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King of the Alps 2023

At the beginning of June every year, the quiet mountain village Moos in Passeier comes alive as the best kayakers from across to globe come to compete for King and Queen of the Alps

This year in the 11th annual year was particularly special for the organisers Caz, Thomas, Daniel, and Pia, with AWP awarding the event the title of Extreme Kayak World Championship. 

The Pyranha van arrived early in the week at our final stop of the tour with the fleet of demos for the event. With over 250 event participants from 25 nations, it was stacking up to be a highly competitive weekend of racing. From early on in the week athletes were training hard on both the qualification section which was lower down the valley in San Leonardo and the finals course situated in Moos featuring the famous Intimidator rapid, a steep class 5 with a waterfall entering from the right. 

📷: Josh Dias-Smith

Thursday night was the first official get-together with registration/ bib collection, boat check and safety briefing. Nerves were beginning to grow with anticipation for the qualification day so as to be expected it was a quiet night in camp. 

An early start on Friday, paddlers arrived for qualification from 8 am to begin warming up on the San Leonardo section. The 700m class 3+ would separate the top 60 men, top 10 women and 10 masters. This would also be the final standings for the junior category, OC1 and pack rafters. In the evening paddlers came together to tell stories and chat about their race runs. A race brief for finalists was given and those who were unfortunate not to make the highly competitive cut-off got the weekend going in style by competing in the fun king triathlon. 

Saturday is World Championship Finals Day! The most anticipated day of the year for extreme whitewater racers. 80 kayakers in total took to the water, Pyranha team paddlers Nicolas Caussanel, Jonas Le Morvan, and Lyndon Williams all made the cut in the first round to advance to the Semi-finals in the extremely competitive men’s category. From here 5 masters and 5 Women advanced to the finals and 15 men. The pressure was on to deliver 1 last run, at this point spectators and everyone watching the live stream was fully engrossed. The biggest stage was set. The commentary from Caz and Tim got the well-oiled crowd fired up and the final kayakers put on a fine showcase of our wonderful sport. 

Men’s Open

1st – Zach Mutton

2nd – George Snook

3rd – Mattias Weger

4th – Andi Brunner

5th – Nico Caussanel


1st – Nouria Newman

2nd – River Mutton

3rd – Marlene Devillez

4th – Laura Hofberger

5th – Flurina Fischer

The only thing left to do is what whitewater kayakers do best and throw the best parties and delicately pack up the following day. We will 100% see you next year King of the Alps. Thanks for making one of the most inclusive and special race events of the year!  


Valsesia River Festival 2023

Following the MisoXperience festival in Switzerland, the Pyranha van moved south to the Italian Alps to the region of Valsesia.

Valsesia has been a staple spring location for British kayakers for ages. However, the number of Brits making the pilgrimage south has been dwindling in recent years. Whether this is due to the small snowpack or the inability of British coaches to take groups out there following Covid, it is a shame not to be sharing the river with big groups of Brits anymore. 

Those who did take a gamble on the water levels this year were definitely rewarded. Strong sunshine and humidity caused heavy thunderstorms to roll through the valley every afternoon, which kept the rivers at great flows. The kayaking in the valley really is incredible when levels are good. 

The team took full advantage of the flows and jumped straight on the water. Lyndon was lucky to smash out laps on classic sections of the Sermenza, Egua, and Sesia in the 2 days before he headed back to the UK for a wedding. He was replaced by Pyranha’s UK Sales Manager, Liam Jay, who arrived fresh-faced and stoked to be on his first whitewater kayaking trip outside of the UK. He wasted no time and made sure to sample everything Valsesia has to offer – from the big volume feel of the “Little Canada” rapid to the Sorba Slides, which is the kayaking equivalent of a skate park and never fails to bring a smile to your face!

The Valsesia River Festival was a success, as ever. This year there were a few additions to the programme, and it was great to see the festival progress and bring in some of the local businesses. Alpin Rider Centre, run by Jacques Gilardone, hosted a party paddle to practice the course on Friday night. This was followed by food, drinks, and music at their bar, which is perfectly situated at the take-out for the race section (called the Alpine Sprint). 

On Saturday, it was business as usual, with teams of 3 heading up to the put-in for the Alpine Sprint, ready for the team race in the morning. After lunch, everyone headed back up to the put-in for the individual race. The water level was medium/high for the section, which sadly reduced the number of participants this year, but made the course pretty exciting. The long race takes around 10-12 minutes on a super continuous, alpine-style grade 3/4 section, so pacing is important to make sure you can complete the race safely and efficiently! The higher water levels also made it more difficult to stay high and dry throughout the whole course, and if you took a wave to the chest, it killed your speed and meant a battle to regain your flow. It was certainly challenging to go fast the whole time. 

I found fellow Brits Tamsyn and Dave on Saturday morning. They had arrived in Valsesia in the early hours of the morning following a hell journey to get there. However, Tamsyn seemed keen to celebrate her birthday by racing down a section of river she had never seen before. She dragged Dave out of bed, and the three of us formed a team. We used the team race as an opportunity to see the river and learn the lines, so we didn’t go particularly fast, but it gave Tamsyn the opportunity to see the course and race in the individual category in the afternoon. I felt like I took a lot of waves to the chest in the individual race, and constantly had to fight to get my speed back. At the end of the race, the participants unanimously voted not to hold a final, given that the number of participants was low, the water levels were primo, and everyone would rather spend the afternoon kayaking with their friends. I headed off to the Sermenza to kayak on a couple of my favourite sections. 

