GAF was awesome this year with some great karaoke performances, and clear weather. One of my favorite things about GAF was that the "NOC Wave" has been changed in to a hole and renamed "Homers Hole", so I'm told. The hole was pretty fast and shallow but over all fun, with a few strategically placed rocks to get a little more water flowing through the hole it could be a cool new attraction to add to the Nantahala. Loops were pretty rough, but cartwheels, blunts splits, space godzillas, and even donkey flips are possible.
Over all i had a blast and I am already looking forward to next year.
Riot Kayaks has got some pretty cool designs for this winter, geared towards the larger folks out there. Expected release date for the Magnum 80 and Thunder 76 is January 2008. These two boats will both feature larger seats, and a standard(large) keyhole cockpit for easy entry and exit, as well as comfort.
80 gallons 8'4" length 26.5" width 45 lbs.
Magnum 80 prototype alongside Large Habitat and Mega Rocker.
Profile shot with Mega Rocker.
We tested the Magnum 80 prototype all over the Southeast this spring/summer, and it's been a joy to paddle. At 170 pounds I am not exactly in the target weight range for this boat; it is really going to be an ideal creekboat for the 190+ pounders. It will not be a replacement for the Magnum 72 at my weight, but rather another tool to use in certain situations. For me, the big Magnum will be ideal for overnighters, extreme races, and pushy class 5 creeking... Green at 200+, Raven's, Linville, etc. The Magnum 72 will be perfect for all other applications... big waterfalls, low-volume creeks, etc.
Rolling off the Gorilla at high water.
Cruising into the Happy Place after a good run... the boat definitely inspires a feeling of invincibility.
The Magnum 80 has the same chines that are featured on the Magnum 72, starting right around where the knees are, and extending back to peter out just before the stern of the boat. These allow the boat to be driven through big rapids, and help you to place the kayak exactly where you want it while planing out of drops, or resurfacing from holes. Another appealing aspect of this boat is the enormous amount of stern and bow volume, which, when combined with the same backband as the standard Magnum, will allow the stern to be packed full of a tonne of overnight gear.
Here are a couple of comparison shots between the Magnum 72 and Magnum 80:
Footage of the Magnum 80 prototype can be seen on Nathan Silsbee's VIDEO.
76 gallons 8'0" long 25.75" wide 43 lbs.
Joe Stumpfel enjoying the big Thunder C-1 style on the Green. Photo by Maggie Snowel.
The Thunder 76 is the answer for larger folks who want a kayak that can do everything. The platform for this boat was the Booster, one of Riot's most successful kayaks to date. The Thunder features the hull from the Booster, which also happens to be the boat in which the helix was invented by Steve Fisher. What this translates to is a great deal of playability from the hull, while more creeky deck keeps you safe in hard whitewater.
Profile shot with the Large Diesel.
Please disregard my meatheadedness... think I was making some kind of joke about being diesel or something... my bad.
The first thing that stood out for me about this kayak was its hull speed. It easily keeps up with most creekboats on the market, while the flat hull and sharp edges allow for surfing, carving, spinning, and even cartwheeling. Definitely a jack of all trades.
Spencer testing out the creeking abilities of the Thunder in Go Left.
Spencer styling an off-the-beaten-path slot on the Green.
**All photos by Spencer Cooke/Effort.tv unless otherwise stated**
Both of these kayaks will be available at Riot dealers in January, so be sure and check them out.
Thats right, you heard it here. Creeking etiquette: what are some good general rules to follow whilst creeking? Here ya go:
Tha Golden Rules:
Sorting things out before putting on the river, Northern Quebec.
1. Always Bring a Rope. I have been on too many creeks with people who have "forgot" their rope. Putting on a creek without a rope is "iffy" at best. As kayakers, we evaluate risk, run rivers and hard drops; however, sometimes, one cannot predict what will happen on the river. This is why we bring ropes--they are our backup plan and help lessen that "Oh shit" factor. If you have a rope, put it in your creekboat and leave it there until you need it on the river.
2. Bring Your Rope to Scout Rapids. If you bring your rope with you on the river and lug it around all the time, why not take it with you when scouting? Oftentimes when someone runs a rapid, they do not want to stop and wait for someone to get a rope or camera set up. They simply want to go. Therefore, when getting out of your boat to scout, quickly grab your rope out of the back before you head down for a look. This is the most likely situation where you will use your rope.
Scouting a sweet 30+ footer in New Zealand.
