Thursday, October 6, 2011

Upper Ngamuwahine - Kaimai's

Earlier in the week we got a front coming over the North Island from the West and it tried its hardest to fill the rivers of the Kaimai Ranges but didnt quite have enough to get over the ridge. Luckily it did have enough to fill up a few of the catchments and we got a sweet run on the Upper Ngamuwahine.  It was definitely on the low side of good and the boat took a bit of a pounding but fun none the less! 
Here are a couple of shots of the boys from Tauranga running the main section.

 -Cole on the top drop of Double Drop - Photo Josh Neilson

-Laurence on the bottom drop of the double - Photo Josh Neilson

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The New Bliss-Stick Tuna

I have been lucky enough to paddle the new 'Tuna' from Bliss-Stick for the past few weeks on a variety of different occasions.  First off was its home on the Kaituna where Sam Roil and I did multiple laps on the normal run critiquing its every move on the different drops. Immediately I was amazed by its speed on the water.  It moves almost effortlessly through flat water.  I usually have my Mystic seat right forward so I can keep it in control better but I prefer to have my seat back in the Tuna due to its large tail.  Something worth playing round with in any boat till you find your perfect balance point.
With the extra length and flatter bottom the initial carving speed in the Chute (rapid 1 on Kaituna) was a little slower than the mystic but I soon found a different style to make up for that.  Speed across the flow was unmatchable though.  This is the first weigh up I noticed between the Mystic and the Tuna. Speed across the water Vs responsive sharp eddy turns.
Next up I was blown away by how well the boat handled across choppy, boiling water.  It stays on top and glides over top and goes the direction your pointing and keeps that way till you change it.  When the boat is a full speed here it is easy to make changes to your line as the nose is sitting high on top of the water.
Then comes the first boof of the river... For someone my size this is where I expected to have troubles.  At a whopping 65Kgs I sit a the bottom end of the weight scale for most creek boats so moving into a longer and bigger volume boat was a little optimistic I thought. But.. With that extra bit of acceleration and an uncanny ability to land beautifully I was now sold on the Tuna.  Yes it does take the smaller paddler a bit more to boof but even with a little bit of nose up it scoots out of the pit again in a straight line of where your pointing and then the bow stays low and does not kick up or to either side.  Even though its harder to get the nose up for me I now find myself boofing less as I know how it will react at the bottom.
I then took the boat on 3 days kayaking instruction on the Mohaka River and it was great there. Fast on slow water helps get to upside down students quickly! Also the deck on the Tuna seems slightly lower than the Mystic so I don't seem to hit my hands as much and barrel rolling students is easy too!
We took the Tuna for a couple of runs down the lower Kaituna run and have no complaints there! Especially when you have to paddle for an hour on flat water to get out. longer hull = less effort paddling!
Now I know the Kaituna is a great river but one of a kind really. So we were hanging out to test it on something a little more characteristic of other rivers around NZ and the world.  With a bit of rain in the Kaimai Ranges we set off to paddle the Upper Ngamuwahine.  This is a sweet creek that makes its was through dense forest a lot like the Wairoa River.  Big boulders and lovely sieves on every rapid meant we needed to keep on our toes.  The Tuna had no trouble keeping out of trouble here.  One thing Sam and I both noticed was we were now in a creek where the rapids are stacked on top of each other unlike the Kaituna and some adjustments were needed.  Not with the boat but the way we paddled.  Like I mentioned earlier the Tuna once boofed it lands and speeds out of drops.  When drops are stacked up we had to make sure we didnt boof, land and shoot right into the next drop.  This was quickly noted and adjusted for and we had a sweet day out paddling.
I will be sure to keep you updated on how the boat goes and a video coming soon! Till then if you want to see how it looks watch Sam Sutton's run on the Sickline Race.  You will notice a few of its characteristics I have pointed out matched with some amazing paddling by Sam!
For now that is all!
If you want to know more or like to try the Tuna out on the Kaituna then send me a message and Ill let you take mine for a spin.
- Sam Roil - Upper Ngamuwahine River - Photo Josh Neilson

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 Paddle Sports Awards

Last issue of Cumec Magazine held the 2011 Paddle Sports Awards. The different categories were announced and people, sites, groups and businesses were nominated for each award. Once all the nominations were in it was half open for public judging and then the other half was judged by a panel selected by Cumec Magazine. The paddle sports scene down here is still relatively small but it was cool to win a few of the categories.
The First win was for 'Blog of the year' - This blog has been a way for me to share my adventures with family and friends and I'm stoked that people out there enjoy reading and using it to find other stories linked on the side of my blog!

