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Stakeout | For the Young Ones

Stakeout, freestyle kayaking’s big wave tour and an annual pilgrimage for us to Canada. This is the land where some of the biggest waves and rapids in the world are found and where freestyle kayaking is pushed the hardest.

Spring time in Canada is always special, some of the biggest whitewater in the world is found here and despite spending most days being cold, tired and scared it is by far my favourite time of the year and where I progress the most. Several years ago, Pat Camblin and his friends ventured away from the Ottawa valley and struck out into Northern Quebec. What they discovered has laid the foundations for big wave freestyle for generations to come with waves such as Black Mass, Detonator and Ginormica now on the list of many freestyle kayakers dream waves to hit. Whilst they found some truly ridiculous stuff, they also spent days on end waiting at the side of the river for snowmelt to coincide with perfect levels. During these waiting periods, Pat coined the term ‘Stakeout’ to describe the time spent “staking out” a wave and learning what levels it works best at. A couple years later Stakeout is now an annual pilgrimage for all freestyle kayakers looking to push themselves and the sport.


We started off our year on the Ottawa valley; one of freestyle’s oldest stomping grounds and probably the river that has seen the single most progression in the world. The valley is a great place to start off as over the years the locals have dialled in the levels and have all of the knowledge on what wave works and when. We spent a week surfing Mini Bus and were even lucky enough to catch Big Bus for a day; Big Bus has a very narrow window of surf-ability and is most often a huge hole.

Levels continued to rise throughout the week and the Ottawa was at an in-between level with nothing to surf. We ventured 30 minutes down the road to a wave called Bryson Bowl, Which is a really nice shaped 4ft wave that helped to stave off cabin fever whilst we waited for levels to change. Sadly the river levelled out and with Bryson Bowl not being what we had come to Canada for, we packed up our bags and crammed into a car and drove 10 hours north full of high hopes for what was to come in Quebec.

During the 2014 WWGP on an off day, Ben Marr loaded up a car and travelled to a wave he and Pat had found during a low water year in Quebec in hopes of finding something surf able. What they found might possibly be the best wave in the world; huge, green and glassy with a mile-long eddy behind it! It was this wave that captured our hopes and imaginations during that ten hour drive north and we arrived at “The Wave Called Molly” to find the river too high and just a huge green un-surf-able hump where the wave should have formed. We staked out for 3 days hoping levels would drop and that the wave would come in. Unfortunately the Spring Melt was in full force by this point and levels continued to spike. With heavy hearts we packed up and drove to the Misstassibi river promising ourselves that we would watch the online gauge like a hawk and be back at Molly soon!

The Misstassibi river is an amazing piece of white water. During the spring run-off it is made up of three huge, long and continuous rapids. With waves such as Black Mass and Middle Earth forming on the third rapid. Sadly levels where once again not cooperating with us for any of those waves so we ran laps on it taking the usual lines in creek boats, until one evening Ben Marr ventured down the river right hand side of the first rapid and found a pretty good green wave. Levels rose that evening and the next day the pretty good green wave was one of the best waves we have ever surfed! We are still arguing over what to call it but it seems at the moment to be tentatively called “You Cat to be Kitten Me” (freestyle kayakers are weird).

Levels continued to rise and I awoke at 06:00am to one of the photographers (David Jackson) frantically shaking my tent and telling me to get dressed. Whilst getting some early morning shots of the mist rising of the river, David had walked down to the Hawaii rapid and happened upon what might be one of the biggest waves ever surfed. We sprinted back to the cars and geared up, levels can change drastically and there was no time to waste when it came to potentially getting a ride on this monster. This wave is by far the craziest thing I have ever surfed. Bigger and more powerful than you would ever think possible.

At this point levels had spiked and it slowly began to look like we were finally going to get to surf Molly. In the meantime we ran infamous Bridge rapid, surfed Detonator and had some more awesome laps down the Mistassibbi. They continued to level out and sadly due to commitments to be at the Ottawa XL competition we had to pack up our bags and head back to the valley, broken hearted.

Stakeout this year was incredible; we found two new waves, discovered a monster wave and came up with a few new combos. We are still gutted about missing out on “The Wave Called Molly” but there is always next year… 260 days to go ’til Stakeout 2016! (We’re coming for you Molly!)

Video of our trip here:

See you on the water,


Photos by Seth Ashworth, Pat Camblin and David Jackson