Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The Bangor A-team

Since being at Bangor I’ve been lucky enough to paddle with some top people. People I would literally trust my life with if it ever came to it. The Ateam are just a bunch of guys who for me are a personification of the sport, living life to the full and paddling for the fun of it… some are hardcore experienced creek boaters and some have just started paddling this year. But their all guys who I really like watching my back on and off the water, I just thought I’d stick this post up to pay a lil homage to my mates.

The Bangor A-team are
Ed Scanlon
Andrew Davies

Alex James
Verity Coleing
Mike Walsh
Sam Davies
Pete “prozzy” Hooker
Chris Hughes

+ a load of others that I dont wanna miss out but dont seam to have photos of on my PC - but watch this space as im sure they will feature on here whenever I get to take my camera out with me!

I’m hoping to film a video this year set around some of the great British rivers, watch this space… I’m hoping as many of the A-team as possible will get themselves involved. Its a project I've been playing with for sometime now but now it looks like im finaly going to get it finished lol.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

New BA!

What words would you use to describe Wales in November? If cold is amongst your top 5 then the new BA from extra sport is for you! Featuring a fleece lined neoprene handwarmer pocket!! A fantastic WW free ride vest the Guage steps up with Ballistic Nylon on the front (1000 Denier!) and a ring system upfront that keeps steady pressure on both shoulders no matter what direction your arms are moving and you can reach so much farther with nothing getting in the way or limiting your movement. This makes this my play boating and Free ride vest of choice. The lack of a chest harness or sealable pocket keeps the pro-creeker head of the line up for the bigger stuff but the Guage certainly has it on freedom of movement and general comfort.

I gave the vest a thorough test last weekend at the Dee tour and was really impressed. The hand warmer pocket seamed to impress not only me but the guys I was paddling with, though the most exiting feature for me was the improved shoulder strap system, although it doesn’t move much it certainly makes a Huge difference when compared to any other BA I’ve used.

Photos to follow -

Thursday, 4 October 2007

New toys

Thought I’d quickly do a bit of a write-up of 2 of my new favourite bits of kit from extrasport. I’m currently writing up my thoughts on their other bits of gear that I’ve been using extensively over the last 2 weeks and I’ll stick there up here asap when I get chance, but I love these two bits so much I thought I should share it with the world!

Extrasport hydration bladder.

Ever been half way down a river when suddenly you need a drink? You don’t really want to pop your deck to get your bottle out and its miles till the get-off… well this isn’t a problem with the Pack Retro! It fitsonto almost all PFD’s with a special retrofit kit (supplied) and will strap directly onto any retrofit PFD’s such as my Pro-Creeker.

The one liter hydration pack is plenty for most people and the piggyback system is also large enough to fit a mars bar or something… (I’m always running out of pocket space so I loved this feature – just be a wear that this isn’t what the bag was designed for though so be careful not to damage the internal bladder.)

The mouthpiece is big and chunky and makes sucking up your liquid a snap!

Although this isn’t available in the UK just yet its pretty easy to find online from American stores and most are more than willing to post to the UK,

Extrasport Rope trick throwline

What always frustrates me about 90% of throwbags on the market is how the bag is always about 1/3rd too small… no matter how hard you try there never seams to be enough room for all the rope. This isn’t a problem with the extrasport bag however! Its got loads of room, and its clever mesh sides also allow for super fast drying and drainage meaning you don’t have to deal with a sloppy mess at the end of every day.

To throw it does the job just as well as every other line on the market, being around 18m long its also long enough for 99% of river situations.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Outfitting the Crux

Creekboats are a little like shoes… when you first get them you slip around inside and generally feel really uncomfortable. Then… just when you’ve got them bedded in just the way you want them, its probably time to replace before you wear a hole in the sole.

