Rogers Creek, BC-sorry its super late

The famous triple twenty has been a whitewater crown jewel for years now. I can remember seeing it in some form of kayaking media and thinking to myself man thats a beautiful place but theres no way I will ever make it there. Somehow though I found myself on a trip to BC this year with my friends Tim Madison and Sean Thompson. After a few days near Squamish we went to Whistler for some Upper Cheak and Callaghans paddling. Later in the afternoon the local rafting crew rallied over and thats when we had the privilege of meeting Rich. He was down to head up to Rogers Creek and just as stoked as our group was to get after it! So plans were laid and we tried to sleep with dreams of a beautiful canyon with clean drops. Then the morning arrived and it was time to rally the troops to meet up with Rich. Our limited knowledge of the area made for a fun drive to find Nesters where we were meeting up with Rich. All loaded up and already to go we jumped in for the little over an hour drive. After receiving beta on the construction at Lillolet we made it about a half hour early for the open window of the road. After some time spent by the lake taking in the beauty of super rural BC the construction was ready to let us all through towards Rogers. We opted for the roadside takeout to avoid an less then hospitable land owner. As we rolled over the bridge smart phones with a saved image of the perfect level on the gauge rock were whipped out in quick fashion to see what we were playing with. IT TURNED OUT TO BE THE PRIME LEVEL IF NOT A BIT HIGHER! I’ll be the first to admit I do a ton of online research about a run before hitting it up so as I saw this I couldn’t have been happier to know that the levels worked out just right for us and a higher power then us was pretty stoked to let us see Rogers Creek as well. So then with shuttle set and a surprisingly unlocked logging road gate we slid up into what was unknown to all of us. We made our way up the road to the overlook and then peered into the earthy amphitheater that is the triple twenty. There is little way to describe how magnificent starring off a possibly two hundred foot cliff into that kind of view is. My breath was taken away and excitement level totally ramped up, but trust me a layer of nerves was totally there. Then we all looked at how fluffy the second pool was as apparently at higher then ideal levels the whole thing is a massive boily caldron… and thats not ideal. We all agreed that it looked pretty manageable and worst case scenario was a really unpleasant romp through the woods with kayaks. Thus we puttered up the road some more in Rich’s Explorer which started having some issues with starting. However we made it to the put in which Lelands book described as the first big clear cut and that it was. So Rich and Tim drove the car down to the bottom and proceeded to run back up over our fears of possible issues with loggers since the gate was technically closed. With fears of Grizzly Bears (Second in fierceness only behind the Puma) possibly in the area and the pre run bathroom break done it was time to start bushwhacking our way down to the creek. It was a heck of hike down but all the ridiculousness paid in full once we saw the super clear waters of Rogers Creek in the bend. None of us knowing the run we pieced it together in groups of two scouting and running our way through. The first significant rapid we hit was a double banger that had some funky currents going on and the boys were keen to give’er. I took the seal launch option and proceeded to hold a nice little rope at the bottom. The bottom reminded me of a not so nice swim I had early in Jan that I was not wanting to repeat. With the guys having a mix of lines including a super clean line by Timbo we pushed on. Continuing to break things down one by one we came upon another rapid worth mentioning which had a crazy serpentine entrance ending in a ten footish drop that had a little undercut action on both sides but offered up a slide left and boof right. The lines all went super well and the feeling of stomping down the ten had me back in a good day vibe. After that we tried some scampering around thinking that the triple must be getting close but was not what the canyon had in store for us next. We had arrived at the S curve rapid which by the way has a really not fun piton in the bottom left of the left hand curve. So if you go there drive right in the left curve. After a couple choice words and easing the pain out we were at the top of the triple and jumping out of our boats to give it a look. We decided that safety was most crucial after the second drop as the left side has a super swirly eddy and the right offers up the kind of place you wish no one to be in. So after talking it out Sean and I would hold rope for Timbo and Rich and then we would switch places. As the boys got to the top and were ready they let out the banshee cry to give the we’re going signal. It was awesome to see my friends firing up this drop that I never thought I would ever see in person and the best was yet to come. After three smooth back to back lines over twenty foot drops Timbo and Rich were at the bottom letting loose off the adrenaline high. Sean and I then began our little jaunt back up the hill to our boats. Sitting in the water above the drop I saw Tim and gave him the we’re ready finger swirl it was time to take a swing at a dream. A splash of water to the face, quick yell to let out the adrenaline and nervousness I picked up some speed and threw my right stroke at the lip. Popping up in the eddy I began to try stay in the flow in the teacup style pool and awaited Sean. Sean boofed in and was as fired up as I was and with the head nod I moved towards the second lip. As I hit the lip and pulled for my stroke not a whole lot happened until I was nice and vert to most likely over vert but headed away from the evil pocket. I waited a second, then hit my roll and found myself in the second pool with Sean beside me. We both were so stoked with where we were and smiling from ear to ear! The final thirty lay ahead and I started to charge out of the eddy. However apparently not charging hard enough as I found myself in the eddy still as I neared the lip and decided to eddy it and try again. I watched as Sean took full strokes getting after it to charge out and was able to catch the main flow and charge over the lip into a nice melter line as later reviewed from the footage. I knew what had to be done and stepped up to the plate making it happen. In the flow and riding towards the last twenty looking into a gorgeous pool the last line to make the triple come together was happening. I melted into the hole at the bottom and came close to being without a paddle but kept hold staving off a roll. We all met up at the edge of the pool and took in where we were at the moment. Sean and Rich decided to give the triple another round and Tim and I caught some shots from the bottom pool. In a moments notice they were launching off the drops again and we were beginning to make motion towards the takeout but there were quite a few more significant rapids in the way however a majority had to be portaged due to poorly placed wood by flooding and storms. Quickly we were at the confluence and down to the park where we had parked off the highway. Still today though I can see the beauty of the triple twenties every time I sit down bored at work it’s only a memory away and I can’t wait to get back to BC!

My Worlds Story!

Posted on: 1 Comment

The Trip

After I got back from the WildWater World Championships in Slovenia it was time for me to transition from WildWater training to freestyle training.  I went back and forth from home in VT to upstate NY training on the Black River.  There was plenty of rain this summer so most of my training was done at high water Hole Brothers which was “fun”, since it was a wave, but not really “ideal”, since the World Championships was being held in a hole.

I left NY on August 16th with Brook and spent the night at Lynn and Gary’s house(Lynn is Jeff’s cousin) near State College, PA. Lynn made an awesome panko crusted chicken dinner with sliced potatoes in a cheesy cream sauce and steamed broccoli.  After dinner we had a small bonfire in the backyard with smores and freshly baked brownies.  It was fun hanging out with them along with Molly and finally meeting Emily and Ryan. Awesome people, all of them. I woke up early the next morning and started the 10 hour drive to Bryson City, NC.  On the way I made a stop at Sheetz and got a fresh-made buffalo chicken wheat wrap along with some Cape Cod Kettle Cooked potato chips and a plain seltzer.  I arrived in Bryson City around 5pm and went to the Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground to set up camp before I went to paddle. The campground host, Terry, was an incredibly nice guy and was super excited to have another competitor stay there(Haley Mills was already staying there with her sister Clara and Clara’s husband BJ, more on them later).  As I was setting up camp the rain started and it didn’t end for about a week!  I finished setting up and headed over to the Nantahala Gorge to get my first training session in.  There was already a bunch of paddlers there from around the world.  I jumped in the water and had my first paddle in the hole since making the US team in April.

