Pyranha Logo
facebook twitter vimeo

16
Sep

Lulu Love Tour Lowdown

Now in its third year running, the Lulu Love Tour stopped in Sort, Spain to promote women’s participation in whitewater kayaking.

The Lulu Love Tour is more than just another kayaking event. The LLT is a collective project designed to spread “The Lulu Love” by connecting individuals with the amazing community that surrounds the sport of whitewater kayaking. 

The objective is to bring people together by organizing non-profit events that are geared towards increasing participation in kayaking and outdoor life while reflecting the same love for the sport that Louise Emma Jull (aka Lulu) had.

CLINICS FOR ALL!

One of the main purposes of the Lulu Love Tour is to give and to open the event to the whitewater community. By organizing clinics, the LLT gives the opportunity to learn, practice, and improve personal whitewater skills and kayaking techniques at the same time as promoting the spirit of getting out there and enjoying every moment.

In this edition, the LLT offered three different clinics specifically designed for the event and run by professional instructors.

The Introduction to Kayaking clinic was aimed at those girls who had only done a little bit of kayaking or none at all. We split the big group of newbies in two so every paddler could learn in a safe and comfortable environment. Júlia Cuchí, Jus Erguin, Ginesta Serrasolses, Carla Solé, and Alícia Casas were the leaders of the clinic, making sure every participant learned and had fun on the water. ­

The Freestyle clinic was run by Nuria Fontané (Jr. Freestyle European Champion and multiple Spanish Champion), Cristian Lamiel (Kayak Coach and instructor) and Oriol Colomé (Spanish Team Freestyle Kayak Coach). The girls attending this clinic learnt and practised basic freestyle moves in different features and had a blast on the different play spots available.

Marc Parra (professional kayaker and vertical works certified instructor) was in charge of the Rescue and Rope Skills clinic, in which the girls had the chance to learn and practice several Mechanical Advantage Systems to potentially use in different whitewater rescue scenarios.

DOWNRIVER MASS START – NOGUERA PALLARESA WOMEN’S RACE

The Tour continued on Saturday morning as participants checked in and got their welcome packs, before turning into race mode for the first race of the day, a gruelling 6km race down some of the most classic rapids on the Noguera Pallaresa.

The competitors left their boats on the riverbank, aligned themselves at the start line and impatiently waited for the whistle to blow. It finally did, and everyone sprinted to jump into their boats and paddled downstream as hard as they could for the next 20 minutes.

After an epic head to head battle to the finish, slalom paddler, Júlia Cuchí managed to take the win, followed very closely behind by young and talented extreme kayaker, Sofia Reinoso from Mexico. Local paddler Núria Fontané witnessed their multiple passes from very close to finishing third.

Paddlers waited until the last competitor crossed the finish line before the stoke float started all the way down to Sort.

PYRANHA KAYAK TEST

A Pyranha Kayaks Test centre offered participants the chance to try and paddle all of Pyranha’s latest designs down the slalom course. Everyone had a blast with the boats, especially the newly arrived 9R II and Ripper, as well as others such as the Jed, Machno, and 12R.

Thank you Pyranha Kayaks for your support in this years LLT!

OPEN MULTISPORT RACE

Beloved and missed Lulu is the main engine behind this whole project. She was passionate about kayaking and turned outdoors into her lifestyle. Under her mantra “always winning never not” she was always down to do anything that involved kayaking, racing, or hanging out with friends and used to encourage people to get out there and join her in enjoying life to the fullest.

By keeping the Tour rolling, we try somehow to bring back Lou’s positive energy and keep her spirit alive. This year’s Open Multisport Race is inspired by one of the most popular races in Okere Falls, NZ, called “Champions Race”. This race was actually one of Lou’s favourite races of the season so it was just another way to honour her and keep spreading her energy and love for the sport in the way she loved the most… A race with friends!

The race involved running, swimming, and kayaking, and despite the struggle to finish it, everyone gave it all and fought side by side until the end!

The young, local twins, Noa and Urko Cot took gold in the female and male junior categories whereas once again Júlia Cuchí and Gerd Serrasolses took the win on the senior category.  