Despite my misgivings, I still managed to put down a good time and take the win in the women’s category. As always, the party went hard, and everyone danced their way through to the early hours of the morning. 

On Sunday, River Soul hosted a Pyranha Kayaks demo event with live music, great food on the grill, and a raffle with plenty of prizes to give away. Hosts Max and Silvia were enthusiastic and friendly and helped encourage many local paddlers to try out our favourite designs. The Scorch X was a particular hit with several kayakers who had originally written it off as being “too big”. After being convinced that it paddled similarly to a medium boat, they gave it a shot and came back raving about how much fun they had. The day was a great success and, luckily, had just wrapped up before the heavens opened and a big hail storm passed through the valley! 

Overall, it was a great week in the Valsesia Valley. With good water levels, this area really is world-class!

Lead image by Lyndon Williams, all others by Frederica Fritz.


Hulls and Hatches: Saltwater and Whitewater Multi-Days in Corsica

.: words – Carmen Kuntz

.: photos – Rok Rozman

Hiking trips are great – you have all you need on your back. Bike trips are cool too – with everything neatly tucked into panniers. But when it comes to comfort, carry capacity and the ability to cover some solid kilometers… nothing beats the kayak. Regardless of whether you are a lover of saltwater or whitewater, the kayak is a vessel that allows you to pack all your gear inside your mode of transportation. And this opens up a world of multi-day adventure possibilities.

This spring we had a thirst for on-water exploration, but couldn’t decide between rivers or the sea. So, we brought boats for both. We loaded two Scorches and two Leos onto our truck and rumbled our way to Corsica to dip our paddle in two types of paddling styles, enjoying the simplicity of paddle-powered multi-days.

Sea kayaking is best done in the sun.

And sunshine is what greeted us when our ferry landed in Bastia, Corsica’s primary port town. Mid-April in Corsica can mean that either snowmelt or rain storms fill up the rivers. We were a little late for the former, and a bit too early for the latter, so we sipped some Cap du Corse liquor and poured over the paper map to plan a 6-day sea kayak trip. What better way to wait for the rain than to build up some paddle muscles on the sea!

We drove to the small west coast town of Galéria, which is located approximately on the forehead of the almost-face-shaped island. Parked just meters from the sea, gear was spread out in the parking lot like a yard sale. This was my first multiday-day sea kayak trip, and I was shocked by the amount of gear I could tuck into the hatches and hull of my lime-green Leo. As my boat was swallowing gear, I realized I would have space for my book, paints, a camp chair and some cans of beer. All the luxuries that often get left behind when we go hiking in the mountains of Slovenia. For this holiday-style trip weight wasn’t a concern as we would be floating, paddling (or sailing) our way some 150 km to the Liamone River Delta, and taking our time to do so.

I felt like a pirate as I walked into town to buy provisions – bread, rice, wine, and some local wild boar salami. Rok, on the other hand, was enjoying the puzzle of tucking fishing rods under the elastic hull straps and securing lures and line in the cockpit for easy access. The plan was to catch the protein that would power our paddles.

Once on the water, we glided over the turquoise water, and popped our sails up as soon as we rounded the first point, red rock cliffs and a tailwind greeting us. We used paddles and the power of the wind to trace the coastline, relishing in the details of the rock formations and the scents of the flowering macchia.

As the sun dipped low, we found a beach to camp on and dragged our boats onto the pebble shore, appreciating the sturdy nature of our CoreLite X hulls, which felt stiff and responsive in the water, yet were light enough (and tough enough) to easily move on land. These boats perfectly matched the carefree yet efficient vibe of our trip. On the pebble beach, shoes came off immediately and gear came out, one hatch at a time.

Again, I was surprised – this time by how easy it was to be organized in a long sea kayak. Each hatch had a purpose. Water and other ‘hydration’ liquids in one hatch. Sleeping gear in another. Placing my trust in the watertight hatches meant I didn’t have to wrestle with bulky drybags. Navigation implements (map and phone) were within reach in the small front portal. And the final hatch was home to food – veggies and spices, cookies and coffee.

Rok’s preference for camp spots was based on fishing possibilities, while every beach looked like a piece of paradise to me. He wasted no time in casting a line, and we ate from the sea each day of the trip. From barracuda, to conger eel, amber jack and even a massive snapper! Add rice, garlic, salt and wine, and we ate like kings!

Each day we were treated to sunshine, blue skies and often a tailwind – a real treat on the exposed west coast of the island. We had easy morning coffees, packed and paddled, some days not before noon! We stopped at a couple of seaside villages for ice cream and sightseeing, castles on rocky outcrops drawing us in. We played the lottery daily, gambling on choosing the perfect beach right in front of us, or daring to check the next. Fish over a savory driftwood fire and sipping beer until the stars made their late arrival, our heads hit the pillow each night without worries. We were drunk on the simplicity of having all the gear to be comfortable, while having a vessel that allowed us to explore a coastline that was otherwise completely inaccessible by foot. And doing it all in the season before the crowds and yachts pepper the bays.

