Team Z Blog
Astral YTV Review
December 1, 2013 by Jim Sullivan (comments: 0)
Hey everyone! I’m here to write my review of the the Astral YTV lifejacket! This PFD brings a whole new meaning to lightweight and range of motion in a PFD. It is the king of freestyle and high performance with its minimalist design. It weighs under two pounds, so it’s like you’re not wearing anything at all, yet you get all the necessary buoyancy (16.4 lbs) of a lifejacket. When you tighten down the six straps, it conforms to your body and feels like it’s a part of your torso.
Another reason why the YTV is my go-to freestyle PFD is because it is a great fit for women, and it easily adjusts at the sides and shoulders to get the perfect fit for any size. It comes in three sizes so it can fit virtually any paddler. I have been a fan of Astral mainly because their lifejackets are always made to be unisex, and the YTV is no exception. I have had other brands of lifejackets, but they just don’t fit on me as well as Astral does. They keep women in mind when designing their products which is always neat to see. With that said, the YTV is also a perfect choice for all the male boaters out there!
Plus, the YTV doesn’t break the bank. You get a lot for the price. It is super durable, and you get the high quality material that you would expect from an Astral product. They have never disappointed and their products have always been excellent, and the YTV is a reflection of this.
The YTV is a great choice for newer paddlers, for flatwater, for the pool this winter, or for the high level freestyle paddlers who are trying to shed some weight when throwing down. However, I don’t bring this PFD on more difficult. It’s hard to beat it when it comes to the areas I just mentioned, but it lacks the features to be able to rely on it in rescue situations. I would recommend the Greenjacket for those harder runs.
My favorite part of the YTV is the big pockets on either side. They are out of the way, so you don’t have to worry about rubbing your arms against bulging pockets. But they are roomy enough to stash all the essentials; snacks (most importantly), noseplugs, ear plugs, whistle etc. The pockets also have a loop inside of them to clip a biner into if you needed to.
My only complaint I have for the YTV is the color options, which I know has been shared by many other reviewers. It comes it black, blue, and yellow, which isn’t horrible, but those paddlers, like myself, who are all about the color coordinating, might have trouble deciding which one to go with.
It’s hard to pass up all the other great parts of the lifejacket over the colors though. I highly recommend the YTV to anyone looking for a lifetime freestyle companion.
A Great Season Paddling
November 6, 2013 by Jim Sullivan (comments: 0)
Back in VT
November 3, 2013 by Elaine Campbell (comments: 0)
I haven't been paddling that much this fall mostly because we haven't had much rain. What I have been doing is a lot of house work. We spend so much time traveling in the spring and summer that fall is a time where we get a lot of stuff done around the house.
I was able to run a new river the North Branch Piscataquog during the fall draw down. It's this cute little scenic class II/III run in NH. I paddled the Ethos nine which was the perfect boat for the 7 mile windy, narrow stretch of river.
I went to Moose Fest in Old Forge, NY which is always a great time. I put on a clinic for Mountain Man and Wave Sport on the Middle Moose which is the class II section. We had 9 people sign up for the clinic. Luckily, Jeff came with me and Katelyn Green a new member of Team Wave Sport and they helped out. The clinic went great, everyone left real happy and I know one person bought a Wave Sport boat right after the clinic. If you haven't been to Moose Fest put it on your calendar for October 2014 you will have a great time!
I also, took an ACA Instructor course which was really fun, did some open boating in the BlackFly Option, helped Zoar Outdoor with the Academy after school kayak program and did some flatwater SUPing. I guess you could say I've done some paddling this fall!
Winter is right around the corner but I'm hoping November brings some rain before the snow comes.
Here's some photos:
Ethos nine on the Pisscat!
Sean, Katelyn and Jeff rockin the Recons at the Moose!
Till next time,
2013 End of Season Reflection
October 22, 2013 by Ben Natusch (comments: 0)
It has been a pretty exciting season for me. I had the opportunity to work with Katelyn, who was interning at Zoar and watch her develop as a paddler and as an instructor. It was really exciting to watch her challenge herself and step up her boating in a big way. I got several runs on the local creeks when it rained enough and took a few trips to paddle other rivers. Sam, Katelyn and I took a pretty exciting trip out to the Beaver River during Beaverfest weekend. We did a lot of boating and saw a lot of familiar faces from the Deerfield River. I was also able to get several laps on the Dryway this summer and got to race the Lozer Cup once. It was a really fun summer.
This fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Massachusetts Outdoor Expo <http://www.fawnsexpo.com/>. This is a pretty unique event that showcases hunting, fishing, shooting, bird and wildlife watching, and other outdoor sports including paddling. Zoar Outdoor was selected to run the paddling stations at the event so Greg, myself and a few raft guides brought a bunch of sit on top kayaks and a few stand up paddleboards to the event. All of the stations were very hands on and the paddling was no exception. Several hundred people got on paddleboards and kayaks. Paddling was one of the most popular stations and we were pretty busy all day getting people geared up and supervising people in the water. It was a really fun event and a great way to introduce a lot of people to paddlesports.
This fall I will be staying in the northeast instead of heading back to Montana. I am hoping to get a few more laps on some of the local creeks. One of the things I missed most when spending my winters in Montana was the New Year’s Day paddle on the Winni in Franklin, NH. While I will certainly miss Montana skiing, I am really looking forward to getting back to the New Year’s Day paddle on the Winni. This is a really great event with a warming tent, and chili cookoff at the takeout. The town is incredibly supportive of paddlers and it is a really fun event.
Mobius 49 Review
October 2, 2013 by Elaine Campbell (comments: 0)
Hole Brothers 3,000 cfs
I've been paddling the Mobius 49 since the end of April. I wasn't sure at first if I was going to like the boat because I was still having a great time paddling my ProjectX 48 and really liked mostly everything about it. After Team Trials Jeff and I headed to upstate NY to test it out at Hole Brothers which was around 3,000 cfs. At that level it's more of a wave than a hole but you can still loop and cartwheel on the surfers right shoulder. Above Hole Brothers around that level is a small green wave. I could catch it with my ProjectX but just pretty much front surf it. In the Mobius 49 I was able to catch the little green wave back surf and flat spin on it. That's when I realized that this little boat has a super fast/loose hull!
I dropped into Hole Brothers after a few minutes of surfing and just wanted to feel the boat out. I did a lot of clean spins both ways, side surfing and back surfing. The Mobius felt really easy just maneuvering around the feature. I worked on blunts next and got good air for left and right blunts. The Mobius was stable on landing blunts in a back surf. I felt like the Mobius came around a quicker than the ProjectX. I also found that the Mobius back blunts easier than the ProjectX due to the shorter stern and shape which helped to get the stern to rip through the water.
I worked on loops and cartwheels next. My loops were bigger than ever and easier to initiate. I felt way more retentive in the Mobius than I ever felt in the ProjectX. It cartwheeled and splitwheeled very nicely. The Mobius transitions from edge to edge smoothly and is very stable on it's edges. I paddle at Hole Brothers frequently and was very familiar with this level. It's not an easy level to stick tricks and tends to be flushy. I had way more success staying in the feature in the Mobius than in my ProjectX. That pretty much was my first experience in the Mobius and it was a great one!
Hole Brothers 9,000 cfs
I got to paddle the Mobius next when hole brothers was around 9,000 cfs. The river left side of hole brothers turns into a pretty sweet wave with eddy service against the concrete wall. It's a decent sized wave, not too fast and not too steep. This was a great opportunity to really find out how the Mobius performs on a wave that's not crazy epic (it's no garb or mini-bus). You have to attain a little bit and then ferry onto it. The surfers right shoulder was pretty green and flat and I could surf pretty far out on it. The Mobius carves really nice and with the fast/loose hull could clean spin pretty easy. I had great air on blunts, pan-ams, and clean blunts were awesome in this boat. It whips around so nice for blunts, I could clean blunt all day if I wanted to do. I worked on blunt/mcnasty combos and the Mobius just transitioned so easy from the blunt to the mcnasty. I was so psyched!
The only thing I found tricky with the Mobius at first was finding the sweet spot for flip turns and helixes which are two of my most favorite wave tricks to do. It took me a bunch of tries to really get the Mobius to pop and get good air on the flip turn and helix. When I figured out the sweet spot I was like "Daaaaaaaamn! This boat is the Sh*t!" The Mobius releases differently than the ProjectX but once you figure it out you'll understand what I'm saying. I also found it to be forgiving. If I caught an edge it was really easy to recover and stay on the feature.