I got back late that night to the campground cooked dinner really quick, took Brook for a walk and went to bed.  It rained hard that night and everything was damp.  I checked the forecast and it showed rain all week.  My intention was to tent camp for the first two weeks and then move into the cabin when Jeff arrived but I’m a princess and needed a cabin immediately.  I asked Terry if the cabin was available and he said it was for a week and a half then I would have to move back out since it was reserved for 2 nights.  That morning I met Haley’s sister Clara and brother-in-law BJ and their dog Judy who is 14 and dominated Brook who is twice her size.  They invited me into their RV and gave me coffee and made me a delicious veggie omelette with peppers and spinach.  It was great catching up with Haley since I hadn’t seen her since April and getting to know her outstanding family.

I dragged my tent, EZ up and all my gear over to my cabin and got sorted out and started to dry out a bit.  My first week of my second World Championships in 2013 finally began.  Open training was a little frustrating with so many paddlers trying to get time in the hole. People were taking long rides and paddling back into the hole after deep flushes (I may have done this once or twice myself early on). I then got so fed up with the wait and my ass going to sleep on me that I would take 2 rides and just get out. That’s freestyle!

The Mobius

Haley and I got word on Wednesday August 21st that our lightweight Mobius 49′s were ready.  Thursday we woke up and headed to SC to the Wave Sport factory to get our boats outfitted to us by Hans Nutz, the designer.  It was my first time at the Confluence building and it was pretty impressive to see what goes on the there.  It was a huge facility and was awesome walking around while boats are being molded all around you.  It was great seeing Hans again and he really did such an awesome job designing the Mobius.  A big thanks to him for dropping all his other work to make us a lightweight version of the Mobius in time to practice with before Worlds.  When we finished getting the boats outfitted to ourselves we headed to Asheville and ate dinner with Dave Fussilli, Team USA/Demshitz coach at this great mexican restaurant called Luck Otter. I had the grilled chicken burrito with rice and beans and a margarita on the rocks. Haley and I had big plans to paddle that night but by the time we got back to Bryson City it was like 10 so we bailed.  Haley’s mom had arrived at the campground earlier that day and had brought homemade Lemon Angel Food cake. Haley brought me a piece before I went to bed, it was so delicious!  The Mills family knew how to make me a happy camper and that was with food!

Next day at the hole in my brand new Mobius the line was super long but I took like four rides and felt really good in the boat. The Mobius 49 fits me great.  My loops were bigger, cartwheels and splitwheels came around nice and quick, I was more retentive, and my phonix monkey had never been more consistent.  I’m extremely happy with this boat!  Haley’s family took care of me again. They showed up at the river with a picnic lunch and I joined them.  We had chicken salad with spinach, peppers and tomatoes, bubbly water and OMG homemade rice crispy treats with homemade marshmallows that Mrs.Mills made! That night Haley, her mom and sister had a campfire and invited me over to join them.  Brook and Judy (BJ and Clara’s dog) were finally friends and they poked around together.  Remember the homemade rice crispy treats I told you about? Well we had the homemade marshmallows for smores and I’ll tell you they were the best damn smores I have ever had (sorry Lynn)!  I will say that Haley and her family can come spend as much time in VT as they want!  They took such good care of me!

Yeah Mobius!

Photo by: Haley Mills phone

The “Leslie”

Saturday August 24th was the Mystery World Championships on the Hiwassee River at this spot called “The Leslie”.  I met up with Claire O’Hara and Dennis Newton from Great Britain and Motoko Ishida from Japan to caravan the 2 hour ride to the event. It was great getting to know Motoko off the river.  This being my first ever Mystery event I didn’t really know what to expect.  We got there and there was like 30 squirters waiting for the release water to get to the spot. Word at the put-in was this was the most attended squirt mystery event ever. It felt pretty awesome to be a part of it.  I finally met Sarah Anderson who I bought my boat from (a super-sweet PS Composites “Shy Kor”) so that was fun.  There were lots of rafts to take us down to the mystery spot.  One thing that I’ve learned about squirting is that the boats can be hard to paddle down a river, especially a shallow one.  I put my boat on a ducky with Claire, Dennis and Motoko and Brook and I made the 30 minute walk. I got to the competition spot about the same time as my boat.  We had about 30 minutes to practice and learn the seam.  I got a bunch of help from people on what to do but had a really hard time finding the sweet spot.  I think there were like 9 heats and you get 5 rides.  I’m new to this so bear with me about how it’s scored and what not.  You get points for down time and that’s pretty much it but you get 2 rides where you get extra points for entering the seam differently, for example: if you went forwards each time you could enter it backwards.   On another ride you change it up from using a paddle to hand paddles or just bare hands.  Thats’ pretty much what I figured out on how the scoring works at Mystery Worlds.  There were like 7 women which was pretty awesome and everyone was super friendly.  Claire had like a 25 second downtime in the Womens class and won plus beating a lot of the mens downtime.  I never got under I just spun around out of control on my five rides but had such a fun time trying to get under.  In the mens class Pat Taft killed it with like a 42 second down time which was crazy to watch!  After the event Dennis strapped my boat on the ducky and everyone floated down to the take out and I hiked back out with Brook and this super nice couple who were putting up with Claire during the Worlds.  After the event we went back to a cabin that was rented  by a bunch of squirt boaters and they had a mexican food truck come to the cabin and you ordered food and they had a bunch of kegs of free beer!  I was so happy that I went to this event! I met a lot of cool people, learned a lot about squirting and got to eat mexican food out of the back of a truck, that’s a damn good day for me!

Trying to get under!

Photo by: Sam Voight

Team Training

Sunday was the last day of open training and I took my two rides and called it a good training session!  Monday was the start of team training and coaching.  Every country had an hour of training each day and the squirt boaters also had an hour of training every day separate from the surface boaters.  That worked out great since I had a chance to practice both disciplines. Stephen Wright, Dave Fussilli and Jeremy Laucks helped coach.  The first few days of training we voted on one minute rides and if you flushed you were done.  It worked great getting about 6-7 rides in an hour.  I think it was Wednesday when we decided to do 45 second rides and if you flushed you got to paddle back in just like competition.  We still pretty much got like 6 rides in and we stayed in the same order every day to make it easy.  Squirting training was a little more hectic with 20 or more people in squirt boats at a time waiting in the eddy for their turn in the hole.  It was really hard to just sit in your boat in the eddy and try not to get in the way of others.  I’d be in a full on bow stall hanging on to Jeremy or Claire would be across my chest while my boat was under her boat.  It was pretty freaking funny at times watching the chaos during squirt practice. Even with all the chaos it was enough time to figure out how to mystery move in the hole and do some technical tricks in the flats and in the hole.