Outfitting a new creekboat has become a bit of a ritual for me. Not only have I done all my boats but some of my friends and my girlfriends too, as so I wanted to get the Crux feeling just right asap. It arrived pretty much at the end of the last season so I never really bothered getting it sorted… but now to pass the time whilst waiting for the delivery of my shiny new chronic I thought I better sort it out before the winter water arrives.

The first thing to do was get some nice hip pads in there. I’ve used all sorts of hip pads, from the Pyranha syncro6 to ones I’ve made myself out of bits of foam. I really like these Teksport ones so Iv decided to use them, of course fashioning your own out of minicell foam has its advantages but I really fit these quite nicely and it certainly saves me a few hours with a knife. Hip pads like this can be bought from most canoe shops.

The next thing to think about was the essentials.


I don’t like my throwbag rattling around but I also don’t like clipping it in (its just takes a bit too long to get it out when the S hits the F). the best way I have found is to strap it in with elastics. Making it easy to grab if needs be.

Usually you would have to cut a hole through the central buoyancy to thread the elastic through (a right pain in the ass) but on the Crux it’s a bit easier… move your hands down the front buoyancy and you’ll feel a gap around where the footplate sits. This makes a perfect place to thread the elastic.

To make the bag sit a little more evenly I decided to cut my own “bag space” in the front central buoyancy. (disclaimer) I do not recommend anyone does this… to do so will certainly invalidate your warranty and tamper with an important safety feature. This did however work quite well for my bag and puts it in the perfect pace for easy access.


My new saw has a sheath and as this seams to be a pretty neat solution for stopping it rattling about and keeping it out of harms way. Clipping it to the footplate rail wasn’t too hard… a simple matter of unscrewing the belt clip and using the same bolt to attach it to the rail. A neat way of doing it… just need to remember to take the saw out when not in use (or it’ll rust pretty quickly)

Repair kit

In an effort to keep my creekers balanced I like sticking a little gear up front… usually this means taking the foot block out but in the Crux I’ve managed to use the same space I used to thread my throw bag elastic to sit my small BDH. Another piece of elastic makes sure it holds in place nicely. (my BDH is currently in my room in Bangor so I just used a spare throw bag to demonstrate.

Other kit…

I once heard a scare story about how keeping your splits underneath your airbags can cause breakages…obviously plastic bends when you hit rocks and if it b ends into your fiberglass/carbon paddles then their possibly going to break. Now… I don’t know if this is true or not however I don’t like to take the risk. What I do instead is split all the gear I intend to take on that particular day into two piles and stick each in a mesh bag (does anyone know where I can buy theses? Their so handy) for drainage. This just stops things like your paddle shaft working its way underneath your airbag and keeps everything together.

These bags I then place above the airbags before re-inflating. As many modern day creekers have an almost “hump-backed” stern you’ll usually find more than enough storage space (even in the “modestly proportioned” Crux).

For my creeking paddles I use the paddok system on my main set and my splits… this means that If I ever have a breakage I only ever have to replace the part that’s broken. So in a sense, instead of carrying a spare paddle… I’m carrying 4 spare parts. Meaning I can potentially afford 4 breakages instead of the one.

I also use the switch lock system on my spare in the back. This means that If anyone else in the group breaks their paddles I can set my blades up at the feather their used to with no hassle. I also ordered this set without an indent to make it suitable for a larger range of people.

Of course there are loads of different ways of doing this job... this is just my way which im sure many people will disagree with, but if it helps you come up with a few ideas then all good :)

(the boat all finished)

Campbell Walsh

Olympic silver medalist Campbell Walsh is currently in Brazil training and preparing for the world’s. However thanks to the joys of the world wide web I managed to get a quick interview out there to see how he was preparing and generally what it feels like to be a top British slalom kayaker.

Image linked from Campbells website. Check it out to follow his progress overseas

Campbell, you’re currently in Brazil getting ready for the worlds… are you superstitious at all? Are there any rituals you go through before entering a big championship?

No! I just make some plans for the day (when to get up, leave hotel, do warm up, inspect course, meet coach etc…) and try to make sure I keep on time, nothing unusual!

