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!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The Surf

As I crashed through the waves today I thought… wow I really love the surf!

I haven’t been out in it much recently. Jessie has a love affair with rivers and I’ve pretty much been going out every other day with her, but when I looked at the forecast and realised that there was going to be a near perfect 4 foot clean set coming in I knew I had to take her out and get her converted.

I love surf not only because of the feeling of freedom but its where I have come from.. my roots in kayaking come from surfing in mini breaks in south Wales. In my mind surf is one of the most perfect ways to introduce a beginner to many aspects of river kayaking… What better way is there to teach edge control and body position I ask you? But also it’s a great place to attempt your first moving water roll in a (moderately) controlled environment. I would never ask someone to throw themselves over on a river but take them out back on a nice surf set and what’s the harm? (obviously you need to pick the right beach!! No reefs people!)

Its all a case of building confidence in people… I find surf a great way to promote learning as people generally feel much more willing to give it a go with less fear. But what they learn can be immediately put into play in a river situation as well.

Paddling through the break without ending up in a back surf = boating through a hole
Surfing a wave = surfing a wave but also lessons on edge control and stability

Anyway I think its awesome!! I can’t wait for some big sets to come in so I can rip it up in my Squashtail!

The Gath Gedi

I found myself in the position a few months ago now where I needed a new lid. The one I had at the time had a large fixed peak and so was causing me a lot of neck pain whenever I rolled my kayak especially in hydraulics. I know allot of people don’t have a problem with the forces on their helmets however it seams to effect me quite allot so I thought it was best to cut my losses and move on. The only helmets I considered at the time were the FNA extra and the Sweet rocker… they both looked like awesome lids and I was keen to try them out. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my hands on an Extra to try it and the sweet rocker same in sizes either too big or too small to comfortably fit my head (the smaller size pinched the back of my scull quite painfully). Its worth mentioning however that I still think that they look like awesome lids its just they don’t fit me and as far as I’m concerned fit is the most important aspect of a helmet.

Thankfully my close friend and team mate Dan Hayworth (http://www.double2d.com/) had recently received his new Gath Gedi and he recommended that I take a look. I had always been aware of Gath due to my Dragorossi connections however as no one seamed to stock them in the UKI had never really considered it amongst my helmet choices. A demo was arranged and what impressed me strait away was the comfort… there is a good 10mm of padding and a adjustable comfort strip of softer foam that fits snugly on the lid. I now know that this not only provides a comfy and warm helmet but also provides super impact protection! I wore the lid for around 3 weeks before deciding to stick with it. I was amazingly happy with the fit and I was convinced that the lid wouldn’t move on my head (exposing my temples) during an impact like my previous helmet had done. The one thing that concerned me was how well it could take an impact? I didn’t know… and as I didn’t know anyone in the UK who wore one (other than Dan) there weren’t too many reviews out there to read… little did I know that the perfect test was just around the corner!

One swim on the infamous Fairy Glen on the river Conway proved to me beyond a doubt that the Gedi was pukka. I rolled and before coming out of my boat I took three huge hits on my head. Not only did the helmet stay in the same place without pushing back but I came away without any feelings of concussion… 2 months later in Yorkshire an errant hammer left me getting front looped strait into a concrete wall fast enough to chip a piece of the wall onto my spray deck. Although my neck hurt for days afterwards I again walked away from the incident without damaging my head.

I’ve been convinced. So convinced that I’ve just ordered Jessie one! Wonderful lids and the quality of service I have received from them has been awesome.

I’ve stuck up these videos by Corran Adison.

They aren’t a scientific test of the helmets overall strength but they do show 3 main points

The Visor does not shatter in a sharp impact – something that has been a concern on some of the internet forums.

The Attachment points of the visor (and soon the flexi-peak) are strong enough to take a hit.

The Helmet does not move on the head! Although its just been hit with an axe and bounced across Corrans drive the helmet stays in position and DOES NOT MOVE. Remember that most people are killed not by the first but the second impact.

As a Quick note I am NOT sponsored by Gath in anyway. They have however provided me with fantastic service and in return I have tried to send them any good action shots of myself in my Gedi. I went out looking for a goodlid that could take a beating and I found one… I can happily say that this has been the safest helmet I have ever had the joy of using.

