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02
Mar

How To Make the Most of Your Local Run

Travelling abroad is a little more complicated than it used to be at the moment, however here are a few of my favorite things to do on my local run to ensure I make the most out of it while having fun, staying fit, and making sure I’m ready for when I finally get to travel and kayak some new rivers!

Seal Launches

To practice seal launches will give you enough technique and experience in case you ever need it when portaging a drop and seal launching is the safest and quickest way to get back to the river. It will also provide airtime in a controlled and consequence-free environment so that you can work and improve your free-fall technique for when you get to the drops and waterfalls.

Find a nice flat top rock anywhere from 1 to 5 or whatever you feel comfortable with, make sure the pool at the bottom is deep enough. 

Make sure you push forward hard with the edge of your blade and engage your core and your legs so that the bow doesn’t drop instantly.

Once in the air bring your body forward so you can take control after the launch and correct your angle if needed (stomp) or get ready for landing. 

Attainments 

It’s a great way to develop explosive strength and work on endurance as well, plus making it back to the top means you get to go down one more time. 

When doing attainments, focus on reading the water and find ways to use curlers, waves, diagonals, rocks, little eddies… or any other feature to help you make your way up the river more efficiently and using less effort so you can save that energy for when you really have to muscle it through. 

Eddie Catching

One of my favorite things to do on the river and probably the best to make things longer when paddling very short sections. Eddie catching will give you a ton of edge control and feel for the water and the boat while making you stronger as you start – stop every time.

Focus on reading the eddy ahead before entering it and adjusting as needed; boat angle, speed, edge, bow draw, sweep, punt…

Stern Squirts and Stalls

Definitely one of the most fun things to do on the river with a slicey boat, they will help you enormously with edge control and getting a SIX pack! 

Make sure you have a nicely defined eddy line and paddle towards it at a 45-degree angle. Drop your upper edge and sink that tail with a backstroke on the other side while you lean back. Control the boat and keep it vertical using your legs and body, leaning forward will bring your boat more vertical or even make you flip and leaning back will drop your bow back to flat. Play with it and after a few tries, you’ll start to feel it and will be able to hold your stall with the help of your paddle as well. 

Surf 

Surfing is another of those fun things to do that has a great positive impact on our skills. You’ll develop great edge control and feeling for your kayak and the water. Try to surf all kind of features, flat glassy waves (amazing), sticky pourer holes (not that fun sometimes), little waves… Surfing a wide variety of features will give you the most experience and knowledge.

These are just some examples of what I like to do on my local run to keep it fun and entertaining, I’m sure there are a ton more we could add; in the end, the most important is to have fun in the water and by doing so you are also working on your skills so that’s a great bonus! 

Have fun, be safe, and see you on the river!

G

All photos by Aleix Salvat

24
Feb

Scorch: An evolution of design to drive progression of the sport

Whitewater kayaking began with paddlers pushing the limits of the sport and their craft evolving to enable wilder dreams to be accomplished.

Long, pointy, fibreglass boats became shorter, rounded polyethylene kayaks; different rocker profile concepts were explored and planing hulls with hard rails were pioneered, all making for kayaks that were easier to control in extreme situations.

This progression continues, and the boundaries are shifted year on year to this day. As each generation has passed down their knowledge and experience, the next has taken a step beyond them onto rivers once thought of as fringe, and Pyranha has endeavoured to create designs that allow them to progress the sport we all love and keep the stories of adventure (and misadventure!) flowing, whether they’re told by a campfire, in books, in bars, on forums, or via social media.

Pyranha US Team Party 2019
📷: Adam Goshorn

The Scorch is the boundary-smashing culmination of these decades of evolution, combining and refining features from industry-leading designs like the Burn (uncompromisingly sharp rails), 9R (volume distribution and bow rocker), and Ripper (fast and nimble planing hull); the hybrid rocker profile adds to this with the progressive bow rocker being efficient on the move, planing over even the burliest of features, whilst the stern kick-rocker gets the back edge of the boat out of your way on the lip of drops and ensures you skip out over whatever lies in wait below; a fine balance of length and edge carries speed and maintains precise lines, even in boily, unpredictable water; and the generous but carefully tailored volume keeps you on top of the water and gives you the capacity to carry all your essentials without blocking your paddle strokes.

This is the boat for dry-hair days on local creeks, dialling in moves and lines, and packing those lessons up and carrying them through to the wildest missions and expeditions you can dream of, but don’t just take our word for it…

‘Downriver the bow rode nice and high and just blasted over boil lines and had a very confident feel when entering those stouter holes and dropping those vert ledges. […] The edges on the Scorch were some of the best I have used. It’s got that downriver zippy edge to edge feel of the Ripper with the confidence of paddling the 9R II!’

