Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Kayak Ollie is the same as the Skateboard Ollie

Today I put a post up on my blog at regarding the origination of the skateboard ollie which lead to the kayak ollie. In both sports, the ollie is the basis of many tricks. This video shows some ollies on skateboards and in kayaks. If you look at a couple posts back you can see Adam Johnson's post "Principles Behind Wave Maneuvers" and you may see how the concept of the ollie applies to what he had to say.

Read more about the subject and what sparked my interest in posting this at my Ollie Blog Post

Happy New Year,

Spencer Cooke, Team Riot

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Chile Update Numero Uno

Happy Holidays Ladies and Gentleman,

After a long, arduous jounrney through Argentina, I have arrived in the town of Futaleufu. I spent a week getting pummeled in the surf of Pichilemu,and now I'm definitely ready for some river running, and no more salt water. Today, myself, Tyler Curtis, Marianne Sather, Jaime (don't know his last name), and two dutchies (can't even begin to spell their names) paddled the Rio Azul. The Rio Azul is a class III-IV tributary of the Futaleufu, and is about ten minutes from town. There's a been a ton of rain here recently, so the Futa is a little washed out. While the Azul isn't super steep or difficult, it was definitely a extremely beautiful river. Actually, everything down here is extremely beautiful. Tomorrow, christmas day, we plan on paddling the bridge to bridge section of the Futa.

Rio Azul Putin

But enough about that. The past week I've been at Pichilemu, which is definitely one of my favorite paddling destinations I've visited thus far. If you like big waves, and especially if you like tremendous beat downs, pichilemu is the place to go. First of all, let me get this out there: I have very limted experience in the ocean with my kayak. In fact, I have practically none. And the waves at Pichilemu are enormous.

Before I continue, let me apologize for the lack of kayaking pictures. Pichilemu is a point break, and the break is way, way out there. I didn't bring the right lense to be taking pictures from 300 yards away. Sorry. Anyways, I continue. These waves were enormous: from the backside, I would say they were 8-10 feet. I'm not sure how big from the front because whenever I was close enough to closely measure them at their peak, I was scared to death. Having those waves crash on me was not fun. At times, they would push you down so deep that everything would be black and silent. Then you would resurface twenty feet behind the wave. Extreme.

My favorite move on the waves was definitely the helix. If you got the boat upside down right as the wave was beginning to break, then you could fall with the break and get some preet good air under you. That of course usually ended in a spectacular flurry of under water cartwheels, combo-ed with some aerial window-shades. The biggest moves, however, were definitely the "down-river" moves. Clearing the bow and landing on the stern was common when we did a wavewheel. Enormous kickflips, too.

Shore break...getting past this is the easy part

So that was fun. I recommend that everyone go visit the town if you're in the area. In addition to the kayaking, the beach and ocean are beautiful, and the people are definitely some of the nicest that I've met. Stay tuned for some futa video and pictures.

The beach

Catchin some dinner

Until next time, I'm...

Dave Finney

And here's some more random photos I've taken

Like father, like son

A boat

Footprints in the sand

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Magging the Green Again

Happy Holidays! Nate Dawg signing in... I've had an unbelievable two months of kayaking, and have been lucky enough to get on some of the best creeks in North Carolina. When it's not raining however, the Green is the place to be. With the dry 70 degree weather in Asheville, I've been paddling at the green a lot. My buddy Saunders Southecorvo came down from Virginia Tech a few days ago, and I've been out there a couple times with him. Saunders just got a new Magnum from Diamond Brand, and I thought it would be cool to document one of his first experiences in the new boat.

I called Gragtmans, and he was up for a study break. So Saunders and I met him around 11:00 at the take-out.

Here's a shot of Saunders practicing his forward stroke from the safety of dry land. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee).

Saunders at Boof or Consequence. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee).

Saunders showing how it's done at Go Left and Die. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee)

Me going Left. (Photo: Saunders Southecorvo).

Saunders screaming through the notch. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee).

Grag catching air at the Gorilla, while Saunders averts his eyes in sheer awe. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee).

Putting in to have a second go with the monkey. (Photo: Saunders Southecorvo).

