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28
Jul

Get to Know Your Demons

What I love about kayaking is that on the one side I have moments of deep reflection on the river and on the other side have moments of no thoughts at all and just being in the moment. Sometimes, those two sides are very close together in time.

I want to share one of those thoughts with you that I had on the Susna in northern Norway. I was running the classic section of the Susna for the first time. When we reached the Showerdrop we got the line advice, “Start in the middle and push right. You will see when to boof. And of course, you know it from photos and videos.”

So I was sitting in the eddy above the drop, waiting for my turn to go down when I felt it; I was nervous.

Since Ron was taking photos of us, we were slow in going down, and I had the time to reflect on the source of my nervousness. I knew what the drop looked like from pictures, not especially hard or high, so that was not it. No rocks or undercuts that could get you into trouble. So getting hurt was obviously also not the reason.

After the drop is a big pool, so if you would fuck it up you just would go for a nice swim, and you could easily pick up all your equipment.

Photo: Ron Fischer

And then it hit me, I was scared of not hitting the line. Since I was the last one, everybody would see me messing up this so obviously easy line. Wow, I didn’t expect that, but this was exactly the source of my anxiety. I took some time to dive into that thought and explore it. I thought of myself as a person who doesn’t give much attention to the judgment of other people. But still, I felt that everybody has high expectations of my skills, and I was scared of not living up to them. Rationally, I know that everybody who was sitting down in the eddy wouldn‘t think less of me if I messed the boof up.

Well, not everybody; I would have been very disappointed with myself.

So there, I found it, my demon. I was scared of disappointing myself and others.

By the time I came to this realization, I was the last one in the eddy above the drop. Still, I took a few more moments to finish my line of thoughts. I realized that nobody in the group purposefully put pressure on me but myself. So I thought, “Okay, what if you mess up the move? Nothing will happen besides a bruised ego. Well, that’s not too bad, you can live with that.” The only thing is, that you have to accept that and don’t let one messed-up boof cloud your day. I have to accept that I sometimes mess up the most obvious and easiest moves and still am a good kayaker. And most importantly, that you are still the same person, and that your value doesn’t lie in whether you hit every move on the river or not.

Realizing that, I felt the tension leaving my body. I gave the signal to Ron that I was going, and as soon as I left the eddy my mind was again in this sweet, thoughtless state. I was fully in the moment, entered in the middle, saw the edge, leaned on the curler, boofed into the shower and paddled out. It worked out beautifully and everybody cheered my line.

Photo: Kristof Stursa

That was a nice feeling of course, but for me, the most regard came from finding one of my demons and making peace with it. At least for the time being. But knowing what haunts me will probably make it easier to handle it in the future.

We all have our demons, and getting to know and accept them will bring us closer to growing into the person we want to be.

26
Jul

Dear Diary, Part 2: What About the Kayaking?!

Dear Diary,

In the last instalment, I wrote about my trip to the Humla Karnali, but I left out the most important part – the kayaking! 

So what about the kayaking? That is why we went after all. Well, because the river was so high, we quickly learned to add half a grade to the guidebook description. The in-between “read and run class 3/4 “ sections turned out to be some of the most amazing class 4/4+ pushy water kayaking I have ever done. The river cut its way through some beautiful canyons and the scenery changed constantly as you descend from the mountains to the plains.  

Awesome rapids in a beautiful backdrop of mountains, forests and gorges. Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

At the start of the trip, I probably had around 20kg of equipment in my boat, including my sleeping bag, mat, liner, bivvy bag, 2 sets of clothes, my onesie and a spare set of thermals, toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, suncream, hand sanitiser, deodorant, hairbrush, a travel towel, head torch, water bottle, life straw, pot, cup and spoon for meal times and my kindle for relaxing in the evenings.

The extra thermals, warm sleeping bag and bivvy bag were not necessary with the weather, but we didn’t know that in advance. The spare clothes, towel, soap and deodorant were “luxury” items in the eyes of the rest of the team, but personally, I liked to wash myself and my clothes every couple of days!