Practice!

Photo by: Philip Robert

August 30th arrived and I had to move out of the cabin (it had been reserved for the weekend by another group). Before I moved out I had breakfast with Haley and family again.  We had coffee, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, wheat toast and I brought yummy banana nut bread that I bought from a women selling it at a little farmers market. After breakfast I dragged my EZ-up with help from Haley and tent back over to where I camped the first night and threw all my stuff in my car and then chucked it in my tent and EZ-up.  I wen to practice and waited patiently for the day and night to be over because the next day Jeff arrived finally! It felt like an eternity since I saw him last.

The Husband

I woke up, got ready, drove to the airport in Asheville, NC and Jeff arrived Brook and I were so happy to see him.  Brook was crying and barking with the cutest high pitched noise.  It made me all most cry but I didn’t.  We gave each other big hugs and kisses and I felt whole again.  It was such a relief to finally have him there with me.  We drove back to the river so I could paddle at team training.  After that we went back to the campground took Brook for a long walk and hung around for a bit before squirt practice.  The next day Jeff met BJ and Clara and they hit it off as I did when I first met them. An amazing couple with lots of things in common with us, including a fundamental employment deficit.  After we had coffee with those guys it was time to move back into the cabin.  This was my 3rd time moving.  We dragged all our stuff back to the cabin and settled in.

Opening Ceremonies

Monday September 2nd was the last day of country training.  Opening ceremonies began that night at 6pm.  It was so cool to be a part of another US Team.  My first Freestyle World Championships was in 2009 in Thun, Switzerland and I came in 15th place at that Worlds.  In 2011 I was a Judge at the Freestyle World Championships in Plattling, Germany.  I didn’t make the team that year but got qualified to judge instead.  In June of 2013 I competed for the USA at the WildWater World Championships in Solkan, Slovenia and came in 28th (Europeans are fast).  Now two months later here I was at another Opening Ceremonies representing the USA at another Freestyle World Championships.  It was such a great feeling being a part of the ceremony and walking down Main St. in Bryson City, NC and seeing my parents who I hadn’t seen since April. I ran up to them gave them both a big hug and was so happy they could come and be a part of this with me.  My parents would love to come and watch me compete more but my mom takes care of my grandmother pretty much full time along with my Auntie Carmen (who took Jeff and i on an amazing Cayamo Music cruise in January) and Uncle Stephen so it’s been hard for for them to get away the past few years.  I was so happy that they were able to come and be a part of this with me. A big thank you to my Aunt Carmen and Uncle Stephen for rearranging their work schedules so my parents could come. I wish they all could of been there but unfortunately it’s just not feasible right now. When the ceremony was over my parents, Jeff, Haley, BJ, Clara, Dave, Jeremy and Bren (member of the British team and Demshitz paddler) had dinner at the Cork and Bean.  We had such a great time at dinner and had lots of laughs.

US Team!

Photo by: Tracy Bennett Smith

It Begins

And there it was the World Championships began on Tuesday September 3rd.  The Jr Men and OC1(Open Canoe) went on day #1.  I drove in to cheer on the boys that day.  All the Americans made it into the next round.  I paddled the river that day with Dave who was on a SUP.  I wanted to just keep myself fresh in the boat since the Womens K1 was not until Friday.   I found out that Squirt women had 40 minutes of training Tuesday at like 5pm so I stayed and had a great session. I really worked on getting my mystery that entire session and felt pretty good about it.

Lynda and Meg

Jeff’s mom Lynda and sister Meg arrived on Tuesday.  We had dinner with them and my parents at the gorgeous cabin Lynda rented just a thousand yards from the campground. Lynda came to Thun in ’09 along with Jeff’s sister Marcy and had rented an amazing cottage for us in Lauterbrunnen in the shadow of the Jungfrau, and also came to Slovenia in June and again rented us a beautiful house in Srpenica, a tiny picturesque village just south of Bovec on the Socja river in the Julian Alps. You have developed a knack for getting to my competition venues and making them feel like home, thank you so much Lynda! Meg and Lynda made a dinner of hot italian sausages and peppers and it was delicious!

Family!

Photo by: Paul Trahan

Squirt Prelims

I went to bed that night feeling ready for Squirt prelims on Wednesday.  Being fairly new to squirt boating I had my expectations in check. I practiced quite a bit in flatwater and had learned to cartwheel, splitwheel, bow stall, stern stall, wash out, and bow screws.  That was pretty much all I could do for technical tricks but I felt pretty good about them.  I was in the second of 2 heats of women.  10 out of 12 would make it to semi-finals. I knew it would be tough to make it since I was so new but felt that if I got my mystery and all my technical tricks I had a chance. My name was called and it was “go” time.  Stephen was with me on day one and told me to mystery first and then do my technical stuff.  My first ride I didn’t get a mystery but scored some points on my technical stuff.  The thing is in the ICF scoring system to score a mystery your head has to go under water for two seconds for it to count and if you stay under longer than two seconds you get more points.   If you get a mystery to score it doubles all your technical points so that’s how you really improve your score so you want that mystery move to go.  Before my ride Stephen gave me great tips on what to do to make sure I get my mystery.  I had one more chance to do my thing. My name was called and I charged up to the hole, fast. At the last possible second before crushing the rock in the hole I turned sideways and pretty much window shaded the crap out of the hole and BAM I was under for like 4 seconds!  I came up like “hell yeah!” and then paddled up to the deeper water and could hear Stephen yelling at me to do wash outs, cartwheels, splits and so on.  My score came in and I was in 6th place with a combined score of 279.  I made it into semi-finals! It was such an awesome feeling!  After squirt prelims Meg made lunch for us. She made an awesome turkey sandwich on wheat with tomato and mayo, chips, bubbly water and fruit.  I was starving and devoured the sandwich, chips and fruit!

Squirting!

Photo by: Tracy Bennett Smith

Lou and Barb

Thursday was the mens class and Jeff’s Aunt Barb and Uncle Lou arrived from Washington, GA.  It was really nice that they made the drive to come and visit and watch me compete. We spent most of the afternoon catching up with them before Jeff and I had to leave to meet my parents out for dinner.  We went to Cherokee and ate dinner at a Bistro in Harrah’s.  Thursday was also a big day because it was the start of the NFL season!  If anyone knows me I love me some football.  The Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens (cough) opened the season up with a loss against the Denver Broncos.  If you didn’t know that well now you know.