AWARDS AND MORE!

Once again, managers of Sort’s Kayak School (Escola de Piragüisme), Aleix  & Mònica shared their beautiful property to celebrate the Awards Ceremony.

The awards started, and the top three paddlers of the two different races were announced to come onto the podium to get their medals and prizes. Stoke was high and competitors and spectators cheered and congratulated the 9 winners.

Meanwhile, two of the best paella cooks in town, Hugo & Natalia were cooking dinner to feed over 100 people in two massive traditional rice paellas.

In the middle of the Awards Ceremony, heavy rain turned up, but it was not enough to make people down. Everyone in the crowd was way too excited for the “grand moment” and hoping to get lucky to win a very special prize at this year’s raffle; a Lulu custom Ripper courtesy of Pyranha Kayaks! The lucky winner was none other than Lulu Love Tour former champion and ambassador Júlia Cuchí. Now she just has to do what she promised right before the raffle… give up slalom and go shred on the Futa!! Hahaha!

Finally, and after two full days of whitewater, racing, learning new skills, and sharing the stoke, the Lulu Love Tour – Sort ’19 arrived at its end. Happiness was visible in everyone’s faces as they seemed to have enjoyed every single minute of the event to the fullest. The Lulu Love Tour – Sort ’19 had achieved its most important goal…

#AlwaysWinningNeverNot

28
Aug

Kayaking in Tibet

My head was filled with dreams of kayaking in far flung destinations as a kid. The Whitewater warriors made Norway look amazing, YGP sold me on Eastern Canada at flood stage and Steve Fisher made the Zambezi look incredible.

I have been lucky enough to travel to almost all of my childhood dream kayaking destinations but there has been one country at the top of the list for a long time. Starring as the location a team of kayakers travelled to explore in the first kayaking film I ever watched, nestled inbetween the highest mountain ranges in the world and shrouded in culture and mystery. Tibet is simply a place like no other. Sixteen years after first watching “Into the Tsangpo gorge” I would finally get the oppurtinity to kayak in this country.

Every countries travel logistics and visa requirements are different. Gaining entry into Tibet is a little bit ling winded. In order to get our Visa’s granted, we had to fly to Nepal first, book a guide (travelling in Tibet without a licensed guide is illegal) fill out a lot of paperwork, take it to the Tibet tourism station in Kathmandu, wait three days and then finally we could set off for Tibet. We could have flown but the airline would not have been able to take our kayaks and there is no way that I want to be in any kayak other than the 9RII on hard whitewater.

After five days of driving and preparing we finally made it out onto the water. The first river we paddled was described as a creek and I suspect at other times of year it is, in Monsoon season it was most decidely a juicy, powerful river. Think Wellebrucke at good flows. There were not too many noticable rapids on this river but it had 30km of class 3/4 and a couple of bigger, more powerful rapids as well. The river was fantastically fun and a good warmup but I was left wanting more, I had travelled to the biggest mountian range in the world in Monsson season and I was honestly hoping to find some insanely big, powerful whitewater.

I wouldn’t have to wait for long. Drving east the rivers confluenced into each other and picked up tribuatries frequently, producing some enormous rapids. The first rapid we dropped into on the Eigong river (spelling?) was phenomonal. It is so rare for whitewater to stay this big and powerful for so long. I went first and had a good line, Nouria went second and crushed it. Adrian had a bit of a battle after he knocked through the wave he had planned to surf across the river to avoid a series of holes but he is a ninja and styled the centre line. Thilo went last and unfortunately did not have a good time in there. With a rapid as stacked as this, every more counts and you have to nail the first move to set you up for the second which sets you up for the third and so on. Thilo got pushed off line at the start, took a roll battled to make the next move, made it but didn’t make the next one and fell into a series of huge holes. I was honestly impressed with how long he held on for, we were at almost 4000 metres and you would gas out just walking down the rapid to scout. Eventually he ended up swimming, which was really scary but the safety team did a great job and got him to the side. Thilo was knackered, breathless and bleeding. Fortunately his injuries turned out to be minor and he was able to continue with the trip.