My contribution to the group kit was to carry a breakdown paddle, my Garmin Inreach device and spare powerpack, my camera, the kelly kettle base for making cooking fires and the “drug bag” (medicine kit). Even without food, this equipment probably weighed in at around 13kg. We brought freeze-dried meals for dinner, to reduce weight. For breakfast, we either had porridge or muesli and for our lunches and snacks, we had a range of options such as trail mix, biscuits, chocolate bars, flapjack and noodles. 

Packing! Photo: Nick Bennett

The Scorch might be the best expedition boat I have ever had. It is much harder to paddle a boat when it is loaded, but the Scorch tracked really well and I could use the waves and features to accelerate in the direction I wanted to go. I didn’t feel like I was fighting it to get where I wanted, and I could still fly off the waves, even with 10 days’ worth of food and equipment with me. On the days that I was sick, it was comforting to be paddling a boat that was predictable and looked after me when I couldn’t necessarily drive it as much as I would have liked.  

Scorch love! Such a good expedition boat for me. Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

I had spent the trip worried about the 20km continuous section near the end, given how high the water level was. However, it turned out that trusting guidebooks to be 100% accurate is not always the best idea and, although there were some long rapids in that section (the longest being about 2km), it was still individual rapids rather than a 20km continuous section. The rapids in this section were still pretty sizeable, and a lot of the main lines just did not go, with the full power of the water forming some monstrous holes. Lucky for us though, the water was SO high that new chicken line channels opened up on a vast majority of the biggest rapids. This meant significantly less tedious portaging than I had feared.

Avoiding massive holes became the name of the game on the Humla. Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

However, on day 10 we did face one of the longest portages of the trip (other than the mandatory portages at the start). The river constricted to form a huge rapid, with no hope of chicken lines around it. The portage required climbing around on giant boulders, which would be hard going at the best of times, but we were also pretty beat up from 10 days on the river. It was also oppressively hot, and I hadn’t realised just how long the portage was going to be, so I didn’t gear down early enough and became a sweaty, dehydrated mess. We were quickly surrounded by local children, who “helped” by pushing us off balance on the rocks and demanded chocolate for their work. 

Challenging terrain for portaging, especially in 30+ degree heat! Photo: Beth Morgan

Eventually, I made it to the end of the portage, where I found the entire village out to watch the foreign kayakers tackle the mighty rapids below. In other circumstances, I might have found this endearing. But on day 10 of the Humla, at the end of a tough portage, when I was hot, thirsty and frustrated, I just got annoyed with them all. To top it all off, I completely missed my line on the next rapid down. We were meant to be going right to left, but I did not drive across early enough and I was out of power. I had seen there was also a bigger line down the right, so I just committed to that, but I still rolled at the bottom. I made the eddy on the opposite bank and shouted “leave me alone”. No one could hear me over the roar of the water, but sometimes screaming at the world is all you need to do to feel better.  

It felt like the whole village came out to watch us descend this section of the river. Photo: Nick Bennett

The next few rapids down were powerful, and we could feel how much bigger the river had gotten since we put on 10 days earlier. I was pretty drained of energy at this point and started portaging a few rapids that looked totally good to go. I didn’t feel like I had the power to make the lines, or the mental capacity to deal with it going wrong. It was a shame to walk some of these rapids, but it is definitely better to err on the side of caution, especially when you are so remote. 

The river just kept getting bigger and bigger as we made it further downstream. Photo: Nick Bennett

Finally, on day 11 we had made it past all the hard rapids. According to the guidebook, we had an easy float to the start of the rafting section, with just the odd class 3 rapid to keep us awake. We had switched off and were enjoying the scenery when a horizon line caught our attention. Scrambling for the final eddy, we jumped out of our boats to find yet another class 5 rapid. It was actually quite a cool one – we could sneak the first move down a narrow chute on the right, and then rejoin the main flow to charge through powerful waves and push to the right at the end to skirt the final hole. However, at this point, we were all quite done with whitewater. So what would have been a really fun rapid a few days earlier, became more of a chore to get past so we could carry on floating. 