Freestyle Prelims

Friday finally arrived and it was time for K1 women prelims.  There were 30 women, cutting to 10.  It was going to be a hard cut to make since there were plenty of really good women boaters there. One thing I’ve learned from competing the past couple of years is to keep my expectations low. When I do that things always work out better for me.  It may not work for everyone but this past year has really helped me just enjoy competing and when I enjoy competing I paddle way better.  I was in the third heat and it was a stacked heat of women with Claire O’Hara from Great Britian (current world champion), Ruth Gordon from Canada (former world champion), Marlene Devillez from France, and Maria Noakes from New Zealand.  The announcers called our names for the heat and we all paddled down to the hole. I was being silly paddling down and got stuck in this little pour over above the hole. It was outstanding!  I could hear everyone cheering for me and I looked up at the judges stand and they were all laughing.  I surfed out laughing pretty hard. It was a great way to start the competition that’s for sure.  Jeremy Laucks was my coach and we talked about what I needed to do to make it into semifinals.  We decided that I needed to do tricks to make it into semis.  I had one ok ride for 223 points and one pretty good ride for 373 that put me into 5th place with a combined score of 596. I was happy with my results and now had to wait for 3 more heats of women to go and could get bumped out. After a long wait I was bumped from 5th place to 7th place but it was still enough to make it into semifinals!  Yeah!

Jermey telling me to do tricks!

Photo by: Jeff Campbell

The Farringtons, the Cookout and the Jam Session

Friday night we had a cookout at Lynda’s.  Jeff’s coworker Brian Farrington, his wife Leanne and his awesome family (sans Anna) had literally just arrived and came up for  the feast. Also there were my parents, Lou and Barb, BJ and Clara, their great friends Eric and Laurie, and Haley. There were like 18 people there in total.  We had Angus burgers with pepperjack cheese, hot grilled sausages, hot dogs, green salad, baked beans, incredible corn on the cob, these delicious coconut macaroons that Clara made, and some insane chocolate chip cookies that my mom had bought at a bakery in Cherokee.  It was a really fun night.  After dinner, Brians’ daughters Corrie and Amy broke out their Violin and a drum box, Jeff had his guitar and I had my bass.  We played all the songs that I knew (which is like 7) and though the girls never even heard most of the songs that we played, they just jumped right in and killed it!  It was so much fun playing along with a violin and drum sound.  When we ran out of songs that I knew Jeff and Amy and Corrie continued to play a bunch more music.  It was a super fun night and one I’ll remember forever! We named our band “Cabin Four” and plan on releasing a hit record soon. Corries’ boyfriend Calen will be our roadie. Corrie has a beautiful voice in addition to being an amazing talent on the violin. Amy played the drum box like a pro and then broke out her guitar and killed it on that as well. Talented young bunch! Inspiring!

The Farrington Clan!

Photo by: Tracy Bennett Smith

WildWater Nationals

Saturday was a big day for me as I had decided to do a Sprint race for the WildWater US Nationals in addition to competing in two semifinals later that same day.  I had brought my wildwater boat and my wing paddle with me but hadn’t practiced in over a month. I hopped in my boat and attained up to the race start. I felt a little awkward with my wing paddle which is a 205 60 degree offset straight shaft and my freestyle paddle is a 194 zero degree bent shaft.   I usually don’t have much of an issue transitioning from paddle to paddle but that’s because I usually paddle my wildwater boat nearly every day. The past month I had only paddled freestyle to get ready for worlds.  When It was my turn to race the timer said “go” and off I went.  I felt like I was having a great race until I hit the top pour-over above the freestyle hole and missed my brace on my right side and was immediately upside down. I rolled up pretty quickly and finished the race but lost a bunch of time being upside down and then having to get the boat back up to speed.  I’ve been racing for about a year now and that was first time I ever flipped my WildWater boat and rolled it.   In a sprint race you get two runs but I decided to only do one run since I had to get ready for Squirt Semifinals which started at noon and it was already like 11:15.

Squirt Sem-finals

I switched gear, got my squirt boat out of boat check and was ready to go.  Jeremy was now officially my own personal coach, as far as I was concerned!  He helped me get my skirt on and we were ready to go.  In semifinals you get two rides, best one counts.   We stuck with the same strategy of mystery first and then technical tricks.  My first ride was great with a sweet mystery move and most of my technical tricks went well. I scored a 353 which put me in first place in my heat.  My second ride wasn’t very good since I didn’t get a mystery.  There was one more heat to go.  I had to sit and wait to see if I made it into finals.  Claire killed it taking first,  Motoko took second, I was able to hold onto third going into finals. Fourth was Hitomi from Japan and fifth was Yoshiko, also from Japan.  I was pretty happy that I made it into finals.  It was time for Jeremy to compete, he finished in 3rd place going into semi finals in squirt.  He had two good rides getting a mystery in both and getting a bunch of technical tricks and made it into finals in fourth place.

Hi Five from Stephen!

Photo by: Jeff Campbell

Freestyle Semi-finals

Saturday was a pretty long day. After squirt semis we went back to our cabin and I took a nap.  It was finally getting close to semi finals. We met up with the family and had some pizza at this outdoor wood fired grill place at the Nantahala Village and then it was time to warm up and digest.  The semis started at 9pm so I got in the water around 8pm to warm up and wake up a bit.  I’m not a youngin anymore and am usually getting ready for bed around 9:30 so this was going to be an interesting competition for me.  The place was packed!  I’m pretty sure the bleachers were full of people.  All 10 women were in the water and before the first heat started your name would get called and you would paddle down below the feature and answer one question from the announcer Cory Volt.  After all 10 women answered our questions it was go time.  It was going to be real hard to make it into finals with the 10 women who were in semis.  I was fourth to go in my heat.  My first ride was a 305 with a huge air loop, a phonix monkey, cartwheel and a shuvit is what I’m guessing was scored.   My second ride wasn’t as good with a 233.  I knew I wouldn’t make it into finals with a 305 since there was another heat to go but I was happy with my performance at my bedtime. I had fun and thats all that matters to me.  The five women who made it to finals was Claire 575, Katerina 546, Hitomi 413, Ann 410, and Adriene 410.  They all made it into finals with great rides but I won the dance competition in the eddy and I won getting stuck in the pour over, no one got stuck like me or danced like me.

Photo by:

Cherly Killman

Squirt finals

I was so tired by the time we got back that night. I slept well that night! Jeff was a great husband and packed everything up on Saturday so we didn’t have much to do Sunday morning.  Our plan was after squirt finals to start the 15 hour drive home.  Squirt finals started at 10am and I was sore from the day before and pretty much the entire summer by that point.  In finals we had three rides and the best one counted.  My first two rides weren’t that great I had a mystery in my first but not my second ride.  I was in fifth and knew I could get a better score than my 116.  My ride was good with a nice mystery and some technical stuff and I improved it to a 253 but it was not enough to move up the ranks.  I stayed in fifth place with 253, in fourth was Hitomi with a 280, Yoshiko 286, Motoko in second with a 603, and Claire in first with 1,153.   It was a great honor to compete in finals with these women. I learned a lot about squirting at the World Championships and am excited to learn new technical tricks and improve my mystery moves.   Hopefully I can make the US Team again in kayaking and squirting for the 2015 World Championships. In the mean time I will take proper dance lessons and improve my dance moves.

Jeremy and I waiting for my score.