Thanks Gath!

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

An unexplored run

In my first year I drove through a ford behind my university halls and thought (I wonder where this river leads)… I couldn’t find any guides or information on it and couldn’t find anyone around that had run it… For all I knew It could have been anything from grade 1 to 6. It’s a Ditch and I knew It would need allot of water to get it going but one day after a quick trip down one of my local runs it rained allot... we found it in condition and ready to go!

I expected the river to pick up somewhere as it starts on top of quite a high hill however I was treated to a steady gradient of grade 1/2 . It was still a nice run though there where some really pretty bridges and a really nice little tunnel.

If it wasn’t so tree choked (4 portages) then it would be a lovely river to take the girlfriend down…. In fact… I may just take her down it anyway


Boating with me where Alister and "Doggystyle" Dave, The strawbery blond brigade of Bangor university canoe club

Saturday, 3 March 2007


Stinger 'o' stinger your a beautifull boat
You alow me to boof, you keep me afloat
A cartwheel in you is never a chore
My local river is no longer a bore
Stinger my darling, I really I love you
So Corran make a small one (so my girlfriend fits too!)

Of all the boats I have paddled the stinger has been my favourite by far. It’s the first boat that attracted me to the Dragorossi brand and I haven’t been disappointed… I have never tried to convince myself that I have any skill or interest in play boating so I wanted a playboat with a river running twist. Living in north Wales I wanted boats to make the best use of the local rivers the Critical Mass was my choice of creeker but I wanted a play boat that could make some of the local grade 4’s a little more interesting. The stinger was designed as a jack of all trades boat but it really steps up to the mark when put into down river play (or slope style if you’re into fads). It has plenty enough volume to make resurfacing after drops stable and predictable. The rocker profile makes boofing easy and the chunky back end prevents the back end catching on boily rapids and holes.

What I love about this boat is the way I can chuck it into the back of my car and wherever the guys end up going I know I wont be too outgunned in my Stinger. River running, creeking and playboating this boat simply rocks! Its almost like Corran designed a boat just for me… the boat I’ve always asked for.Thanks Corran!

I thought I’d stick up this old video of me creeking in the stinger… Its from a while ago now but it still makes me smile seeing the local run. That video was also my first real test of my new helmet the Gedi aswell… I wont really go into detail about the lid now but I’m loving it so far and I trust it to the point where I’ve also bought my girlfriend one… wouldn’t feel safe with her wearing anything else!

Friday, 2 March 2007

Fun on Snowdon

A morning phone call on Valentines Day and suddenly I found myself explaining to my girlfriend why the days plans had changed. Two hours later and I found myself slogging up the side of Snowdon towards a river I hadn’t paddled before dragging the High’n’Mighty demo Mafia Behind me…. the old plan had begun to look more attractive!

The Cwm Llan is one of those classic Welsh ditches that rolls down the side of a hill losing bonkers amounts of gradient along the way. It’s an awesome collection of smooth boulders and cascading drops cutting a photogenic gorge down the side of Snowdon. .

To get there wander a kilometre up the Watkins path of Snowdon and put in just before the old mill. As you walk up the path you’ll be tempted by glimpses of the lower section inviting you to come play from the valley bellow… as you loom near the upper you will also be treated to a spectacular view of one of the most epic waterfalls in the country. (make sure you get out before this one… a first decent would mean your last decent!)

I was lucky enough to be boating with some close friends from Bangor university and this made the slog up the side of the hill totally worth while… luckily Sara is about as unfit as myself so company was never too far away! Once on the river the Mafia handled the run really well, I usually paddle a critical mass but as I had to haul ass up the side of Snowdon it made sense to take the smaller Mafia. This boat has had a huge amount of press both good and bad but it worked well for me… It doesn’t track as well as something like a M3 or Solo but what it loses in tracking it more than makes up for in manoeuvrability and predictability. The continuous rocker on the boat makes boofing super easy in comparison to other creekers I’ve paddled.

My girlfriend also paddles a Mafia and she’s found it a great boat to learn in… I’ve stuck up a few photos of her styling around in her boat as well.

Note – Jessie’s boat used to feature a playboy bunny however a nasty cave pinning on Cobdens falls has killed the bunny… RIP