We almost lost track of time, enjoying the daily routine of the nomadic life on the sea. But on our sixth day, the weather made the call for us, and we half sailed, half surfed our way onto the kilometres-long Liamone beach, with high winds and waves building and the forecast calling for rain. It was a perfect way to end a trip rich in flavours of the sea, coastal exploration and pure enjoyment of moving over water with all the camping luxuries stowed below deck. Because no matter how much gear and treats you have with you, the weather and the sea provide the real indulgences.

* * *

Whitewater kayaking, on the other hand, is a sport often enjoyed in the rain. But a multiday trip spent dodging raindrops and hiding out under tarps isn’t much fun. So, we let the rain build the rivers up, and when the sunshine returned we packed up and paddled off for an overnight on one of the mellow sections of the Taravo River.

With its source in the mountains near the small village of Cozzano, the river flows mostly southwest meeting the Mediterranean near the town of Propriano, just two big bays down from where our sea kayaking trip ended.  We washed the saltwater from our gear on the grade 5 section, but were keen to see more of the river. A night sleeping on the granite banks was one way to satisfy that hunger.

After an hour of mostly floating and sightseeing, we found a flat granite slab with a little eddy tucked behind, and stopped to enjoy the afternoon sun. Packing for a whitewater kayak overnighter (not to be confused with an expedition), is much simpler, as the limited space in your boat ultimately dictates what you can bring. Unpacking my kit, I realized how our luxurious sea kayaking kit was slimmed down for a river trip. Small and simple. Sleeping gear in one back quadrant, safe inside a big drybag. Clothes and cooking gear in separate drybags in the other. And a third drybag in my lap – holding my notebook, snacks, headtorch, toothbrush and other necessities. (Rok’s fishing rod also made the cut, a small tenkara suited for some catch-and-release fishing for the native Corsican trout).

After Asian noodle soup with tuna and veggies, (followed by whiskey and chocolate cookies), we were ready for bed. We taco-ed ourselves in the small tarp and hoped for a dry night, but the steady drizzle that started in the early morning hours eventually forced us out of bed and into drysuits. Like on our sea kayak trip, we left each camp spot without a trace of our presence. The sun broke through after about an hour of paddling, and the trees overhanging the river lit up, in sections forming a disco-green tunnel over the water.

Leaning back and letting the current take us at the river’s pace was much like letting the wind push us along the sea. Going at the pace of nature – with the help of a paddle stroke here and there – we were able to appreciate spring in a way that can’t be done by day trips. These days and nights spent by the water ultimately reminded us that a kayak is more than the sum of all its parts; it allows you the ultimate luxury – being a part of the aquatic environs for a moment or two.


MisoXperience 2023

Standing on top of the podium, I tried to ready myself for the inevitable Sambi shower. I flicked up the hood of my rain jacket, thinking it would protect me from the worst of the spray. Elena, however, had other ideas and aimed her shaken-up bottle straight at my face. Spluttering, eyes stinging, and unable to see a thing, I screamed and tried to defend myself as best as possible, whilst staying on the podium. Given that I was left with half a bottle of Sambi at the end, I clearly didn’t do a very good job!

But how did I get here? Let’s rewind a little bit…

The Pyranha tour bus headed south from Germany to the Oetz Valley for a quick kayaking pit-stop. We then headed through stunning Alpine passes with cold rain finally giving way to blue skies, creating shining rainbows over the vibrant green forests. We emerged from every tunnel amazed by the beauty surrounding us, until we eventually arrived at our destination just outside of the town of Cama in Ticino, Switzerland. This is the location of MisoXperience – a multisport festival in its 3rd year of existence. I loved this event last year and was excited to be able to return. 

Arriving at the start of the week gave us the opportunity to paddle some of the local classics before the festival fully kicked off. We jumped at the opportunity to go to the Verzasca and Tresa rivers and run laps on the festival river – the Moesa. The MisoX campground is right at the break between the upper class 3/4 section and the lower class 2/3 section, which makes it a perfect location for all abilities of kayaker. The river is dam release and the levels are generally best first thing in the morning, or towards the end of the day, which leaves plenty of time during the day to chill out, socialise with friends, or get involved in the bouldering, paragliding, and other festival activities. It is an unbelievably fun river in a half-slice, and soon enough all of the Ripper and Firecracker demos were out and about on the river, filling their occupants with joy on every splat rock and eddy line. 

The festival itself kicks off on Thursday, the start of the long holiday weekend in Switzerland for ascension day. The number of campers quadrupled overnight and even the rain couldn’t dampen everyone’s spirits as they readied themselves for the weekend ahead. The main kayaking activities include beginner and technique clinics, a river clean up, the “friendly race” time trail, a pinball race, and a boater x. There was also a hike to fly paragliding race and bouldering competitions, both on the nearby natural boulders and on a covered bouldering wall built especially for the event (which was great this year given there was quite a bit of rain!). As well as all this, there was an assault course built around the site, a volleyball court and a croquet pitch. However, my favourite activity had to be beer yoga. Before dinner each evening we all gathered together, beer in hand, to stretch out the day’s aches and pains whilst trying to avoid spilling beer all over ourselves. The Swiss know how to throw a party, with bands and DJs providing evening entertainment while the beer flowed at the bar.

The river clean-up was a great success this year, with the participants once again amazed by how much trash can be collected from such a clean-looking river! We filled the trailer with a whole variety of metal, plastic, broken fishing nets, beer cans, buckets and other items of rubbish. It was a great opportunity to do something good for the river, which gives us so much joy.

