, Peter Kosinski (1hr 29 mins). LUKE GREEN


is an up and coming SUP talent from Ireland who made the journey over to take part in his first race in the UK. Finishing joint first last year in the Irish Technical Racing championship we all knew that he was quick but had no idea how this would translate to the UK race scene.With his intentions of trying to stay with the leading pack as long as possible he certainly managed to do this, eventually pulling away from the majority of the chasing field towards the end of the race with only two competitors ahead of him. At only 16-years he is certainly one to watch in the future!

12ft 6 Class: Pete Holliday & Oliver Shilston

Cruising Class: Ian Gay & Neil Jackson

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

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ThePaddler 98



By Ollie O’Reilly

Meeting Svein Rasmussen, one of the most prominent figures in the SUP industry, being one of the very few to test Starboard’s new 2014 gear and paddling with pro rider and leading designer Scott Mckercher, are some of my star highlights at the Starboard HQ.


Ollie O’Reilly

Svein Rasmussen ThePaddler 99

ThePaddler 100

This November I decided to escape This November I decided to escape the UK’s winter and instead take six months out to explore some of the best paddle locations in the world, travelling to south east Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The ultimate part of my trip was being invited to the Starboard headquarters in Bangkok; the perfect opportunity to meet founder Svein Rasmussen and his team behind a brand that continues to shape the evolution of SUP and who create the boards I love. Starboard continues to set the pace in the SUP industry, remaining one of the world’s leading trendsetters in producing SUPs. Despite its heritage in windsurfing, it has excelled in bringing Stand Up Paddle Boarding to the world’s attention. Starboard have some of the best team riders out there and has an everexpanding range of boards. Over the last few years SUP has dictated a lot of the decisions I have made, from taking every chance to hit the waves, to setting up Waterborn previously established as KESUP; one of the founding and largest SUP schools in the UK. Waterborn is a BSUPA dedicated SUP school operating on the Kingsbridge and Salcombe Estuary in South Devon and is recognised for its reputation for high quality tuition. The centre relies on the best quality equipment and is proud to be a UK’s Starboard demo centre. Therefore my visit to meet Svein and the Starboard team was a fantastic opportunity to gain a greater insight into a brand that’s vision is to “bring inspiration and innovation to the world of wind and water”. The trip began with just a 40-minute taxi drive east of Bangkok, escaping the crowded chaos of Kao San Road, arriving at Taco Lake; part of the small town of Bangplee and the home of

Starboard. Taco Lake is the ultimate playground. On the east side of the lake is Thailand’s first wakeboard cable park, making it a nice bonus to kick around on a wakeboard after lunch. On the south side lays the Starboard HQ, a collection of buildings all with a view of the lake. Opposite, I found later is Sven’s house, making the commute to work that little bit easier.

As I arrived into the car park, it was clear I was at the right place. A familiar large Tiki sculpture, a prominent flying Starboard flag as well as various Starboard branding greeted me. Being a few minutes early, looking out across the lake, I enjoyed the sensation knowing that some of the best and biggest names in SUP such as Connor Baxtor and Zane Schewitzer had completed their lap time here. Shortly after taking in my surroundings, it was time to meet Svein. Svein welcomed me with genuine enthusiasm and energy that immediately displayed his passion and love of what he does. It was instantly clear that at Starboard nothing had ever got boring, as Svein widely claims that SUP has had a positive engagement on his life and is the most exciting chapter so far. Despite standing in the office of one of the most respected men in the water sports world, Svein is an extremely approachable guy. Svein has a large office with wide windows overlooking the lake, which is filled with various windsurfing and SUP posters and trophies. As you would expect, Svein is not your normal CEO that is confined to a desk, instead he was keen to show me around and meet the team. It was time to explore the HQ. Starboard has around 50-full time employees working at the HQ, all of which are from different backgrounds and nationalities, helping to create a diverse workforce that creates fresh ideas to innovate.

Iballa Moreno

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The first stop was with the dedicated SUP tea

M m

Sean Poynter

am where I met

ard design r the head of bo Mathieu Rauzie the head of er d Andrew Mill management an ew had been dr agement. An an m n sig de le Padd produced that paddle-handle w ne a on ng ki wor ld be later discovered I wou I ch hi w , ng ni mor refuse. While offer I couldn’t an y, da at th g in test ussion about and Svein’s disc ew dr An g in rv obse was clear that of the handle, it t en pm lo ve de the d in control of uch involved an m ry ve as w n Svei esses. the design proc in to be involved day it was great on rs Throughout the be mem different team s discussions with e colour palate th as ch su s, ct pe as n sig t certain de or the oval shaf handle shapes on n io in of new boards, op y m later contributed . design. In fact I em st sy g in new paddle rack the design of a e ypes, it was tim w handle protot e th Taking these ne e s and se e magic happen to see where th chief shaper e th et where I m shaping rooms t four or five There are abou ers Nimit Promjan. floor with shap on the ground to in shaping rooms of foam carving blocks to delicately hand tisfying insight sa ly was a huge in d an s boards of art. It re brochu e boards in the observe how th born in these ce on e I use, wer fact the boards very rooms. e HQ and alking around th I found while w board prides ar nt staff, that St re ffe di to g in talk its R&D. In commitment to its on ily av he f itsel located at Taco hy Starboard is w on as re e th fact R&D process. complement its to ed nd te in is Lake lly build on its ard can continua One way Starbo e the highest ards and provid collection of bo produce a ts is its ability to quality produc This is made matter of hours. prototype in a to its original close proximity possible by its k to its main is close networ Cobra factory. Th y high-speed has an extremel factory means it ntrol, e and quality co development tim waiting times. eliminating long despite the HQ explained that its Secondly, Svein es, having all of e a maze at tim ity im ox pr often feeling lik a close rtments in such businesses depa on the ct pa im d a direct re to each other ha the design cent ess, “By having ly a on s re company’s succ e, it ensu the central offic . located next to ototype” from idea to pr short step away offices aids its of n ral locatio w Starboards cent lly promotes ne n that intentiona ”. ity al communicatio ation qu slogan: “innov ideas to fuel its