– Wade Harrison
David Bain paddling a Scorch Large in Blue Crush
📷: Bren Orton

As well as S, M, and L sizes, the Scorch will also come in an ‘X’ version, which takes all the positives of the design and turns them up to 10 (including the length!)

Bren Orton paddling a Scorch Large in Orange Soda
📷: David Bain

Burn down the boundaries, ignite your whitewater ambition, and #GetScorchin

Learn more: https://www.pyranha.com/kayaks.php?kayak=Scorch

09
Feb

Working on a Film Shoot

The season was drawing to an end in Austria, and I was facing a choice between lockdown in the UK or lockdown in Austria when I received an Instagram message from Josh at Bali productions.

The tourism board was filming a new tourism campaign based around action sports and were in need of a kayaker.

A week later I was on the plane, negative covid test and work permit in hand, travelling to Indonesia to film with a very talented crew. It’s the sort of thing that my childhood self dreamed of; sick kayaking combined with sick filming in an epic location. I stopped my inner child from skipping through the airport, less I got hot and sweaty and scared the other passengers.

Getting off the plane and meeting the team, the producer told me he had guessed that I would probably want to head straight to the river rather than relax at the hotel and that there was a car ready to take me to the Asahan River. This river will sadly soon be damned and I could not believe my luck at having the opportunity to kayak down it.

I thought I was going to be kayaking it solo, which I don’t mind and actually enjoy, but when I arrived at the put-in I was met by a young local kayaker, Restu, who the producer had arranged to show me down. Fine by me, kayaking is more fun with other people, and myself and Restu blasted down miles and miles of powerful whitewater together. Flying over wave trains, weaving around holes, the Asahan River was better than I had ever imagined and we were only getting started. The upper section eased off and we cruised the rafting section together. Stopping under a bridge, Restu informed me that he wasn’t going to kayak any further today as the section below was a bit much for him. Thanking him for the lines, I took off down the next section with some beta from him, keen to see what the next section of the Asahan had in store.

I love reading and running rivers, with some strategic eddies, kayak scouting, and confidence you can make it down a lot of rivers without getting out of your kayak. However, both Restu and the assistant producer had been very clear on needing to stop before the biggest rapid on the river, and a few times I had seen the gradient dropping, scrambled to make an eddy, and crawled around the jungle to get a better peek around the corner. Eventually, getting it right, I was greeted with the “Nightmare” rapid on the Asahan. Different viewpoints give you different perspectives on rapids, I could only see it from the side of the jungle and what I saw looked like a fairly closed outline above a massive hole. From experience, there is usually more space and the line is usually more open than it looks from this angle. The only question is whether you want to commit to finding out.

The assistant watching through his fingers as I rolled up to the start of the rapid. Just as I had hoped, the line was more open than it looked from the bank. It was a classic, late-charge move and I had to keep calm and wait on the right-hand side as long as I dared before pushing hard over to the left and getting over the hole.

The Asahan was just one of the film locations, and we loaded up in the car and drove ten hours to check out the next one.

The Katassa waterfall, the first descent of this waterfall was done by Galen Volkhausen and Nouria Newman a year earlier, and I had loved the look of it. A tight lead-in section through a gorge before dropping 70ft plus. The day I scouted it, the river was low, giving me a perfect view of the hideous cave I would end up in if I made a mistake. The cave made me feel a little bit uneasy, but not having my crew with me made me feel downright vulnerable. Kayaking hard whitewater is a team sport.

Looking at the line I felt confident though, and I made my call; I was in. The producer scheduled the safety team and locked it into the schedule. I was personally hoping for more water for the film day.

I guess you have to be careful what you wish for. The night before the waterfall shoot there was a huge rainstorm and arriving there the next day the river was three times higher than when I scouted it. It was a beautiful display of nature’s force as the water thundered through the canyon and over the lip of the waterfall. It was rowdier, much rowdier, but so sick! I had been in Indonesia on a previous trip and knew how quickly the rivers rise and fall here. I told the producer we had to move quickly and I watched as he rallied a massive film crew and safety team into position three hours ahead of schedule. It was a stressful morning for everyone one. I was afraid the water would drop and the wave on the lip of the waterfall would closeout and make my descent a lot harder. I was expecting the river to drop dramatically as I had seen happen on numerous rivers in Indonesia, but somehow the level held up, the crew took their positions, and I was given the signal to go.

News had reached the local villages, and thousands of people lined the side of the river to watch. I scrambled to a secluded spot and took a few moments away from everyone to collect myself. I always distil a line down to a few core points and go through my Plan B scenarios so I can move quickly if things go wrong, but I had no Plan B on this waterfall. There was no possibility for me to fix things if they went wrong. I had to get it right and not end up in the cave.