To make the friendly race inclusive for a wide range of abilities, it starts down a ramp built at the campsite and races for around 3.5 minutes downstream. The top 32 men and 8 women qualify for the Boater X final on Saturday. Not ones to let the name “friendly” kill our competitiveness, Lyndon and I both went all out in the race. We were stoked to put down the fastest times in both categories. Lyndon finished with a time of 3 minutes 14, a whole 7 seconds ahead of 2nd place. I managed 3 minutes 24, the 6th fastest time of the day and 8 seconds ahead of the 2nd fastest woman. However, the most exciting thing for me this year was to see the number of female participants in the race more than double from the previous year – up to 18 racers!

Saturday afternoon saw the return of the ever-popular pinball race. Teams of 3 were drawn out of a hat and given a big yoga ball. The only aim – get both your ball and team down the river (in one piece) as fast as possible. This may sound easy, but once you add in the other 30 competitors who are all out to get you, absolute chaos ensues. The low water levels made things extra spicy this year with boats and balls pinned left, right and centre. It seemed impossible to make a break, but Lyndon’s team managed it somehow and they charged ahead to take the win. My race was slightly less successful when I flipped over on a rock with my arm outstretched. Worried about my shoulder, I chose to end my race there and head back to camp, where I was checked over by Josephine. Despite the pain, I had a reasonable range of movement, which was a massive relief.

Saturday morning, I taped up my shoulder and headed up the river with the rest of the crew for the boater x finals. The course included a start ramp and two upstream gates – one on either side of the slot boof – before a touch banner finish line. The racing was tight, with changes in the leader in the two up gates causing some upsets early on. In the end, Lyndon and I emerged victorious, with Fabian Tandler and Fluorine Fischer in 2nd place, and Tim Redling and Elena Fischer in 3rd.  

And so that is how I found myself on top of the podium, Sambi dripping out of my eyes, ready for a shower and a beer. 

But first was the MisoX auction, to raise money for the future of the event. Lyndon and I donated the Level Six and NRS dry tops that we won back to the auction. However, the main event was a Ripper 2 in the MisoX colours, donated by Pyranha to help support the event. The bidding began, led by Reini from Profiwelt, and quickly two buyers were battling it out to win the boat. In the end, it was sold for 1700 CHF – a great result for the event.

Thanks so much to the organisers for an amazing weekend and for inviting us along again. We hope we can return next year to defend our titles, both on the river and at the party!

Photos by Reini Riedener, XXX, and Claas Pospiech


Meet the Ambassadors, Part Two

This series of introductions begins with one of my favorite paddling days- it was about 10 months into Covid, I had been at home for all of it, and I was closing in on a year without whitewater. I was surely not going to let that happen. I built a sleeping platform for my Subaru with storage below and headed out for a couple of weeks. While chasing the rivers, I had 2 bucket list items to check off on this trip as well- to hike into the Green River Narrows and to take a lesson with H2o Dreams. They have been offering top-notch instruction since 2012, and their values parallel the passion of the Pyranha Ambassador family- you can read more about it here.

I reached out to Lydia Cardinal of H2o Dreams and asked if we could do a private lesson on the upper stretch of the Green River. Lydia was amazing- she sent me an extensive questionnaire and then planned the day accordingly. We even got 200% water that day too! We worked on skills, talked about river experiences, and just shared life. It was something that had been missing for so long, and for those 3.7 miles, it was heaven. Lydia puts so much heart, soul, and dedication into all that she does. She creates an experience that stays with you well past the takeout.

Lydia always speaks about how the common thread throughout the Pyranha brand- designs, people, culture- is fun. The boat designs inspire play and curiosity, asking paddlers to know and understand more of themselves and the river. It goes past the river for Lydia as well, and she says it best in her own words- “The people that are a part of the Pyranha family echo that virtue, bringing a lot of joy and zest to the paddling world. Down to earth, passionate, and curious, I have loved getting to know folks through the Ambassador family as well as those that work with Pyranha directly. Pyranha feels like a group of folks eager not to rest on laurels of how things have always been done in the whitewater world, but instead, to lead with curiosity and joy in how we connect to the river, and- in turn, to know more about ourselves and each other.”

I will close this introduction with a favorite memory that Lydia shared with me as well, because it is so fitting of her dedication to others:

“Recently, I got to watch a student I’d worked with since they started paddling take their first ride on Good Wave in Columbus, GA. It’s a big but friendly wave that can be intimidating for folks new to playboating and higher-volume paddling. Getting to watch this paddler drop in for the first time, feeling the size of the wave behind them and the speed of the water underneath them… after watching their progression over the years culminate to this moment, this is a career highlight for me. They had a few passes, flipped and flushed, and hit a beautiful combat roll in the runout. It was awesome, and getting to see that in person was better than any ride I’ve ever had myself.”

Pyranha Ambassador Andria Davis, with her husband Leland Davis

Another long-time member of the Ambassador family who also calls the Southeast home is Andria Davis. In 1996, Andria started out as a raft guide in the Southeast. Not long after that, she discovered that she could have even more fun in a kayak. After trying out a variety of kayaks, she found ”love at first stern squirt” with the Pyranha InaZone. That was the kayak that allowed her paddling to take off, and she has never looked back. Andria has been with Pyranha ever since then; as she says, “Pyranha kayak designs have a way of allowing the paddler to have an intimate relationship with the river, which is the goal! Play the River!”