The next couple of Km of this river looked world class. Unfortunately we were chased out of the valley by the local police and could only gaze longingly at it. The river squeezed itself into a gorge just below and formed some of the most insane whitewater I have ever seen. With some training, lower water levels and some new safety devices I think it could be possible to send it.

The river confluenced downstream and became the Po Tsangpo, we found around 20km of some of the best big water rapids in the world and had a great couple of days dropping into these enormous wave trains.

We thought the river was about to mellow out downstream but instead it formed the second biggest rapid I have ever seen, only this time there was a line down it!

I rarely get scared before a rapid these days. Sounds cocky to say but it’s the truth. I honestly think it’s because by the time I decide to commit to running a rapid, I have pictured the line in my head enough times that there is very little doubt in my mind that things will go well. This rapid however scared me, big water like this surges and crashes like the ocean and a line that was open a few seconds ago can close up and block you. With Thilo’s swim fresh in my mind I was definitely nervous peeling out of the top eddy.

Forutunately I had the line off my life down this thing!
Nouria and Adrian had more of a battle in there than I did but they still crushed it!

It was a bitter sweet trip for me, I achieved my goal of dropping into a new level of big water but we also had to miss out on so many more beautiful rapids because of the police struggle… The dreaming continues and I hope to return some day and send those rapids.

See you on the water,
Bren

Photos by myself, Jochen lettman and Olaf Obsommer

27
Aug

How To Name Your Kayak

A vastly underrated skill in the world of whitewater kayaking is christening your boat. It’s critical to develop a bond with your kayak so that you are as connected as possible when you hit the river. Naming your kayak can be a fun group bonding exercise. It sets the tone for the time you and your kayak are going to spend together, and makes you more likely to take good care of it and always use grab loops when you tie it to your car (I mean, really, its hard to feel bad if no-name hunk of plastic falls off the roof, but if beautiful, sleek, stylie Bianca falls off!?!? – oh on, not gonna happen, waaaay too tragic). Its also goofy and fun so just do it. 

Step 1 –  Assess the qualities of your boat

Consider several characteristics of your kayak so that you can find a name fitting for your whip’s personality. Shape and color are paramount. For example, you have a shiny new orange crush Ripper straight off the mold – dayummmn – that bitch needs a fiery/sassy name to keep up with all the slicing and dicing that you and her are about to get up to. Or maybe we’re talking about a pink fizz (probably the best color scheme ever used) Machno. Something joyful and fun might compliment all the treats boofs that regal stunner is going to lay out. Your boat may have some other quirks to consider when brainstorming name choices (where did it come from, have you already had an epic in it, is there someone/something it reminds you of, does it have fun grab handles, etc.) so make sure you keep all that in mind as you move forward in the naming process. 

Momma T taking Mercedes out for a rip

Step 2– Brainstorm some names and find something that fits **really a bonus if it goes with a song

With the personality of your kayak in mind, think through some names.  This can be a soul-searching solo endeavor or an around the campfire with your gurl squad* activity. If you’re struggling for inspiration I highly recommend music. There is nothing like grooving to your “boat’s song” above a rapid to get you pumped.

What is a “boat song” you may ask? Well, upon receiving my orange crush Machno, I followed the steps above and dubbed that baby “Roxanne” or “Roxy” for short. Roxy is definitely a bad bitch—humiliating the terrain and helping me skip out of even the most tumultuous of features—but sometimes when her stout rocker and confidence inspiring hull isn’t enough to get me pumped for a stout, I like to belt out a couple of lines of her “boat song”—Roxanne by The Police. 

J Bohn humiliating the terrain in Roxy on Fantasy Falls

You might have an epiphany and just know that you’ve found a name that perfectly captures the temperament and tangible traits of your boat – crushed it. If this process is challenging for you and you’re not quite sure if you can commit yourself to a name, proceed to step 3. 