I like the rock star eddy. (Photo: Saunders Southecorvo).

Gragtmans in the powerslide eddy. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee).

Saunders stomping it at Groove Tube. This rapid is great for learning how to stomp your bow down for a softer landing. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee).

This is me running the standard line at Sunshine. (Photo: Saunders Southecorvo).

Grag styling the Left line, Sunshine. (Photo: Saunders Southecorvo).

Saunders' opinion on his new Magnum: "The first couple days I tried it, I had great lines. Some of the places that I didn't have great lines, I was able to stay in control and recover quickly. I also had the courage to run Go Left for the first time in a while, as I got beat pretty bad the last time I ran it. As far as outfitting, I loved the seat especially and it's way more comfortable then my last boat. This boat is bad-ass like a samurai sword." -Saunders

Saunders seems to really like his new boat, and is looking forward to getting on some other stuff with it.

I hope you enjoyed the trip report, and I'll probably not see ya on the river!

-Nathan Silsbee
Flow Rider

Monday, December 18, 2006

Principles Behind Wave Maneuvers

Have you ever tried a certain trick on a wave, such as a blunt, pan-am, or donkey flip, and not been able to do it? Obviously, there are several factors that would contribute to this; however, being able to understand the fundamental principles behind wave maneuvers in kayaking will help paddlers to do wave tricks that they had not been able to accomplish before.

Therefore, the goal of this article is to explain certain subtle principles associated with wave tricks and why it is important to understand those principles when trying wave maneuvers (such as blunts, backstabs, pan-ams, airscrews, etc). In understanding these principles, the paddler can become aware of what he/she is doing correct and/or incorrect, whereupon the paddler can improve with his/her newly gained knowledge on the subject (and therefore learn how to do the new trick and have more fun while paddling).

Identifying the Wave:

This is the first step in the process. In order to understand this discussion, one must know the various parts of a wave. A wave contains:
1) Peak, Top, or Crest: the uppermost end of the wave.
2) Foam Pile: the white frothy water recirculating back upstream found on some waves
3) Face or Wave Face: the part of the wave where maneuvers are performed. This is the middle part of the wave. Sometimes the face can be under a foam pile, green (meaning that it does not have any sort of recirculating water on it), or a combination of the two.
4) Trough or Pit: the bottom of the wave, usually the place where you end up front surfing in between moves and the place where most bow pearls occur.
5) Shoulder, Wave Shoulder, or Rib: a key part of the wave, and integral to this discussion. The shoulder is best defined as the irregularity in the wave. Often found on the sides of the wave (but not always). Shoulders can be very defined (such as the shoulders at Garborator) or very subtle (such as in some holes).
6) Seam: where the foam pile and the face or trough intersect.

Wave Boating Principles:

The principles can be broken down into three (3) basic parts:
1) Speed
2) Bounce
3) Edge Transition

When doing moves on waves, the combination of these three principles will help to accomplish the move, make it more dynamic, and, possibly, give the move some air. So, this discussion will take these three principles and break them down individually.

1) Speed:
Speed is absolutely the most important factor when doing wave maneuvers. Basically, you want to have as much speed as possible when doing any type of wave maneuver. In order to get the most speed, you must go to the crest of the wave (the top). Try to get as high up on the wave as possible. The more speed you have coming down, the more dynamic the move will be, the bigger your bounce will be, and the chances of completing the maneuver increase exponentially.

A great tip to increase your speed coming down the wave is the use of a vertical paddle stroke. You may see some paddlers who, upon getting to the top of the wave, use a vertical paddle stroke to further increase their speed as they accelerate down the wave. This stroke can "make or break" the wave maneuver. Usually, just getting to the top of the wave and bouncing down is not enough. Using this vertical paddle stroke will help paddlers to further accelerate down the wave, providing more speed in order to accomplish the maneuver.

Vertical Paddle Stroke and Bounce on Edge, Lachine Waves, Quebec, Canada (above).