The next award was for 'Photo of the year' - Now I have seen a lot more awesome photos throughout the year from other blogs etc and possibly they didnt know about the awards or didnt have time to send them in but regardless I'm stoked to have this shot of Tyler Fox in there! This river is one very unique river in the North Island and I missed it due to injury but meant I could get this shot! I cant wait to get in there this spring!

During 2010 I was stoked to go back to Thailand and explore more amazing whitewater! I was joined by Tyler Fox, Louise Urwin and Toni George and we ticked off some sweet first descents and returned to a number of runs that we discovered in 2007. Logistics were relatively easy, the food was great and the whitewater was great again and we are stoked to share the 'Expedition or Adventure of the year' award with the Papua New Guinea Expedition.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"We're leaving tonight for Upper Cherry!!"

Upper Cherry Put in - Beautiful place!! - Photo Josh Neilson

Sometimes things don't go exactly to plan. I had such good intentions to get back into kayaking in an orderly fashion after my surgery in January. The Dr said 3 months till flat water then another 3 till I could start getting on some rapids and building up from there. The first 3 months went past and i went kayaking on flat water for the first time which felt good. Then I left to start making my film and time to flatwater kayaking didn't really happen. I then decided after months of stretchy bands and other arduous exercises that id try out the mighty raft section on the American River which was rather successful with a bout of cheek cramp from smiling so much...
Then I left for Norway and motivation to kayak soon diminished due to the loss of a good friend to the river in Canada(love ya Si).
Upon returning to California I get myself back in a raft and did a bunch of rafting and the shoulder felt strong and got stronger and stronger due to 22 miles of class 3 and flatwater each day!!!
The thought was always in my mind that I could handle a run on upper Cherry Creek at a low flow and just walk all the big ones but with the season dragging on a lot i thought it wouldn't happen any time soon.. I woke up one morning to Dean saying something along the lines of "I just saw Tyler paddling past on an inflatable kayak and he said something about getting your gear together as we are going in to Upper Cherry tonight". I had predictions that it would still be high but couldn't miss an opportunity to ignite the injury comeback tour with 2 of my favorite paddling and general life homies Tyler and Lu!! SO I got on the phone and begged borrowed and bought everything I needed to make the 10-12 mile hike in and 2 days paddle out as successful as possible. Thanks Harvey and Nick for your gear!
So the departure time was 4.30 and by 6pm sharp we were rolling out the gates of Coloma central and on the rd to Cherry Lake! I was a little nervous and a lot excited! I announced that there would be a need for some serious celebration if the trip went well on the way home and some serious drowning of sorrows if it didn't!
With the drive and some sweet fast food under our belts we rolled in to cherry lake and met up with the rest of the NZ contingent for a briefing of what the plan would be for the next few days. We loaded out boats and attached our carry systems before setting the alarm for 5am and going to bed. And by bed I mean thermarest in the dirt by some cars in the woods..
Again with a departure time set, this time for 5.30am, we graciously stumbled up the hill with kayaks on our backs at 6.45 and got stuck in to 5.5hours of pain and suffering.
About half way in I threw a knee out and proceeded to hobble the last half trying to think about the pain on all the blisters rather than the knee falling off!! At the put in I realised that coming off the couch for 11 months and expecting to make fun of the hike in was rather stupidly optimistic but I made it none the less!!
Once I had slept in the small shadow of a pine for about 20 mins the rest of the crew arrived and we shared horror stories of our pain from the hike in and then go on the river. I portaged the first drop due to it being the biggest one of day one with no warm up and I wanted to test the waters before going too big too soon! Good decision or over cautious decision? Didnt matter! I was in one of the coolest places on earth with good friends and back in my kayak!
We made our way down stream knowing we had put on late and we needed to make some ground. The rapids on day 1 are pretty chill but an amazing place to be! The shoulder warmed up and the drops got better and better!!
We rolled in to a small island inhabited by about 9 other kayakers at about 6pm that night right above the crux gorge and decided to set camp for the night and dry out thermals by the fire.