Photo by: Tracy Bennett Smith

I had so much fun at the World Championships thank you so much to my family and friends who came to visit and watched on the internet.  Thanks to my amazing sponsors Wave Sport, Shred Ready, Zoar Outdoor, Mitchell Paddles, NRS, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Watermans Sunscreen, KEEN Footwear, and Pau Hana Surf Supply.  A big thank you to Stephen Wright, Dave Fussilli and especially Jeremy Laucks for all the help with coaching you guys did an amazing job and also to the Katich’s for being great Team managers.  The biggest thank you goes to the best husband in the world Jeff for being so supportive of me and sacrificing sailing time to come watch me flop around in my kayaks!

I’m home in VT and looking forward to a Fall filled with creeking, freestyle, wildwater and squirt boating!

Hope you enjoyed the long read!

Till next time,

Elaine Campbell

First Descent of the ‘Grand Canyons of the Chimbu’ – Papua New Guinea

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to travel to Papua New Guinea, with funding from the Sir Edmund Hillary Advenutre Grant, for a kayaking expedition with good friends Barny Young and Shannon Mast. We achieved 8 first descents, which was a great feat, but left the country with a thorn in our side. The Chimbu River had beaten us twice. On the first attempt we were broken by a brutal portage around a blind canyon and then forced to retreat when we were confronted with another canyon downstream. The second attempt Barny fired up a burly hole in the lower canyon and had a gnarley swim, losing his kayak under a rock for 24 hours until locals swam under and retrieved it! Needless to say, as time went on Barny and I felt more and more compelled to return to PNG and finished what we had started.

Scouting part of the Chimbu in 2011

Barny about to get beat-down and have a sketchy swim on the Chimbu in 2011

Come 2013, and another Sir Edmund Hillary Adventure Grant from Sport NZ, we had the means to get redemption. Shannon was unable to come this time but his shoes were filled by two young bucks, Matt Coles and Ari Walker. Two charging young paddlers from our local paddling crew. We had 25 days to achieve our goal, plenty of time to allow for PNG delays. So in early May we flew to PNG full of eagerness and anticipation. Once on the ground, however, it felt like I had never left and we got straight to work. I wont break down the whole expedition, check out gradientandwater.blogspot.co.nz if you want more information, but in short it went like this. We started in Lae and drove along the Highlands Highway up to Kundiawa, stopping to paddle the Mai River on the way. Once in Kudiawa we drove up the Chimbu almost as far as the Dengalu Mission, a couple of kilometres upstream of Gembogl Station. We wanted to go to the lake at the Chimbu’s source, but the river was quickly becoming a trickle as it was the dry-season, we conceded and put on at Gembugal Bridge. We paddled a few km’s of low-volumne class IV down to Gembogl Station, where we would stay for the night. We stayed at a resource centre of orphanes and the hospitality was amazing.

Matt keeping an eye on our gear as we get some groceries

The next day we a woke with aspirations to paddle down about 20km to Banana Market. This would be challenging, however, as Matt hadn’t slept very well and was feeling quite ill. He felt good enough though and we got our mob on, stopping to have a quick talk to a primary school. We made it to Banana Market but not without incident, Barny and I had over-committed to probably the biggest rapid of the day but had managed to fight our way through. Ari had a brief scout and then lead Matt into it, getting pushed off line and became pinned. Fortunately nothing servere happened, Ari stopped the locals from trying to rescue him and Barny got back up river to rope Ari free. At the end of the day we decided to return to Kundiawa for a night, so Matt could get some rest, fresh water and some hearty food.

That night, unfortunately, I become really ill so we remained in Kundiawa the next day to give me and Matt some time to recover, although we decided regardless of our personal health, those who were able to continue would do so the next day. I woke up feeling good but quickly deteriorated. Good enough though, so well all packed up and committed to the section of the Chimbu that beat us down TWICE in 2011. This time we knew where we were going, sort of, so we made good time down to the first portage. We quickly commited to the portage and were back on the water enjoying some continuous class V, down to the brutal portage. On cue, some locals emerged from the jungle and offered to help us out. Learning from our heated situation in 2011, we set out the terms for them helping VERY clearly and then we got to the task. This time it didnt seem nearly as grueling, not to say it was easy or anything, and we managed to bang it out in about 1 hour or so. We made our way down to the Sikewage Gorge but arrived over an hour late for out cut-off to committing to this lower section. I knew that if I took off today I wouldnt be coming back tomorrow… so coerced the team into committing to the canyon and the section below. This meant limited media and we’d have to charge to reach Kundiawa before nightfall, but we were up for it. We made it through Sikewage, after dodging rocks dislodged by kids well above us, and then ran some amazing pushy class V below. We kept it safe and ran everything we can too, all under the watchful eye of two local kids who managed to keep pace with us from below the gorge. But soon the river flattened, the kids cries of joy faded out and we had a class II-III float down to Kundiawa. We had done it, a week or so faster than I could have ever imagined. All in tact and only leaving one thing unpaddled. All in all successfall.

Ill and stuck in Kundiawa…

Our little followers helping me with the filming

Matt, Barny, Myelf and Ari – STOKED!

We had 12 more days to mission after this but unrest due to local government elections restricted our moments. We added 3km to the Busu that we first descented in 2011 and then spent some time searching the Huon and Salamaua Peninsulas for future projects, but access is difficult. We found more reefs than rivers but had a good time nonetheless. We do have another project for PNG but whether we are motivated for it and can get the support for it is another thing. Time will tell, but for now it is spring on the West Coast of New Zealand and I am hoping for a big season here.

Barny and Myself on the Upper Busu

Ari on the Busu

Cheers, Jordy

Wild Water World Championships

Posted on: No Comments

I’m back in VT after an amazing to trip to Slovenia to compete at the Wild Water Worlds.  Slovenia is a beautiful country with innumerable small villages spread throughout the Julian Alps, and lots of whitewater. It was not someplace I ever thought I would visit but thanks to kayaking, there I was!

The Wild Water World Championships was a very different experience than the Freestyle World Championships that I competed in in 2009.  For starters, compared to my fairly solid knowledge of freestyle,  I realized pretty quickly that I knew next to nothing about Wild Water. The US Wild Water Team was quite small with only 5 of us competing, no coach, no massage therapist, and no chiropractor.  The Europeans, on the other hand, had fairly large teams with multiple coaches armed with two-way radios, clip boards, stop watches, calculators and who knows what else, along with massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, dentists, ob-gyns, optometrists, and more.  I had Jeff, who would repeatedly tell me to 1. paddle faster and 2. try to paddle in a straight line. Good advice, undoubtedly, but not ideas that had not occurred to me directly.

It was clear when I got there that I was way behind the other women of this particular discipline.  The Euros in particular take it to a whole other level, and the Japanese women were quite accomplished as well.  They clearly have lots of experience, proper coaching and training. I was quite jealous!  I was training on my own and thought that I was fast and that I knew how to paddle a Wild Water boat.  Clearly, I was not/did not, and now realize that I have a lot to learn about Wild Water. I’m super excited about the nearly infinite ways I can improve, I just need to find a slightly better coach to show me the way.

I was quite fortunate to be able to borrow a Wild Water boat from the locals, although that meant that I had no idea what boat I was going to use until I got there.  Luckily, it was an easy boat to paddle and fit me pretty well. A huge “thank you” to Ingrid and Jens from Germany for helping me get a boat and Andre from Slovenia for letting me borrow the boat from the Solkan Canoe Club.