Getting into my kayak, I had that wonderful feeling I am always looking for at the top of waterfalls; confident and calm, but slightly excited. The walkie talkie echoed back that the film crew was ready, and I launched into the river. I was immediately moving quickly though the gorge and feeling time slow down. The brain does weird, magical things in these sorts of situations, and all of a sudden I was at the lip of the waterfall, the nose of the kayak pointing slightly away from the cave, letting myself roll over the lip and the kayak settle before pulling hard on a stroke and tucking up as tight as I can. I went deep but could feel myself being pushed downstream away from the cave, I resurfaced to cheers from the thousands of people that had come out to watch, eventually becoming aware that I was also cheering with them. I only ever claim or cheer about a line if it was really good and if I had been nervous about it. My line down the Katassa waterfall had been both, and I was stoked as I was mobbed by the film crew who had all been nervous for me.

I spent the rest of the trip filming various other scenes, some in a kayak, some not, and having a great time working with the mega-talented Bali Productions team.

Working on film shoots is intensive. Nobody gets very much sleep, everyone works incredibly hard, but it’s all worth it at the end when the director’s vision comes to fruition and you know you played your part in making that happen to the best of your abilities.

Cheers to everyone involved!

01
Feb

Dear Cancer, You Suck

Cancer is so wide-reaching that most of you reading this know someone who has fought this terrible disease. It’s usually not an easy fight, but ultimately it’s the only choice; fighting for your life through radiation, chemo, surgeries, and a host of other toxic chemicals. These processes are what tear people down, make them feel like shells of their former selves, and bring a wide range of other awful side effects.

If you’re a whitewater kayaker, chances are you know Dave Fusilli, or at least know of him. However, you may not know his better half, Gina. They say behind every good man is a great woman, and there is no better example of that than Dave and Gina. Over their last 6-and-a-half years together, Gina has allowed a constant stream of homeless kayakers through their house in White Salmon WA, and been supportive of Dave’s personal kayaking ambitions. Gina is a kayaker, mountain biker, skier, nurse… and she is now a cancer survivor.

Gina was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2019 and immediately went into the twilight zone of treatments; seemingly endless appointments, injections, radiation, hair loss, fatigue… the list goes on. While she is not yet in the clear, the worst of it is over, and she’s slowly starting to build herself back up to the person she was before the treatments. However, it’s more than a physical obstacle; the worry of its return and the financial burden still linger. Gina was unable to work during much of the treatment, and even though she has “premium” insurance, she has shelled out thousands of dollars for the medical care she had no choice but to pursue. While this financial burden is indicative of the broken healthcare system of the US, none of it matters as long as she lives a long and healthy life.

Pyranha is a family, and Dave has been part of our family for a LONG time, so Gina’s diagnosis hit us all hard and we have tried to show our support and send positive thoughts along the way. However, now that she is over the first hurdle, we would like to help make a real difference by raising some money to help cover her medical expenses.

Check out the video above where Team Pyranha member Jared Nosal talks us through the format, and then head to the ‘Fundraiser for Gina’ Page to find out how you can get involved in the raffle, help us raise some money to go towards Gina’s medical expenses, and get yourself in with the chance to win a 9R II Medium in solid Fuchsia with custom anodised handles and security points.

Thanks, and good luck!
MP

28
Jan

Pyranha Memories: Looking back on the Burn

By now, you will likely have heard that we took the difficult decision to discontinue one of our most iconic designs, the Burn, in August of last year.

We’ll be the first to admit the Burn is a design which splits opinion; throughout its lifespan, there have seemingly been as many paddlers who love it as there are paddlers who hate it, and both with apparently equal passion!

The reason behind this division may be the fact that we stuck to our ‘By Enthusiasts, For Enthusiasts’ ethos, didn’t hold back on the planing hull design, and gave it some unusually sharp rails in comparison to the big, round, displacement hulls which were the trend in creek boats at the time. This requires the Burn to be paddled differently, using those rails to carve, rather than the turning force coming primarily from paddle strokes… it feels great if you get it right, but not everyone adapted well to the paddling style.

The Burn design isn’t something that came completely out of the blue, though; it shares much of its DNA with predecessors like the h2 and h:3, as well as having gone on to influence designs such as the Everest, Ammo, and Karnali itself…

The original Burn (2006)

Here’s what Pyranha old boy, Ben White had to say about the development of the original Burn:

“The h:3 was such a successful boat that it was a hard decision to start designing a successor. The Burn had to be something different, yet still have the Pyranha DNA.