2) Bounce:

Bounce is the second most important factor in wave tricks. After you have gotten to the top of the wave, you begin to accelerate down and gather speed, you must bounce in order to get the boat out of the water (after all, the goal of all wave tricks involves a moment of separation from the water which enables the kayak to switch ends or edges weightlessly, such as in a blunt or airscrew).

Good bounces are ones that are initiated near the feet. In this, the paddler is aiming to actively push the feet down and into the wave (this concept is similar to flat spins, where the rotation points are at the feet, and about a foot or two behind the butt)
Adam Johnson, New River Dries, WV, USA.

The best bounces come from those that are initiated onto an edge. In other words, one will be more successful when bouncing onto an edge. To do these types of bounces, actively throw your weight forward and push your feet into the wave while putting your boat on edge. It is best to aim for a shoulder while doing this speed/bounce/edge transition combination. Your weight should be directed towards either side (ie-the right or left side) whilst leaning forward and on edge.

Bounce Physics:

When bouncing, what is happening with the water and the boat? Firstly, every boat has rocker on either end. When one bounces, that depression (rocker) is filled by water. Since the boat does not transform (it is a hard surface), that space between the water and the boat when bouncing causes the boat's bow to lift, filling the depression. The results- the bow first gets pushed down (bounce, equal and opposite reaction for every action), the rocker on the stern forms a depression, whereupon the depression fills, causing the bow to lift up.

Depression Filled, New River Dries, 35,000 CFS.

So, think of having the rocker as more than something that helps you to not pearl while surfing. Use it to your advantage and incorporate it into wave maneuvers.

3) Edge Transition:

Edge Transitions are another very important aspect of wave moves. Again, much like the rocker on your kayak, there is a reason why boats are wide at the cockpit, then narrow down at each end. When one combines bounce with an edge transition, this enables the kayak to lift off of the edge. The benefit to this is that your bow and stern, while on edge, provide much less surface area for the water to deal with than when your boat is flat (in other words, when your kayak is flat, there is a big surface area and when the kayak is on edge, that surface area decreases). This can be compared to recovering after your kayak pearls in a hole or on a wave.
Adam Johnson, Lachine, Montreal, Quebec.

So, when one does the bounce, it is best to do it onto an edge. After this bounce is transferred onto either edge, immediately try to lean slightly back and lift your knees. While doing this, enact the edge transition, as this will bring your bow further into the air. At this point, the edge transition should be finished or almost finished and your weight and body should be going into whichever move you want to do (blunt, pan-am, pistol flip, whatever). Basically, the more dynamic this edge transition, the better chance you have of completing the maneuver.

Adam Johnson, Nile Special Wave, Uganda.

Combining these three elements (speed, bounce, and edge transition) while doing moves on waves or on wave shoulders will increase the paddlers wave boating skills.

Speed: Get to the top of the very top of the wave and put in a vertical paddle stroke on your way down to maximize your speed.
Bounce: On your way down, throw your weight forward and onto an edge. Remember to actively push the kayak into the wave somewhere near your feet.
Edge Transition: Make this dynamic! Physics laws dictate, much like the "white table cloth theory" (object at rest stays at rest, object in motion...), that the faster the edge transition, the more lift you will get off the wave.

This article may make these principles sound very complex and intricate. The bottom line is that these principles are not hard to grasp. After understanding the physics behind wave paddling and what the boat and water are doing, the paddler will be able to harness the rivers, boats, and individuals' skills in order to have more fun while kayaking.
Clickable photos here

Have fun reading this article and happy holidays!

-Adam Johnson
Whitewater Freestyle

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Twisting Falls Gorge of the Elk River

click here to see Lower Elk video!

Standing beside the drop it looked good, kind of like a donkey puncher that would want to throw you over the handle bars. The only problem was it was super low. I had talked to Shane, who lives at the put-in, earlier and he had said the North Fork of the Catawba would be going, but dropping fast. I didn't know how fast, but my guess was it was too low. Spencer and Nathan showed up and confirmed my suspicion, we ditched the micro-flow to go get on something with water. Spencer had done the Twisting Falls section of the Elk River once before at flood stage, and Nathan and I had yet to get on it, so Elk it would be.

Nathan at the put-in.