*note – gurl squad is not a term used exclusively for women; it is inclusive of anyone who is down to have a shit-ton of fun, hike in s’mores to upper cherry (or wherever), sing Ariana Grande/TSwift/Yonce/Lizzo in the eddies above rapids, and not take themselves too seriously 

Step 3 – Trial period/consult your friends

Test out your name(s). You’ll know if your boat is vibing with its new name if you’re out there styling lines, grinning, fist-bumping, high-fiving and shrigging your pals. 

Now get out there and have fun paddling your awesome new whip!

24
Aug

Dark Canyon, Utah

If someone called you and asked if you wanted to go on a kayak trip to Hite, Utah you’d most likely have no idea where this town falls on a map. After a quick google search of the location and upon seeing the satellite imagery displaying a completely red and orange moonscape, any sane paddler would most certainly turn down the strange offer. Fortunately for me, I have a few friends that love the mission just as much as the kayaking. After a few phone calls I was able to convince my good friend Phil to drive 15 hours from California into the heart of the southwest. To maybe go kayaking.

Dark Canyon cuts an impressive gorge through Bears Ears National Monument and empties into the Colorado River as it slows to a halt in the stagnant reservoir Powell. The canyon, which rivals the nearby Grand Canyon in size and scale is so remote and difficult to access that few people aside from some avid backpackers and hikers even know of its existence.

This canyon originally sparked my interest after passing the Abajo Mountains countless times driving out to the desert from Durango, Colorado for weekend trips. Knowing that the creek had a headwaters of around 8000 feet, I figured it had to run from snow melt in big snow years. The only problem is that there is no gauge and the canyon is so infrequently visited because of its remote location it would take tremendous effort to go get a visual of the flow. It was a complete guessing game as to when this stream would run or if it would run at all.

After a dry and dusty winter in 2018, the winter of 2019 provided much needed snow and rain to the parched and sunbaked southwest. Southeastern Utah had a snowpack of just under 200% going into March. Suddenly, the Dark Canyon idea was reignited and I began scheming. Unfortunately, midwinter I had left southern Colorado and was now living 16 hours from Dark Canyon. It was early April and temperatures in Hite had made a quick shift from cool to hot. With a small window of time I started the long drive to a little known canyon in southern Utah.

After a midnight rendezvous with Phil and our friend Josh who was visiting from the UK we loaded up and headed out into the red rock landscape to get a flow check. Using a telephoto lens on my camera I zoomed in down towards the river which flowed a few thousand feet below us. There was water!

With a tight time frame we quickly canned our original plan of accessing the canyon above the top gorge which would have taken at least a day or more to get to the river. We quickly crafted a new plan and began our hike into the canyon on the only known route into the lower portion of Dark Canyon. 

Making the final push into the canyon just before sundown. Photo: Josh Burke

We awoke at the bottom of the canyon and were happy to see the water had only risen since the night before. Parting ways with Josh, Phil and I pushed off and started making downstream progress.

Amazing canyon. Photo: Phillip Schoenhoff

After only a few bends, we began scouting and running bedrock slides and rapids. A short portage around a waterfall with a dangerous cave put us above a very tight section with overhanging walls and significant drops. An extended scout revealed the gorge was good to go and we dropped in.

Hard to see whats down there! Photo: Phillip Schoenhoff
Phil locked in. Dark Side of the Moon Gorge. Photo: PR

We had already run more great rapids than expected and moving around at river level was turning out to be easier than we initially thought. Making good progress, we arrived at the best section of whitewater in the whole canyon. The river pinched to a width of 10 ft for over a quarter mile creating a trough of fun and unique features.

One of the most unique sections of whitewater. So good we walked up for a second lap.
Photo: Phillip Schoenhoff
Phil probing. Photo: PR
Nearing the confluence with the Colorado. Photo: PR

The river kept dishing out great sections of whitewater paired with calm pools, giving us a chance to soak in the canyon walls towering over us. Happy that we had been able to descend through such an incredible canyon, we hit the confluence of the Colorado and began the flat water paddle out.

Chasing desert rivers can have its highs and lows. The possibilities of getting skunked are high and the possibilities of marginal whitewater is even higher. But, when the stars align and you are able to catch a brief moment of flow propelling you through a canyon usually absent of the sound of water. The experience is nothing short of magical.