We began with a clean slate and started by speaking with people – a LOT of people! Team paddlers, customers at demo events, dealers, and the guys in the factory who build the boats. This gave us a far better understanding about what we needed to do.

All the grab handles were new for the Burn; we worked closely with Wild Country and DMM to make them as strong and as robust as possible. There was a lot of destructive testing; always fun to see how much force you can put on a grab handle before it breaks!

The Burn was also the first boat to use Connect 30 outfitting. A ground up new design, re-thinking every part of the outfitting. The most successful was the removal of the full-length front foam and replacing it with the roto-moulded pillar which doubled as a step to exit the boat in a vertical pin. Also, a handy grip for when you’re carrying the kayak!

Above: a composite prototype of the original Burn.

The hull shape itself went through several iterations during development. I can remember at one stage the plug had a different design on each side, and Graham and myself had an unconclusive ‘creative discussion’ about which one we should go for. The design got put on hold for a couple of weeks before revisiting it and not using either! What came from this was faster hull speed and greater manoeuvrability with a secondary stability point beyond anything that came before. All the things that the Burn was known for.

The Burn was accidentally leaked the day the first shell came out of the mould. Too excited to wait, I took the first boat out of the mould to the Dart where someone caught a picture and the rumours of the new Pyranha boat started. Previously, and I do not know how we got away with it, the Burn was tested out in the open across North Wales and Scotland in both a composite and plastic version without anyone noticing!”

The original Burn in action!

Burn MKII (2010)

The Burn MKII carried through some concepts explored on the 2007 Everest, such as rocker which steepened towards the very tip of the bow, improved deck styling, and a touch more volume. With our sights set on the future, which was to include a displacement hull creeker that would eventually be named the Shiva, we also leant in to the sharp edged, planing hull design on the Burn MKII, extending the rails all the way to the stern for harder, sharper turns.

Another old boy, Matt Bostock shared a couple of great memories of the early days of the Burn MKII with us:

Prototype testing on the Mighty T.

We went on a comparison test mission to the Tryweryn with Burn MKII Proto 1 and a Burn Mk1 to compare how they felt on the water. Our plan was to repeat the same moves dozens of times through the day in both boats, comparing notes and then making small changes to the prototype hull and repeating the process. We took small strips of balsa wood and a hot glue gun so that we could add and move rails to any section of the hull during the day. We spent the whole day working on it, getting the boat to carve predictably in and out of eddies and work on small waves.

Paul Smith in the Burn MKII on Tanigawa Gorge, Japan

Delivery to team paddlers.

One of the first deliveries of Burn MKII Medium was to several team paddlers at the Adventure Paddlers’ Weekend on the Dart. I remember this weekend as so many of the team drove down so they could get their Burns and head out together to play. Most arrived on the Friday night, and being professional athletes, only had a “couple” of drinks. Saturday morning, we had a crowd of spectators as around 6 team members all unbagged and outfitted new boats on the grass. We had a great day on the upper Dart and the Erme. This day lives in a few peoples’ memories for several reasons, but mostly we had a great day paddling as friends on some good water. It was the best beginning to the Burn MKII’s life we could hope for and generated great interest in the soon to be launched Burn MKII Large.”

Burn III (2013)

In 2013, we completely redesigned the Burn for its third generation; Designer, Robert Peerson looks back on the Burn III development:

“Working on the Burn III felt daunting; like writing the third film in a successful movie trilogy. Some might like this aspect or that from the first two generations, but you can only bring so many of those through to the third generation without just producing the same boat again.

Our feedback on the Burn series was that everyone missed the hard rails of the original Burn but liked that MKII Burn was a bit easier to paddle in harder white water. This is a fine line to walk, but after tweaking the rail and the rocker profile, our team was pleased with the final Burn III Medium prototype, which was super fun and predictable to paddle.

A funny (although not so funny at the time!) story about the development of the Burn was the mishap with the sizing. We started, as we usually do, designing and test paddling the Medium sized version. I remember we’d shipped the first production model over for the big reveal at Outdoor Retailer, and the entire team surrounding it as it was pulled off the truck, sitting in it, and reviewing the hull. We all instantly knew the boat was not a true Medium; more like a Small/Medium with much lower knees than the prototypes we had paddled. Not wanting to scrap this final tool, we were left with sorting the rest of the line-up based on this Medium size. This is why we ended up with L, XL, and S sizes, with the sizing of each being a little off the norm for those sizes in other models.

I personally liked the idea of the Burn series with its hard rail design, comfortable ergonomics, and the one boat you could take anywhere in any conditions, but I’m also having a lot of fun paddling our newer designs like the 9R.”