During the Deerfield River Fest I ran the Dryway in the Mobius. This is my home run I know every little wave, splat, slot, and more. There's this one wave called "Disappointment" and if you can spin on it you are a champ. In the Mobius I was able to get blunts on it. In my ProjectX I could roundhouse it but never get enough speed and get the boat vertical enough to blunt it but the Mobius proved itself to me again. Another green wave I love to surf on the Dryway is above "Split Hair" rock. I could always front surf it in my ProjectX and back surf but it was hard to clean spin on it. I was able to clean spin effortlessly, again the fast/loose hull is what is making this possible. The Mobius ran the river great. I caught tons of eddies and ferried all over the place so I was pleased with how well it ran the river.
Another playspot I had the Mobius at was TVille in CT. It's a very small hole, flushy, and shallow but fun. I can't stand shallow spots, truthfully! When I hit the bottom I cringe and fall on my head, cursing. I've paddled there a bunch over the years and usually never will loop there since I crush the bottom. The only time I would loop is over 2.3 ft. I usually just stick to cartwheels, split, phonix, and mcnasty (not very consistently). I figured since I have the Mobius I should at least try to loop. It was around 2ft so hitting the bottom was inevitable. I experienced the same routine hitting the bottom cringing, falling on my head, and then cursing but after a few more times I stopped hitting the bottom and was able to throw loops pretty consistently without hitting the bottom. When I did the hit bottom I didn't crush it so I was able to stay in control and get the loop. I always struggled with loops here in my ProjectX. Thanks Mobius for having more volume around the bow and being 2 inches shorter than the ProjectX!
Nantahala Hole at Worlds
I was finally able to get the Mobius in a pretty good hole and get out of the prototype and into the production boat which was almost exactly the same as my prototype. Here's what I figured out in the Mobius from paddling it at Worlds and coming in 8th place out of 30 women, missing finals by 105 points.
I'm finally getting consistent at:
Huge bonus on loops
Linking loop to cartwheel or splitwheel
Linking cartwheels and splitwheels
That's pretty much what I worked on during practice and in the competition and was fairly successful with my rides. I found the Mobius is the easiest boat I've ever paddled to get phonix monkeys. I could get them occasionally in my ProjectX but not like how I'm getting them in my Mobius. It's pretty much every time I go for it in my Mobius the trick comes around. The Mobius pirouettes easy and smooth and when it comes around for the loop portion it just pops. The added volume in the bow really helps with the stability and the pop.
I was 50/50 on McNasties at Worlds so I decided to stop working on the trick and focus on the tricks that were going. When I did get a McNasty the boat came around in the back blast smooth and had good pop during the loop.
Clearly you can tell that I'm digging the Mobius 49 and am loving life in it. I feel like my paddling has improved somuch in the Mobius and am way more retentive than I've ever been. The Mobius 49 is the perfect fit for me at 5'5" 135ish, give or take a cup cake or two. I hope we get some rain soon so I can paddle my Mobius around New England.
Get to your local dealer (like Zoar Outdoor in MA) and demo a Mobius today or just friggin buy one! I can assure you that you won't be disappointed. Zoar Outdoor has free shipping on kayaks so you can order your brand new Mobius and get it delivered to your house in time to wear it as a Halloween costume.
All I have to say is Wave Sport is killing it with new designs! The Mobius is hands down an amazing freestyle boat, the Recon is destroying creeks and rivers, and the Ethos makes calm water and river running way more fun! Thank you so much Wave Sport for making my paddling experiences with these new designs so great!
Here's a couple videos of the Mobius 49.
Till next time,
West River Release
October 1, 2013 by Janet Burnett Cowie (comments: 0)
Hey everyone, it’s Katelyn again!
This past weekend was my first time attending the annual West River release. My mom and left early in the morning and drove up to Jamaica, Vermont, a two hour ride from CT. It was a cold, crisp fall morning and many boaters were walking around clutching warm cups of coffee or tea when we arrived. I saw wetsuits and drysuits being pulled out of the backs of cars, and as I left the heat of our own car, I was glad that I grabbed the extra layers for the day.
