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British Universities Kayaking Expedition 2017 – Selection Event

The British Universities Kayaking Expeditions have been running every other year since 2005, and the teams selected have chosen all manner of interesting destinations to explore, from Siberia in the north, to Madagascar in south. Venezuela in the west to Vietnam in the east. Students from around the country are invited to submit paper applications which were scored by previous team members, with the top twenty being invited for a 3 day ‘selection event’ in North Wales.

6 years of BUKE expeditions

6 years of BUKE expeditions

The selection weekend is organised by previous team members and normally it is fairly simple matter of arranging a long weekend in North Wales, choosing what river to paddle, and herding 20 students, plus the old boys in the right direction. This year however was different. With practically no useful rainfall since the summer, the rivers were beyond low and our usual go-to runs of the Glaslyn and Fairy Glen were not on the cards like they were for our last low water selection weekend.

Swallow Falls (pic: Dave Burne)

Traffic Jam for Swallow Falls (pic: Dave Burne)

In an effort to make sure the team wasn’t selected without some boat time, we decided that Swallow Falls on the Llugwy was probably our only hope for something that wasn’t flat. Following an hour or two of slides and boofs, we still had some daylight left, so a Dee lap was on the cards, with a 20 person boater cross down Serpents Tail and an impromptu king of the wave at Mile End Mill to spice things up.

Swallow Falls

Testing the seal launch capabilities of the mighty 9R on Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls (pic: Dave Burne)

2-up on one of Swallow Falls slides (pic: Dave Burne)

Destination night yielded another fine crop of potential expeditions, with the quality of some of the research definitely stepping it up from previous years. There were that many with good potential that 5 destinations made the initial short list.

destinations presentations

The destinations presentations in full flow

2017 destinations list

2017 destinations list

Saturday dawned cold but sunny. With all our on river options exhausted, the “blind drop off” was first on the cards. Groups of selectees were blindfolded and driven to various unmarked locations, before being dropped off with a map and told to make their way back to the hut.

Snowdon (pic: Dave Burne)

Stunning views of Snowdon (pic: Dave Burne)

The afternoons plan was a new one for everyone. Various river based scenarios were devised and groups rotated between each. A portage of loaded boats, foot entrapment, boat pin and a canyon cross tested the rope work and team work skills of all involved.

Pre-"scenarios" briefing

Pre-“scenarios” briefing

Pinned boat on the Glaslyn

Unpinning a pinned boat on the Glaslyn

Canyon Crossing exercise on the Glaslyn (pic: Dave Burne)

Canyon Crossing exercise on the Glaslyn (pic: Dave Burne)

With the team selection voting postponed until Sunday, Saturday night consisted of a masterclass in Google earth and some first aid chat, intermingled with drinking games (until the beer ran out).

Student drinking games - the curry obviously wasn't hot enough - (pic: Murray Gauld)

Student drinking games – the curry obviously wasn’t hot enough – (pic: Murray Gauld)

Sunday morning was ‘orienteering with a difference’. Various clues scattered over a hillside, some requiring simply requiring finding, others needing paddle hooks and throw bagging skills, with one in particular simply requiring balls, determination and a love of very cold water.

Abseil to collect a clue

Abseil to collect a clue for the orienteering

Kudos to everyone who took one for their team and took the plunge

This picture doesn’t convey quite how cold it was. Surely that’s not a smile – has to be a grimace.

Enormous congratulations to the team – a B.U.K.E. first with two girls making the cut – and good luck narrowing down the final shortlist (of Taiwan, the Caucasus mountains, the Philippines and Kyrgyzstan) to a single destination.

British Universities Kayaking Expedition Team 2017

The 2017 British Universities Kayaking Expedition Team practice their catalogue poses

1 ping

  1. Trip planning begins | Kayak the Philippines says:

    […] You can read the more about the selection weekend by clicking here. […]

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