The Burn III also followed in the footsteps of the original Burn, being the first model to use a new generation of grab handle; the drop-forged aluminium grab handles produced by DMM which we use across our range today.

B.Two (2013)

Over the years, the Burn has become a staple of clubs, centres, and coaches, being a highly versatile platform, which supports paddler development and enables clear skills demonstrations, without being overly ‘aggressive’. Upon the release of the Burn III, the Burn MKII was re-branded as the B.Two and made available at a lower price point for the benefit of these paddler groups, and is a model we still produce in batches today for clubs and centres.

The Burn may no longer be a part of our range, but it is certainly not forgotten, and we’re sure it won’t be for years to come. However, time moves on, and we must keep moving forwards…

Happy Paddling!
Pyranha

12
Jan

What Am I Going to Do With All This Time?

(*Before you read further… most of the photography in this article has nothing to do with the article. I just added some of my favourite photos from the last decade of paddling!)

That was the question at the front of my mind as the countrywide lockdown was announced in March last year. I was about to head to the Alps to ski, then had a pretty busy spring season ahead. Some coach education courses, working with my long term paddlers, and a couple of weeks coaching and guiding in Europe. All gone in one press conference.

Walking down to the Rio Queros, somewhere in Peru. You can watch the 20-minute long expedition film here on Vimeo. (Photo: Dan Wilkinson).

I had a lovely few weeks at first, riding my bike, exploring the local area, and spending time as a family with my wife and our new baby. But as the lockdown continued, my thoughts turned to a project that fellow team paddler, Paul Smith and I had discussed at length, but that I hadn’t previously considered as a possibility given the time commitment required to bring it to fruition.

So, during the UK lockdown, we focused fully on a single project. Authoring a book for coaches of all Adventure Sports disciplines, that draws together academic research, real-world experience, and current coaching practice in one volume…

Airport Taxi, Western Nepal Style! Read Chris Evans write up of this trip here on the Peak UK blog. (Photo: Pete Catterall)

I’m just going to re-wind a little here.

The idea and concept has been discussed a lot. When I run coach education courses I am often asked what resources I would recommend that support the practical delivery that candidates have just experienced. When chatting with fellow coaches we find ourselves agreeing on the same approaches to difficult situations, but not recording what those approaches are. I often thought it would be worth making a record of these to be able to share how we are building relationships with our participants, dealing with fear, or running reviews at the end of a course. I never did, though.

Dealing with fear… I ‘slept’ (in a bivvy bag!) under this box in a proper flea pit of a hostel before heading to a high water Apurimac. (Photo: James Bruton)

In addition to that, I personally had recently felt as though I was missing a deeper level of understanding as a coach, so undertook a Masters degree in Performance Coaching (focusing on how I can increase my performance as a coach). During my studies, I found myself getting both angry and frustrated. Angry that there were concepts of coaching that I had no idea existed (at this point I had been a Level 5 coach for 5 years, had a degree in Outdoor Leadership, and worked as a coach educator) and also frustrated that I had to decipher what the academic papers ‘looked like’ in the real world of coaching. Kayaking (as with all adventure sports) is a dynamic sport, with participants of all different motivations and desires. Through my studies, my coaching developed, but the feeling that I had been short-changed by not being exposed to all this before didn’t leave me.

There is something about the simplicity of a multi-day trip to reduce the frustrations of normal life to a fraction of the size they seem… Thuli Bheri, Nepal. (Photo: Pete Catterall)

About halfway through my studies, I was on a personal trip to Nepal. Anyone who has paddled anywhere in the Himalaya will recognise the endless bus and jeep rides, as well as the seemingly interminable ‘waiting’ time that is an integral part of trips to slightly further-flung destinations. I was with some good friends, who also work full time as paddlesport coaches, and so we thrashed out our idea of a ‘chapter list’ of some concepts that we would want to see included in a coaching book.

David Bain (raft), Luke Kemp (kayak) and associated others during the Pyranha supported River Clean as part of the Kendal Mountain Festival in 2019. Look after your local runs!

That chapter list sat on a hard drive for a couple of years. As it became apparent that our lockdown wasn’t going to be over in three weeks, Paul (who I had sent it to when I returned from Nepal, and who had also gone through the same process himself and assimilated the two lists) dug it out and we started writing in earnest. 83 days later we had a full draft, and the chapter list had been fleshed out to 5 main areas, and over 360 pages of a book.

Here it is… 110,000 words over 360 pages!
(Image Copyright: Adventure Sports Media House)

It’s definitely fair to say that I prefer being in my kayak, rather than behind a computer screen. That being said, I am really pleased and proud to have been involved with creating a resource that has received glowing reviews from a lot of people who I really respect, and that we managed to actually turn our dusty notes into a real-life book (if you could see my school reports, you’d find my teachers would be even more impressed!).

