Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kellys Academy 2017


“There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” 

 Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.


 
This summer I returned for my fourth season at the Kelly's White Water Park. Kelly's has become a large part of my life and I look forward to my three week summer adventure in this beautiful part of Idaho. This year was even more exciting as big snow levels meant the river was super high and the main wave was in. I flew in and received the call that the wave was insane at this level and the river was too potentially too high for the Academy. Great news for me personally but a potential challenge for our instructor team and the kids. I stopped on route in Banks to catch up with some of the North Fork Championships crew who were still in town. Then woke up early to drive the last hour and go surf. Just as I drove out of the no service Payette river  zone into Cascade I got the call. The levels had dropped! Gutted but kind of relieved the wave was gone but the levels were perfect for the kids.

So the next three weeks were spent at the park teaching local kids how to kayak, stand up paddle board and surf. With an incredible crew of instructors from across America and the amazing Jonas Litteri from Brazil we shared our love and passion for these sports. Inspiring, coaching and mentoring over 90 kids. Some were tiny super young 9 and 10 year olds others we're older teens taking time out from their school work and summer jobs to come to the the park to learn. We also had several returning kids helping out with the coaching on a mini mentoring scheme. It is amazing to be part of program like this seeing how important it is to have the opportunity to try these types of sports. So many of the kids will continue to be involved in these sports now for the rest of their lives because of the opportunities they are given on this summer program.

Cascade is middle of nowhere Idaho, an old logging town and the local income is very low so this Academy is available purely through the generosity of the Kelly's White Water Park founders Mark & Kristina Pickard. The kids get to attend for free, getting insanely good ratios (max 1:2) and for many this is the highlight of the year. Not only that the local town gets involved supporting the project, they learn to swim as a pre-requist to attending and attend a water safety, river safety talk with the local Sheriff in town.
Peter Holcolme was generous enough to give up his time shoot these amazing photos of our classes on the Academy. Jonas also made this incredible video showing the real value of what Mark and Kristina have brought not only to these kids but also to this town.
Inspring the next generation. Too young to be involved this summer Mavericks sister sat, watched and cheered every kid for 3 weeks waiting her turn to go next year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Montreal Eau Vive

Jet ski time!!!
 
The Montreal Eau Vive has already become one of the big fun must go to events on my annual calendar. This was only my second year at the event and once again it was amazing. Set in the heart of Montreal on the massive St Lawerence river, the Montreal Eau Vive brings jet boats, jet skis and kayaking together to create a massive festival of big wave surfing and racing. Starting on the Lachine rapids the action kiosk of with some freestyle. Kayakers paddle out to an tiny Island in the middle of the river and stage for their runs. Out in the middle of the river the only infrastructure is a tall scaffolding tower built high above the tiny island with many of its stanchions actually in the river. Tied to it is a raft full of kayaks. This is the judging, filming, timer and organizers stand and the key component in making this event work. In the eddy their are a full heat of competitors awaiting their turn. Then there's three Jet Skis ready to make the fun happen. Over on another Island about a mile away hidden high in the trees are two more judges and a photographer loaded with a massive lens and a drone. This is an event with logistics of epic proportions. This event shouldn't really be possible but somehow the masterminds of Ian and Phil have brought together everything to make it work.


Montréal Eau Vive 2017 from Montreal Eau Vive on Vimeo.


Mavericks


So my heat kicks of and I wait my turn. Now a vetran returning to the event I share my experiences of last year with those new. Most kayakers have never surfed Mavericks before or riden on the back of the Jet Ski so there is a lot to learn and so much more to this weekend than just the kayaking. Its my turn and I jump on board so excited to be playing on the Jet ski once more. A little dubious of my still bust thumb I adapt my paddle hold so that I can ride without it getting a pounding. As we drive out my excitement builds. I look for my line onto Maverick and a Brandon drops me off and drives away I try to line up my approach. The trick to Mavericks is to hit the shoulder (but not too far out) and surf the green. Its a very diagonal wave and as soon as you get pushed even slightly surfers left your ride is over as you get type writered out of the wave and across the hole.

