Archive for the 'Trip Reports' Category

US National Championships

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The US National Championships at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina USA, completed the 2010 surfkayak worldcup season. The Worldcup is run bi-annually in alternate years to the World Championships and gives surf kayakers around the world an opportunity to compete with each other at some of the best locations on the planet and provides an international ranking system.

This years US Nationals brought the Worldcup to the location of next years World Championships, one of the most famous breaks in the United States, Cape Hatteras. Since many of our friends were heading there from all over the Unites States Caroline and I decided to drive down from New York to the event and enjoy some of the last Autumn heat of the year. In addition, several of the top kayakers from Europe also headed over including Edu Etxebeira (current Worldcup holder) and Urko Otoxa (current IC World Champion), both from the Basque Country in Northern Spain.


For our entire stay, the weather was sunny and in the 70s or 80s without wind and a fun medium sized swell. Having spent a couple of days freesurfing, sunbathing, and hanging out with friends Saturday 9th brought the competition itself. First heat in the mens open; Edu Extxebeira and my good friend Charles Salters from the USA East Coast team. Some fun waves brought me second place to Edu and progress to the next round. In the open my surfing would get better and better with a series of firsts against international competitors until I reached the semi final. And it was stacked with the 3 top Basque paddlers; Edu, Urko, and Julien (who ended up finishing 1st, 3rd, and 9th in the Worldcup series ranking overall). It was tremendous to be out on the water at the later stages of a major international competition with the absolute best in the world. I surfed as well as I ever have in a contests, and was super stoked with my performance even though I was narrowly eliminated. It brought it home how close I was to see Urko and Edu standing anxiously at the scoreboard waiting for the result.


This contest was also my first entry to a masters (over 40 division), where the quality of paddlers in the US is the best in the World. At least no other Europeans would be in this division. Again, I surfed really well through my heats to make the final against 4 current US internationals, and guys I regularly surf with on my trips across the pond. This heat came directly after my semi in the open so I stayed out on the water as the others paddled out. The next 20 minutes was one of the best sessions I have ever been involved with, as I paddled with some of my closest friends in the sport. Each shouting and hooting the others on as we traded wave after wave after wave in the Hatteras sunshine. I have to say there is nothing like pulling into a coverup in an international final with your buddy down the line calling you on. By the end of the heat I was exhausted after nearly 10 heats in a day, knowing Id surfed as well as I could and had the best fun ever, but also knowing my wave selection in the final hadnt been great it could have gone any way at all.


That night everyone got together and partied into the early hours, sharing stories from the day, tales from other surf trips, and planning for adventures in the future. Thats one of the best things about surfkayak contests, particularly hosted by the US guys; after hard competition everyone is just friends, stoked to be sharing the same waves, and loving being around like-minded people.

Marc invert

The next morning saw the announcement of the winners around the pool. Earlier in the week, Buck Johnson, Charles Salters and I had entered a team into the fun team event Battle for Hatteras and wed finished third. And in the Masters (my first International Final) I placed second behind my good friend Matt Radis from California. One point from being US National Champion! Also super pleased to finish in the top 20 ranked paddlers in the World for the second Worldcup season.

Buck Johnson

Spencer Cook

Matt Radis


North Wales - November 2010

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We set off from Brighton with reports coming back that Betws y Coed had a good covering of snow. As we reached Shrewsbury the snow appeared on the ground. With just one closed section of the A5 we arrived at Betws y Coed at about 10.30pm only to find the bar at the Hostel had closed! Tobin and I set off to find a bar and luckily found a bar open. We had a quick couple of pints before meeting up with Andy, Paula,  Duncan, Izzy, Sarah and Nikki back at the Hostel. To use Estate Agent speak our room was cosy, luckily as it turned out, as the heating wasnt the best.

In the morning we slithered down the icy roads to the get for the River Ogwen. River levels were low, but the Ogwen held enough for a run. Although someone had left a load of boulders all along my river lines!

At the put in, close enough to the sea for most of the snow to have thinned out. Air temp a balmy -3 C.

Halfway down we found a handy socket. Unfortunately wed forgotten the club hairdryer and kettle!

Andy, our illustrious leader, otherwise known as the short-sighted short, middle-aged man ;o)

Me, Rob, mercifully missing any boulders on this drop.

Nikki running a section with Tobin, Sarah and Nikki looking on.

Izzy running a drop

Sarah making it look easy!