Nick drops into the meat of the “class 3” surprise class 5. Photo: Beth Morgan

Realising we were all happier to see flat water than rapids at this point, we debated whether carrying on to do the rafting section was really a good idea. We had never planned to do it, as originally we had been hoping to fit the Thuli Bheri in as well. When it became evident that the Humla Karnali was going to take longer than we had originally planned, we ditched the dreams of the Thuli Bheri and planned to carry on down the Karnali, all the way to Chisapani. However, Will was pretty sick again so we were making plans to get him out early, and we were still quite a ways of flat water from the start of the raft run. It seemed as though most of us had a “take-it-or-leave-it” opinion on the rafting section, so we bailed. Less than 24 hours later, we were back in Kathmandu for a shower, cold beers and food which hadn’t been rehydrated. It was a dream come true!

I never thought I’d be so happy to see flat water! Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

When people ask me how my trip to Nepal was, I tell them that it was intense, hard work, and amazing. I definitely do not regret going and I am so happy that we had such a good team of people to stay calm and help each other out with all the challenges we faced. If we had known how high the water level was going to be before we put on, would we have changed our minds? Maybe – but I am very thankful that we didn’t know and still went to the river. We got to experience the Humla Karnali in a different way from other groups. I would love to go back and kayak it at normal flows, but I think that it was quite special to have the higher water levels, and maybe open it up to other groups at those flows. If we had known an accurate weather forecast, however, that would have been very useful as all of our warm clothes, heavy-duty sleeping bags, and rain tarps could have been left at home! But all-in-all, I don’t think I would have changed much about our trip, and it has me fired up for more expeditions in the future.

15
Jul

Dear Diary, Part 1: Curve-Boulders

Dear Diary,

A couple of months ago I went to Nepal to paddle the Humla Karnali and wow, what a river it is! I have to say though, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many curveballs thrown at me on a trip, mostly in the shape of giant boulders. Have you ever had to leave your campsite at 6 pm after almost being killed by a falling boulder? One which came from a digger so high above you, you can’t even see it? And then paddle two class 5 rapids as it is getting dark? I can assure you that it is not an ideal situation. 

From landslides and road building to forest fires, sickness, and high water, it seemed as though the river was determined that we failed. Our 7-day aim easily turned into 11, and that was without tagging the rafting section onto the end. It was both mentally and physically draining, and the trip was filled with highs and lows. But we persevered. And I honestly could not have asked for a better group of people surrounding me. The team consisted of Nick Bennett, Dan Rea-Dickins, James Smith, Heidi Walsh and Will Chick. The multitude of expedition experiences in this group, especially in Asia, is unrivalled and really helped when the shit hit the fan. There was also a distinct lack of ego – no one kayaked like they had something to prove, there was no judgement about portaging, and at least 1 person would scout any rapid we weren’t completely sure of. Especially with the high water level, this helped us get down the river in the safest way possible. I had kind of invited myself along on the trip and was a bit worried about holding the group up or not being good enough. But once we were there we just worked as a team. When one person was sick or over it all, the rest of us would pick up the slack. Without such a good team I think we would have all fallen apart. 

The dream team! Tired, battered, and a bit broken at the end of the trip but still smiling. Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

Obviously, it wasn’t all bad – the Humla Karnali is a tick-list river for expedition kayakers for a reason. 11 days is by far the longest multiday trip I’ve done. It was amazing to be out in the wilderness with no phone service, no time pressures and nothing to worry about except the river (and falling boulders) for that many days. Also, some of the kayaking was absolutely world-class (more on this in part 2), all in a beautiful backdrop of Nepalese mountains, forests and plains. 

