Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Keeners 2016

After all the excitement of the Montreal Eau Vive it was time to head back to the Wilderness for one last week of coaching this time with the Keeners. 20 + excited super talented young kayakers. Alongside Steve O, Anna, Clay and Mathieu we put the kids through their paces. Testing their play boating creek boating, racing and rescue skills. I was lucky to get some days working with a small group and had the chance to do some awesome specialised kayak coaching.

Passing on some tips

Challenging the kids with some fun skill based games

Keeners is an amazing opportunity not only for the kids but also for the coaches. Teaching top end kayaking to such talented young paddlers on such a friendly river is really unique. thats what draws such an amazing crew to teach on the programme year after year.

Believe it or not this was the plan

Julie takes in the view

We do take this all seriously

Honestly

Best trick faces award goes to Ryan

Working with kids you never know whats coming next

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Lachine, Montreal

Shredding up the Lachine rapids
As our training holiday on the Ottawa came to and end it was time to head to the city and the big waves of Montreal. We didn't realise when we booked our trip that the annual Montreal Eau Vive event was going to be on during the last weekend of our trip. We already had set that we would aim for a mix of Ottawa and Montreal surfing but this was the perfect addition to our plan. A goal to challenge ourselves with to do well on Big Joe.

Natural beauty in the middle of a major city

So we spent 3 days in Montreal training for the event. Each day we got up drove to the wave, packed up some snacks and ran the fun big wave train rapid to the main island guarding the waves. Where we we're joined by Bren, Elaine Campbell and Little Shredder Kaelin and his dad.

Surfers and kayakers enjoy the waves together
Taking a well earned break

Big Joe is such a smooth glassy wave and was a huge challenge yet it felt almost relaxing after the challenge of Garb the last few weeks. But the process of paddling the waves, back to the Islands, then the hike, float and paddle / sprint to attain back up to the top meant it definitely wasn't a rest. One surf from flushing of the wave through the full cycle of making your way back up to the top of the eddy would take almost 15 minutes meaning a full days surfing might only include 8 – 10 rides by the end of which you would be knackered. But the rides were worth it. Sat in the middle of this huge rapid, in the Big Joe green bowl, is one of the most humbling and amazing spots i've paddled. Even without throwing a trick it makes you feel so special and reminds me of why I love this sport so much. Then as you cut out and up and perch on the very lip and look down the face you realise the size and power of the water. As you fly down the wave, engage your edge and get ready to fly you feel the true freedom. Then you land with a smash spin it round and surf again. Magic.

Throwing out a clean blunt
Mid airscrew
Amazing scenery everywhere
Landing the airscrew. Epic view upstream
Tandem surfing with Den

Exhausted, each night we would call it a day and begin the massive ferry crossing back. A 20 minute non stop paddling ferry across from the waves back to the bank. Everything about you would be exhausted from the surf and you would just want to relax and float back but every relaxed paddle stroke would then result in a such longer walk with the boat upstream back to the car once you reached the bank. A truly remarkable paddling destination, so urban yet so wild!

Paddling back upto the top for another ride
Game over time to call it a day

Monday, October 03, 2016

Airscrews

As the kids flew out and Jez set off on his 5 day mission back to Sydney, Den flew in. Arriving a matter of minutes after everyone left it was time to play. We had 2 weeks and plan other than boating. Based out of River Play Tyler Curtis's awesome river side cabin on the banks of the mighty Ottawa. We played all day and night. Working on wave trick after wave trick. The levels were perfect, like insanely good. Which meant we burnt out every session kayaking until we couldn't kayak anymore.

Ottawa life
Spending the summer with great friends is priceless

Regulars to the Ottawa we know how difficult Garb wave was so we mixed in Garb rest sessions at Baby face and push button to help keep us fresh. Theres something very special about paddling with Den. He helps drive me to be a stronger and better paddler than anyone else. Joining us on the water (among others) was Bruno and Bren. A perfect mix for big trick progression.  

Den throws another huge Pan Am
Quite literally flying
Den show me how its done

My goal this season was airscrews. The last two years I have working on all round wave boating progression which has helped me improve dramatically but despite this focus I still hadn't mastered the trick I wanted most the airscrew. So this season I've mixed it up and gone for block practice. Focusing solely on the airscrew. Everyone I have paddled with I have asked for help and explored their understanding of this trick. I have thrown thousands of attempts both left and right. Eating it in so many ways. Each time learning from the experiences, reflecting on what went well and what didn't, what I thought I was doing compared to what I actually did. The whole time with the one goal and focus outcome, to master this trick.

This is it the shot... It hit a Perfect Massive Airscrew

Then with Den on Garb after several months and years of trying I nailed it. A massive perfect right airscrew. I landed others too but this one felt perfect and Den got it on camera so it counted. The sense of relief was insane. It felt effortless. So so good. But the learning didn't stop here. I knew I wanted to do it again so it was back to the top of the wave and time to try it again, this time to the left.

video

Freestyle is an amazing challenge, a science, a blend of person, water, paddle and boat. It's a dance. A gymnastic performance, a sequences of perfectly timed precision movements all blended into one. Each element, the timing, technique, precision essential to get each trick to work. When it works it is the best thing ever, but its not over it then takes exactly the same focus, drive and precision to make it work again.

Working on Big Back Blunts
Trying to turn my Blunts to Pan Ams
Hitting a big Helix
I have been able to do airscrews for over 5 years in fact I first thought about trying them in 2008. However a psychological block a fear of failure and hurting my shoulders stopped me evern trying them until 2010. Now I can do airscrews but I want more than that I want a perfect airscrew both ways. A solid consistent performance and technique that I can transfer to mulitple different styles of rivers and waves. Thats whats dirving me on even further. Making me roll up and keep trying after every crash. I want to be able to Airscrew like Den, Dane, Bren and every other paddler out there who's airscrew makes you stop and look.