The course in Solkan was easy class II water with 3-4 foot diagonal wave trains. Nothing you couldn’t float through in a plastic boat with your eyes closed, as Hugh pointed out in his post.  But in a 14 foot Wild Water boat, going as fast as you can, trying to figure out exactly where to place your paddle(there was talk of the backside of the wave being the sweet spot), being completely lactic, and operating under severe jet-lag and sleep deprivation, it was a crazy challenge. Once in a while I felt like I had clean smooth lines but then my next run I’d be zig-zagging all around.  I never really paddled a Wild Water boat in a continuous wave train like this before so I had a lot to learn right from the start. Unfortunately, knowing you have a lot to learn and actually learning it are quite separate. Controlling a Wild Water boat with a “wing” paddle(these are supposed to be faster by the pure fact that they can only be used to paddle forward) is next to impossible to begin with, and when you add in continuous diagonal wave trains you are in for a fight. I pretty much fought the boat the majority of the time., rarely coming out on top. As soon as I saw how the other women were able to paddle with much greater control and efficiency, I lowered my expectations accordingly and began to relax. I’m happy that I made the US Team and that I was able to go and represent the US at this event.  The fact is, I did my best and came in 30th, with my fastest time 79 seconds and my slowest closer to 80 seconds.  The Women’s K1 winner(Great Britain’s Hannah Brown) had times closer to 67 seconds! Incredible! Here’s a link from the US Wild Water page http://www.usawildwater.com/news/2013/130619-World-Sprint-Results.html and the official results http://www.timing-mojstrana.com/rezultati.php

Immediately after the race, I got some great tips from Lee, the Australian Coach. He told me that my paddle was much too long, the offset was off by about 60 degrees, that I was paddling “fast” but more like I was creek-boating, that my strokes were too short, and that my corrective strokes were inefficient. So I have a few things to work on right away, thanks Lee! One more thing to mention about Wild Water racing: you really stand out when you are wearing creek shoes, a skirt for a plastic boat, board shorts and (the best one) a helmet with no holes in it. You stand out even more when you’re wearing all that gear and paddling 13 seconds sower than the leader!

Thanks to the US Team members Hugh Pritchard, Emmanuel Beauchard, Chris Norbury, Marin Millar and to the Canadain Team Pierre-Luc Lemieux and Katia Bourg for the encouragement and all the laughs!  We all did an awesome job! A big thanks to Jeff for all the love and support!

Team ZDA

Photo by Jeff Campbell

Cows would come and drink outside the house we rented.

Photo by Jeff Campbell

The Julian Alps

Photo by Jeff Campbell

Pracitce

Photo by Jeff Campbell

Boat control

Photo by Jeff Campbell

It took two people to figure out if my helmet was legal.  They were like this helmet has no holes in it, surely it can’t pass.

Photo by Jeff Campbell

Yeah all my gear passed!

Photo by Jeff Campbell

Race day

Photo by Chris Norbury

Photo by Jeff Campbell

Now it’s time to train up for the Freestyle World Championships and Squirting!

Till next time,

Elaine Campbell

Reno River Fest

Posted on: No Comments

I left good ole VT on Wednesday and landed in Reno Wednesday night.  I didn’t fly with a boat or paddle and this awesome guy Jonas Milton who doesn’t know me let me borrow his Project X 48.  Pete Delosa helped with getting me the boat and returning it.  Stephen Wright and Ruth Gordon let me borrow paddles.  A guy let me borrow his really nice slalom boat.  NRS let me borrow a SUP and Pau Hana let me borrow a SUP paddle, oh and Pete Delosa let me borrow his wife Amy’s boat for the boater cross.  I was all over the place that weekend with other peoples gear. It was so awesome to see the generosity people gave me. Sharing means caring!

I didn’t have the best weekend of competing. It started with the ridiculous hot weather which I was not accustomed to, the 3 hour time change, having a cold and not sleeping well but it didn’t stop me from trying and trying I did.

The comp started on Saturday and Jeff was the announcer.  The women went first and there was 14 of us.  The comp was held in Hole number 5 which is a fun hole but shallow and I always struggle in shallow holes.  I hit the bottom and have a mini heart attack each time especially since the boat was not mine and I’m really good at hitting the bottom!  I was the only Wave Sport paddler that was in a Wave Sport boat.  Devon Barker-Hicks is a new Team Wave Sport member but didn’t get her boat yet.  I was able to make it into finals in 5th place, then Jessie Stone, Jessica Yurtinas, Courtney Kerin , and Sage Donnelly.  Yes, a 12 year old beat all of us two days in a row.  What can I say she’s at her home spot, super competitor, and really good kayaker, she’s been paddling as long as I have so there were no surprises.

The men went next and I was a judge and they all had really goods rides.  We had finals on the same day just at 6pm so after the men finished prelims and semis we had a little break.  I went back to my room and slept for about an hour. I was starting to feel really run down by that point.  I set my alarm for 5pm and was up and getting ready for finals.  I think I drank 20 gallons of water that day and still felt dehydrated.

I showed up for finals and wasn’t able to put anything together except in my 2nd ride which was a mcnasty, air loop, shanked tricks, rock crushing and some flushes.  That kept me in 5th place.  Jessie was in 4th, Courtney in 3rd and the two local girls placing next, 2nd Jessica Yurtinas, and Sage Donnelly first.  Then had to judge men’s finals and Jayson Craig a local destroyed the hole linking a mcnasty and two phonixs monkeys, a back phonix and some other tricks putting him in 1st place, then Nick Troutman in second with another great ride, and Stephen Wright in 3rd with the only blunt mcnastys both ways.  By the time we finished finals it was around 8pm.  We were supposed to go out for my annual 30th b-day party but dinner finished up by 10:30 I needed to sleep and everyone was spent so we called it a night.

Sunday came way to quick and the SUP race was first starting about 10am.  I needed a board and Jeff was able to get me one from NRS called the Tyrant, 9 feet inflatable.  It was about a 3 mile race and the first time I was on a board since last year.  I managed to only fall in once and fell on the board twice and came in second place. I kept up with Courtney on a Pau Hana Big EZ 11 feet hard board.  This race took it all out me.  I was cooked the rest of the day. I helped with judging slalom and then took 2 slalom runs that where mostly clean just slow.  Then forced myself into boater cross which I’m always way to excited for but had no energy for it and didn’t make it to the next round which was a blessing because I was hurting real bad by that point and stumbled back to my hotel room and slept till 4:30.  I made it to the awards at 5pm said goodbye to everyone and Jeff because he was leaving to go to San Fran on business.  I got a ride to the airport and took the red eye home.  That’s my trip to Reno!

I’m home recovering and starting to feel better. Today I’m going to start training again for Wild Water the Worlds are coming up so I need to be ready for it.

This Saturday I’ll be at the Westfield Water Sports demo in Westfield, MA.  I’ll be showing off some sweet rec, touring, fishing, and whitewater kayaks for Confluence. If you are in the area come by and hang out it’s from 9-4pm.