This year the river is super high and Mavericks is way bigger than last year. Still beautifully formed and green but bigger for sure. I line up for the green face it looks awesome. I'm totally online smack bang in the middle of the green and then just before I hit it its crashes and boom i'm typewritring across and in the hole. I think about throwing a Mcnasty but my chance has passed and now i'm floating downstream amisdt the mess of biols and waves of the St Lawerence. The Montreal Eau Vive is a funny event because normally after missing a ride you'd be a little disappointed but not here. As I can already see the Jet ski on its way to pick me up and drive me back to the start eddy. How can you not be having fun out here its insane. The Maverick events is a 3 ride event with your best 6 tricks in your best ride counting. We'll in three rides I caught it once on my second ride and threw three tricks two big blunts and a flash back. Then got hit by the crashing curler and completely eaten on my third run. Big smiles I rode the Jet ski back up again and shared comedy stories out wipe outs with the others.

Big Joe

Next up was Big Joe. This time we paddled on and then Jet Ski'd back up again. I love Big Joe and like to think that I know it quite well but as I was about to find out its not the same at these levels at all. I dropped in and on my first two rides flushed on my first trick! My third ride I took my time I dropped in and surfed around and felt the wave out realizing the sweet spot was not the shoulders but was the middle of the wave hole. I got a few sweet tricks before going for a cartwheel. I know!!! Never gonna work but for some reason in the moment it felt like it was a good idea. Flying back over the waves, blasting my way back up I got in one extra cheeky run. This time I flew with a big blunt, flashbacks and an airscrew. Wave boating is tough but so much fun.
 
Over the day Emily Jackson hit ride after ride, trick after trick showing why she is the wave boating World Champion and taking the win.

Boater X

Which meant when we arrived at the start we had plenty of time to get ready and chill. Then at about 10.30am we jumped on the river and blasted our way down the massive St Lawrence in search of the staging Island. It was quite a fun run in as we all followed the first few people assuming they knew where they were going only finding out when we were far to committed that they had no idea and had never been before. Luckily I remembered enough to read and run my way down the big volume mess. Spotting in the trees along the way the glimpse of color of the film crew and with the sound of drones over head. Soon we had almost 50 people on this bird poo covered small island in the middle of the river ready and waiting to go. We all heard this massive roar of a Jet engine and looked up to see the Jet Boat raging up the rapids. It was time to play. In turn we jumped in our boats and paddled downstream. Meet the Jetboat and climbed aboard to be driven back upstream. Scouting the race line as we went. At the top we loaded into our boats. Hanging dubiously of the sides of the boat. The count down went and it was race on. Packed in tightly launching and landing was dubious and several of us flipped even before we started to race. Then back upright it was game on. Sprinting hard across the flatter flowing water we made it to the rapids section. Big exploding waves took us through several hundred meters of amazing quality white water before we hit the boily mess of the huge eddy the jet boat was waiting in.

I was in a Zen racing against a Nirvana and a 9R. Through the rapids I had sweet lines allowing me to just keep up, the girls escaping from me on each flat and then coming into the boil finish I got the line perfect blasting through the middle jumping from 3rd place to within literally one second of first place at the finish line. Turning round to watch the carnage of everyone else coming in to hit the finish line and then laugh our way home. The girls was crazy 10 paddlers in a one off race a head to head finals. The boys even more crazy 20 lads launching of the boat together in a mass final!! Watch all the videos on the line to see the carnage.

The massive paddle out


So everything awesome has to have a challenge within and the paddle home after the boater x is the challenge of all challenges!!! Almost an hour of non stop paddling after the finish of the final race and we made it to shore. One epic epic epic ferry glide home. Island hoping our way across the St Lawrence river. I'm not sure exactly how far the journey home was but lets just say really really really long. Last year we got a little stuck after the Boater X hiking with our boats through the streets of Montreal for another half hour after the epic paddle looking for our car. As after we had set a shuttle a big bike race had closing down loads of roads causing alot of confusion. So this year me and Elaine planned ahead and ran our shuttle the night before. So at least as we got of the river exhausted we were done. So exhausted we could just drive back up to the event base and grab some food and share stories from another awesome event with everyone.


New Flash : Intermediate competition and Pro Clinics

Now I didn't realise last year but they also hold an Intermediate competition and pro clinics as well as the pro event. If you fancy riding Jet skis on to Big Joe and then racing through the Lachine rapids there's an awesome Intermediate event that also runs at the Montreal Eau Vive event. With big prizes up for grabs. So if you fancy some jet ski riding and big wave surfing but in a slightly less extreme situation check it out next summer. There are also heaps of Pro kayakers giving clinics (with Jet ski support) over the weekend. Oh and Stand Up Paddle Boarding races, clinics, come and try its, Yoga, beer, food music... the list goes on. It's a really pretty awesome event.




Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Ultimate Kayaking Packing List

How to pack 101
 
As I left for my trip today Jez asked me if he could have my packing list to help him make sure he didn't forgot anything for his trip to the USA this weekend and it got me thinking. Traveling all over the world as much as I do the number of times I write and rewrite packing lists is insane and every time it seems to be almost identical. So I thought it was time to write it down and post it online so that not only only me and Jez but also anyone everyone else who travels to paddle could also potentially use it to help make traveling that little bit easier.


Throw back to flying to Nepal in 2004 with only
one 23kg item allowance


My Packing List

Wallet (money, credit card, cash, drivers licence)
Passport

Tickets

Visas (if applicable)

Travel insurance documents

Car rentals paperwork

Accommodation paperwork and arrival address details (needed when you arrive at customs in a lot of countries)
Pen



Mobile phone and charger

Computer and charger

Camera and charger and sd cards

Tripod
Go pro and charger


Hard drive and USB stick

Adapter plugs for international countries 



Boat and boat bag

Paddles x 1-2 and bag

Helmet, nose clip and earplugs

Cagdecks/ Drydecks (or Cags/Drytops and decks/skirts) long sleeve and short sleeve

BA / PFD, whistle and river knife 

Dry trousers

Booties

Sling and Throw line 

First aid kit 

Duck tape 

Shorts x 2-3

Fleece/paddling tops x 2-3

Sports bras / bikini / swimming costumes x 2
Roof rack strap



Waterproof jacket

Down jacket

Trainers

Flip flops

T-shirts x 5-6

Hoody x 1-2

Jeans/trousers/pants x 1-2

Shorts x 2-3

Pj's 

Pants/Underwear x 8-12

Socks x 3-4

Bras x 2

Sports Bra

Towels x 1-2



Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel

Razor

Toothbrush and toothpaste 

Hairbrush

Moisturiser

Paracetamol / Ibroprofen

Deodorant 

Other Toiletries 

Any personal medicines 





 Cold water paddling additions…

Dry suit 

Skull cap

Extra fleeces 

Gloves / poggies




Extras…


Extra boats - Squirt Boat / Creek Boat / Carbon Play Boat
Hand paddles
Extra Pfd - Play boating / river rescue vest

Boat lock and padlock

Yoga mat

Foam Roller

Camp Chair

Tripod

Lacrosse ball for trigger massage, massage lotion 

Repair kit
Pin kit

Googles (squirt boat)
Books, Kindle, iPads



Others…
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Generally I pack it all into a one large lightweight travel bag on wheels and my boat bag. Max 23kg / 50lbs each. Then I carry a personal small backpack with my computer, camera etc. I also pack a spare small (wet boating) kit bag in my boat so I can separate my gear when on the road.

Flying back from Germany

Where possible I travel with just two check in items putting my paddles inside my boat if there splits or if there not taping them in their bag to my boat bag so it counts as just 1 piece. Occasionally an airline will allow you to pack them separately in the paddle bag and as they only weigh a couple of kilos they might let them on for no or little extra charge. Remember to say their ski's especially if the airlines not kayak friendly see my flying with a kayak blog. I just travelled today with my split paddles for free as part of my hand luggage, as my small personal carry on item. When the lady ask I said it was the equivalent of my small musical instrument allowance.

My two piece splits have been an awesome addition to my international travel kit
Transiting through Dallas Airport with my carry on!


Top Tips



1. Always travel with a water bottle. All airports have filtered water available for free inside the terminals. So empty your water bottle before you go through security then refill it for free before you airs your plane. Saves money and the oceans.


2. Travel with spare underwear, shorts and a t-shirts in your hand luggage and a toothbrush and toothpaste and baby wipes. This means that if your bags or flights get delayed and you end up with an unexpected night without all your gear your comfy and clean.

 
3. On long haul flights or massive trips find the airports showers and freshen up between flights. In Singapore airport find and jump in the swimming pool its worth it.

4. If your short on space / weight either wear more layers as you check in and go through customs and carry and extra bag inside your back pack to put it in when your on the plane or try and work out what heavy / bulky items you can easily and reasonably cheaply buy (shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, books) when you arrive at your destination.