The “not-so-scenic canyon”, according to the guidebook. Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

But the curveballs started before I even got there. During the past 2 years of travelling, working, and kayaking I managed to avoid getting Covid. Then I came down with it only 2 days after getting back to the UK since the mask mandate was dropped. I was meant to be going early to Nepal so that I could recover from the flight and warm up, but instead, I joined team-“off-the-couch” flying to Kathmandu and heading straight to the river. As well as that, I definitely was not asymptomatic, and even when my symptoms had cleared, I still felt severely fatigued. I was worried that I was naive to paddle the Humla Karnali whilst recovering from the virus. Voicing my concerns to the rest of the group, I was met with overwhelming support. “Ultimately, we can help each out with the portages,” said Dan, “if it takes longer, no stress”. In the end, Will’s Nepal belly was way worse than my lingering Covid symptoms, and we took the portages super slowly with repeated trips to get all of our gear through. 

Being sick on an expedition is never fun, but particularly not when you have multiple portages in 30-degree heat! Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

Getting to the Humla Karnali requires chartering a flight from Nepalgunj, near the Indian border, to the mountain town of Simikot, which is 3000 meters above sea level. The short flight was incredibly scenic, despite the cloudy weather, and every now and again we caught glimpses of the river far below us. There are no roads to Simikot (yet), so our kayaks spent the journey surrounded by a whole host of supplies heading to the local community, including one rather adorable kids’ bike, ready to make someone’s day! 

How much stuff can you fit in one small plane? The Nepalese are certainly well practised at plane Tetris to get supplies to remote mountain towns. Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

After landing in Simikot, we managed to find a couple of Jeeps to drive down the steep, windy gravel road to the banks of the river. As we descended towards the river and saw the grey-brown silty colour of the water, I desperately tried to convince myself that it was because we were getting the river on the rise. Maybe the beautiful crystal blue river that we had all seen photos of was on the drop in November? Actually, it turned out, the river was just really high. But we paid $4500 to charter a plane to get there, and I don’t even know if we could have turned around at that point. So we committed.

Was that the right decision? It was possibly a bit naive, but we made it down mostly unscathed and although the trip was challenging, it was also amazing. We maybe should have talked about it as a group before we got on (I think everyone was a bit too nervous to voice their concerns about the water level, so we didn’t actually talk about it until the first camp spot), but I don’t regret the decision at all.

Spot the difference: it’s not so easy to see, but the pour-over in the middle of the river in the photo of us camping is the same as the half-covered rock in the bottom photo from LiquidLore (http://www.liquidlore.com/nepal/humla-karnali/)

We had been assured that the river would be “low” and that the weather would be “cold” in April. But neither of these things was true. (I mean, I guess it didn’t help that we put on after a good snow year in the biggest heatwave of 50 years). I was so happy I brought my -9℃ sleeping bag to sleep on top of during the night (not!), especially on a trip with more portaging than paddling in the first 3 days. At around 2 am on some nights it just about got cold enough to pull my sleeping bag over me, but the down jacket, onesie and change of thicker thermals stayed at the bottom of my dry bag the whole time. Everyone loves hindsight, don’t they?

So “cold” we had to hide from the sun under a tarp because the road builders were throwing rocks into the only shady spot on the beach. (Pretty much the only use the tarp got all trip). Photo: Dan Rea-Dickens

So now we are on a remote, Himalayan river, in the middle of a heatwave, in high water. What could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, they were building a road alongside the river. So if the rapids weren’t intimidating enough, we had to also be wary of falling rocks. This was especially inconvenient when they were throwing rocks into the river just where we needed to get out for the 4th portage. A few 5 am starts to sneak around the roadworks did the job, and we made it down the river mostly unscathed. Bruised, battered, and ready to sleep for a week, getting back to Kathmandu was a bit of a relief for all of us. 