3. Unsure of the line? Scout it! There are lots of creeks out there which our friends run over and over again and know the lines to (Eg. Green River Narrows). Oftentimes, they would like to run the larger rapids just by telling you the line and going. This works most of the time, but if you feel like you would like to scout (for whatever reason), then do it. That is safer. Just because they have run that rapid a gazillion times doesn't mean that you are omniscient and know where the line is and how to paddle it. When in doubt, scout. Also, if your party gets to the top of a rapid and is unsure of the line, but it is not something that everyone needs to scout, then send one person who is *good with giving directions* to take a look. You should always trust this person to give you the right line and good, accurate, and clear directions (guess what, that person should bring his rope when he is taking a look because it could save your ***).
While Kevin Dombey and Philly Williams are comfortable with the directions provided, Chris Sellers asks for more beta.
4. Standardize River Signals. It is a horrible feeling when you are at the top of a drop, looking down at your buddies and they are giving you these weird hand signals that make no sense to you. At that point, you have no idea what the line is and you are thinking to yourself, "WTF!". Before you get on the river, have a chat with your buddies (in the car on the way to the putin, right before you get on the water, wherever) which standardizes river signals. Remember that not everyone has 20/20 vision as well, so they might not be able to see those hand gestures that you are pointing out from 100 yards. American Whitewater has a great resource HERE which explains the standard river signals, as well as some other very useful information (did you know that cold water can extend survival time for drowning victims? It is all there, check it out).
Kevin Dombey receives directions through signals from people on shore. Kevin Stoked after getting good directions and nailing the line.
5. River Responsibility. Do you know who you are directly responsible for whilst running a river? The person who you need to keep an eye on is the person *directly behind you*. Why is this? You can see the person in front of you; thereby, you will most likely know if something goes wrong. But what happens if the person behind you gets pinned? Most likely, you will be the first person to reach him. Obviously, everyone is responsible for everyone while running rivers, but the person directly behind you is the person you are directly responsible for. If you are in the back of the group, you are responsible for having the gear in case of an emergency (med kit, breakdown paddle, duct-tape, whatever) and are also responsible for the safety of the people in front of you.
Adam Johnson, left, and Chris Gragtmans, POV, running the Doncaster river near Montreal, QC, Canada. Here, Adam is most responsible for Chris who is paddling directly behind him.
6. Know Your Limits. Be prepared. Oftentimes, there is a paddler who is at the top of one group, but not quite ready to go on the same rivers as another group. Many times it is hard to evaluate the difficulty of a river from others who know it well or are highly skilled. Or, the other case is when the better paddler wants to take someone down a new river who may or may not be ready for it. It is that paddlers' responsibility to get some background information, evaluate the paddlers who invited you, and do the research to determine the difficulty of the run.
Paddle off of this tall one with rocks at the base? I think not!
For example, this past spring I took a friend of mine who had just started kayaking down Hopeville Canyon (Cl II-III) on the South Branch of the South Fork of the Potomac. He had rolled before, but his roll was weak, but seemed to enjoy other rivers such as the Arden Section of the Tygart above Deception (Cl II-III). Needless to say, I thought he was ready to paddle Hopeville Canyon. He put-on and did fine for the run, had a few swims, but, all in all, everything was OK. At the takeout, he told me he was "gripped" throughout the run. This is a good example of a skilled kayaker who struggled to properly compare the difficulty of this (mighty) class II-III run between the Arden Section of the Tygart.
Good shoes come in handy right here. Notice Philly (left) holding his Chaco's in hand.
Other things that are certainly "good ideas" to have could be: Good shoes capable of hiking long distances (a good fitting pair of shoes can make you a better hiker, just as a well outfitted boat can make you a better creeker). Food Extra Gear (biners, another throwbag, layers, etc) Pin Kit An escape plan (do you know where there is a trail to hike out?) Water Someone who knows where you are and when to start worrying if you do not come back (in a certain time frame). Matches! These come in really handy for those unplanned nights out on the river. A solid, high functioning group you can trust. Knowledge: knowledge is power. Everyone has a certain skill set. Someone in your group may be good at making fires or scouting or ghetto rigging broken gear--whichever. Always be prepared. Know where to hike out from if necessary.