ish a day than What a way to fin rider to paddle with pro

r e h c r e k c M t t Sco

the boards I use th o b f o r e gn si e d and ThePaddler 103

ThePaddler 104

Once a prototype is finished, the lake provides the ultimate playground to test the primary performance of the board. Svein also has a large input in testing all the boards that are produced to enforce the very best shapes. During lunch Svein excitedly talked about having a busy weekend testing new kit, not finishing until 8pm that night. After a relaxed lunch meeting more of the team, Svein and I hit the water; jumping on a couple of new Starboard Sprint boards we paddled over to his house. It was now my time to test some of the latest 2014 boards and paddles before they were sent to be produced, including the handle made earlier that day. I couldn’t wait, as I hadn’t been for a good paddle in over a couple of weeks and wasn’t sure when I would next have the chance. The next three hours I tested a complete mix of boards that were straight out of the mould with no branding but just a pencil marking of the name and dimensions. Each of the boards had its own ride, ranging from the faster 23-inch wide race boards up to the more stable and wider allrounder. After doing a few laps of the circuit pushing the tightest turns around the race markers, I moved onto the next one. Each time I brought back one board with my feedback, Svein would eagerly give me “just one more“ to test.

As the sun started to set, I ended the day with a paddle with Scott Mckercher. What a way to finish a day than to paddle with pro rider and designer of both the boards I use. After talking about my trip and Waterborn back at home, I was surprised to find out that Scott had actually surfed Bantham a couple of times, my local break. Small world hey? After thanking Svein and the team for everything, I left with Scott in a cab back to the centre of Bangkok. During my visit to Starboard, I honestly didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed every minute meeting the team and being under the guidance of Svein Rasmussen. The brand speaks through its products, but its drive and passion is fuelled from its HQ, where everyone connects towards a shared vision. Its commitment to its research and development, allows Starboard to persistently develop its range of products, continually pushing the boundaries of what is believed possible in SUP.

As well as the boards, I tested Starboards paddle designs. The paddle designs are one of the most advancing innovations in the Starboard range, motivated by the paddle often being more influential than the board in performance. At this time I monitored the difference in performance using an oval shaped shaft over a circular, greater flexibility in the blade with a stiffer shaft, and a smaller lighter Enduro shaped blade over the larger wave blades. I reviewed the new handle prototype, which focused on a pushing technique instead of pulling the paddle to create further drive. After testing numerous boards and slowly getting defeated by the heat, I was one of the lucky few to try one board that Svein had kept till last. This board you could see Svein was really excited about as it had only been tested a couple of times and was so new they hadn’t even named it yet. It was awesome!

Zane Schweitzer

conner baxter 1st Patagonia, Chile


sean poynter 2013 isa champion

Cruise, explore, race, surf, white water, no matter what your passion, we’ve got it covered.



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The second edition of the India Surf Festival was held on the sunny unspoilt beaches of Odisha at Lotus Eco Resorts, PuriKonark marine drive, Puri from the 25-27th of January 2013. It was a three-day long green celebration of the Spirit of Oneness among surfers from all over the world; from fishermen turned surfers to pro surfers and stand-uppaddle masters to recreational paddlers.

By Sampu Samantaray

Indi The

dia Surf Festival e Second Edition 2013

Folk artist Ravan.

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SUP was in unison with beautiful art by artists from all over the world, yoga on and off the water, skateboarding and scintillating musical performances by international bands and DJs which made it unlike any other sport festival in the country.

The driving force behind the festival is Sanjay Samantaray and the festival has been built from scratch by a global group of enthusiastic volunteers who were full of energy and ideas. The organization behind the festival are Rangers Adventure Foundation, The Surfing Yogis, IOSUP (International Organization of Stand Up Paddle), OSPA (Odisha Surfers and Paddlers Association), WPA (World Paddle Association) and was sponsored by Odisha Tourism and RRD (Roberto Ricci Designs, Italy).

SUP yoga

Every morning, Kundalini Yoga sessions were conducted by Bel Jiminez from Barcelona with Petra Rehwald providing soothing music on the Hackbrett. Shiho, an Ashtanga Yoga expert from Japan, a multi talented surfer/yoga teacher and DJ, demonstrated yoga on SUP boards.

The volunteer group, which brought about this colourful, soulful siesta were an amalgamation of artists, designers, musicians and photographers who created a scintillating yet pleasing atmosphere of surf, art and creativity in the resort, where no one was judged and everyone was welcome. Kartik and his team including Sumit, Bharat and Twinkle made sure the whole festival functioned smoothly. The curator of the festival was Vinay Pateel, an artist from Bangalore. Bel and her group of volunteers including Shruti, Monika, Elaine and others set up the beautiful mandalas and painted the signboards to beautify the venue. Sachin and his team set up the ISF board and the entry gates. The talented group of volunteers from Argentina including Sebastian, Guchi, Lucas, Julietta, Miguel, Tom Becker, Marianna brought everyone together with warm fellowship and scintillating music coupled with their varied talents. Shreejit and his team made the bamboo lanterns and the flying camera for the festival. Trey was responsible for arranging the logistics for the bands. The Rangers team composing Behera Babu, Pratap, Ratan, (and village community volunteers) played a pivotal role in making everyone comfortable.

A scintillating yet pleasing atmosphere of surf, art and creativity in the resort, where no one was judged and everyone

was welcome

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SUP cup

Members of ISF such as April Zilg from WPA and Chris Miller from Surfing Yogis USA and Cedric Reynard from IOSUP conducted the sports shows. Elite SUP race was held in the sea where the competitors had to circle around a buoy out at sea and battle the waves to win the race, a couple even caught a wave on the way back. The SP of Puri Shri Anup Kumar Sahoo was present during the awards ceremony and distributed the awards. He expressed his awe at the way the festival was conducted, wished it a grand success in all its future iterations and promised more support from the authorities where ISF was concerned. The festival was a one of its kind Green Festival with a no trash and no plastics policy. A beach cleanup organized before the festival was a testament to this commitment. All the volunteers took care to always maintain the beach as is. Another highlight of the festival was the green truck running on used cooking oil. Three enthusiastic Frenchmen drove it down all the way from France. The festival recorded an estimated 2,000 footfalls during the three days. Everyone attending left with something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Green Festival

The festival was a one of its kind

with a no trash and no plastics policy

Memories of the festival were captured by an active group of photographers including Pradeep Javedar, Priyadarshan Poonascha, Guchi Vigano and Anushree Bhatter.