Amazing kayaking, big portages, dramatic scenery, friendly locals and logistical challenges. The perfect recipe for an epic expedition! Photo: Nick Bennett

15
Jun

A Perfect Union

To say I was excited to be heading to Slovenia would be an understatement. I absolutely love the country, the friendliness of the people, and of course the Soča itself. If you haven’t paddled the Soča, then imagine the best river for developing skills on. Now double that. It’s amazing. Beautiful turquoise water, sharp eddylines, rounded rocks, and a variety of environments to explore.

One of the many fun spots the Ozone could make the most of.

After a couple of years of hiatus, it was time to be heading back again. I was working with a group of paddlers who were all looking to develop their paddling in an advanced environment. They were all competent in a Grade 2 (with a bit of 3) environment, and looking to tune-up to be able to explore some of the higher grade boating.

Reassuringly balanced for a full slice.

Now, my dilemma… what boat to take? I try hard to match my boat to my work, and with the mentality that has been distilled that we have to paddle ‘big’ boats for work (that has so well been challenged by the Ripper (other half slices are available, but inferior)) it would previously have been a Machno or 9R II. As I enjoyed working from my Ripper so much, during the past couple of years I’ve also started to work from my Ozone.

It is very hard to not constantly smile when your boat is this playful!

Initially, I got the Ozone to spice up my local runs when heading out between work stints. The more I have paddled it, the more I realise what an all-around capable boat it is. I’ve taken it down respectable continuous Grade 4, ran leadership provider orientations from it, and spent a lot of time recklessly vertical. I felt as though it was time to allow it to show how versatile it is.

Every situation becomes an opportunity for seeing the river in a different light.

It most certainly didn’t let me down. From entertaining myself on the eddylines to demonstrating the lines to the team on the pushier water, I knew I had made the right boat choice for the trip. Every time I got in my boat I had a huge smile on my face, as I wondered where I was going to end up recklessly vertical on that run. Thank you to the Ozone for being the perfect choice for the Soča!

It can even leap other boats when their driver parks them in the wrong place…

*I’m 6’1”, 33” inseam, and weigh 90kg. I fit in the L with my river shoes on easily, with the seat all the way forward.

30
May

Kyrgyzstan – the place where I feel a sense of freedom.

In August 2022, I will travel to Kyrgyzstan again… and I will go again and again after!

My first kayaking trip to this amazing, mountainous country was back in 2015, and since then I’ve been spending my summers in Central Asia exploring the mountains and rivers of Kyrgyzstan.

There are several reasons why exactly I fell in love with this part of the world:

Landscapes

Kyrgyzstan is a country located in Central Asia, bordering China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

The Tien Shan mountain range was an integral part of the Great Silk Road, the main trade route between China and Europe in ancient times. Numerous caravans and wanderers overcame mountain passes and raging streams of roaring rivers flowing from the slopes of the Tien Shan and cutting deep canyons in these majestic mountains.

Every time I visit Kyrgyzstan, I’m blown away by the amazing culture, huge mountains with high snowy peaks, and great whitewater. No matter if it is high water summer or quiet fall season.

Somehow for me, Kyrgyzstan is a mysterious country with a great history, friendly and open people, and a huge potential for various areas of outdoor activities, travelling, and unforgettable adventures. Of the five mountains that exceed altitudes of 7000 meters in ex-USSR territories, three are found in Kyrgyzstan. Big mountains, deep canyons, snowy peaks, and wilderness will provide some of the most scenic landscapes you could ever imagine.

Simple Lifestyle

Kayaking in Kyrgyzstan is very simple – you need a trusty 4×4 van where you put your kayak and camping gear, some cash, and information about the rivers. In 7 years of my travels to Kyrgyzstan, I’ve collected the necessary knowledge and contacts which makes it very easy for me to travel in this part of the world.

Rivers

I love paddling big water. Rivers in Kyrgyzstan are big, pushy, and really fun to paddle. The good thing about this country is that pretty much all the classic rivers have road access. You paddle with an empty kayak and then eat and sleep wherever you like. As easy as it sounds. But for those who like an expedition, there is also a good number of multi-day runs.