Sharing the joy of paddling goes past the river for Andria, she has co-written the well-known “The River Gypsies’ Guide to North America”, which features travel guides, river beta, and photos of almost 300 rivers. Definitely an amazing book to keep close at hand. You can also find Andria featured on NRS’s Duct Tape Diaries, which highlights more of her adventures and paddling stories. Recently, they featured Andria on a series of paddlers and their home runs. It is a beautiful tribute to her home river, The Rocky Broad, you can read all about it here.

Moving up north to Canada, you will find another one of our Ambassadors- Matt Hamilton.  For over 39 years, Matt has paddled all over the world, but calls the Ottawa his home river, the Gauley his favorite river, and Crowe Bridge Wave his favorite play spot. Joining Pyranha as a Team Member and Ambassador in 2004, Matt distinctly remembers being welcomed with open arms into an amazing family of paddlers. He led the North American team for 2 years, and was the first captain of the infamous Pyranha van “Orange B*tch”.

Matt speaks about how “living on the Ottawa River makes you a freestyler”, and he has certainly demonstrated that by being on the Canadian freestyle team since 2000. As Matt speaks to his experience on the team, the common thread that ties all of the Ambassadors together shines through- “I still enjoy competing, but not as much as I enjoy passing that passion on to others. Currently, I sit on the Canoe Kayak Canada Freestyle committee and the International Canoe Federation Freestyle committee. I have been teaching and coaching whitewater since I was in my teens, and I truly love passing the passion of paddling on to others. It has been amazing to be able to represent the best brand of whitewater kayaks on the planet. The Pyranha family has been amazing to work with on and off the water. They make amazing boats to keep the stoke going year after year.”


XXL Paddelfestival 2023

The first stop for the Pyranha Euro Tour this year was XXL Paddelfestival in Markkleeberg, Germany. This was the first time in a few years that Pyranha had attended the event, and we were filled with anticipation to see what the weekend had in store. We arrived at Kanu Park Markkleeberg on Friday evening to set up our stand, which was in prime position right by the put-in for the whitewater course. Despite the water being turned off, we could tell that the course would be a lot of fun and a great location to test different kayaks. We headed to the campsite across the road, which was filling up quickly, and settled in for the night. 

In the morning we got to the course early and watched as people slowly filtered in and approached us to talk about our kayaks. There was an air of excitement surrounding our stand, with everyone keen to try the different designs and see how they performed. We were blown away by how many people attended the event, by how friendly everyone was, and by the level of understanding of boat designs and features held by most of the kayakers there. We enjoyed having intelligent discussions about how the features would change the performance of the boat and the differences between the designs. But most of all we enjoyed watching so many people having the best time ever kayaking in our boats. 

During every 2-hour kayaking session over the weekend, it seemed like our kayaks were gold dust. They flew out of the demo stand at the start of the session and there was often a lineup of people waiting for the boats to come back so they could have a go instead. Especially popular were the Ripper 2 and Firecracker designs. It was rare that a kayaker would return one of these boats without a massive grin on their face. Lyndon and Beth also managed to sneak in a quick lap or two of their own and loved the opportunity to do tailies and entry moves left, right and centre on the way down the course. 

Overall, the XXL Paddelfestival was an incredible event and one of the biggest demo events we have ever seen. Thank you to Kanu Park Markkleeberg and Deutscher Kanu-Verband for hosting the event and inviting us along. We had a great time there and I am sure we will be back again in the future!


CIWW Paddlefest

Springtime in Cardiff is always an exciting time of the year as it’s the date for the CIWW Paddle Fest, this year however with the whitewater centre having a change-up with some key management staff it was great to hear they were fully on board to not only make this year’s Paddle Fest happen but promised to make it one of the best yet!

Elliot turned up to Cardiff in the magical Pyranha tour van to begin setting up our demo stand and put around flags and banners ready for the following morning. Myself and Beth Morgan arrived bright and early expecting to help set up, only to be pleasantly surprised and found ourselves instead drinking the tasty coffee from Coffi Pass (the on-site refreshment trailer).

The day kicked off with the GB SUP race, 150 athletes from across the country came to race the 14k around Cardiff Bay in the morning’s wind and rain. Ginnie Betts took the win for the women and Hector Jessel for the men.

For the morning the whitewater course was running on 4+6 cumecs with fun events such as the ducky derby, a mass start inflatable race where the only rule is to get to the bottom as fast as possible, and the crowd-pleasing downriver freestyle where we watched loads of young talent trying some really cool and innovative moves.

After lunch, the course ramped up to 8 cumecs, more paddlers arrived, and the sun was trying to break through. This, combined with CIWW staff Ben, Dan, and Pod on the decks pumping the tunes really began to set the atmosphere and the energy as Paddle Fest also ramped up with the water. 

The events in the afternoon kept coming, with the freestyle in front of the dealer stands, and one of the busiest Extreme ducky derbies I’ve seen which was sponsored by NRS this year. There was also Kayak Cross which was set up by Canoe Wales performance coach Andy Kettlewell. This year’s kayak cross was busy and lined with elite slalom athletes making it super competitive but awesome that new kayakers and world champions can line up against each other. The open finals were tight and we were thrilled to see the new Evo 2 seating 5 out of the 6 spots with an original Ripper in the final spot locking out an all-Pyranha final. 