Sanjay and his team including surfers Spandan Banerjee, Justin and Christoff are high in sprit to make it better and more enjoyable every year.

SUP warm up.

April lessons. Below: catching a stand up paddler.

Art curator Rahul and Jill from USA.

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Stories from an


Naish Kenya team – H2O crew, Nomad Lagoon

We were children of great fortune – our father was shipped to East Africa on an expat assignment in the late sixties and my two brothers and I were born in Nairobi, Kenya. Whilst he missed out on flower power, free love and the music of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, we grew up in a tropical paradise with year-round sunshine and a swimming pool in the garden. I learnt to swim by the age of three and started windsurfing at the age of six. We’d spend long weekends in tentedcamps pitched on the shores of the Rift Valley; when we weren’t windsurfing or sailing we would be competing with the local hippos and crocs for shoals of spiny tilapia and whiskered cat-fish.

By Craig Rogers

al outpost Like most expatriate families, our long holidays were spent on the Kenyan coast. A ‘makuti’ (palm-thatched) cottage would be home for three weeks. Fishermen would come to the door every morning with baskets of red-snapper, squid and occasional lobster. Local kids would appear with ‘madafu’ (young coconut) which I’d trade for old tennis balls.

Rabbiosi and Rogers boys, Mombasa, ‘79. Poling around the lagoon, Vipingo, ‘84.

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Subconsciously we discovered SUP Windsurfing was still fashionable back then, with equipment in every hotel and local instructors teaching tourists in five languages. We were sent to boarding school and then university in the UK but flew home to Kenya at every possible opportunity. We’d spend our holidays hanging out at (the now extinct) Jadini Beach Hotel – windsurfing, playing beach volleyball and chatting up girls. Windsurfing quickly became an obsession, with all our pocket money saved up and spent in windsurf shops in the UK. I convinced my mother that we needed a semisinker with foot-straps and whilst the lack of a dagger-board frustrated her, the combination of low volume, foot-straps and a luminous yellow harness enabled us to zip around the shallows, startling flying-fish and emulating our hero Robby Naish in the waves.

Craig with catch of the day (New Years Eve 2011)

in those innocent days – poling around the lagoon with a splintery bamboo pole or a paddle borrowed from the dinghy. We’d explore the coral heads with mask/snorkel and (from time to time) free ungrateful inmates from carefully laid crab-traps.

Craig with the next generation

As worldwide interest in windsurfing waned and kitesurfing took off, the Kenyan coast (with steady tradewinds and shallow lagoons protected by outer reefs) proved to be perfectly suited to this spectacular new sport. My middle brother, Jason, was one of the first to kite in Kenya. In 2003, together with Eno and Boris Polo (both former tennis pros), we secured a lease over a beachfront shack, built sail racks and set up Kenya’s first kite/windsurf school. (The boys also ordered a pair of bright-yellow pedalos but the less said about that the better…) Since then kitesurfing Eno on a tiddler has exploded and on a windy day in January/February or July/August you’ll see up to Nomad Reef 50 kites between Forty Thieves Beach Bar on Diani Beach and the Kennaway Kitesurf Village on neighbouring Galu Beach.


The combination of low volume, foot-straps and a lumino yellow harness enabled us to zip around the shallows, startling flying-fish and emulating our hero

Robby Naish


Sunrise at Galu Beach

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Whilst I tried kitesurfing (with limited success and numerous salt-water enema wipeouts) I was quite happy to windsurf when it was windy and surf when it wasn’t. The challenge with surfing in Kenya, and the south coast in particular, is that the reef is in some places 500 metres off-shore. This involves an exhausting paddle (especially on a 5’10’’ Fish) and leaves you a long way from safety if anything goes wrong. Local fisherman will take you to the reef on their ‘dhows’ but this requires a degree of forward planning and organization altogether at odds with the ‘Hakuna Matata’ vibe. Thus the development of Stand-Up Paddlesurfing was a revelation! We could now paddle to the reef in ten minutes, surf for two hours and still have enough energy to kite or windsurf all afternoon! And if it wasn’t windy it didn’t matter – rather than sitting on the beach getting bored we could take a bunch of people out to SUP on the reef, paddle and spearfish in the lagoon or explore the mangrove swamps.

We could now paddle to the reef in ten minutes, surf for two hours and still have enough

energy to kite

or windsurf all afternoon!

Boris started by ordering a pair of Naish Nalu 11’6” SUPs and has since added a Nalu 10’0”, a Mana 10’0” Soft-top and a Hokua 8’10” to the line-up. There’s a small scene in Kenya and Boris is the only importer of SUPs; there are no other surf shops but from time to time we get our hands on boards from Starboard, Surftech and other manufacturers and get to experiment with different shapes, fin configurations and constructions.

Perfect morning, Nomads, January 2013

Eno “teaching” at 40 Thieves

I take great pleasure in introducing people to SUP. There are very few sports where you can get so much enjoyment in so little time – whilst beginner surfers can take years before they catch their first green wave, anyone with good balance and a little desire can catch good waves in their first session. So after years of cajoling I finally bully my youngest brother, Marc, into trying it. He’d windsurfed for years before converting to kitesurfing but was always more interested in fishing than surfing. It’s January – the hottest time of the year – air and water temperature equal at 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit). An early morning wake-up call, a bleary-eyed bowl of muesli and we’re in the car on the way to

Nomads. As the sun rises over the Indian Ocean we take boards out of racks and fight over the carbon paddles. The water is mirror smooth as we paddle out, disturbed only by the dipping of paddles and Neil occasionally falling in. It’s a good chance to chat, coach the newbies and warm up the shoulders. It’s three hours before low-tide and the water in the Mlango (Swahili for ‘door’ or ‘channel’) is deep enough for a dry paddle-out.