It is warm, very big, free, very easy to travel, and has a great spirit along the amazing kayaking adventure.

Will I go there again? 100% YEEES!!! I’m going to spend another 2 fantastic months in Kyrgyzstan this summer!

See you on the river.
Tomass

07
May

A Few Words on the Ripper 2

Holy sheet, what a kayak!

I was nervous during the design and prototyping phases of Ripper 2 because the original Ripper is my favourite go-to kayak, and, in all honesty, I was scared the second version might not be as good as the original. However, what has come out of the Pyranha factory this time is better than I could ever have hoped. 

You can tell where this kayak’s heritage comes from, but it makes the original Ripper look as if it’s standing still. 

Increased rocker and width at the knees keep me riding drier down the river and not getting knocked around as much by small lead-in features above big lines. It still, however, is just enough width for the kayak to skip well out of drops, and no more than what’s needed; it is still lightning quick on edge transfers. 

The second half of this kayak is just genius and a bold design choice by Pyranha. The way the rocker in the tail starts underneath your seat means the kayak hinges from that point, which allows you to lift the bow so easily. As you’re doing that, the sliciest tail on the market offers no resistance and you’ll find yourself vertical before you know it. There was a learning curve to getting the old Ripper up to vertical, but that is gone now with the Ripper 2. Everyone I have let try it has been able to pop it up to vert easily; the learning curve now is what you do with it when you’re vertical.

The ease at which I can get this kayak vertical opens up whole new doors for me with downriver freestyle and jibbin’ moves.

Many people look at the tail and are worried about being too tail-happy on pushier rapids, but I honestly have been surprised to not feel that myself. I now have twenty-one days out on the water in the Ripper 2 and I have only back-looped twice, one was a surprise and the other was my fault entirely, and I think even a Scorch X would have back-looped in that situation.

I need to wait and find a good-sized wave to really test this idea but on small waves, it seems to kickflip much better than the original, and I think this kayak can get more air off the back of waves because the rocker in the tail is helping to stop it dragging as you’re pulling up to launch over a wave. 

I weigh 75kg and I am in the Medium Ripper 2. I will be interested to try the large when it comes out but have a feeling I will stick with the medium.

So stoked on this new design, Pyranha crushed it again!!

Bren

29
Apr

Ukraine Fundraiser Update 2

Although the initial shock of the situation in Ukraine has subsided and the media’s interest has largely moved on, it is clear that much has transpired that money or humanitarian aid cannot fix; loved ones lost, atrocities suffered, and lives forever changed. The war in Ukraine has also, sadly, not yet come to an end.

We are proud to have been able to offer what little support we can, though, and thank each and every person who has supported us in our fundraising efforts thus far, but we’re not done yet!

There are still some ‘Flag of Ukraine’ Scorches available to order on our UK/EU Webstore, and via the dealers below; if you know of anyone in the market for a Scorch, please do let them know:

Ireland

River Deep Mountain High

Bantry Bay Canoes

I-Canoe

Germany

Der Kanu-Treff

Denk Outdoor

Sport Schroer

Norway

Padlespesialisten

Slovenia

Funpark Menina

Netherlands

Kanocentrum Arjan Bloem

Italy

Ozone Kayak

New Zealand

Further Faster & Long Cloud Kayaks

USA

Starrk Moon Kayaks

Idaho River Sports

4Corners Riversports

Next Adventure

The River Store

The Pyranha staff who gave up their time in aid of the fundraiser.

A large part of what has been raised so far was via the raffles held for 2 ‘Flag of Ukraine’ Scorches. Congratulations to the winners, Shaun Comins and William Dove, and thank you to everyone who entered! Here are Shaun and William’s reactions to finding out they’d won, and what they had to say about their motivation for getting involved:

“I think we’re all scrambling to find ways to support Ukraine right now and despite thinking there was no way I’d actually win, this contest felt like an easy choice. I’m thankful for the opportunity to make an impact and the amazing new kayak just in time for summer!”