Pyranha athlete Kimberley Woods dominated taking the win in both female and open classes, Efan Welton took the win in the under 16s class and impressively made it to the semifinals in the open. 

The following day the stage was set for the prem slalom race. Pyranha athlete Etienne Chappell delivered a sweet run to achieve his first win in Cardiff in front of his friends and family, Kim Woods came from behind to secure a K1 win with her second run and second-place finish in C1. 

Huge thanks to Andy ‘chips’ Kettlewell, Matthew ‘pod’ Houghton, John Wheadon and the rest of the CIWW staff for putting on this great event and allowing us to provide demos to showcase our boats. 

Images thanks to Hollie Norman – @h.e.n_photography


Gavin Jostad

Myself and Rachel Fly wanted to share our experiences with Gavin together. I will start with my own thoughts and experiences with this amazing young paddler.

About 4 years ago, I sat down for dinner with the young, and very eager Gavin Jostad and his father Trevor.   At this time, Gavin is about 13 years old.   He’s paddling almost every day and wants to sit down with me to figure out what it takes to become part of Team Pyranha.   This is really hard to write about at the moment, but I want to share my experience with one of the most motivated, talented, and incredibly nice humans that we lost 4 days ago. So with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I will continue.  

Gavin sits there, eyes wide open, taking in every single detail that I explain to him about my job and what I believe it takes to be a good ambassador for the Team.  At the same time, Gavin is very calm and has an overall peaceful demeanor that he shares with his Father, Trevor, sitting next to him.  I go on explaining pretty much how Pyranha works in the US.  I tell him about our production, distribution, and media. I broke it all down for this little dude.   I wouldn’t expect this from a 13-year-old, but anything he doesn’t understand, he asks me about.  He doesn’t want to just hear what I’m saying; Gavin wants to fully understand so he can help to the best of his ability.  This opens my eyes and makes me realize this kid is about to go off in this sport and really life in general.  Now here’s my problem.  We typically don’t sponsor such a young kayaker.  Also, I need to make him work a little just to make sure I’m correct in my feeling about this kid.  I ended up making a bit of a team sponsorship with Pyranha and Next Adventure.  Next Adventure is the closest paddle shop to Gavin, a White Salmon local. After about an hour of conversation, we shake hands, and Gavin is off to the races. 

About a year later, Gavin has posted videos and photos, helped me with demos, and unloaded several containers of kayaks with me.  He also reaches out to paddle a lot or help promote new models we are coming out with.  Gavin is doing exactly what I had asked of him, but to another level.  Gavin is paddling almost every day.  He’s improving at a ridiculous rate, so we move him to a full team status at Pyranha.  He is now working with myself and now Rachel Fleischut (Fly), who has taken over responsibilities as the Pyranha Team Manager.   Gavin’s passion and growth continue on for the next several years to the point that he is running the Little White with more style and grace than some of his mentors who have been on this section for 10-15 years.  In a very short time, Gavin is paddling with literally some of the best kayakers in the world.  Growing up in White Salmon is a unique experience for a young dude, no doubt.  The interesting thing about this is myself, and many other pro or extremely good kayakers want to paddle with this kid.  He is so skilled, and smooth, but more so a wonderful person to be on the water with.  He’s very grateful every time he paddles with me, and he’s just so excited every day he is on the water.  I remember this feeling, and seeing it in Gavin is really refreshing.   I could go on and on about how wonderful of a person Gavin was.  

Less than 2 weeks ago, Gavin stopped by the house to pick up a new kayak and head to California.  Before his arrival, we talked about moving him up again on Team Pyranha.  For Rachel and I, this was a no-brainer.  Gavin has been promoting and doing more for the team than 90% of our paddlers.  We came up with a plan to have Gavin work on some Pyranha-specific videos on his travels for the next month.  Gavin’s camera was not working, so I gave him mine to use on his trip.  This kid is 17 years old, and I didn’t even think twice about lending him my $2,000 camera for a road trip.  How often do you think that happens?  Sadly, just a few days into Gavin’s trip, he became pinned in a sieve on the South Yuba River and moved on from this world.  I can’t get Gavin’s smile out of my mind.  That might be because every time I saw him, he was smiling ear to ear.  He was such a lovely person to be around, with an infectious energy that no one could forget.  In such a short time, Gavin made an incredible mark on us all.  He made a goal and charged after it with so much style and grace.  He lived a life full of love and energy.  The only thing I can take from this is a reminder to push your petty shit to the side.  Life is special and sometimes shorter than we like, and we never know when it’s our time to move on.  Tell your people you love them, hug them when you can and appreciate every time that boat touches the water.  I think myself and many other paddlers in our community helped Gavin live his dreams.   For that, I’m thankful.  I will miss and think about this very special person forever.  In the end, I don’t know any other kid that lived so large, was so positive and friendly at such a young age.   

With Love,
Dave Fusilli

Words from Rachel

I’ve been reflecting on a conversation Gavin & I shared about 2 weeks ago. It began with talking about Team Pyranha things, fresh boats for this season, and raving about the LW lap he had earlier that day. It evolved into a chat about how far he’s grown in this sport, especially in recent years, and the many dreams he was well on his way toward, on & off the water… His excitement for pursuing these goals was contagious. His gratitude for the community support he received along the way was something he kept coming back to in our conversation.