Do you know if any of your fellow competitors go through any bizarre rituals before getting in their boat? Gossip time!

Standing on the river bank with eyes closed, going through the motions and waggling a paddle about whilst doing mental preparation looks pretty silly to me - I always chuckle when I see that.

I hear Brazils full of attractive young ladies wandering around topless? Have you seen any yet? Will photos of aforementioned local scenery be appearing on the Campbell Walsh website?

I wish! It’s all a myth! The male paddlers are not even allowed to walk around at the slalom venue with our shirts off or we will be disqualified from the race (apparently public nudity is illegal in Brazil!!)

How do you cope with the nerves before getting on the water?

Simply get on the water… they usually disappear when I warm-up and find out I can still paddle perfectly well!

Is the sport popular over there?

Brazil? Not really. They have a few good slalom sites (I’ve been to 2 now, and they had the 2007 Worlds on another), but not many paddlers.

I’ve heard good things about the Brazilian course, have you had much chance to train on it yet? What are your main impressions of it?

I was here for 2 weeks training in March and I was not overly impressed with the course – the water was slow in many places, it was quite shallow and I didn’t feel that it was of a World Championship standard. There have been several changes since then and I’m glad to say all have been a vast improvement! In general, the water is much faster and the main feature section has been made more difficult. It is now a very good course. Its not big water, but there is plenty to think about when choosing lines – attention to detail will be key to a fast performance.

Your skill in slalom is pretty renown, but do you ever dabble much in the other disciplines? Playboating, surfing etc,

Not very often. I’ve nothing against the other disciplines, but I would always rather be chasing sticks in my slalom boat!

Are there any other sports you spend time on?

I enjoy most sports - I’m a bit of an exercise addict. I like to focus all my energies into my training sessions, and recover fully for the next one, in order to become as good as I can at paddling, so I choose not to spend much time on other sports. When I retire from paddling I’ll try to do lots more mountain biking, climbing, running and skiing!

How does it feel knowing that there’s probably a 12 year old slalomer out there who says to his dad “When I’m older I want to be like Campbell Walsh?”. Who where your heroes when you where first getting into the sport?

It’s pretty cool to think people might look up to me in that way. For my 1st few years of paddling, I was not exposed to any of the top GB paddlers, so the guys I looked up to were just the best guys in my club.

Thousands of people all across the globe watched you compete at Athens04, have you ever been stopped at the supermarket for an autograph?

No, nobody knows what I look like without a helmet on!!

Sir Steve Redgrave really put the sport of rowing on the map in the UK, do you hope to do the same with slalom kayaking?

I would love to do the same! And slalom is so much more interesting to watch than rowing! But it took Redgrave 3 Olympic Golds before the nation sat up and started to take notice of him… so I’ve got some work to do still!

What drew you to the Lendal modified crank? What shaft material and length do you go for as a preference?

I could see the benefits of using a cranked shaft – better reach on forward strokes, and particularly on slicing bow rudders to make C1 style upstream gates easier. So I thought I’d give one a go and it felt comfortable from the first outing. I prefer Lendal’s Grade2F for stiffness. I use Raab Typ Pisvejc slalom paddles (they are beautiful!) and make them up to 197cm length.

How often a week do you train?

Somewhere between 9 and 12 sessions, depending if its an easy week or a hard week. 3 to 4 of those will be weight training in the gym; the rest will be on the water, almost always a session on whitewater gates. I train every week of the year.

You live in Nottingham now… Does your training schedule allow much opportunity to go home to Scotland?

I tend not go home to Scotland that much, but its nice when I do.

How did you get into the sport?

To start, I went to a ‘learn to canoe’ course on a local lake during the school summer holidays when I was 8. I enjoyed it so took a few more courses, both onto rivers and in swimming pools in winter. Then I joined my club CR Cats when I was 11. They are purely a slalom club, and it all kicked off from there!