Paul Ramseth

Fight For Bears Ears

It should be noted that Bears Ears National Monument has seen a great reduction in size since the Trump administration drastically reduced the land previously protected by the Obama administration. With these new boundaries, Dark Canyon and the surrounding lands are no longer protected and could be subject to a variety of threats. For more information about the current state of Bears Ears visit: https://bearsearscoalition.org/in-the-news/

23
Aug

LULU LOVE TOUR, SORT 2019

After the Freestyle Kayak World Championships, Sort is getting ready to hold the Lulu Love Tour for the third year in a row. This little town nestled in the middle of the Catalan Pyrenees has been the capital of the Tour since 2017 and because of that, women’s participation in kayaking has increased considerably, so it makes sense that the Tour happens once again. #WEAREREADY

1. What can people expect at Lulu Love Tour 2019?

Once again, the tour will be a two-day festival filled with lots of whitewater, fun and prizes. It will kick off on Friday 30th and we have organized several whitewater clinics specially designed for the girls which have no other purpose than offering the opportunity to learn, work and sharpen their kayaking skills. 

The Tour will continue on Saturday 31st where the 2nd Noguera Pallaresa Women’s Race will take place in the morning as a Mass Start down the classic section of the Noguera Pallaresa River. 


After the race competitors among other paddlers will do a stoke float all the way down to Sort downtown. After the stoke float participants will have the chance to demo some of the latest kayak designs at the Pyranha Kayaks Test Centre at the slalom course in downtown Sort.  

After lunch break will get ready for the Open Multi-Sport Race.  This race will combine running, swimming in the river and kayaking and it will be open for everyone so both men and women are welcome to enter. 

2. What kind of clinics will be offered on this year’s Tour?

We offer 3 kinds of clinics:

The Introduction to Kayaking clinic is aimed for those girls who have only done a little bit of kayaking, or none at all. We’re planning to have different levels so every paddler can learn in a safe and comfortable environment. 

The Freestyle clinic will be run by Nuria Fontané (Jr. Freestyle European Champion and multiple Spanish Champion), Cristian Lamiel (Kayak Coach and instructor) and Oriol Colomé (Spanish Freestyle Kayak Team Coach). We’ll have different skill levels in different features so the girls can make the most of their session in the water. 

Marc Parra (professional kayaker and vertical works instructor) will be in charge of the Rescue and Rope Skills clinic in which the girls will have the chance to learn several Mechanical Advanced Systems to potentially use in different whitewater rescue scenarios. 

3. How are you making this happen? Who’s supporting the Lulu Love Tour?

Although we all love to be out there and support outdoor events just for the fun of it, the truth is that its really nice to get back home with a few extra goodies. 

We are honoured and very stoked to be supported by top-notch kayak gear brands so we can give away a bunch of cool prizes and we would like to give a big shout out to Pyranha Kayaks for supporting us on this year’s edition with a very special surprise! 

As for the prize money, we will have a few euros for the three fastest paddlers of the Noguera Pallaresa Women’s Race so start training, chicas!!! 

4. Why an Open Multisport Race? Where does the idea come from?

This Multisport race is inspired by one of the most popular races in Okere Falls, NZ, called “Champions Race”. This race was actually one of Lou’s favourite races of the season, so it’s just another way to honour her and keep spreading her energy and love for the sport in a pretty fun way. 

Sort’s ideal location with the Noguera Pallaresa river cutting right through downtown makes it the perfect venue for this kind of event.

We’ve decided to make it an OPEN race for everyone, not only because this is how the original Kiwi Champions Race was, but also to get the rest of the kayaking community involved and thank them for their unconditional support in every edition of the Tour. 

5. Anything else would you like to add about the event?

I’d like to encourage people to come and be part of it! It’s truly a very special festival in which you can feel the energy and the positive vibes in the air. 

I also really want to thank all the local community in Sort and everyone who helps make the Tour happen out there; and especially the Kayak Sort crew, Associació Esportiva Pallars, Alberg Escola de Piragüimse and the City Hall from Sort for their endless support to make the sport grow!