Shaun Comins, US ‘Flag of Ukraine’ Scorch Raffle Winner

“I was really surprised to find out I’d won, and I am excited to try out my Scorch when I get the opportunity!

I am glad to have helped support DEC in their support of the people of Ukraine in this horrible war and I hope the money raised by Pyranha and others helps makes a difference.”

William Dove, UK/EU ‘Flag of Ukraine’ Scorch Raffle Winner

If you pre-ordered a ‘Drop Waterfalls, Not Bombs’ T-Shirt, these were shipped out from the 12th of April in the UK/EU, and have just landed and begun to be despatched this week in North America. We really appreciate your support and patience with these!

Once all orders have been fulfilled, we will list any remaining t-shirts on our webstores and the sales of these will also go towards the fund.

06
Apr

Dropping Waterfalls and Some Big Fish in the BBC’s ‘Earth’s Great Rivers’ Documentary

Ever wonder what’s going on under your kayak? What does it sound like, look like, and who is living underneath the whitewater that we are playing in?!

Around this time last year, Rok Rozman was approached by the BBC. They were looking for someone to tell the story of the Sava River, as a part of a documentary series called Earth’s Great Rivers. They were working on an episode about the mighty Danube River and wanted to be sure to include the important tributaries – like the Sava in Slovenia.

Over the past 2 years – out of both necessity and desire – Balkan River Defence have been focusing our efforts on the Sava River. It starts in the mountains of Slovenia and flows across the whole country, into Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina before pouring into the Danube in Belgrade, Serbia. And it’s currently threatened by 10 new hydroelectric dams that would destroy the diversity and affect life, above and below water.

At Balkan River Defence, we took it as a challenge and got our hands, feet, and cameras wet filming the Sava from the perspective of a fish. Not just any fish; the massive, predatory Huchen, also called the Danube salmon during its spawning season.

Getting creative with angles and methods to film these beauties (without disturbing them during their romancing), proved to be a challenge indeed, but one that turned into some incredible insight into what’s going on under the surface of the Sava River.

Since we were celebrating tributaries, and since water levels were perfect, we decided a little huck-fest was warranted, so we rappelled Rok into Grmečica waterfall for a few seconds of free-falling. And then went back to filming kayaking on the main branch of the river.

What we thought would be just a short 3-minute segment turned into a 13-minute segment of the hour-long film. The BBC team was fired up on how we combine kayaking, biology, and a deep love and respect for the Sava, and how we are fighting to protect it.

If you want to see some big fish, some waterfall hucking and learn more about the Sava and the Danube, a river that runs through 10 countries in Europe, then check out the link here to see the whole film:

Viewing from the UK – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0015qj3

Viewing from outside the UK – https://www.bbcearth.com/shows/earths-great-rivers-ii

*Spoiler alert: BRD is releasing our full-length film about Balkan Rivers Tour 5 and the Sava River on June 1st 2022. Come to Slovenia for the premier, or keep an eye out in your local mountain film festivals for the film, One for the River, The Sava Story. Trailer to be released soon.

31
Mar

Others have tried, but ultimately, only we could improve on the original Ripper…

We know once you’ve paddled a Ripper, you miss the tailees, smile-inducing surfs, and zippy performance whenever you’re on the river in something else; that’s why most Ripper paddlers have barely paddled anything else in the 5 years since its release (yes, it really has been that long! Time flies when you’re having fun.)

As others have followed suit with their own take on the modern half-slice format, we’ve been asked when we’d be releasing Ripper 2, and we’ve always said we’d only make a new Ripper when we thought of a way to improve on the design; well, here we are…

The design improvements we’ve introduced in Ripper 2 take the fun to the next level and open up even more opportunities for it; surf more waves, drop the tail with less effort and in more locations, and get even more recklessly vertical.