Do the rest of your family paddle?

My sister, Kimberley, was also a full-time slalom athlete. She spent several years on the GB Team before retiring in 2006. Her best result was 6th at the 2005 World Champs.

What are your future goals?

To win a World Championships or Olympic Games.

Of all the overseas locations you have competed which really stands out in your mind?

Difficult. No place in particular.

Met any nice foreign ladies?

A few!

You mention on your website that you would love to work for NASA, did you ever want to be an astronaut? What was little Campbells dream job when you where growing up?

I definitely wanted to be an astronaut – I’ve always been interested in space and physics and stuff like that. I also wanted to work at Legoland designing Lego models (my favorite pastime when I was a kid!).

How would you like to see canoe sport progress? Do you think there’s room in the Olympics for more disciplines?

I can’t see room for more disciplines… there is barely room for slalom! Entries have been cut back to only 1 boat per nation. I feel that it de-values the competition – the top 3 in the current World Ranking are all German, yet only 1 of them can go to the Olympics.

What do you think the secret to your success has been? Anyone in particular to thank?

I’ve received great help from a lot of people along the way, but I think ultimately my success has been mostly down to me. I believe that the motivation and dedication necessary for success must come from within.

If you could be anyone for a week who would it be and what would you do?

I’m quite happy being me!

You, Steven Hawking and Claudia Schiffer get locked in a toy shop. What game would you play to pass the time?

Scrabble? Chess?

You spend regular time with a strength coach? Could you wrestle a bear? If you could wrestle anyone who would it be?

Maybe a very small bear! My mate Mitchell, I reckon I could beat him!

Is there much room for junk food within your sports diet?.. In fact, come think of it…. Do you have actually have a diet?

I try to eat healthily but I don’t have a strict diet, and you can certainly spot me tucking into junk food occasionally.

Thanks for your time and good luck with the worlds Campbell, I’m sure everyone over here will have their fingers crossed for you!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The Crux in north Wales

Another call to Adrian Trendal at Ogwen cotage asking very nicly if he wouldnt mind coming out for a few photos. PontC was looking a little low (ok... so there was hardly any water atall) but one of the shoots was still running nicly and I really couldnt wait for the rain to test my boat.

The Crux is alot shorter than most creekboats I have paddled in the past (certainly shorter than the critical mass), but what it loses in tracking it gains in manoverability... Welsh rivers are generaly low volume but require alot of manovering so I'm hoping where this is where the Crux will really show its true colours. Its certainly the nicest boat over drops that I have ever used, it re-surfaces predictably and boofs really easy

Just thought i'd post up the photos, they also feature my newest set of Lendals

191cm, double torque, XPS carbon shaft
20 degrees feather,
kinetic XTI carbon composite blades,

The new setup really suits me. I've been using the double torques and composite XTI's for a while now since doing the first testing when Nick@Lendal sent them too me. I've really loved the blades, powerfull yet stil predictable they are the blades i have been looking for, though I must admit I miss the overall power of the KineticPowers it was a small price to pay for the all round versatility of the XTI's.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

New boat

Mid Hammer and stuffing up the line

Boof off the top

OK.... so as a few of you know I've recently changed sponsor... the reasons for that I'm not going to discuss on here but to say the least I wasn't unhappy with the dragorossi boats. I was happy paddling them for quite some time and they fitted my requirements.

However all things have to change and when the offer came through from Necky it made a lot of sense to switch. Having paddled their vibe, chronic and orbit fish play boats I knew the boats pretty well, the problem was my limited knowledge of the crux... I had paddled the older design (the blunt) but the crux was a bit of an untested venture for me.

As you can imagine I was quite exited to take it out as soon as the man in the van dropped it off :)

There was bugger all water in the rivers so I rushed myself to the nearest artificial WW course (tees barrage). The boat responded really well and certainly didn't let its short length (well... much shorter than the critical mass) hold it back in anyway. The hull was certainly very responsive and half an hour of flat spins and blunts proved to me that it could work its way around (and out of) a hole as well.