Sarah and Nikki decided to do some snowy hill walking on the Sunday. The rest of us puzzled over where to paddle as there was very little water in the rivers. Eventually Andy made the call for the Tryweryn. As this is dam release it was a good call. There was plenty of water being released.

Unfortunately the centre and showers were closed. The air temperature was between minus 8 and minus 13. The air was so cold the river water was steaming. Weighing it up, we all agreed the consequences of a swim were too serious and reluctantly walked away.

After hot chocolate at Bala we drove home.

Izzy, Andy, Paula, Duncan and Tobin cold just looking at the water.

Thanks to Andy for leading the trip!

River Arun Trip Report

Trip Reports 1 Comment

Stopham Bridge to Pallingham Quay Weir

21st November 2010

Eight of us met at Stopham Bridge just by the White Hart Pub on the river Arun last Sunday, it was a grey day, hardly a breeze, dry and wee bit chilly. We were joined by four members from the Adur Canoe Club and were on the water ready to go at 10:30

Warming up at Stopham Bridge

With two canoes and five kayaks we paddled north towards Pallingham with what should have been the tide in our favour, but recent rainfall proved otherwise. So we had to paddle against a steady flow, which was fine until the river narrowed in places, then it became a little bit of a work out.

Polly and Ian followed by Rob

Three and half miles, and two and a quarter hours later we arrived at the weir just above Pallingham Lock and had lunch.

High river levels meant there was no drop at the weir, but a small wave /feature with stopper to play on.

Polly clears a way through

Nick holds the bridge up

Rich keeps his head!

So the return paddle back to Stopham bridge was a doddle – with the flow assisting us we made it back in one and a half hours and then warmed ourselves by the fire in the pub with a pint by four.

Trip report by Clive Edwards

River Ouse - November 2010

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On a bracing November morning we joined Mick Orpin and some other paddlers from Arun Canoe Club for a local river jaunt. It was a lovely sunny cold morning and we had a brief respite from the wind on the days before and after.

Rich paddling one of MKCs open canoes

Off we set, paddling with the tide past Hamsey Weir, then returning as the tide ebbed.

Next local river trip The Arun on 21st November - see your email for details!

Embrun, French Alps. July 2010

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After a late night ferry crossing, 1 car, 2 people, 2 bikes and 2 boats arrived in Calais ready for an adventure.  Dropping by Paris (only 300km away) seemed like a good idea, so we spent the early hours driving round the empty city.  By the time we arrived at the Eiffel Tower it was dawn and we made our way south just as the morning traffic started.
2 hours of sleep later and several more hours of driving we hit the alps!  A glass of wine or two before putting up the tents and we had arrived.
The next day more happy campers came and we tested our boats out on the nearby lake, before taking on our first Alpine river – the Durance – the day after.  The Durance was great – turquoise blue waters, birds of prey wheeling overhead and Big and Bouncy Wave Trains the whole way down!  In fact it was so good that we did it again on the Tuesday!
On Wednesday people went their separate ways:  Some of the crazier paddlers headed off to tackle the Guil gorge section (one part of which Andy apparently decided to do on his head).  Other (perhaps even crazier) people flung themselves and their bikes down the mountain in full body armour.  Sarah and I decided to go to Italy for an icecream.  It seemed like the safer option, but rally car driving skills were required to negotiate the narrow winding mountain passes.  We climbed to over 2800 metres, saw 10 marmots and a camel, and sampled 3 flavours of icecream!  Success!
Back on the water for the next couple of days, we were joined by Niki and Bill from York Canoe Club.  On the Thursday we did the Upper Guil – with lots of eddy hopping and fantastic views of Chateaux Queryas as we neared the get out.

On Friday we headed for the Ubaye, where we pretty much all practiced our swimming and boat retrieval skills!  But any nominations for swimmer of the year were more than compensated for by the surrounding mountains, non-stop rapids and paddling (or swimming) through the gorge and under the Roman bridge.
We headed to Embrun that evening for Mussels night and stumbled on some traditional French dancing.  The rather heighty Duncan dancing with the rather less tall 6 year old was quite a sight to behold.
Saturday there was still time for some more downhill mountain biking and walking before Martina and I set off back on the long road to Calais.  It was hard to leave the Alps and all the others still having fun.
All in all, spectacular scenery, fabulous company and great paddling!
Andy (said casually) ‘Sanne, is that your table on fire?’
Sarah being picked up by her BA by a French raft guy and then, realising it wasn’t one of his rafters, cast like a sack of potatoes into the eddy
Waking up to coffee and fresh pain au chocolat every morning (even when we were sleeping on the side of the motorway) – thanks Martina!