The water is mirror smooth as we paddle out, disturbed only by the

dipping of paddles

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I coax Marc

into a small one, he takes the drop, goes left – not pretty but it’s one under the belt. As the session progresses he gets more comfortable, generating more speed on the wave and turning the board off the tail. We convince Neil that taking the drop on his knees is ill-advised and he too bags a couple of good rides. Linzi is on the 8’10” Hokua – she’s lighter than the boys but finding it tough pumping the low volume board down the small faces. Boris and me are sharing waves, getting footage on the GoPro and larking about – he’s pulling his signature pants-down pirouette and trying handstands. It’s barely 8:30am but the tide is dropping and wind increasing so we head for breakfast. That afternoon we hang out on Galu Beach, windsurf and kitesurf and play with the kids in the pool. Our cottage is just down-wind from the fisherman’s village and suddenly we hear a terrific commotion coming from that direction. The locals are launching dhows, frantically detangling nets and piling into the ocean. We run down to investigate. The lagoon is boiling. Sleek silver bodies rolling and thrashing in a great mass, alight in the dipping sun. It’s the start of the sardine run. Young boys shepherd the fish into waiting nets; old women scoop up bucket-loads of briny water, dump the contents on the beach and return for more; others snatch out writhing handfuls. As quickly as it started it’s over and the bait-ball dissipates. The beach is now covered with a shimmering blanket, fish piled three-feet deep in some areas. Spoils are divided, middlemen appear

my backhand, grab the rail and tuck under the lip. It goes dark for a second and then I race out into the light, along the line and kick-out into the Mlango. It’s going to be a good session! Another big set looms on the horizon. Boris and Marc line up for it. I start filming. They both paddle for the same wave, a solid A-Frame. Boris is deeper, drops, goes right and steams down the line as it jacks up behind him. Marc is too shallow; he takes off late and plunges into the pit. The board pops out the back of the wave like a champagne cork and we all hoot and holler. I think nothing of it and follow Boris with the camera as he completes his ride. As I paddle back out I hear shouting. Marc is lying on his board, he’s lost his paddle and blood is staining the white deck of his board. He has a gash above his right eye – it’s about two inches long but clean, more likely an impact from the rail of the board than a coral cut. It’s not life-threatening and – typical elder brother – I suggest he paddles in and gets stitched-up at the dive school. Marc’s feeling dizzy and reminds me that he faints at the sight of blood so I reluctantly paddle back with him. Safely on dry land we apply iodine before carting him off to Diani Hospital. Tetanus and local anaesthetic is injected directly into the wound before he is expertly stitched up by Dr Lennox (the ‘fundi’) and discharged.

*Hakuna Matata means “no wor with bicycles and baskets to ferry the catch to market. We leave with 4 kilos of sardine for supper. Our chef cleans them before deep-frying and serving with chapatti and sukuma-wiki (a local spinach not dissimilar to kale). The next day we go again. The boys are up before I am and raring to go. We paddle out, squinting into the sun as it slowly rises above the horizon. The waves are breaking right into the channel – a sure sign that it’s bigger. The swell has built overnight – it’s breaking chest to head high, super-clean at about 14 second intervals. One shapes for me, I paddle for it but realize I’ve drifted too far right with the current. It’s too late to pull out and I drop, crank a bottom-turn left onto

Back at the cottage we meet up with Neil, Boris and Linzi. Not only had they caught a hat-full of waves but they encountered two pods of dolphin


and watched a sailfish – barely 50 yards away – leaping clear out of the water as it chased a shoal of dorado. We had another three or four sessions that holiday before heading back to London and bleak midwinter, but conditions were never quite as good. Marc’s scar is barely noticeable (a testament to fine needlework) but his big brother hasn’t yet forgiven him for the lost session. Boris is now training to compete in the SUP World Tour with the first event in Hawaii – it’s nearly 11,000 miles from Kenya but we have no doubt he can share the Hakuna Matata vibe (and his nakedpirouettes) with surfers and paddlers on the other side of the planet.


Sifting through piles of sardines.

rries� in Swahili :)

Shark bait

On the slab

Linzi on a small day at the Rivermouth

Boris digs into a bottom turn at the Rivermouth. ThePaddler 121

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INFORMATION LOCATION: Kenya is located in Eastern Africa on the Equator, bordering the Indian Ocean with Tanzania to the south and Uganda to the east.Timezone is GMT +3.

WEATHER: It's generally sunny, dry and not too hot for most of the year in Kenya despite being situated on the equator with the average temperature in Mombasa at 30 degrees celsius (86F). For the beaches the best time to go is December to March and July to September .The coastal temperatures remain steadily hot for most of the year, but on the beach the humidity is kept at bay by the ocean breeze.The wettest months are April to May and there's also a short rainy season from October to November.


Google Map

GETTING THERE: Scheduled airlines fly to Nairobi with a short connection from Jomo Kenyatta International to Mombasa. Charters operate directly into Mombasa (charging a nominal amount for board carriage). Diani Beach is 45kms south of Mombasa Island, involving a short ferry ride (with occasionally lengthy queues) followed by a 30minute drive through plantations of coconut, mango and cashew.

Alternatively Safarilink Aviation operate daily flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to the airstrip at Diani Beach.

TOUR OPERATORS: Extreme Safari, a tour operator specializing in sports and adventure travel in Kenya, can arrange accommodation at the Sands at Nomad as well as other hotels and self-catering cottages in Diani. They will also take care of domestic flights and transfers, a range of safaris and other activities (from Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro treks, to white-water rafting). Details at: or email: Tel: +44 208 874 6712 / +44 7816 764 653

SURF SCHOOLS: H2O Extreme offer windsurf, kitesurf and SUP lessons and rentals out of three locations in Diani Beach, 45 kms south of Mombasa. Details at: or email: Tel: +254 721 495 876

SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT: Travel by motorcycle or by jeep on dirt roads and tracks. Ride an enduro or self-drive a 4x4 through overland, cross country guided expeditions with full back-up. Enjoy camping in the bush, through tropical and indigenous environments. Meet different cultures, wild animals, extraordinary flora, make photos. An ultimate journey within Africa for bikers and riders. Contact Syd Rasheed, UK Mobile: 07402 479835 and email Details at:

TOURISM: Kenya is Africa's most popular safari destination and it's capital Nairobi is East Africa's economic hub. Kenya has a good tourist infrastructure and major credit cards are accepted in all well known hotels and in most shops and restaurants.