Click to see some sample pages of Coaching Adventure Sports.

If you like what you see, you can order yourself a copy (UK & International) here. Use the code ‘pyranha’ at check out, and you’ll get 10% off the price too!

02
Dec

What a Load of Rubbish!

With 2020 being the year that it is, Kendal Mountain Festival did an incredible job of adapting to change and putting together an awesome event. Being a completely virtual festival meant that anyone, from anywhere around the world could get involved! With an impressive variety of films, talks, presentations and even music, there really was something to get everyone’s juices flowing! Although the event was technically ‘Live’ at the time, everything is available to watch until December 31st- perfect for filling that weird time between Xmas and New Year! Or maybe a ticket to a talk, or a full event pass could be the perfect Christmas pressie for that outdoorsy friend or family member that you never know what to buy for!

Just some of the stars of the Palm & Pyranha Paddlesports Session about to start the river clean!

As well as all the awesome films and presentations, there were also some very cool activities taking place outside the recording studio. Earlier on in the festival, we had our pro mountain bikers (including my very awesome pal, Monet Adams) doing their bit for the ‘Trash Free Trails’ campaign, by collecting rubbish whilst out enjoying the local trails. The festival then finished off with the annual ‘Paddle Pickup’. Obviously, things had to be a bit different this time around, so instead of a mass gathering on the River Kent, the aim was to encourage paddlers all over the country (and the world!) to get involved on their own local river!

Bekki of Into the Outside and KMF helped us out too!

A small number of paddlers involved with KMF (including myself) took to the River Kent, armed with our litter grabbers! Within only a mile-long stretch of the river, we found enough rubbish along the river banks and in the river itself, to fill a 6-person raft, a canoe, and our kayaks!

As well as loads of drinks bottles, cans, and plastic bags, we also found a surprising amount of shoes, clothes, and old toys, plus a total of 51 golf balls!

Just some of the 51 golf balls removed from the river... and an Elf!

Although it couldn’t be the big Paddle Pickup event it normally is, the message was still clear. We have a responsibility to look after our amazing outdoors and give back to the environments that have given us so much. We gain an amazing amount from being outside, so let’s make protecting it a priority.

Thanks to Hoops of WRS for lending a raft and a hand with his family!

Wherever you are, whatever you’re in to, please please please start doing your bit. If we can all do just do one small thing, we can make a huge change. Maybe once a month, whether you’re on the river, on your bike or even out walking the dog, fill a bag with litter to throw away and recycle.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming thinking about how to make a difference when the overall problem is dauntingly massive, but together we can do awesome things!

Just some of the rubbish removed from the River Kent, including a shopping trolley, a tyre, and a traffic cone.

Thank you to all those doing their bit in their local area, as well as everyone that was involved in the Palm and Pyranha Paddle Pickup. Also, a big thank you to the guys at Kendal Mountain Festival for putting on an awesome event and for supporting such great causes!

Chris Brain found a car key in the river!

It was amazing to be involved in the Paddle Pick Up! I’ve often wondered what I can do to look after the places I go to paddle, as I’ve regularly seen litter on the bank and in the river, but the scale of the challenge can seem pretty daunting. I realise now that just doing a little bit and picking up just one thing and taking it away for proper disposal or recycling can make a real difference. I’m going to make it my mission from now on to have a little bag with me any time I am on the river or out exploring on foot and to pick up at least one thing. Whilst it might not feel like it makes much of a difference at the time, if all of us do a little something on the rivers and trails that we regularly go to it will really add up and we can have a positive impact on these places.

Chris Brain, Pyranha and Palm Team Paddler

Make sure to post your Paddle Pickup photos and use these hashtags:

#PaddlePickup #KendalLitterPick20 #TrashOff

Although we would have LOVED to all be together this year on the River Kent paddle pick up, it’s been so wonderful to see all the participation from around the UK, and indeed the globe, for this year’s Kendal Litter Pick. Cleaning up our natural world is one of the simplest and most rewarding things we can do to give back to the places we play, and often time leads to a feeling of empowerment for people to further stand up against the destruction of our playgrounds. Huge thank you to everyone who gave a few minutes or a few hours of their time on Saturday to leave our trails, streets, beaches, canals, and rivers a better place!

Cal Major, Palm Team Paddler

You can check out my interview at the Kendal Mountain Festival, as well as the Palm & Pyranha Paddlesports session, on the links below:

Sal Montgomery Live Interview

Palm & Pyranha Paddlesports Session

Sal
www.instagram.com/sal.montgomery
www.facebook.com/salmontgomery2020

15
Oct

Please act now and help #SaveOutdoorEd

Many of you reading this will need no convincing as to the importance of Outdoor Education, and to those people, we’d ask that you head straight to signing this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/330559 and consider sharing it amongst your networks.