So Same time, same place, next year, anyone?

River Ouse Trip Photos - Lewes to Hamsey Weir and back

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River Ouse Trip - Lewes to Hamsey Weir and back

(Placid water / Grade 1!)

Sunday 27th June 2010

Well, it may have been the day England got knocked out of the football, but we had a glorious June Sunday to paddle the Ouse. It was a perfect opportunity for our open canoes to be out. It also provided an ideal first ever river trip for our new members.

Just aboutr MOOving water!

Martin gets some impromptu coaching from Andy, well he never did much paddling leaving Paula to do all the hard work at the back!

At Hamsey Weir

Harrys first successful seal launch!

John during the successful first part of his seal launch.

John again during his equally successful third phase of his SEAL launch. the swim of shame ;o)

Second time this year weve picnicked here. Both times gloriously hot!


The return through the narrow cut through

Next trip will be the River Arun - Watch out for more news shortly!

California Dreaming

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Spring Surfkayak roadtrip in California..

River Ouse - Lewes to Hamsey Weir March 2010

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Despite me forgetting it was Mothers Day when I arranged this trip, I was pleased and relieved to be joined on a lovely sunny Sunday by a small but elite group of paddlers for this trip. We parked up and got changed appropriately enough next to Harveys brewery.

We paddled upstream with the tide, and met an iceberg on the way

We arrived at Hamsey Weir just before the tide turned, with a small wave on the upstream side of the weir.

This photo is whilst we picnicked and the tide is just about to turn. The Weir is almost invisible at this point.

Anyhow, picnicking commenced on a lovely grassy bank and it was almost too hot in the bright sunshine!

We made our own simple entertainment. Laughing at Zack, who fell in!

and playing an impromptu game of polo

Then, after a quick session on the strengthening wave, now on the downstream side of the weir, we set off back to Lewes.

Back in Lewes we met up with Tobin Debbie and Issac for a quick beer, before the trip back to MKC. A nice paddle that well definitely be repeating in the summer!

River Arun - Stopham to Greatham Report

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Saturday arrived at last and the morning was .. bright and crisp, as befitting a December paddle. The sun shone and everyone arrived in time for the 11.00 am departure from the club. Everyone, that is, except for Adrian! When he finally arrived he was very late, with no reasonable excuse, but impeccably dressed. After the drive we met up with Mike C and a friend from Adur Canoe Club, and with Mick O of Arun Canoe club. Theyd been forced into sampling the beer early at The White Hart, conveniently situated just next to the get in bridge whilst they waited for us. All in we had 13 paddlers on the water, an excellent turnout for our first Arun paddle. As a club we are just dipping our toes in the water of the possibilities of the Arun. We will be paddling it again next year and further exploring its sections.

After retrieving Mike C we got changed and ready to shuttle,

Mike still able to balance apres pre-paddle drinks,

Whilst we were there we detoured up the last 100 metres of the Rother to check out Pulborough Weir,

Club members Sanna and Sara took advantage of the placid water to practice their canoeing skills,

Although Im not sure the paddling duties were split evenly,

Nikki with her stealth pogies,

Martina looking very photogenic!

Ruth and Aidrian, and some bearded geezer in a red suit!

The get-out at Greatham Bridge, two hours later!

Thanks to all who came along. A great way to spend a Saturday in the run up to Christmas!


Dart Loop Trip 2009 - Andys Saturday photos

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We scouted the loop section on Friday afternoon at the lowest level Ive ever seen. After retiring to our hostel, Powdermills, the rain thankfully started. It rained so much we started to worry that the river may have risen too high! After a thankfully faff-free start we arrived at the river early to find the Dart at a perfect level. The water was just lapping over the stone ledge at Newbridge. We were a large group of over 20, so we split into 2 groups.

These photos are mostly of the group led by Andy and Dai, taken by Andy on the Saturday. If you have your own photos, be brave and post them up.

The two groups re-group at the first eddy for a chat!

Dai, demoing the huge green river machine

Charlie, looking relaxed

Zack, still with paddle intact!





Chris O

Rob (me!)

Cliff and Paula and somewhere a canoe in the whitewater!

Agnis at Seal launch rock

Well draw a veil over Sundays paddle, as unfortuneatly there are no photos.

Pretty uneventful day really  ;)

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