20
Aug

What is Team Long Hair Don’t Care?

Team Long Hair Don’t Care (TLHDC) is all about having a good time shredding around with your friends in some incredible pieces of plastic designed by the masterminds at Pyranha. The ring leader of TLHDC is dark horse Tracy Young – the California phantom you can find styling stacked class V high sierra granite on weekends or crushing through 12 hour clinical rotations at nursing school. The G.O.A.T. of TLHDC is Jessie Bohn – the new-to-Cali-still-learning-the-ropes kid who lives in Tracy’s spare room.  And of course we have Uncle Dave – the crazy relative who drops in from White Salmon to lay some treats in Cali, enlighten us with the newest lingo, and share his wisdom and drainplugs.   

Team Long Hair Don’t Care getting ready to rally a South Yuba lap
Jessie Bohn layin treats on West Cherry
Tracy Young about to launch on the South Feather

15
Aug

Product Safety Announcement – 9R II Step-Out Pillar

Important Product Safety Announcement for All 9R II Owners: 15/08/2019

We recently received a report of a paddler becoming temporarily snagged during a wet exit from a 9R II; the paddler believes their footwear became wedged between the top of the plastic step-out pillar and the inside of the kayak.

Although we have been unable to re-create the issue internally, and have had no reports of similar issues elsewhere, we are taking the steps described below as a precaution.

In the 9R II, the top of the step-out pillar is trimmed to match the internal shape of the boat at this point and prevent any concentrated areas of stress on either the deck or the hull of the kayak. Due to the nature of rotomoulding, there are some variations in the resultant gap between the top of the step-out pillar and the kayak; if this gap is large enough to fit the sole of your shoe in, this may present a risk of becoming snagged.

If you believe that the gap in your 9R II is large enough to present such a risk, please contact the dealer from which you purchased the kayak as soon as possible; a foam insert will be provided free of charge which can be installed simply to the existing step-out pillar by the dealer or end-user, filling the space and therefore reducing the potential risk.

08
Aug

Building Confidence

The swim

I sit above Easan Dubha, a grade 5 rapid on the Orchy.  I have run this drop many times before and the familiarity leads me to a dangerous level of complacency.  I am too relaxed. By the time I arrive on the lip, I realise I am too far left and drop sideways into the hole.  After a good trashing, I get bagged out and watch my boat eventually re emerge downstream split in half. As I walk back to the car, tail between my legs I chuckle to myself, “silly Jonny”.  A few days later when I’m back on the water my paddling is jerky, I’m nervous and I’m not having fun.  I realise the swim has knocked my confidence.

Photo – Kirsten Rendle

What is confidence?

Lots of people that I coach are keen to increase their confidence, which after my incident, I can totally relate to.  Confidence is defined as ‘the feeling that you can have faith in something’.  Like trust, it takes a while to build but can be lost in an instant.

Paddling with confidence on the Tummel

How do you gain confidence?

Confidence is gained by using experiences to build trust in the ability to perform future tasks.  So to build confidence in a kayak, you should have fun styling lines well within your ability. This will give you the confidence to paddle the same, if not harder white water in the future.   Gaining consistency with moves also makes you more confident that you will be able to do a similar move in the future. I also use ‘positive self talk’ to reassure me that I have the required skills to carry out a particular task.

Building consistency and confidence of a single boofs, gives you the confidence to link them

Reasons for losing confidence

Paddlers lose confidence for lots of reasons.  My swim is a classic example when suddenly skills I thought I could rely on, failed me, meaning I could no longer trust them.  Time out of the boat means that you become uncertain if you can still rely upon past experiences as much as you previously could.  A new piece of kit such as a boat will feel strange and take a while to gain confidence in. Everyone has off days, which if you don’t recognise, can result in you pushing too much and again losing confidence.  Negative chat before the river such as “the last time we paddled this we had an epic” can cause you to doubt you have enough skill to paddle it, which creates a downward spiral.

Rebuilding confidence

Everyone will experience fluctuations in confidence.  The key thing is to recognise the dip and have strategies to build it up in the short term (on the river) and over time (future rivers). 