VISAS: Visitors from Europe, US, Canada, Australia and South Africa all require visas to enter Kenya. These can be acquired on arrival (currently $50 US or equivalent in Euro, Pounds Sterling and Swiss Francs). Visitors from a number of African countries do not require a visa; likewise the nationals of certain Pacific and Carribean Islands (who benefit from an immigration treaty). Nationals of Iran, North Korea, Lebanon and others will need to apply for a visa from their local embassy before travelling..

The African SUP experience

Big & small waves, crystal clear flat water, rivers&creeks…


. … s g n i m ok o o c . B i i r r a a f f a a s Surf & S info@extremeKENYA KENYA DIANI DIANI BEACH BEA C H www. info@h2o-ex

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NO flexibility? RIGID thinking Must be RED Paddle’s 10’ Surfer…

By Jason Pereira

The RED Paddle Co 10’ Surfer is a completely new model for 2013 and comes in a very cool and comfy backpack.

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he backpack has internal load straps which prevent the board moving about whilst on the hoof and the padded back and shoulder straps means taking the board on an adventure is a doddle. Another plus point for the bag is that there’s plenty of space for a wetsuit, towel, leash and three piece paddle.

Inflating the board to 20/25psi, the recommended effective pressure, takes some time; it’s not too physically demanding with the supplied high pressure pump and is a great warm up prior to going for a paddle. You can break the inflation down like I did by first getting some air in the board to give it shape and fit the RSS battens, next fill the board up to about 15psi then take time out to get changed and assemble the three piece paddle before returning to finish the inflation.

Out on the water the 10’ Surfer glides and tracks remarkably well and heading out over the incoming whitewater and waves posed no problem.The surf on the day was in the 2 to 4 foot range, very little chop and peeling for a good 200 metres, so perfect for this size and style of board. A quick step back turn and the board swings round nicely into position, a few quick strokes and we’re off down the line, it really is that easy catching waves with this board. On the wave and with your weight back far enough you can start getting some good turns in and the board responds well to weight and paddle shifts. One thing that stands out with the RED Paddle Co board is that you don’t get the stall after the initial take off and drop in on to the wave that I’ve experienced with other brands of inflatable paddleboards that flex, this has to be down to the RSS strips and higher pressure giving the board its amazing rigidity. Waiting for waves and paddling into position the board is both stable and quick and I’m looking forward to trying it out on flatwater as even though it’s tagged a ‘Surfer’ I think it would make a great all-rounder for someone looking for just a one board quiver.

With the huge growth of SUP looking set to continue and an equipment market already reaching saturation levels it’s great to see a company sticking to their guns and true to their word by remaining, as they always have been, an inflatable only company. The Red Paddle Co’s range of boards and accessories get better year on year and you wonder where their R&D will take them next. Innovations like the patented RSS battens and fool proof valve along with virtual bomb proof construction and boards that take almost twice as much pressure as the flood of iSUP wannabes means their title as a market leader is sure to continue.

Specification Length: Width: Thickness: Volume: Max rider weight:

10’ 32” 3.93” 193 Litres 90 kilos

Centre grab handle; D Ring leash attachment; EVA non slip deck pad; Front D ring towing eye; Cargo net attachment points; Backpack; High pressure pump; Repair kit.

Pros and cons Pros • • •

• •

Very easy to transport and store Extremely robust Virtually no damage to board or body from impact Super comfy backpack for those wanting to get off the beaten path Airline friendly

Cons •

None, there really aren’t! The competitive price point reiterates what a great board this is when compared with both rigid and the other major iSUP brands out there.

The Norths leading SUP store


Demo equipment try before you buy. Hire Boards available Tuition: Paddle and pint evening paddles. Free mainland UK delivery

Starboard AST White 11'2" Blend & 10'5" Drive complete with paddle and leash, ONLY £649 Red Air inflatable paddleboards 12'6" Explorer £899 l 12'6" Race £899 l 10'8" Mega £669 l 10'6" Ride £659 10'0" Surfer £659 l 9'6" Allwater £639 l 9'2" Surfstar £615 FREE adj paddle, leash and Phone/key waterproof pouch worth £98 with any Red Air paddleboard

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time - a simpler place. We know; we lived it with you.

It was a simpler

Rediscover the joy, the excitement, the feeling of being on the water.

Rediscover - Canoeing -


A young family enjoys an afternoon on Lake Winona in the then newly released Sundowner; ca. 1979. Today Wenonah Canoes are enjoyed by families the world over.

45 years later we’re still canoeing; Are you?


OC Paddler 130 Trans Canada expedition Part two of a 2600 mile expedition across the frozen north of Canada. By Pete Marshall

142 Inverpolly, Scotland See what happens when a five-year old takes mum and dad open canoeing and camping in the wilderness. By Lynne and Darren Percival

156 Gatz Racoon review By Chris Leesmith

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From sea Sixty-four days after beginning our journey, we came to the Continental Divide and the reward for our efforts was before us: the justly famous, South Nahanni River.

We broke camp on a bitterly cold morning and paddled onto the quiet headwaters of the South Nahanni in the second and final account of our 2600 over 60 Trans Canada Expedition.

Pete Marshall

Winchell Delano



Matt Harre


The crew belowVirginia Falls



Steve Keaveny

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The South Nahanni

Portage over the Continental Divide

Did you know: The Continental Divide of the Americas is the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas.