Me on Cherry Bomb Falls - Photo Barney Young

Day 2 was a slow start as we lay in waiting for the sun to reach us at the bottom of the gorge. One by one we re packed our kayaks and made our way into the flow for the warm up gorge to Cherry Bomb. It wasnt till I was at the lip of Cherry Bomb Falls that I realised we had a bunch more water than Id seen it before. So much for a low water run to get back in the swing of things! My logic then switched and figured more water meant less likely to hit rocks so I was sweet!
While the crew scouted I signaled to fellow Kiwi, Barney Young and friend Charley who were in the ground in front of us to please run safety for me so I could then set safety for our crew at the base of the falls! A couple of strokes passed and I lined up the boof out of the eddy and onto the granite slide down cherry bomb. What a feeling! I slid fast and turned back right for the kicker. Friction was soon replaced with freefall flying through the air into the pool below and then a quick stroke or two and I was through the weir at the bottom!

A sequence of shots from Gopro footage heading down Cherry Bomb Falls

High fives were exchanged and I knew I was where I needed to be! Back in my kayak doing what I love!
The rest of the crew came down and had good lines! The highlight was seeing Matt Coles coming down, sticking his line perfectly for his first run ever and then celebrating every ounce of stoke he had in him in the eddy below! A pleasure to watch!!

At the bottom looking up at the beast that is Cherry Bomb!

The rest of the crew left us at the bottom of the gorge and camped another night while Tyler Lou Dave and I carried on to the lake. We ran everything apart from Kiwi in a Pocket and Dead Bear and made it out in good time!! Tired and battered we loaded the car and hightailed to Sonora for a much deserved 'Jack in the Box' eating fest because Sam Sutton would have wanted us too! I then kept my word about some celebrations on the drive home and while Lou felt unwell and tired and Tyler drove I opened a box of Coronas and yarned the whole way home beer in hand stoked to have a solid shoulder and a sweet crew to get back on the water with! Cheers to everyone who helped me with my shoulder, time off, rehab, and all the kayakers on the trip! I was stoked to be out with you guys!
Now I am enjoying a few more weeks in California and then back to NZ to start editing the film!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A spot of kayaking with a bit of flying

Gudvangen BASE site - Amazing day!
- The view from the top! Jokke in front right after take off
So things have been so busy in the last week I haven't had time to post anything! Firstly Extreme sports week started here in Voss and it was raining pretty hard for the start of the week meaning a lot of the comps were postponed or canceled! Luckily we were able to shoot some sweet kayak footage and get some edits done! My job for the week not only to film my own film was also to film and edit the 'Todays videos' for kayaking in the festival tent. I was stoked to work with Julian, Hugh and Finn to make some funny films and was stoked that I was awarded Best film of the Todays Video!
With the bad weather I was forced to shoot the interview with Jokke Sommer indoors but the content was great and it shouldn't be too bad in the final film. With a bit of good weather on the way we headed out to Gudvangen to film some BASE shots. Day one was not a big cliff and Jokke just busted out a double back flip into a straight base without his wingsuit. Then it was back to work with kayaking the next day for the race where we busted out a quick edit on the race mixed with a bit of dancing!
- My ride for the day
Luckily the BASE day was postponed to saturday and I was able to fly up to Gudvangen exit point and film there! I was up on the lip of the cliff all day and watched all the jumpers have sweet jumps! Jokke busted out 2 sick lines one left and the last to the right buzzing the cliff and trees on the way down with his buddy Tom. From here we flew back to Voss in time to gear up for Prize giving where Sam and Toni won their head to head races and I got a sweet new Gopro for best film.
- Teams race prize giving
Next up was Fat Freddies Drop in concert and the rest is history! What an epic week of filming and hanging out with awesome people! So inspired by all the sick athletes out there doing what they love! Stay tuned for more updates as the film is coming together fast now! Stoked on all the support from people who have made this film happen so far! Big things on the horizon!
- Team Gopro on take-off - Such nice guys!!
- Jokke checking his wingsuit
- Base day 1 - Most chill people I've met!
-Brothers Sutton at the teams race

Friday, June 24, 2011

Simon Davidson - Love ya bro!