The last thing for me to test was the "boofability" factor.. I wanted to know how well the boat went off drops (and how much it would save me if I cocked up the line)... My local drop was picked as the test point and once the police divers had moved on I was able to have about 6 runs down... on each run the boat felt comfortable and responsive.

all in all I'm happy :) change can be a good thing!

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Old carnage video

One from back in the day when I first started editing videos

Monday, 12 March 2007

NSR 2007

What an awesome event... Unfortunately my performance this year pretty much matched up to how well I did last year… Although it has encouraged me to go out and practice my play boating some more! In fact me and Jessie will be looking at going on a play boating holiday this summer in the van (which should be awesome!)

Saw a few Dragorossis popping up here and there… an orange squashtail and two red fish’s but we where still very much outnumbered… ahh well maybe next year.. we’ll certainly see Jessie in DR if Corran makes a little persons one sometime soon.
My personal highlight of the whole weekend was mine and Jessie’s topo duo race (see footage below).

It really was an amazing weekend and props should go out to meg (club vice captain and general organiser of people) for organising the logistics of moving 33 drunks from Bangor all the way to Nottingham!

P.S. this is my first event with Bangor university (since being made captain) where I haven’t been striped naked… This is a memorable occasion for me!

Thursday, 8 March 2007

What happens when your girlfriend conspires with your little sister

You get an AWESOME Christmas present! Last Christmas Jessie and Sam treat me to an Oregon scientific standalone head cam. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a head cam for some time now however I was worried about technically wiring myself into my boat… accidents do happen and when that accident happens I don’t want to be attached to a deadweight of kayak floating over some nasty drop.

The Oregon ATC2000 to me sounded like the perfect solution. It’s a wireless camera and its entire media is recorded directly onto a SD card (expandable up two gig). On top quality this allows you to record over an hours worth of footage (great for those play sessions!). Oregon Scientific have also outdone themselves on the attachment system easy to install and use it allows you to take the camera on and off easily (much easier than other wired systems I’ve used in the past).

I’ve already started to put the camera into use filming for my video (which I’m hoping to have another trailer for soon) and have been really impressed with the results. I use a standard miniDV camera for most of my filming but the head cam has come in really handy for switching between kayaker POV and bank footage… it just adds a really nice extra element to a video and I have been really pleased with the results. The camera records in full colour digital video in 640 X 480 VGA at 30 frames per second and the quality is very high! I really was expecting a web cam style of footage… rather grainy and useless in video but not at all! I would happily recommend this camera to anyone wishing to get into filming their kayaking adventures! The ATC2k is a great step forward and I cant wait to see what the guys and gals at Oregon scientific will come up with next.I’ve attached some photos of me using this camera with my helmet..

I’ve attached it to the side of my lid as I don’t like the idea of knocking it off if I hit my head when I roll, the ear holes on the Gedi also make for the perfect attachment points. The camera is also light enough to not feel like my head is overweighed on one side. The stability of the Gedi on my head also makes for very good quality footage… as with all head cams a stable well fitting helmet is the key to shake free filming.The Blurb from the website

Play hard, record everything - even underwater with ATC2K, the ultimate waterproof self-contained action cam! Weighing in at half a pound (with batteries), this hands-free action cam delivers full colour digital video in 640 X 480 VGA at 30 frames per second.ATC2K works seamlessly with most video editing software. Expandable up to 2GB, ATC2K mounts easily and all mounting hardware is included. Wipeouts in a white out or an unexpected barrel roll? No worries, ATC2K is waterproof up to 10 feet! Although the manual and packaging states the product is only water-resistant, subsequent tests have since certified the product as waterproof. Please do not be alarmed by this discrepancy when receiving your product. Thank you.
Thanks Oregon Scientific! And thanks Jessie and Sam! Awesome present!