It began as a narrow stream flowing through swamplands nestled between mountains that had received a fresh coat of snow the night before. Gradually the river grew, it gained speed and force, turning into a blur of continual whitewater.These were by far the most challenging rapids any of us had ever ran in a canoe and they were continual, one after another, barely any space to breath. For weeks we had been dreaming about what it would be like to actually go downstream, and now we were experiencing every possible thrill of that dream.

After three days the section of continual whitewater, known as the Rock Gardens, let up. We found ourselves on a wide river coursing through a deep mountain valley. All we had to do was float and enjoy the ease of travel and the spectacular surroundings. The South Nahanni is one of the crown jewels of Northern Rivers. And for good reasons. What can one say about it? Thousand foot canyons, a 300 foot waterfall, amazing whitewater and a stiff current – nothing can come close to describing how spectacular the river is. It was our reward for those many long days spent battling up the Ross

and the Pelly Rivers and a much needed moral boost. We paddled the length of the river quickly, too quickly, but on a trip like this, you are always behind schedule. The end of the Nahanni marked the end of the mountains. We had gone up the Continental Divide, through deep canyons to arrive at the flat, undistinguished plains of the boreal forest. Where once we paddled beside mountains rising thousands of feet from the river bed, now we passed by muddy banks and spruce trees three to four feet from the water. This was the part of the trip I was least excited about. After only a week and a half of going downstream, we came to the mile-wide Mackenzie River, and once again had to travel upstream and put our paddles against the current, but this time it was a far gentler current and the effort we put into making twenty to 25 miles a day wasn’t even close to the work we had to put in to make ten miles up the rivers in the Yukon mountains. Travel was easier and as far as weather was concerned, we were finally experiencing something like summer. The Mackenzie River led into the Great Slave Lake. A huge inland sea, storms and wind would rise without warning. Several times we were pushed ashore by crashing waves and wind carried over hundreds of miles of open water. If weather permitted, we would paddle 14 hours a day, racking up miles and in this way we made it to the East Arm of Great Slave.

amazing whitewater and a stiff current – nothing can come close to describing how spectacular the river is

Thousand foot canyons, a 300 foot waterfall,

Pulpit Rock, S. Nahanni

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First Canyon, S. Nahanni

Schultz Lake,Thelon River


Here massive rock formations rise out of deep, cold water; cliffs rise over 500 feet and water levels plunge past 2,000 feet deep. This has always been one of my favourite places to canoe and indeed, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

At this point in the trip, the brief summer we enjoyed was retreating. The tell tale signs of autumn, yellowing leaves and orange speckled willows, appeared along the shore. Temperatures dropped, the days shortened, and nights grew darker. If we started our trip too early then we were ending it too late. Plenty of people had warned us that being out in the eastern Arctic past middle of August was gambling with the weather. As the temperature dropped, the wind would increase, storms could last for a week, pinning us to shore. Sleet could be expected and it would probably snow by the time we reached the Bay. Time was not on our side and we knew we were in a race against winter.

Near the end of August we portaged into the barren lands. Late in the season, this wilderness that was usually filled with vast numbers of caribou, muskoxen and a variety of other animals, was empty. Everyday we were passed by large flocks of geese headed south, a sign that we too should be getting out. Our days began as the first light of the sun began to burn off the frost that had settled over night. We paddled until sunset, often against strong winds, because even if we could only go one mile per hour, and had to work and strain ourselves for that mile, it was one mile closer to our goal.

For a week the weather held, and we paddled long hours over enormous lakes and down the Thelon River, eventually arriving at the community of Baker Lake. Here is where most groups end their tip down the Thelon or Kazan Rivers, but we still had twohundred miles to paddle before we reached the Hudson Bay.

Misty morning on the Nahanni

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Virginia Falls Northwest Territories


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And it was an amazing finale ThePaddler 138

Did you know: Yellowknife, the capital of the North annual temperature of minus 5.4 de December, January and February is m

to an amazing trip. The north shore of Baker Lake, which leads into the Chesterfield Inlet, is starkly beautiful. The land is made up of jagged, inhospitable rocks. Scarcely anything grows. It is an elemental land, made up of rock and water. Again, fortune smiled on us. The temperature dropped but wind remained calm. Bundled in several layers of polypro, scared of the polar bears that roam the area and hoping to paddle beside Beluga wales, we rode the tides towards the bay, encountering no wildlife.

On September 14th, we left camp just as the sun rose and the tide was going out. For several hours we paddled east into the brilliant glare of the sun and towards the endless expanse of water. Small buildings appeared, then telephone wires. This was the small hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet. We turned into a harbour and for the last time, stepped out of the canoes.

130 days after setting out, we had reached our goal.

Bluebird day, Artillery Lake

Bison, Liard River

Flag illustrations by Garyck Arntzen

Inuit gravesite, Chesterfield Inlet

Dickson Canyon, Hanbury River

hwest Territories, is the coldest city in Canada, with a mean egrees celsius.The average night temperature in minus 29.9 degrees celsius.

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2012 Trans-Territorial Canoe Expedition interactive map Track progress of the expedition click here

2600 above 60

The much anticipated documentary is now available for purchase at: for the low price of just $1.99!

Miss part 1?

Catch it here: ThePaddler 7

2600 over 60 information

National Distribution

The spirit rit of adventure A pedigree second to none -


Charles River



Royalex ®


Lighter Resistant to uv More rigid Greater structural memory than non-composite plastics Quieter and faster than other conventional materials.

AS Watersports

Morton Boats

01392 219600

01522 868689

Canoe Shops Group (National)


01752 892672

01415 595454

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Inverpolly Adv Tobey does 12 lochs, 10 portages

Our Easter trip plan for 2013 was to link up a series of lochs in a round trip, including an ascent of Suilven, in seven days. The mountains of Assynt and Inverpolly inspired me to visit, what I think, is the most unique landscape to be found in the British Isles. Isolated peaks surrounded by glimmering lochans and miles of wet moorland create a magical wild landscape. Spectacular is the best word to describe it. My interest in maps and the Norse names (Suilven, Canisp) sparked my sense of adventure. Inspired also by Mal Grey’s enthusiasm for this area and because he told me that there isn’t really a long trip option in Assynt without some major lugging! In future, I will listen to him! By Darren and Lynne Percival

…and finds choccy eggs on the


way:-) ThePaddler 143

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Day 1 Good Friday 29th March After driving through the night, we arrived at our put in on the Ledbeg River where it flows under the road, just east of Elphin. We have driven through miles of sunshine and now we are here, it is snowing! We can see parts of Cam Loch are frozen but we decide to set off and see how far we can get. Believe it or not, I have actually managed to reduce our kit, although you wouldn’t think it! The first views of Suilven with its unique outline, gives a sense of the impossible to climb, especially with a five year old!