In the short term, coping mechanisms to manage your lack of confidence can be really useful.  The acronym GRIP (Goal set, Relax, Imagery, Positive self talk) can be really useful as a short term fix. Set a Goal i.e. “punch that diagonal”.  Sit in the eddy above and take some deep breaths to Relax. Shut your eyes and use Imagery to run through a successful performance. Say a Positive phrase to focus your mind and then nail the line!  This can be great to use on the way to the river or at a specific point in the day.

Scouting the line to enable goal setting and imagery

After my incident, it took a few weeks to build confidence back up again. I dropped the grade of river to; have fun, nail lines and play more. I paddled with supportive people that paddled at my pace, didn’t tell scary stories and included me in the decision making process.  I set realistic goals to help me progress but not push it too hard. Also, an important thing to think about is your motivation for paddling. Is it to paddle hard rivers, have fun, hang out with mates….? Continually paddling hard rivers is rubbish for confidence, if all you want to do is have a laugh on the water.

Dropping the grade to mess about and have fun on the water helped me re-build confidence

In conclusion, everyone will experience dips of confidence with their paddling.  The key thing is to recognise them and have strategies in place to cope in the short term and then build it back up in the longer term.  Just don’t get too cocky!

Jonny Hawkins runs the Highland Kayak School which provides high quality kayak coaching and guiding in the Scottish Highlands.

01
Aug

An Interview with the Unstoppable Beth Morgan

Team Pyranha’s Beth Morgan has taken Europe by storm in the 9R II this summer…

Not only did Beth win the AWP European Championship Race this year, but she also smashed the competition in the King of the Alps Mass Start Marathon, before competing (and placing second) in the first-ever women’s race on the finals course, at the highest water level KOTA has ever seen.

We managed to drag Beth away from kayaking long enough to ask her a few questions:

Q. How does it feel to be European Champion?

A. It’s a bit surreal, to be honest. We couldn’t see the times at the bottom of the course so I had no idea about the results. I made a small mistake in the final so wasn’t sure I was in with a chance. The first I knew of it was on the walk back up; Joe pointed a camera in my face and asked me how it felt to be European champion. I replied with “you’re kidding right?”.

Q. Tell us about King of the Alps – it was the first time women had raced on the finals section. How was it?

A. It was terrifying! I basically spent the entire week before looking at that rapid and making excuses not to run it. It was high, technical and scary. On the day of the race, I was feeling good after the marathon. The river had also been dropping and was the lowest I’d seen it since I arrived. I wanted it so badly, but I didn’t want to fall into the heuristic trap of racing just to prove a point! The worst part of it all was sitting around for 1.5 hours waiting for our turn to race.

I was tired and nervous putting on. The race starts with a 15ft weir boof. I came off it a bit too far left and instantly pinned for a few seconds. For some reason, this helped me relax and I felt focussed and controlled through the rest of the course. My line through the intimidator couldn’t have gone any better and I got to the bottom absolutely elated. I was the first to race so got to cheer on the rest of the ladies as they finished. It was unbelievably cool to race against 3 other awesome women. I feel as though we made a tiny bit of history that day.

Q. Do you think this will encourage more women to race in the future?

A. I really hope so… There were definitely fewer women racing at some of the events than I’d hoped. There’s still such a massive gap between numbers in the men’s and women’s categories. However, I do think that it is improving and things are changing for the better. Seeing the first women’s final at North Fork this year was incredibly inspiring and to have equal prize money for men and women in these events really is awesome. I do think there is still a bigger gap than the men though when you compare the number of women racing on class 3 compared to class 4/5.