So much sports equipment so little space

Sometimes you have lots of space

Packing doesn't have to be for flying
Taking only what you need can make a trip way more fun


Obviously the list will change a little trip to trip and person to person depending on where your going, the weather, length of trip and your paddling goals but I hope that this can be of help as a starting point and general guide.

Enjoy your paddling adventures around the world.


Happy Packing

Claire O

Having the right gear in the right place... priceless

Monday, July 03, 2017

Wake Surfing!!!!

This just happened...


Thanks to the amazing generosity of our friends in Tamarack we got to start today and finish yesterday with some amazing wake surfing on Cascade lake. The sun is shinning. It's an absolutely gorgeous weekend and how batter to spend it doing something super special, active and fun with amazing people.




Rumor is we might be heading out again in just a few hours.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Snow Bank Adventures


As week two wraps up at the 2017 Kelly's Academy its time for some fun adventures to begin. After looking up each day at the stunning snow capped mountains its no surprise our first adventure is to load up the truck with kayaks, stand ups and sledges and head up the mountain trails in search of snow.


Half way up we stop and hike into the Blue Lake. This stunning lake situated half way up the mountain is well worth the drive / walk. There is so much snow still up here it is crazy to think that it is the middle of the summer!!! After a hike along the snow covered trail we arrive at the lake and resist the urge to jump in. We then drive to the top of the trail and are treated to 360 degree mountain, forest, desert and valley views. We stop for a quick lunch on the top and check to see how high we are. At 8,300 feet we are on one of the highest peaks around. The skies so clear we can see other large Idaho snow capped mountains in the distance. It really is beautiful.

The view from the road

Chuck and Linda join me for the adventure




Hiking down the valley
Snow bridges across the streams

 

Just stunning

Monday, May 08, 2017

Snowy River

One of the classic white water runs in Australia is the Snowy river and this summer I had the opportunity to lead a group of kids down it on a multi day paddling expedition. Having never paddled the run before I joined Josh and Rick to do a quick recci run before the trip and we blasted down the 50km 4 day trip in just 8 hours. It was amazing we paddled hard and pushed on through the flats and then had fun on the rapids. It was supposed to be an overnight trip so we had loaded boats but we were on a roll and having too much fun so we just kept going and got it done.

Setting off its awesome being back on a real river

Loving my custom blue JK Karma
Fresh spring water drinks bottle refill stop

The drive in and out is a little sketchy

The Snowy is an amazing river on the boarder of New South Wales and Victoria. The section we ran started at McKillops bridge and we paddled all the way out to Buchan. Set deep in the Australian wilderness it was an amazing opportunity for these kids to be able to experience such a beautiful part of Australia and in such a unique way. There are very few roads down to the river in this area and they are all 4wd tracks and the only way to experience this section is on some sort of paddle craft.

No roads for miles. Deep in the gorge
Stunning Aussies views

Teamwork
Finding a beach big enough to camp overnight

The river is perfect slowly progressing from easy class 2 all the way up to the gorge section where is picks up to class3/4 with one big 4+. Cutting through a class 4 gorge half way down the run adds a unique component to this trip as its is very committing. Portaging the rapids in the gorge is very tough. The kids paddled all but the biggest two. Myself and Morgan each lead a trip and joined forces to take the groups through the gorge section. The first of the big rapids we portaged up and down and took it in turns to jump in and paddle all the boats through. The final and biggest rapid we worked with the kids to portage the boats before seal launching them back in.

Dropping into one of the bigger rapids
Kids having fun running one of the drops
Styling it in there own way
Fun Fun Fun

The kids paddled inflatables, two persons duckies, loaded with all their clothes, tents and food. We ran safety from our Jackson Karmas also loaded with all our stuff. Our 4 day 3 night adventure took us all on a journey of self discovery as well as true adventure. The kids learnt loads about themselves, each other and river life. Each night we would find somewhere to camp, set up base and cook up some food. Hitting bed early in order to be able to get up and get moving in order to get the river miles done.

Boats fully loaded
Portaging fully loaded boats is as big a challenge

Swimming is a refreshing break from the heat


By the final day everyone has the hang of things

Setting safety on one of the smaller drops

The Snowy is a phenomenal paddling experience and I would highly recommend this stretch to any class 3/4 boaters looking for a multi day expedition trip. Make sure you read up about the Gorge before committing yourself to this run and be knowledgeable and experienced advanced white water rescue skills and carry a Sat Phone as this is a very remote run.

Josh boofing his way through the last rapid