We broke the ice paddling into a slight breeze and started to look for a place to camp. Towards the head of the loch, we found a sheltered bay with just enough of a shingle beach to pitch the tent. Tobey tried a spot of fishing. We went on a ‘reindeer’ hunt and Tobey spotted four, which we followed until they disappeared over the hill.

W f

The night sky was beautiful and clear with masses of stars but the temperature dropped to -11C. The tent was frozen solid but the sky was blue and the views stunning. We waited for the sun to reach us and made bacon butties for breakfast.

Loch a’ Mhadail

The snow had stopped but with the temperature dropping rapidly, we cooked an early tea, followed by toasted marshmallows, before turning in.

Abhainn Mhor River

View of Suilven

After a short paddle, breaking ice on the way, we reached the Abhainn Mhor River for our first portage round the waterfall. This one’s fairly easy; over the bridge and down the track passing the fish farm to Loch Veyatie.

We reached the Uidh Fhearna River flowing into Fionn Loch. It was very

shallow and rocky

which meant wading and lining all the way down. Tobey enjoyed this part. With a slight breeze behind us, we had a pleasant paddle, stopping for lunch at the sand bars between Loch Veyatie and Loch a’ Mhadail.

At some point, I lost my balance and ended up sitting in the water! My muck boots were full of water but at least my feet were still warm. I was glad to see a perfect camping spot at the end of the river, which would give us easy access to Suilven in the morning. We didn’t have a fire as the ground was so dry and we had already seen fires on the moorland in the distance. With camp set up and settled down to cook chilli and rice for tea. It wasn’t the kind of weather to sit about camp so we went to bed as the sun dropped behind the hills. Again the temperature dropped to -11C. Although our US modular sleep system sleeping bags are bulky and heavy, they are worth having. Despite the cold, we were toasty warm all night. Tobey was also warm in his sleeping bag and bivvy bag.

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Day 3 Easter Sunday The weather is perfect for climbing Suilven. We have planned our route and told Tobey that the Easter Bunny has left Easter eggs at the top! He is raring to go and leads the way following his map. The river is shallow enough to walk across. In the sun, it is very warm. A bonus is that the swamps and bogs are frozen solid making walking easier. Better still, not a single tick in sight! We happily make our way through the heather to the base of the mountain where we climb the diagonal path up. This is tough; definitely a climb and scramble, not a walk. Tobey climbs up unaided and is in high spirits. A rest stop before the final pulls up to Bealach Mor.

Rest stop

…not for dad though!

A perfect day with very little wind. The views north across Assynt to Canisp and Quinag and south to Cul Mor and Inverpolly Forest take your breath away. We sat on a rocky perch above the south face in the warm sun with our feet dangling, sitting on the edge of the world! The north face was very different, covered in ice and snow. We walked to the impressive stonewall and Tobey hunted for chocolate eggs.

The mountain was very busy with climbers. Most were climbing up the north face and Meall Beag with ice axes and crampons. All were very friendly and talked to Tobey enthusiastically about the Easter Egg hunt. We abandoned plans to climb to Caisteal Liath because of the ice and snow. We made our way back down to camp. We had earned our sausage and bean casserole with potatoes today! Darren and Tobey tried some fishing but with no luck.

Day 4 My clothes and muck boots have dried. We pack up early as today we are planning to get the gear and ourselves across the moors to reach Loch Sionascaig. Weather is sunny and calm. We paddle down Fionn Loch and get out before the river down to Inverkirkaig for our second portage. We take the bags a 100m at a time and drag and push the canoe between us. We are lucky that the ground is not swampy but this is a tough, tiring and difficult trek. Tobey does his share! We reach a small loch and stop for lunch before paddling across to head west towards Loch a’ Ghille. Portage number three is even longer! Tobey has the best job of guarding the bags! Eventually, the canoe, gear and us reach Loch a’ Ghille and have an easy paddle to the start of portage four to Sionascaig.

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Finally, after hours of paddling, portaging, grunting and groaning we see our first glimpse of Sionascaig. This has not been easy with over 2km of rough ground to cover with rocks placed at inconvenient points along the way! The last bit is downhill but not easy as it needed careful route selection. We reach the loch but the wind is getting up and we can see white caps in the distance. This has already been a long and tiring day and now we are faced with a paddle against the wind to the end of the loch. Plans to camp on Loch an Doire Dhuibh are abandoned when we see this!

Cul Mor We set up camp instead on the sandy beach at the head of Loch Sionascaig. Just enough time to cook dinner before the sun disappeared. Black pudding, mash and beans have never tasted so good!

Breakfast in bed as it was bitterly cold.

Day 5

The weather is now very windy and we secure the tent with as many rocks as we can find and settle in for a wild night. I finally get fed up of fending off my side of the tent as it collapsed on me and ventured outside into the bitter cold to find a bigger rock. The wind continued to worsen and whipped and lashed the tent making sleeping a challenge. However, Darren and Tobey slept soundly through all of this!

Before we set off we dragged the canoe across to Loch An Doire Dhuibh, a very remote loch nestled between Cul Mor and Cul Beag. The wind has now eased and we are looking forward to being blown gently down the loch. I use my paddles and jacket to make a sail and following the west shore, we reach the end of the loch in less than an hour. The roar of water signifies the start of the portage to the start of the Polly Lochs. Portage number 6; a short, steep section and then it’s all downhill. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the view from the top and finding a sheltered sandy beach in the warm sun.