View this post on Instagram

Pretty awesome that the first year there’s a women’s final at @kingofthealps is also the highest water year! . I hadn’t run the section before due to the high levels during the week. After a nervous start getting pinned, I was super happy to have a good line down the very appropriately named “Intimidator” rapid and come 2nd. I’m also stoked to have won the Marathon mass start earlier in the day! . Congratulations to @nourianewman for putting down an epic time and thanks for the motivation to race. Great to also have @mollyagarkayak and @mariekevogt stepping up for the final and styling the lines. Thanks as well to the organisers for a great event and party. And to @ciaranheurteau for the photo. . #kingofthealps #queenofthealps #firstwomensfinal #gnarlyaf #iwassoscared #readandrace #extremerace #whitewaterrace #riverpasser #passervalley #mooserbeachparty #pyranhakayaks #9rtoogood #teamriverlegacy #watersheddrybags #getwetstaydry #kokatat

A post shared by Beth Morgan (@boaterbeth) on

Q. Why do you think that is?

A. Ah, there are so many reasons!! There are fewer women in the sport in general and although that has drastically improved since I’ve been paddling, there are still proportionally fewer at that higher level. It’s a whole can of worms to get in to and one I enjoy discussing with my friends about on a semi-regular basis. However, they can be slightly frustrating conversations because I really don’t know what the solution is!

Without going into a full-on debate (and at the risk of causing some backlash), I do think that women are much less likely to race unless they are 100% sure that they are good enough to do it and are going to nail their lines, whereas men are much more likely to just give it a go. I think that mindset is generally present in river running as well. For me, if I think I might flip in a rapid it makes me significantly less likely to try it.

Q. Ok back to the summer… What was your favourite race?

A. That’s a hard question. They were all great, well organised and fun. I really prefer longer races. I’m not as good at short sprints because I don’t have the acceleration or the best head game. One small mistake and you are done, whereas on a longer race you can make up that time. I also really like to get myself into a good rhythm. I love the Alpine Sprint as a racecourse because it is long and continuous. There’s pretty much no flat water! I also really enjoyed the Timber Hole Enduro. It was my first time doing that race this year and also my first time running the Timber Hole rapid the day before. It’s definitely one to get your heart pumping.

View this post on Instagram

Well @ekstremsportveko did not disappoint! I am totally broken after a hectic week of climbing, rafting, river boarding, kayaking and partying. I earned myself 2 fancy new titles – Extreme Kayak European Champion and Honorable Citizen of Voss. I’m also super happy to have come 2nd in the Timber Hole Enduro and 3rd in the rafting giant slalom! Congratulations to @nourianewman for winning the Enduro and putting down a lightning fast time in the Myrkdal qualifier and to @lucie_sediva for completing the podium in both races (and expertly guiding our raft team!). . . Sadly, half my prizes were stolen which put a small downer on the week but I’m excited for the rest of my Norwegian summer adventures. . . #ekstremsportveko #extremekayakrace #europeanchampionship #totallyunofficial #myrkdalen #voss #honorablecitizen #igottomeetthemayor #doesthatmeanicangetresidency #ohnorway #gofasttakechances #9rtoogood #9rtoofast #getwetstaydry #watersheddrybags #kokatat

A post shared by Beth Morgan (@boaterbeth) on

Q. And most importantly, how are you liking the 9R II?

A. It’s great. I was pretty sceptical when you decided to remake my favourite creek boat, but so far so good. It’s more forgiving than the original, to give you that bit more confidence to step it up, whilst still being fun and responsive. I also think it’s faster because the extra volume in the back catches and shoots you out of things but you’re also still in control. 9R II plus Ripper will be my ultimate line up.

We are so proud of Beth’s race results this summer and absolutely cannot wait to see what she will go on to next. Here’s a full list of her results this season:

Valsesia River Festival Alpine Sprint – 1st Woman

Valsesia River Festival Final – 1st Woman, 10th Overall

King of the Alps Marathon – 1st

King of the Alps Final – 2nd

Ekstremsportveko Myrkdalen Downhill / AWP European Championship – 1st

Ekstremsportveko Timerhole Enduro – 2nd

Sjoa River Festival Washing Machine Slalom – 1st Woman

16
Jul

9R II: First Impressions…

We’re over the moon to see 9R IIs on the water in almost every corner of the globe and thought we’d check in with a few paddlers to catch their first impressions:

Tweet your #FiveWordReview and tag it with #9RTooGood to share your thoughts, and if you haven’t tried one yet, contact your local dealer now!

Older posts «