There could be many more things that I am missing here, so feel free to write whatever I missed in the "Comments" section of this post as a continuing dialog.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go kayaking with the South Eugene Kayak Team/Club. The South Eugene Kayak Club, as I understand, was founded by Macy Burnham in 1998. This successful program is fueled by volunteer head coach Tom Powers, guest volunteer coaches and parents who are willing to serve as shuttle bunnies and chauffeurs. The kayak team has a wide variety of skill level and experience ranging from beginners to some students who are working on advanced moves like helixes and pistol flips.
The club has adult volunteer coaches attending the trips, however the students are in charge of planning the weekly river trip. The students take initiative to research water levels, driving distances, etc. and then make a team decision on where to paddle. At the put-in, the senior club members, under coach Tom's supervision, take a leadership roll by administering the, "safety" talk and the discussing group dynamics on the water. Students are responsible for paddling as a team, boat rescue and setting safety where appropriate.
This past weekend the team decided to paddle the Santiam River near Salem. We paddled the Spencer's Hole section and had a great trip. Check out some of the highlights in the video.
So I've had class all week, but I haven't learned a thing... Want to know why? THE GREEN RACE IS UPON US!!! The mental infliction of the green race gives me the jitters, and I visualize running gorilla over and over again as my teacher rambles. Riot made a very good standing in last year's green race, taking three out of the top six shortboat times. The Magnum is proven to be a fast contender. Team Riot is making a good representation again at this year's race, so be on the lookout for some fast times in the Magnum.
Here's the team:
Spencer "The Donkey-Slayer" Cooke. Spencer is the man with the plan, and leader of the Riot pack. He's quick and dangerous. Be wary, last time Spencer raced the green was in 2005, and placed 5th in shortboat with a wicked 5:15. Spencer has been known to shoot a video or two, so get ready for a good sequel to the award-winning Enter the Donkey. The new flick is called Night of the Living Donkey, and should be in theatres within the next ten or twelve years. Go to effort.tv for more details.
Spencer dropping in to Sunshine. (Photo courtesy of effort.tv). Spencer making the squeeze. Go Left and Die. (Photo: Nathan Silsbee)
David "The Charmer" Finney Not much is known of this mysterious racer aside from the fact that he has a large head which helps him to ram through rocks when he flips over. Finney has two very good attributes in his favor: a very strong forward-stroke, and long eyelashes which assist him to snag the ladies. A dangerous combination indeed. Finney running Cathedral. Linville Gorge. (Photo: Robin Betz)
Chris "Canadian Bacon" Gragtmans . As the nickname implies, Gragtmans comes from a foreign land... many thousands of miles away. It was in this land that he mastered his superior playboating skills, and rumor has it that he can throw a mean spin-to-helix. Graggle is a good candidate to win the whole thing this year, so watch out for a bright yellow flash of light as he darts down the river. More info about Chris at chrisgragtmansfacts.blogspot.com.
Chris dropping into Gorilla, well over the standard level. (Photo courtesy of effort.tv). Chris pulling a sneaky move. (Photo courtesy of effort.tv). Chris paddling hard in the attainments race. (Photo courtesy Lee Pirtle at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cooper "The Manimal" Lambla Cooper's smooth as margarine. Whether it be spitting some game at the ladies, or greasing Gorilla at 350 percent, Mr Lambla styles it all the way. You can track his extraordinary exploits at downstreammovement.blogspot.com. Coop-a-loop had a very fast run last year with a time of 5:09, placing him in fourth for shortboat class. Unfortunately, Cooper injured himself at the russell fork last week, and will not be racing. The top competitors should consider themselves lucky, because Cooper is one of the fastest, smoothest creek racers out there.
Cooper running the G-monk at scary low-water in a playboat. Cooper charging it in the longboat last year. (Photo: Leland Davis)
Andy "Blue Dragon" Gates . Andy is an excellent singer, and can be seen throwing huge loops in the pop-up hole. If you don't know who Andy is, start doing your homework because he's one of the up and coming young paddlers in the southeast. Andy won't be racing, but he's paddling to give moral support to his teammates.
And myself . I like sushi, racquetball, and racing down the green. I'm excited to say I'll be racing longboat for my first year. I'd never taken a longboat down the green until yesterday (two days before the race), and it has been interesting getting the feel of the new boat. Big thank you to Robert Peerson for lending me the new Momentum.
Chiefs (Photo courtesy effort.tv) Gorilla at scary low-water. (Photo courtesy effort.tv) Battling Chris Graggle and Chris Gallaway at the head to head attainment race. (Photo courtesy Lee Pirtle at email@example.com).
Hope to see everyone out there, and be sure to carpool, as the parking situation at the trail-head is a bit chaotic.