Photo by: Stephanie Viselli

SUP Podium Courtney 1st, 2nd me , 3rd Sage

Eating messy tacos!

Photo by: Noah Fraser

Till next time,

Elaine Campbell

A Boone Weekend

I spent last weekend up in Boone with the ASU crew getting in some seriously fun whitewater boat riding.  It all started late night thursday as I rolled into town and to the Boone kayak hostel, granted the amount of boats outside had been greatly reduced by school being out. After a few beers and some sleep it was time to head out on a mighty hefty adventure. It was decided previously to head to Linville for a good time with some stout rapids and hearty hiking. After the decision was finally made to paddle all the way to the lake the driving began. Needless to say it was pretty entertaining trying to find the way due to bridge closures and general tomfoolery. After eventually reaching the takeout we set shuttle and began the hiking portion of the day down to babel tower stoping to enjoy the view at the overlook along the way. Once we finally got down to the river it was great to see an awesome level and a great rapid to start off the day. We took our time as we made our way down the river stopping to film and have lunch. There were some occurrences of  note including myself swimming out of a hole/undercut combo and through a siphon and under a sieve which left me missing a shoe, elbow pads and some pride. However once everything was said, done and collected thanks to major help from my friends Mac, Ty and Colin, we continued to boogie on down the river eventually making it to the lake and one stout bootie. So after a draining day the only thing left to do was grab some dinner, plan the next day and chill. Watauga was the plan for the next day and we woke up to the gauge boasting an awesome level of 600! Ty and I gathered up our stuff and boogied our way down thanks to Theresia hooking us up big time with shuttle! The next day Ty and Clay walked for graduation and we all went paddling shortly after the ceremony was over with a great group of around 15 people. As we boogied our way down it was fun to pause and watch everyone else run the rapids after making our way down. As we came through stateline it was great to have an awesome sunset in the back ground with this great boof just below me! All in all I would have to say it was an epic and awesome weekend thanks to the great crew and friends up in Boone!

US Freestyle Team Trials and the Mount Washington Tuckerman I nferno

Posted on: No Comments

We’ve had a couple of good weeks on the road.  It started off heading to North Conway, NH for the Mount Washington Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon.  The Inferno is a 8.3 mile run, 5 mile kayak, 18 mile bike, 3 mile hike, and skiing down Tuckermans Ravine. That’s what it usually is. This year it rained the night before and the river rose pretty high and the organizers decided to cancel the race on the river and make the kayak a flat water race.  Another change this year was the ski.  The skier’s didn’t ski the bowl this year because of 60mph winds and the ravine was a sheet of ice, so they skied part of the Sherman trail instead.  Mother nature decided to mess up the race this year but it was still really fun even though I had to race flat water.

I was on a Team of 5 women called Team Broads with Kim Seaman our runner, Nicole Vassar our biker, Di Collier our hiker, Ali O’Rourke skied and I was the kayaker. We competed in the all women’s category against 5 women teams.  We all raced really well and came in 3rd in the all women’s category, our time was 3:40:00.  I took first place in the kayak race out of all the the women and 10th in men. There were some really fast boats and some really fast paddlers so it wasn’t a gimme.  In the overall results we came in 22nd out of 53 teams that included coed teams of 5, duo teams and soloists. It’s such a great race and I am looking forward to it again next year.

I’m trying to catch my brother Mark and passed all these guys.

Next up was NC for US Freestyle Kayak Team Trials.  If you made the US Team you earned a spot to compete at the World Championships in September on the Nantahala River in NC.  Team Trials were held on the Nantahala River and was a 3 day event and pretty much rained 2 days straight during the competition and unfortunately I didn’t get any photos or videos because of it.  I haven’t really play boated at all this year.  I spent a week in WV and a few days at Eternity hole in March and that was about it.  I’ve been training mostly for Wild Water Racing because I’m on the US Team for Wild Water and competing at the Sprint World Championships in June in Slovenia so my time and energy has been spent getting ready for Wild Water Worlds.  I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and that was a huge help with my freestyle kayaking.  I was able to get a couple of days of practice in on the feature working around the International Canoe Federation Judge Training that I was doing.  My paddling was going really well with getting consistent mcnasties, air loops, splitwheels, clean cartwheels, and occasional space godzillas.

There was 15 women who competed. Prelims started on Friday and the level rose and the feature became flushy.  I was able to make it to semi finals in 7th place and 11 women moved on because Courtney from New Zealand was competing and she made it to semis.  Then it started to rain and didn’t stop until Monday.  The organizers asked the damn operators to drop the level and they did.  The feature was just like what everyone practiced in so that was nice.  In semis you get two rides best one counts.  My first ride wasn’t good enough to put me into the finals, I was a little conservative with it. Devon Barker and Jessica Yurtinas had a better score than me and I knew I had to do something if I wanted to make it into finals.  I knew I had to beat a 253 to make it into finals and then would have to wait to see what Kat did in her last ride since was the last to go.  This ride I went in and started with my mcnasty and it went then after that I did a bunch of other stuff and scored a 290 and then waited to see what Kat was going to score because she could of pushed me out of finals with her last ride.  She didn’t beat my score so I moved on to finals and in 3rd place. I was pretty happy with that as was Jeff.

We didn’t know if we where even going to have finals if the river flooded out but we did in a crazy flushy feature.  In Finals you have 3 rides best one counts.  In finals was Emily Jackson, Devon Barker, me, Adriene Levknecht, and Haley Mills.  The judging was extremely strict so lots of stuff didn’t go this weekend but it seemed they were even harder during finals. You would finish a ride in finals and be like sweet then the judges gave you like nothing, damn them!  I was sitting in 3rd which is a good place to be when you know what the others scored. Emily is super pregnant but still could throw down and Devon can easily have a great ride where she does all her tricks and puts up a lot of points even on a flushy feature.  Adriene and Haley are going to loop and space godzilla there brains out and get huge bonuses which makes them hard to beat.  My best score was my second ride which was a 110.  Emily and Devon had one ride left to beat my score (110), Haley’s (140), and Adriene’s (120) but they didn’t and the three of us made the US Freestyle Kayak Team.  It was a relief to just goof off in my third ride.  Anyway, that’s pretty much what happened.

This is my second time on the US Freestyle Kayak Team I was on the US Team in 2009 with Adriene in Thun, Switzerland.  I also am on the US Squirt Team they needed another women so I said I would do it, thanks to Jeremy Laucks for letting me squeeze into his squirt boat. I actually competed in squirt at the Worlds in Thun because they needed another country to enter so I did it there and used Jeremy’s boat.  I’m pretty happy to be competing in 2 World Championships this year.  I’ll still be focusing mostly on Wild Water right now since the Worlds is in June then when I get back I’ll do some training in freestyle but I’m not going crazy. The approach I took to the US Team Trials seemed to really work for me.  I’ve competed in 3 US Team Trials and this was the first one where I didn’t care one way or the other about making the team and good things came from it.