For those who have come to paddlesports via a different path (or indeed, anyone reading this who hasn’t had any involvement in paddlesports or the outdoors so far in their life) and may not appreciate how friendships, careers, and physical and mental wellbeing for so many have been built on the foundations laid by Outdoor Education, allow us to share some perspectives with you:

“Outdoor Education is fundamentally embedded in the curriculum at Bolton School, with pupils taking part in outdoor adventurous residentials in almost every year group from junior school up to sixth form. Pupils attend our residential centre, Patterdale Hall, to develop character traits such as intellectual curiosity, determination, self-discipline, and leadership skills to name but a few, but in doing so they may also develop a passion for adventure and adventure sports, such as climbing or kayaking, where once back in school they can develop these skills and take part in trips here in the UK or overseas, such as our whitewater kayaking trips to the Alps, sea kayaking expeditions in Norway, and sport climbing adventures in Spain.”

Steven Bradley, Head of Outdoor Learning, Bolton School

“Through my own school career, I was lucky enough to visit Snowdonia a number of times for outdoor and adventurous activities. It was on those trips that I found my love of the outdoors and wild places. As I spent more time in them and gained qualifications that let me take others in them, I started to see the frayed edges. The litter accumulating on busy summits, the rivers threatened by dams, and the changing use of landscapes in our national parks. To truly protect somewhere, we must first experience it and value it. That starts with children, and it starts with outdoor education.”

Tom Laws, Trash Free Trails & Save Our Rivers

“Despite attending several training camps, I was never any good at football. I tried cricket, rugby, swimming, and tennis, and none of those stuck either; most of my weekends were spent exploring the forest with my friends, and when I realised there were sports like canoeing, kayaking, and orienteering to be done in those environments, I knew right away what I’d been missing! I owe that discovery to the school teachers who arranged outdoor residential trips so we could travel further afield and discover the beautiful outdoor environments the UK and the world have to offer. Outdoor recreation is my exercise, it’s how I socialise with friends and make new ones, and it’s what my career is built upon – I genuinely don’t know what I’d do without it.”

Mathew Wilkinson, Marketing Manager, Pyranha Kayaks

“Learning through an outdoor experience allows children with social and emotional barriers to classroom tasks to grow in confidence and achieve in an environment where they can succeed.”

Ian Sheldrake, Teacher & Owner of Venture-Out

Please lend your voice to help ensure future generations still have the opportunity to get into the outdoors: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/330559

12
Oct

The Box: The Heart of the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River

When I close my eyes and think back on the time I spent in The Box this summer, I can’t help but smile. I can still feel the butterflies and fire rooted within as I commit to the first big rapid of the trip. I can hear the water pick up as it forces its way naturally through the boulders evaporating into the air as it crests over the surface. I can feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face as I take a ‘Leap of Faith.’ This is a trip I’ll never forget.

I spent the previous weekend paddling the Honeymoon and Day stretches of the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River and particularly liked its unforgiving, rugged, and voluminous character. Continuing downstream, the river cuts through the third deepest canyon in the lower forty-eight known as The Box. The committing and undercut nature of the river and its features adds a consequential quality to the run, you don’t want to miss an eddy above one of the mandatory portages. 

Our crew – Ford, Quinton, Ben, and I make our way into the first canyon, the first portage is coming up. It’s a mile long, but the only portage without a required climb over fairly large boulders. Back on the river, we enjoy a few miles of calm river while Quinton catches trouts! 

As we enter the second canyon, the walls grow, forming a formidable marble-like hallway. We make our way through a few miles of long boulder gardens and sweet boofs until we arrive at our second portage, ‘Ankle Breaker.’ This rapid was a sight to behold, a huge broken-up, steep boulder garden linked together by waterfalls plummeting into sieves. Hands down the toughest portage!

We run into friends, Frank and Travis at camp that night and decide to join forces! The next morning, we set off into the heart of the canyon. The first rapid we scout is ‘Balls to the Wall’. The current builds as the river steepens and all the flow parallels a massive canyon wall. Ideally, you want to be close to the wall, but not too close, as you fly into a narrow slot at the bottom backed up by a huge hole sending you into a moving eddy flowing into the next rapid.

This is where it really turned on for me. Once I committed to this rapid, I was so fired up and ready to paddle – I hit myself in the face with my paddle, bruised and bloody nose for the win!

My plan going into the trip was to have as much fun as safely as possible with my friends, taking on one rapid at a time and not making my mind up based on what I heard, but how I felt when I looked at each of the significant rapids for the first time.

