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British Universities Kayaking Expedition 2015 – Selection Event

The British Universities Kayaking Expedition‘s are entering their tenth year. Students from around the country were 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.

The hugely rainfall dependent boating conditions in Wales has required us to improvise in the past, however much to everyone’s relief the rain gods were smiling on us and came up with the goods.

Friday morning saw the 8 car convoy heading en-masse for the Mawddach. The gauges were reading low, but the constant rain gave us hope that it was on the up, so we made the call and got on.

The final expedition team would be selected by means of a vote later in the weekend, so the twenty applicants were split into smaller groups to give everyone the opportunity to paddle with people they’d not paddled with previously, to get to know them, and see how each other approached a ‘new’ river.

pic by Tim Burne

Firing up the chossy fall on the Mawddach

pic by Ant Stewart

Huck and Duck: Tree dodging on the Mawddach

Following the Mawddach and some shuttle related faff a few hours of daylight was left. The Rainchasers online gauges were telling us the nearby Wnion was high. I’d not paddled this since 2002 and was very keen for a repeat descent – especially a descent with good water levels. The groups were mixed up a bit giving everyone more new people to paddle with. The outright highlight of this run was the gorge – a few hundred meters of steep powerful class 4 whitewater forced between ever-narrowing walls, before spilling out (over a tree) into a wide pool. The groups who got on first managed to crank out a second run in the deepening gloom, with the groups who got on last (or who suffered a little carnage) having to settle for just the one.

pic by Tim Burne

First Ledge on the Wnion before it got too gloomy for pics.

Friday evening has traditionally been “destination” evening. Each applicant researches the destination they want the trip to visit and presents it to the rest of the group. We then whittle down the destinations to a final two or three which have the most potential. The destinations that remain at the end of the evening contribute a couple of points to the team selection vote, so it is in everyone’s interests to get some good beta on their chosen country.

pic by Tim Burne

Destination Night in full flow

Every year there are some really inspiring suggestions and this year was no different. It is a testament to the quality of the research that a number of the destinations that have been discounted in the past have since been visited by ex-expedition members – Sulawesi, Borneo and Sri-Lanka to name a few.

pic by Tim Burne

The proposed destinations

Saturday saw slightly lower levels, but this provided ample opportunity for the staple diet of the uniyaker selection weekend. A warm-up on the Glaslyn (including a le-mans style start mass boatercross), and as many laps of North Wales’ test-piece – the Fairy Glen – as everyone could manage.

pic by Tim Burne

Mid Boater-X on the Glaslyn

pic by Rob Moffatt

Fairy Falls on the Glen

pic by Jack Gunter

Getting away with it – Fairy Falls

pic by Jack Gunter

Fairy Falls – on the right line this time

pic by Jack Gunter

Re-grouping before the second gorge on the Fairy Glen

Saturday evening commenced with haggis, neeps and tatties – courtesy of the Scottish contingent, which soon descended into drinking games before the team vote was made. Each boater got 6 votes to choose their ideal team, the votes were counted and the team chosen.

Sunday saw those with long journeys (or possibly nursing bad hangovers) set off early, whilst the other half of the group headed to the lower Cynfal to make the most of the last of the water.

pic by Rob Moffatt

The lasts drop of the staircase rapid on the Cynfal

pic by Rob Moffatt

Re-grouping before the next horizon line.

pic by Dave Burne

Dropping the first Fall on the Cynfal

 pic by Tim Burne

Horizon line on the Cynfal

pic by Dave Burne

Fall #2 on the Cynfal

All in all, a spectacularly good weekend. Many thanks to everyone who applied for a place on this year’s expedition, and if you didn’t get on this time, then don’t let this put you off, there’s literally a world of possibilities out there.

So, many congratulations to the chosen 2015 British Universities Kayaking Expedition team, and good luck for your 2015 expedition to Madagascar.

pic by Dave Burne

2015 expedition team – L to R: Calum Peden, Joshua Brewer-Smith, Matt Brook, Campbell Simpson, Leslie Simpson, Jacob Collings, Samuel Lyons

Many thanks to Jack Gunter, Dave Burne, Rob Moffatt and Ant Stewart for the images in this post.

2 pings

  1. Selection Box | PathofaMan says:

    […] And heres Pyranha kayaks take on the weekend […]

  2. British Universities Kayaking Expedition 2017 – Selection Event » Team Pyranha Blog says:

    […] 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, […]

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