Shred Ready had a great showing this weekend and a few of us made the US Freestyle Team with Adriene Levknecht, Mike Patterson, Rowan Stuart, Tad Dennis, Jeremy Laucks, and me.

A big thank you to my number 1 sponsor Jeff Campbell, my family, and friends and to Wave Sport, Shred Ready, Mitchell Paddles, Zoar Outdoor, NRS, Maui Jim Sunglasses, KEEN, and Watermans Sunscreen for your support.

Celebrating making the team with Adriene, Haley and me.

Photo by: Shannon Christy

The US Team!

Here’s a link to the results  http://freestylekayaking2013.com/blog/us-team/

Till next time,

Elaine Campbell

North Georgia Whatnot

Craig and Ty Ripping it up


Over the past weekend I had the chance to go to my first Tallulah Fest. Having missed a few years of them and not being able to paddle the river for 4 years due to my work schedule it sure was a good time to get out there. There was tons of fun to be had from the river to the party. It being my first time back in years was a blast since I couldn’t really remember all the lines and since this year we have had a bit of rain which allowed for a bit more flow to be spilled too! After the lovely hike down to the river we were greeted both days with a smaller then normal crowd. Most of us were in downriver playboats and having a great time hitting up all the spins, freewheels and splats that the river had to offer up. The river also has some awesome surfing waves and holes which I was happy to be charging in the Large Nano. Eventually though we made it to the lake.

Ty charging the surf at amplitheater in the loki


Eventually we made our way back and began to take it easy. The festival started picking up in the evening and we were all having a blast. Finally though the video competition finally came up and everyone was so stoked to see the edits. Once the edits rapped up it was time to boogie down to some North Georgia boot stompin music. The night was a blast even though there wasnt a huge crowd there were plenty of good folks to enjoy the night with. It was an all around amazing weekend but how could it not be when it involves friends, kayaking and music!

Stoked to be rocking the new helmet and going boating

Scantic Spring Splash

Posted on: No Comments

This past weekend was the 22nd annual Scantic Spring Splash in Enfield, CT.  There were over 100 racers, more canoers than kayakers, young and old.  This was my first time racing this event and had a great time, plus Jeff even raced!  It’s a 5 mile race mostly flat water with 3 class II drops, a mandatory portage up and over the dam and the river had about 6 inches of water in it. I’ve been to a lot of events and will have to say that the Scantic Spring Splash is one of the best organized events that I’ve been to.  They had the boy scouts helping out at the portage area.  They passed out drinks when you came by and if someone was struggling with a boat they’d help carry it.  There was another group of kids called Explorers that came to help with directing traffic, informing competitors and spectators where to go.  The event had free shuttle services for competitors and spectators.  There was plenty of safety on and off the river. The volunteers all seemed to be happy and having a great time as did the competitiors.

I paddled my Wave Hopper since my carbon Wild Water boat would not have survived this race.  The race was a challenge for me with all the flatwater.  I can lose focus and get bored when it’s so flat but I felt like I did an ok job keeping myself motivated during the race but probably could of done better.  I lolly gagged during the portage and should of hussled a bit more.  After the portage is where the 3 class II drops are and where most of the spectators are to watch the carnage factor.  The majority of racers are not whitewater boaters so these rapids are hard for them.

The river was low and I bottomed out a few times. At the final rapid I stopped in an eddy after the first ledge to let a canoer get himself sorted out. He swam, his canoe was surfing in the little hole and he was standing up in the river trying to get his canoe out. The last ledge also had a swimmer and boat still in the water so the fastest line was congested with boats and swimmers. I should of just went and took the dry line which I inevitably did but for some reason I decided to wait.  Maybe the reason why I waited was because it was so entertaining watching the carnage that was happening right in front of me. Anyway, the race was great and the amount of spectators made it really fun!  A ton of people just cheering you on all along the entire 5 miles. That made it really neat and pushed me at moments to paddle faster!  Jeff had a great race, he survived it paddling my Wave Sport Momentum.  It sounds like he will do some more races this year with me so that’s exciting!

One thing I did learn about this race was that even though it was a super easy river, if you are going to race you should do a run on it first and get to know it before a race.  It would of made my life way easier.  My time was 44:48 which is ok but I’m a little disappointed in my performance but it was another great learning experience and was great training.  I came in 6th in the long boat class and had the fastest women’s time.

Next up is hopefully going to be the New Haven Race in VT that’s if the weather cooperates.

Here’s a link with some photos and quick videos of the race.

http://enfield.patch.com/articles/highlights-of-the-2013-scantic-spring-splash#video-13843830

Till next time,

Elaine Campbell

2 weeks in WV and NC!

Posted on: No Comments

I’ve been out of the scene for a few months enjoying my winter in VT.  We’ve had lots of snow this winter and it’s been pretty cold.  I spent most of my time working at Timber Creek Cross Country and doing a lot of classic and skate skiing.  It was finally time to get out of VT and start paddling.  I headed to WV for a week bringing snow and cold temps with me.  I got some great days in on low water New River Dries and the Gorge section.  It was a great week getting myself comfortable in my boat again. Then I headed over to Eternity Hole in NC and put in a few days there.  It’s a great little play spot where every hole trick goes really nice and it was still cold.

Next up on my little paddling trip alone with no Jeff, Brook and Laya was a WildWater competition on the Nantahala in NC for the Bank of America US Open and yes, still cold.  I never got a break from cold weather on this trip!  The Sprint race was being held on Saturday and the Classic race on Sunday.  My buddy Mark and his wife Alicia drove from MA a few days before the race. We both finally got back in our wildwater boats after the long New England winter. I felt like I was starting all over again in my wildwater boat and using that damn wing paddle makes everything that much harder.  I was able to get it sorted out again but still not super comfortable.  Thanks to Alicia for being our awesome shuttle bunny!

We heard about another winter storm that was brewing on Sunday night, that was in our direct path to drive home after the Classic race.  We asked the extremely nice Chris Hipgrave who was organizing the WildWater races if we could do the Sprint and Classic on Saturday so we wouldn’t miss the Classic race or get stuck in a storm. He said yes, so we had a big day on Saturday with two races.

The Sprint race started at Pattons Run on the Nantahala.  I was feeling a bit tippy that morning in my boat which is never a good feeling to have in a wildwater boat but I was able to keep it upright and clean with a second place finish.  Selena Popp came in first with a 1:28.60 and I was right behind her with a 1:28.63.  The Classic race that Mark and I did went well I did it in 15:56 and we did it on the Nantahala. I guess on Sunday the damn wouldn’t open so they moved the Classic race to a different river so not really sure how my results faired to the other results but I’m pleased with my time for my first Classic race of the season.

I’m back home in VT and so happy to be back with the family.  I have a crazy busy schedule this year and am looking forward to it especially since Jeff, Brook, and Laya will be coming with me for most of it.

Here’s some photos from the wildwater race and a video from my 2 weeks away.

Mark Wendolowski and I killing it with our Shred Ready helmets on!

Photos: Alicia Clark Wendolowski

Photo: Jeff Campbell

Till Next time,

Elaine Campbell