We showed up to the put-in after a rather long shuttle to find the water at a great level, it looked padded out enough without being too high. As we were gearing up we talked about if anyone was going to fire up Elk River Falls. It seemed that no one wanted any part of the infamous 50' waterfall, but that was soon to change. As we walked up to the drop I looked over the lip to find a drop that looked suprisingly good. I remember Chris Gragtmans once saying that this drop just "spoke to him," I always thought he was crazy, but now I understand exactly what he is talking about. After another scout from down below, Nathan and I both wanted to drop her. Spencer set up a camera at the bottom, and I filmed from the top as Nathan took the plunge first. His line looked great from the top, and he seemed pretty fired up as he came back up to film me.

Nathan taking the plunge off Elk River Falls.

The skill and practice to be able to stick a pefect angle off any drop is something I know I wanted to improve on, and this drop seemed like a great step forward. 50 feet is huge, so I didn't want much if any speed going off the drop, but I also didn't want to go over the handlebars. It was one of the best feelings in the world to look down such a huge distance and see my line melt away. I rolled up at the bottom and paddled away from the biggest vertical fall I've ever taken.

Commited at the lip.

We continued down the river to find great drop after another - the river was a playground of slides and drops that makes this run a true High Country Classic.

Spencer gettin' jiggy with it.

After we portaged around Twisting Falls, an un-run mangler, we roped the boats down to the river to find two drops with Caleb Paquette and Scott Fisher scouting the first. One 10 footer with a sticky hole leading into a 35 footer; it was creeking paradise. Spencer boofed off the first one and got out to scout the big one, and we all followed cleanly with the exception of Nathan who stomped the boof only to get the beat of the day right above Compression Falls. Props to him for staying with it and getting out if it clean. A scout off the monster showed a rolling entrance into the drop. Caleb and Scott fired up sweet lines, as did Spencer.

Spencer airing it out on the entrance drop.

As I walked away to get into my boat something didn't feel right. I'm not sure what, or why, but I wasn't mentally on top of my game. I peeled out of the eddy high, and paddled. Exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do, I know, but I paddled. And I paid for it. Going off the lip I did not see down my line like I did the 50 footer, I felt as my bow refused to dive and prepared for a heavy hit. I landed flat, and took a shot to my deck.

Not quiet enough angle.

I paddled over to Spencer to see if I had any teeth left, he informed my my lip was busted and nose looked bloody too, but that seemed about it. I feel lucky to have been able to make such a big mistake and paddle away from it. Nathan still had to run the drop, but he cleaned it no worries.

Nathan showing how to get er down.

We quickly got down to the take-out as the sun went down. Thanks to Scott for the derma bond at the take-out. And thanks to Spencer and Nathan for filming all day.

click here to see Lower Elk video!

Until next time, this has been Cooper Lambla telling you to go big up yo' self!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sandstone Falls

Sandstone Video

Good evening

Up until a week ago, we were happy. There was rain and water, and everyone was skipping around singing with gum drop smiles on their faces. And then the water left us. We haven't seen nary a drop of water in the past week, and our smiles have turned upside down. We thought the thrill was gone, but as we found out, we just had to look elsewhere.

Hinton, WV, is an old coal mining town located on the banks of the New river. While the town is exciting and all that, the real attraction lies a few miles south on the New river: Sandstone falls. Sandstone is actually a geological anomaly. For miles and miles, the New is full of class none whitewater, and then just North of Hinton, there is a river-wide class five waterfall. Truly exciting.

Sandstone falls has a drop for everyone: everything from clean, low volume waterfalls to not-so-clean big water drops. And the best part-- it's there all the time. The new always has water in it, so sandstone will always be there for your hucking pleasures.

To take a break from finals, Dave Finney, Robin Betz, and Eric "The Tulip" Chance packed up and drove an hour north to do some hucking.

Here are some pictures and video from our glorious adventure.
All photos by Robin Betz and Dave Finney

-Dave Finney

Chance addin some wood to make the drop more challenging

Hikin' up to do it again

Eric "The Tulip" and Robin Betz givin'er a look see

Robin Betz makin movie magic

Dave Finney

Dave Finney

The Tulip

The Tulip