I was grateful we had some extra water on our descent, padding out many of the larger moves and filling in some of the sieves. 

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but for me, it was probably ‘Dillworth.’ The rapid begins with a lead in directing its flow into a house-sized pour-over, landing to the right of center is preferred to avoid a sieve, then continue boofing and charging your way downstream. Flying off that boof was a highlight of my trip for sure!

Like any grand adventure, our group had some unexpected things happen, several paddles were broken, lost, and dropped. When we arrived at the last portage, ‘Last Sunshine,’ we were one paddle short and had no breakdowns left. We are above one of the two mandatory rapids of the run. Quinton offered to ferry across the river, scale a cliff with his kayak, and then rappel back down to river level below the portage. Then he decided to hand paddle the rest of the way to the takeout. Thankful he was so willing to billy goat and absolutely crushed it!

We rolled into the takeout STOKED! The canyon blew my mind by the hour, but what truly amazed me is how we all complimented each other so well out there and lifted one another up. I didn’t know everyone in our group, but by the end of the trip, I felt I’d made some awesome new friends and look forward to paddling with these guys again. 

This run only goes for maybe two weeks at optimal flows in July. Next year, I’d like to do a two-day and one-day descent in the same week, hopefully, less sore coming out of the first trip!

We’re all motivated and inspired by different things, but what makes it so special is that whatever the reason, on this weekend and in this moment, we’re linked together and unified by this one thing – this remote place, a shared passion, and pushing ourselves in this way. That’s a special bond.

Life gets messy. Things don’t always work out the way we’d hoped, we experience fear and unknowns, but the river puts things in perspective. It shows me in a very clear and undiluted form who I am. I want to be vulnerable in life, I want to be in places and situations that scare me and push me closer to the things I love. When I’m on the river, I’m vulnerable. I’m surrounded by beauty, moment by moment the experience exposes my humanness and I feel alive. The time I spend on the river gives me time to learn about something that’s much greater than me.

We all have different reasons for doing this. While paddling The Box may or may not be your journey, I think we can agree we can all benefit by stepping outside of what’s familiar and comfortable just a bit. For me, a trip like this gives me a little peek of doing so. How you choose to give life to your dreams and spend your future, is entirely up to you.

#shegoes

Photo credit: Quinton Barnett, Ben Litz, and Travis Winn

08
Oct

The Wellerbrücke in the Ozone.

I should first say that while I have a lot of love for the Ozone, it is not the best choice for this style of water and I can only recommend using a bigger kayak such as the Ripper, Machno, or 9R II on this style of river.

The Wellerbrücke is fast, steep, and chock-full of places you don’t want to end up. If I’m honest, there’s not very much to taking the Ozone down the Wellerbrücke that makes sense!

Ultimately it was a culmination of all of the time spent on this river, wanting to get out of my comfort zone on it again, and to finally hit some of the tricks that I haven’t quite been able to pull around in the bigger kayaks I normally use.

The first few rapids have some holes on them and I had to make sure I landed my tricks cleanly to keep my speed and stay out of trouble.

A few times, tricks worked straight away.

Other times, it took a few attempts…

A few times, I just focused on getting down upright.

The river picks up pace the entire way down, and the entry rapid to the Wellerbridge marked the rowdiest rapid to run in the Ozone. I had to work hard to hit the line on this one and I was stoked to hit the final move and be in the eddy.

I had seen this rock a few times on previous laps and I thought it would be a great place for a Tomahwak; like a cobra flip, but sideways and using the rock. The water dropped and revealed a rock in the landing, though fortunately, it looked like I would have enough speed to clear it… possibly, maybe, sort of.

I wussed out of the trick twice for fear of landing upside down on the rock, breaking something, and far worse not being able to kayak for a few weeks.

I knew it would be a tight landing, but I felt like I could do it. I switched the annoying part of the brain that is full of “what ifs” and hesitations and sent it.

Happily, it worked perfectly, I landed the trick, and only just tapped the rock with the tail of my kayak.

The bridge rapid went surprisingly well, and I dropped into the race course. My goal here was to go top to bottom as clean as possible and then freewheel into Champions Killer.

That worked great the first time, the second time I did it I got stuck in Champions Killer, but threw some cartwheels and surfed, the third time, let’s just say it had been a long day…

You know that quote from the climber about why he wanted to climb the mountain and he said, “…because it’s there”? Same deal here. The Wellerbrücke is just down the road, and I have an Ozone. With that being said, I am back in my Large Ripper and saving my Ozone for chiller sections of river in the sun.

Catch you on the water,
Bren

Photos by Mathias Pfutzner

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