About a dozen ‘thank you’s later, in typical Gavin fashion, we ended that call saying we’d get a lap soon. Wiser than his 17 years here. He carried so much passion, yet was always humble, kind, and generous. It was a gift to know him as a kayaker on the gorge rivers, a student in the halls of CHS, and as a friend. He was a gift to our community. You will be so unbelievably missed, Gavin.  Big hugs & much love to those feeling this loss.


 – Rachel Fly 

Thank you, John Webster, for the photos.


N’Esk Race 2023

The North Esk Race is a national whitewater kayaking competition situated in Aberdeenshire, just north of Dundee. The event is open to all kayakers running grade 3 and above. This event has 3 racing divisions, each with a men’s and women’s category: Intermediate, Advanced, and Iron(wo)man.

Each category required participants to race down a section of the river in a time trial format. Intermediates raced a grade 2/3 section from Rock Garden to the pool before the Main Event Rocks of Solitude (4). Advanced saw racers complete the same course as intermediate with the addition of the Rocks of Solitude (4), and the finish line at Presidents Corner.

Iron(wo)man is a category for the truly gnarly participants. The racers complete the advanced white-water racecourse followed by a gruelling 5K run!

Photo by Niamh Shannon

This year’s event was sponsored by Pyranha, NRS, Radical Rider, Peak, IR, Escape Watersports, Red Bull, Tiso, Brewdog, and System X. The event also received support from the SCA (Scottish Canoe Association)

Photo by Rhys Thomson

The day before the event, team paddlers Rowan Andrew, Taylor Stevenson, and Kyle Rodger headed up with friends to catch an evening lap of the river, spending some time scouting the rapids, talking lines, and generally just having a faff around. After ample time doing tailees at Presidents Corner, the group got off the water at around 7:45 pm, with the sun still beaming down!

Photo by Aberdeen University Canoe Club

Sunday the 2nd of April saw Aberdeen University Canoe Club host their 8th North Esk race, and what a day it was! After cancelling the last event due to covid, this one was extremely well attended by people and universities from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK. By 9 am, the registration area already had a buzz of excitement, with racers eagerly lining up to collect their bibs!

From this point on, time became a bit of a blur.

The advanced time trials were first with paddlers laying down some quick times and sick lines. This was followed by the intermediate races, then the Iron(wo)man category, which saw some tough boaters speed down the course, jump out their boats and complete a disgusting 5km run!

The event was rounded off with the prize-giving ceremony, where winners received an array of generous prizes donated by the event sponsors.

Photo by Aberdeen University Canoe Club
Photo by Rhys Thomson

We were very impressed with the environmental caution taken by the organisers. Participants were encouraged to car share wherever possible to get to the race location. From this point, a very effective shuttle system was in place to get racers and boats to the top of the river. The shuttle was appropriate as it respected local road users due to the fact there was little parking at the get-in and takeout. This helped maintain a good relationship with local road users. Many participants and spectators opted to walk the length of the river!

On top of this, there was a litter-picking competition with great prizes for the top two participants collecting the most litter throughout the day.

The winners of each race category received a sustainable wooden medal, with the first place of each category taking home a beautiful trophy made from recycled bike parts.

We had a blast attending this event and can’t wait to come back and do it all again next year! Best believe we will be practising our race lines! We would like to thank Aberdeen University Canoe Club for hosting such a great, well-organised event. These guys are on the ball!

A big congratulations to all the event winners; you guys are damn fast!

Photo by Rhys Thomson


Little White Salmon Race 2023

Cook-Underwood, WA, USA – March 25, 2023

by James McLeod

Bingen Theater [o] River Hoomans

I’ll preface this write-up with a disclaimer: This may be more of an opinion editorial than a race report. But then again, show me a kayaker that doesn’t also have an opinion! (Long live the option to comment below!)

Can we agree that debate over “Do long boats have a place in class 5 races?” has become akin to the debate over whether pineapple belongs on pizza? Is paddling a long boat on hard whitewater a good idea? Yes, it is a good idea, especially if you are racing and you want to win! Long boats have become increasingly popular in the recreational paddling sphere, and are beginning to make an impact on todays open class races. Can we attribute some of this madness to the introduction of this era’s 10 ft creek boat  the “Scorch X”? Since its arrival on the scene we have witnessed a pronounced disruption to the barriers that have long been held by the maximum boat length phenomenon.

Once upon a time, humankind’s struggle was against our environment in our pursuit for sustenance and survival. Now we enjoy an era of leisure and luxury where battling just against the elements of nature has grown boring, and we have switched our focus to battling against our fellow humans, sometimes by any means possible. Luckily the Little White Salmon Race endures as an ideal venue for those who care about going faster than someone else, yet maintains a sufficiently organic format that allows for evolution, by any means possible.