I walked around for a while and talked with all the people that were there. The West is definitely a great opportunity to meet up with old and new friends. At the take/putin (takeout for Upper and putin for Lower) there were a few vendors and a food trailer with some good soups and stews plus the usual hotdogs and hamburgers. Past the vendors a bit more were the four sets of pickup trucks that shuttled the boaters. When we arrived at around 8:15, the first shuttle was already leaving. I paid for my all day pass on the shuttle and then got changed and suited up. My group for part of the day of David and Sean were also there and we all got ready. We handed our boats over to the awesome volunteers and then found our spots on the pickup truck.
The ride to the put-in was about 2.5 miles. I loved riding in the back of the pick-up, it was really fun, for lack of a better word, because only when kayaking would I be able to ride in the back of an open truck! We met another friend, Keith, at the main put-in, and then walked another half mile on a path through the woods with our boats to run the slightly more challenging Initiation rapid.
We hopped into our boats and ran the 3 mile section. The rapids on the Upper West are super fun class III’s with big waves and good play holes. I took a pretty slow first run and caught a lot of eddies along the way. I was paddling a borrowed boat and wasn’t feeling too comfortable in it. We all stopped at a fun play-spot after Dumplings, the main rapid, and I landed a few loops, and David, Sean, and Keith got to show off for a bit. We finished up the first run, and bought our first round of hot dogs for the day.
After lunch, David and Sean decided to head back up to the play spot for the majority of the day while I hooked up with my friend Jahn, another paddler my age. He was with three friends of his. We waited in the giant line in the parking lot to catch the shuttle again. After about an hour of slow moving, we were finally at the front of the line. I was excited to run the section again, as I was finally feeling warmed up. We reached the top for the second time, and we made the hike up to Initiation. At the put in, I adjusted my outfitting and jacked the seat up a few inches.Feeling really top heavy, we headed down through Initiation.
On the West, the rapids sort of blend together, with very little time inbetween, making rescues and rest tricky. Half way through, the five of us got pretty spread out, and we pulled into an eddy to catch out breath. We all were out of breath, the majority of our run had consisted of nearly continuous wave wheels on every ripple and practicing kick-flips anywhere it was deep enough. We peeled out and continued our run. When we got to the Boof Rock rapid, Jahn was in front of me, and Zach right behind me. Jahn boofed, but got hung up in the squirrely water in the eddy. I landed practically on top of Jahn and Zach on me. It resulted in all of us flipping on the same eddy-line, which was not pretty. When we got to Dumplings, I took the right line and boofed into some more boiley water. With my seat up so high, I flipped over in the aerated water. Okay, maybe that wasn’t my best run.
After the second run, we were still energized, and we went for a third run. It followed similar to the second. The fourth run and final run, it was only Jahn and I. We caught the second to last shuttle of the day to the top and we did a bomb run. The ride up was awesome and relaxing, just a ride through the woods. We got to the top, and skipped the hike to Initiation. We had an great last run, with lots of wave-wheels all the way down. We reached the take out tired and satisfied. It had been a perfect day all around with beautiful weather.
I got to see all my good friends and paddle a new river. I highly recommend the Lower West and Upper West as rivers to add to your fall repertoire of runs. See you on the river!
How to Splitwheel
September 24, 2013 by Elaine Campbell (comments: 0)
The splitwheel is another one of my favorite tricks to do in a hole. It's a bit harder to learn than the cartwheel since you have to change direction mid trick while keeping the boat vertical. The best part is once you learn how to splitwheel you can start linking splitwheels to cartwheels, splitwheels to loops, splitwheel to splitwheel and other really fun tricks. After you learn how to splitwheel you can work on the Tricky Whu, oh, that's a tough one!
Definition of the splitwheel:
Two consecutive ends, with a change of direction in-between each and both ends at a vertical angle between 45 and 100 degrees.
Here's my way of explaining how to do a splitwheel in a hole.
Step 1: Get to the top of the pile either by spinning on the corner or side slipping.
Step 2: As soon as you are at the top of the pile get your boat on it's right edge around 45 degrees and do a small right forward stroke lifting the bow up and out of the water, staying edged. Take a right back stroke and slam your legs down on it's edge, keeping your body in a neutral position, look upstream and wind up that torso so your not just using your arms. All the power is coming from your torso and legs.
Step 3: Once the bow starts to rotate under you change the back stroke to a forward stroke, staying vertical on the same right edge, look over your left shoulder and upstream while pulling the stern through.
Step 4: Once your stern has rotated under you and you are facing back upstream level your boat out and take a left forward stroke to keep you in the hole or link to left cartwheels or do a left splitweel.