Portage number 7

Tobey played on the beach as we lugged the gear. The Easter Bunny had left more eggs here! Tobey was fascinated by watching common lizards basking on rocks in the sun and darting into the heather. We saw dippers here too. We then Headed down Loch Uidh Tarraigean.

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Scotland Stac Pollaidh

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It was a bit disheartening to see the river so low. We waded and lined the cascades and portaged the last waterfall into Loch na Dail, the last of the Polly Lochs. The end of another long tiring day, we set up camp near the track to the road. Spicy sausage pasta for tea tonight.

Day 6 An early start for portage number eight. We strapped on our canoe wheels and set of along the road for a tough three miles to the next loch. Although tough, this was a very enjoyable day, mainly due to the people we met along the way. We stopped by the River Polly for a snack before tackling the steepest part of the road. A family from Carlisle pulled over and the driver said, “I have to ask, where have you come from and where are you going?” He was a climber and had to check his map to look at our journey. He offered us a tow but we declined (silly decision!). As we were half way up this hill, the women from the farm drove up and asked where our vehicle was and offered to drive us to it. She didn’t know what to think when we told her where we were headed.

Stac Pollaidh and the River Polly

This road only goes up and it NEVER ends!

Loch Bad na h Achlaise

At about this point, two female cyclists stopped and said “We presume you’re looking for water?” They chatted with Tobey who excitedly told them about our trip and the hunt for Easter eggs and treasure. Still not reached the top, looking back towards the sea.

Portage number 10 was short, but it seemed the most difficult! We headed for a sandy beach that we knew of at the start of Loch Lurgainn. As there was no wind, we set up camp on the sand. Corned beef hash tonight.

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Day 7 a perfect end We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to end our adventure. Woke up to a stunning view and enjoyed a brew whilst Tobey slept on.

Time to leave‌

The last eggs have been found. We happily spent a lazy morning here. Tobey following what I think was mink tracks and then deer tracks before breaking ice with his stick.

We made some bannock (three cups flour, 1-2 tsp baking powder, raisins, cinnamon and add two eggs and plenty of water) and ate it hot with butter. Yummy!

Very different from our usual trips, this has been an incredible journey for us all. We embarked on an adventure in one of the wildest places in Scotland and met whatever challenges we were faced with along the way. Thanks to those who have blogged their trips in Inverpolly, especially Moosehead, Calamity Kate and Crow, which provided valuable information. My best memories are of Tobey enjoying the wild spaces and having so much fun exploring, discovering and connecting with nature. He continues to inspire me to get out there and enjoy more paddling adventures. Cheers Lynne, Darren and Tobey Percival

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The Gatz

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bags of fun Quick and

RACOON By Chris Leesmith

So we were lucky enough to have been loaned a Gatz Racoon by the good folk at White Water Consultancy. Gatz is a lesser known German open canoe brand with a heritage going back to 1961.

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WWC started to

import a range of Gatz's most popular canoes a few years ago concentrating mainly on the Royalex market. With names such as Canoki, Mink, Tucan and Orca, Gatz show great individuality by not following the usual staid path of naming boats after rivers or areas of the great Canadian wilderness (although they do offer a Prospector).

So back to the Racoon. As its name suggests this canoe is sprightly, a bit twitchy, quick for its size and certainly bags of fun. Although I do not know any Racoons, I imagine this to be the case. My usual open canoe is a WeNoNah Prospector 15 and the Racoon is quite different, but in a good way. OK its not a slick all rounder like the Prospector and its not a boat for cruising on open water, however it is a similar weight at around 25KG, it is nimble and quick and it is easy to portage like the Prospector 15.

What’s it like then?

Well its a very capable small river and creek boat, in fact I'd go as far as saying that its the closest thing to a specialist open canoe without a pedestal and with two seats. Personally you can keep your Mad River Outrage's and alike, I like a tradition boat, it just feels more proper if you know what I mean. The Racoon has bags of rocker and a flattish section in the middle of the hull so it turns on a ‘dime’ and even boofs when required on the steeps. Good secondary stability rewards the over keen. Its limitation is clearly its size, at 14ft 6inches its compact which is great for me paddling solo fitted with a kneeling thwart but may prove too small for tandems of anything other than diminutive stature. Indeed its markedly smaller than a Venture ranger 14 or Mad River Explorer 14TT, both capable in a tandem role. No I like the Racoon because it’s small.

The Racoon has bags of rocker and a flattish section in the middle of the hull so it turns on a ‘dime’ and

even boofs

when required on the steeps

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Rivers it’s paddled

In brief; Lots on the Dee, Upper and Lower Tryweryn, Alwen, Banwy, Gam, Middle Conwy, Llygwy, Ceiriog. Most of these rivers have grade 2-4 rapids which should give you even more understanding of the little Racoons strengths, its a white water boat that wants to play in the rough stuff. It really is extremely tidy on steep rapids, spinning and surfing with assurance, eddying out effortlessly and changing line with minimal adjustment of edge and trim. On the down side (there always is) its not as dry as other canoes in this bracket such as the Legend (although the legend is larger) and it can get blown off line when running through disturbed water, such as down the Grave Yard on the Upper Tryweryn. In the end all canoes have limitations but most conditions are taken in the Racoons stride.

A note about build.

You might be forgiven for thinking that all Royalex canoes are built the same, they are not! The Gatz range are notable by the tough Royalex hulls. This can produce a marginally heavier boat but you will gain in the increased life span. The demo Racoon that we have has exceeded our expectations of wear and tear considering what we have put it through. You'll find vinyl gunwhales, cane seats and carbon deck plates in this model. It’s a very solid boat.


Length: 445 cm / 14'6" Width: 80 cm / 31" Side height: 35 cm / 13.7" Bow height: 50 cm / 19.7" Weight: 27 kg / 59.52 lbs Weight Capacity: 300 kgs / 661 lbs

Bren Orton, River Trent, Nottingham, photo Dale Mears


Freedom of movement and style in a low profile PFD. In three bold colours. Also available in XXS for women and young guns. Comfort Fit foam template • 3D anti ride-up waistbelt Failsafe shoulder straps • Reflective details • ISO certified

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