At Last year’s LW Race Todd Wells took a risk being the first paddler to use a long boat, the risk paid off with first place! Joe “Toad” Todd followed suit by pioneering the first use of a long boat at NorCal’s Gnarlfest (on the Class 5 gorge of the South Feather River, Oct. 2022) also taking first place. With these two recent west coast race winners present and paddling the same craft, you could say this year’s match up was going to be a “tale of two Todds.” (I was told I have better jokes.) Tales of these two recent victories swept across the land, and Alas! this year’s open class was flooded with a wave of paddlers now realizing that anything but a long boat would be the wrong boat. However, it has been said, that its the caveman not the club, that is responsible for the outcome. A surprising 18 paddlers arrived with long boats (3 women + 15 men) , thus ushering in the new era of open class racing and stoking competition! The Dagger Vanguard, had paddlers of all brands jumping ship (temporarily?) for a shot at this years title. While a steadfast crew kept true the 12R.

Another notable surprise appearance at this years race was the Little White Salmon River it’s self. In an other wise lackluster season for flows from the Monte Cristo Drainage, we were serendipitously blessed with some gauge splashing flows arriving about two weeks before the race, providing tolerable practice laps and a respectable covering of the boulders for competition day.

More surprises: During this year’s Little White Race, 75 racers crossed the finish line and there were no swims during the race. The event is growing, the sport is evolving and those pool sessions are finally paying off!

Women’s “Open” Class

Returning champ, Nouria Newman, was able to defend the title, embracing American culture by paddling a long boat. Followed closely by local Darby McAdams and recent gorge arrival Adrienne Levknecht.(sp?) Darby may have finished the race in second place, but was the unanimous winner of the after party! Maddie Kimmel kept an impressively close chase for 4th place in her new Scorch X! Laura Hofberger finished with 17:30 and beat my time by 16 seconds, cheers!

Maddie Kimmel [o] River Hoomans

Men’s “Open” Class

In a nearly photo finish Evan Garcia was able to snatch the Gold from Andrew McEwan by mere fractions of a second. Isaac Levinson made a return to the podium with 3rd place. Shout out to a very commendable 4th place from the people’s champ Zach McFarland, and also shout out to 5th place, for my media consultant, Cole Moore. 

Pyranha’s 12R Class (unofficial) was led by Kentucky’s fastest squirrel hunter, Bernie Engleman, sticking with his streak of finishing within the top ten. 15:05, 6th place overall. 

Bernie Engleman [o] River Hoomans

Owen Doyle sporting a Pyranha “12 Valve” attempted to roll coal, with his well researched blend of pre-race supplements, but narrowly missed top 10 by less than one second.

Owen Doyle [o] James McLeod

King Hesh repped the imperial measurement system while laying church treats.

Kyle Hull [o] River Hoomans

Taylor Coffer took the noble role of being the lead wolf to run at the back of the 12R pack.

Taylor Cofer [o] River Hoomans

Surprise coincidence: Louis Geltman and Geoff Calhoun tied for 9th last year and practically tied for 9th again this year! Relying on a 2/10th’s of a second lead Louis Geltman took true 9th.

Tough times ahead for non-long boaters? So is this a thing now? Unofficial top 3 for the sub 10’ class: Ben Marr keeps the pressure on, finishing first in this “class” ahead of several long boat enthusiasts. Second place goes to LW veteran Rush Sturges. With a tie for third between Wes Dixon and Sam Sharp. Again, this isn’t really a “class” and this write up is becoming even more subjective.

Teams “Open” Class

Long boat woes really seemed to re-invigorate the Team Race entries, harkening back to the race format origins of mandatory pairs. There were 15 teams total with the Scorch X representing a heavy stock in this pond and also the longest boat in category.

Victory in this class was earned by Matt Anger and Nate Garcia, aka Team Barrel Chest. (Showing that blood runs thicker, or actually faster than water with both Garcia brothers finishing at the top of their respective classes.) Hot on their tails were, best dressed, Dave Fusilli and Trevor Sheehan sporting matching Scorch X’s and b-ball jerseys. Third place went to Team Tad (Dennis) and Brad (McMillen). Shout out to 4th place Immersion Research heavy weights Max Blackburn and Ty Skoe. Repping the Angry Fish in their Scorch X’s, which I must say pair very well with IR Skirts. #getswoll #irdry

Jerseys. Shore. [o] James McLeod
Zander Ulmer. Photo Finish. [o] River Hoomans

A LW Race Report wouldn’t be complete with out a gratuitous shot of this feature:

Rob Fusilli. Single Drop Rapid. [o] Adam Edwards

The Awards Ceremony and after party were somehow allowed to return to the Bingen Theater. The evening started with river stewardship announcements made by Louis Geltman and Greg Lee both shouting out to American Whitewater and their continued advocacy for preservation and access to our beloved rivers both locally and planet wide.  American Whitewater

A very well endowed raffle served as a fundraiser for American Whitewater and the crowd was blessed with a surprise appearance from Jah-Banana, who awarded raffle prizes and kept spirits high! Although, rumor has it, Jah Banana may be feeling more “Jah-Bless” than usual due to the the absence of Idaho’s NFC celebration this year. Race winners were announced by Evan Garcia and Todd Wells!

"Who wants a t-shirt?" [o] River Hoomans

A soft core DJ battle collaboration erupted between DJ Revolve and DJ Bella Flow! Much to the delight of the crowd, both DJ’s were current on their Spotify subscriptions and we were not forced to listen to any advertisements between songs! Then we danced our way through a half dozen kegs of beer until 3am!

General consensus was that attending this years festivities was more fun than not attending, see ya next year!  

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