I hope what I said makes sense I have a funny way of explaining things. Here's a video to get a better understanding.
Practice on eddy lines or in flatwater.
Till next time,
September 23, 2013 by Ben Natusch (comments: 0)
Beaverfest is one of my favorite events each year. It is an opportunity to get out on a different river and do some early fall creeking after paddling the Dryway for most of the summer. It is also a great river for introducing paddlers to creek boating. This year Sam Gaughan, Katelyn Green and I headed out. On Saturday, we ran the Taylorville section of the Beaver. It was Katelyn’s first time creeking and was a new river for Sam and me. We had a lot of fun and hiked back up to run many of the drops a second time. The second rapid on Taylorville is a big slide with a hole at the bottom. We scouted it and Katelyn was feeling a little nervous and wasn’t sure if she was going to run it or not. Sam and I went and ran it while Katelyn watched still trying to make up her mind. After watching Sam and me run it along with several other boaters, Katelyn decided that she wanted to run it too. We talked about the line a little more and then all headed back to the top of the rapid to run it again. I went through first with Katelyn close behind. She stuck the line and had the biggest grin on her face at the bottom. This was easily the biggest rapid she had ever run and she did a great job. We all carried back up to run it a few more times. On one lap, Sam wasn’t able to avoid the hole and got beat down pretty hard. He ended up swimming out of the hole. He was pretty bummed about his swim and decided that he needed to run it again so he hiked back up and styled the line. We paddled the rest of the Taylorville Section hiking back up to run several of the rapids again. After reaching the takeout we decided that we still had enough time left for another lap so we headed back to the putin and ran it all again.
The next day Sam was feeling a little sick and decided not to boat. Katelyn and I ran Moshier talking about various techniques for running waterfalls and more creeking technique. It was a really fun run and Katelyn definitely stepped it up again running several big rapids and really pushing her limits. It was really fun to watch her pushing her comfort zone on more challenging water. We scouted Moshier Falls a long Class V rapid at the end of the Moshier Section but Katelyn wasn’t feeling it. She decided that it was a little too big of a step up for her and walked it. It is a really fun rapid so I ran both boats through. After finishing the Moshier Section, we headed over to the Eagle Section to run some big slides. We met up with Sean Rose on the way over and invited him to run it with us. This was a big step up for both Sean and Katelyn so we took our time scouting the various slides and talking about the lines and some of the necessary techniques. It is hard to walk around rapids on this section so it ends up being somewhat of an all or nothing kind of run. Katelyn felt a little uncomfortable with the second slide so she decided to save this section for next year. Sean was a little nervous but after talking through each rapid he felt like he could handle it and decided to run it. We headed up to the top of the run to get geared up. We put on and he followed me down through each rapid, styling every one. He did a great job and made the rapids look easy. We headed back up towards the putin to meet up with the rest of our group and to watch some other boaters run the drops. After watching a few more Sean and I decided to do another lap so we carried the boats back up and ran everything again. Once again Sean made it look easy and styled every drop. After the second lap we paddled down to the takeout.
Sam still wasn’t feeling very well and was having some trouble breathing so we decided to head to a hospital to get him checked out. Turns out he had some water in his left lung and a separated collarbone resulting from getting worked in the hole on Taylorville. He was fine and just needed a few days and some meds to recover. All in all, it was a really exciting trip. My favorite part was watching the younger paddlers really step it up and start running some bigger rapids. I really enjoyed working with them to help them develop the skills and the safety awareness that is necessary on creeks. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Beaverfest but hopefully we’ll be able to get them on some of the local creeks first.
Worlds training video in the Wave Sport Mobius 49
September 18, 2013 by Elaine Campbell (comments: 0)
My Worlds Story!
September 16, 2013 by Elaine Campbell (comments: 0)
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!
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 in VT as they want! They took such good care of me!
Photo by: Haley Mills phone
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 go under!
Photo by: Sam Voight
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.
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.
Photo by: Philip Robert
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.
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.
Photo by: Tracy Bennett Smith
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!
Photo by: Paul Trahan
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!
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.
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!
Coach Jeremy telling me to do some 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!
Photo by: Tracy Bennett Smith
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.
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.
HiFive from Stephen!
Photo by: Jeff Campbell
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.
Bed time Semis!
Photo by: Cheryl Killman
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.
Jermemy 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,