-Simon up in Quebec this Spring - Always smiling, always thinking..

Friendship is a BIG thing, and its also a Million little things too! Simon Davidson was a big guy with a big smile and a big heart and his friendship to me was a BIG thing! This friendship was made up of a Million little things some we both physically knew about like our shared passion for kayaking, our general love of water, the odd dress up party etc and then there were the things underneath that are not talked about much like the huge amount of respect I had for him, how genuine he was when he asked how things were with my injury or life in general, how much I loved his smile, energy, passion, humor and these things needed not to be spoken to Simon as this is just what made him who he was but it was a Big thing for me to know! Then there are the things I am still learning about Simon that I cherish in our friendship! How he played the guitar and while I'm just starting he will motivate me to keep trying, and how much of a hole he has left within our community of friends that will never be filled! Simon you were taken from us too early and those millions of little things you brought to make my life and our friendship better should really have gone into the Billions. I will miss the kayaking with you, hanging out with you, chatting on Facebook about how epic both our missions were going and how great the reunion would be back in the falls. So now we must make that reunion some other day. Ill keep remembering you down here and you keep looking over me out there and someday when we have that reunion we can share stories and add to those Million things that made our friendship so amazing! Bro you will be missed so much! Thanks so much for everything that you gave me and the inspiration you have left me! You have made the world a better place and for that I know you have succeeded! See ya on the other side someday bro! ~Aroha Nui~

- A guy that made things good

"One of the steepest slides I have ever seen and paddled... and the most fun I have ever had in a kayak.. what a day....Round day ever!" - Simon davidson -

- Huka falls - Simon and his best mate Matt Burton's local drop! These 2 were a joy to be round!
- How we like to live, with our best buddies hanging out every day!

Simon Davidson - Love ya Bro

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Natinoal Geo extreme photo of the week!

Over the weekend I was contacted by National Geo online to provide a quote that they could use for the shot above so they could publish it as their 'Extreme Photo of the Week' . I was in the Bahamas at the time so I slowly downloaded the shot to see what one it was and fired them an email back. It was online on Monday so that was cool to see. Amazing how much more exposure and response photos get when they bridge the gap from kayaking media and make it into main stream media. Cheers to Tim Ripper for shooting this sweet shot and thanks to all to boys out there that day! It was a sick mission! Check out the page here..

Thursday, April 14, 2011

- Arches NP in Utah - One of the hottest places I've been in my life!!!

With a lot of time on my hands at the moment rendering video files and things I have been looking at a bunch of the highlight moments of 2010! Although there were not many for me on the water there were a lot off the water! Moments when your stoked to know the people you do and stoked on the places you get to see! In 2.5 weeks I am off on a new trip to document a film on Extreme sports psychology! Its going to be epic and hopefully by July the shoulder will be back in action and Ill have some kayaking shots to share once again! In the mean time ill be posting stuff on filming free diving, Skiing, Kayaking and Base Jumping.
Here are a few moments from the 2010 mission which stood out! Cheers everyone for a meen time and lets make 2011 even better!
- Sam Roil at Mal's lake house behind her boat! Cant wait for 2011 lake visit!!

-Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?? Yosimite NP Hold up!

-Team Kiwi celebrating Sam's Win at the steep creek race!

-'MUM' cruising through Arches NP in Utah in 45ÂșC on the way to Cali from Vail!

- Moro Rock in Sequoia NP after a day chasing Bears in the park!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NZ Extreme Kayak Championships is on!!!

Hi everyone.

A quick note to say that this year's Citroen Extreme Race is the New Zealand extreme kayak championships.

The date is March 12th on the Citroen rapid, Kawarau River, Queenstown.

It is a fantastic event to be a part of whether racing or just spectating and partying.

Pre-registration is now open and only available until March 6th. Event t-shirts are only available with pre-registration.

Keep an eye on for up to date information.

Spread the word.

See you there.