Ripper 2 has more bow rocker for a drier ride and drier surfs, a slightly wider hull to help you skip further out of more features, and a lower volume tail with softer sidewalls to make the tail easier to sink, whether you’re looking to get vertical or lift the bow up and over a feature.

But don’t worry, we’ve balanced out the lower volume tail with some clever edges, which channel the water flowing over the hull and turn it into a slight amount of lift, keeping the tail on the surface when you’re headed downriver.

Smaller and Larger paddlers will also be pleased to hear that the Small is shorter, and the Large is longer, so you can enjoy the same ergonomics of the Medium as well as the performance of a boat that’s better tailored for your size.

Speaking of sizing… as always, we’ve provided an advisory paddler weight range; with the Ripper, this range is a little broader to allow for larger paddlers who want a more playful experience, and smaller paddlers who are looking primarily for a river runner. We’ve attempted to illustrate that range in the graphic below, but we’d always suggest demoing before purchase:

To top it all off, we’ve added some fresh styling, with a touch of influence from the Scorch at the bow and some sweeping textured lines on the stern. Beautiful.

Whether you were a fan of the original or not, you haven’t truly experienced half slice until you’ve tried this.

Ripper 2 Medium is available in the UK now, the Large will be available in the UK and Europe in a few weeks, and the Small will be with dealers by summer.

N.B. This is in addition to the Rip-R Evo, which is laser-focused on Extreme Slalom and use in the whitewater centres where those competitions take place; this does mean that slalom paddlers and others who are seeking maximum performance may prefer Rip-R Evo, but Ripper 2 has been designed for maximum fun in all settings for the majority of whitewater paddlers.

25
Mar

UK’s Premier Kayak Manufacturer Now Available in Greater Vancouver

After pivoting their business in 2019, the UK’s premier kayak manufacturer, Pyranha and P&H Sea Kayaks are now available again in the Greater Vancouver area after securing partnerships with the area’s best paddlesports retailers, Coast Outdoors (North Vancouver, BC) and Western Canoeing & Kayaking (Abbotsford, BC).

Established in 1971 and 1968 respectively, Pyranha Kayaks and P&H Sea Kayaks unified in 2004 and together have grown to be the UK’s leading supplier of cutting edge whitewater kayaks and industry-leading sea kayaks. These innovative designs have taken adventurers to the remotest corners of the globe and received numerous industry awards and accolades. Pyranha/P&H pivoted its Canadian business in 2019 to focus solely on independently owned, speciality retailers and has been reestablishing its Canadian dealer network since then. 

“We’re just thrilled to bring the two premier British Columbia paddlesports retailers into the Pyranha / P&H family. Western Canoeing and Coast Outdoors represent the very best paddlesports selection and service and align perfectly with the values of Pyranha’s family-owned business. Bringing the industry’s best kayaks to the best retailers positions us perfectly for a new beginning in the British Columbia paddlesports community.” says Chris Hipgrave, Pyranha’s North American Sales Director. “Western Canoeing will focus on the Pyranha whitewater kayak brand while Coast Outdoors will be focused on the P&H Sea Kayaks brand. Both of these outstanding retailers promise to expand our opportunities to the huge paddlesports community in British Columbia and well beyond.”

Coast Outdoors is North Vancouver’s foremost paddlesports speciality store. Their knowledgeable and enthusiastic retail staff are dedicated paddlers who know their stuff so can give you great advice if you need some direction, arrange demos, or help you out with any parts you might need.

Coast Outdoors

352 Lynn Avenue

V7J 2C5

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

(604) 987-2202

[email protected]

Western Canoe Kayak prides itself on having the largest and most diverse selection of canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards, and accessories, with easy access through their online store. Their staff don’t just talk about paddling, they live for it! Whether you’re just getting into paddling or have been paddling your whole life, their staff have the expertise to answer any questions you may have. Good service and sharing of knowledge are their most important products, and they’re free!

Western Canoeing & Kayaking

1717 Salton Rd

Abbotsford, BC

(604) 853-9320

[email protected]

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