Saturday, 26 May 2007

World Champs

I have just got back from competing in the World Freestyle Championships in Ottawa, Canada. I was in the squirt boating contest and I got a bronze medal.
Before we went there were a lot of negative feelings, like the river being frozen, the threat of being beaten down by icebergs, and the levels being all wrong. On the contrary it was a great trip, the weather treated us well and the levels were fine. With a dry suit on it was relatively frost free and I was disappointed not to get hit by any icebergs!
I started off the trip by getting a squirt boat ‘float cut’ This is the highest level of customisation possible where you try the boat in two halves, taped together at the seams with duct tape. The builder then gets out a big saw and chops bits off until the desired level of comfort (enough) and floatiness (not much) is achieved, the stuff of dreams. Far out! At the end you have a boat that is perfect for you!
The competition was held on ‘Smoothie’ a world class mystery spot. I have seen squirters get 30 second rides there under good control. There was some controversy as one Japanese paddler entered in a cut down plastic boat. He was able to get an insanely high technical score by performing cartwheel type moves in the eddy at the expense of losing some of the mystery multiplier. After the heats he was in the lead and I was in second place. It caused some ructions amongst some of the more traditional thinkers in the squirt boating fraternity and will probably lead to the rules being changed with more weighting on the mystery move. It was with delight that Ben White (GBR) took the world title having performed a very timely long mystery move at the right point in the knock out final. I was delighted with my third place. (All photos courtesy of Pete Meares)

Friday, 25 May 2007

Swing Paragliding Team

Simon Headford and I picked up our brand new Swing Astral 5 paragliders on Tuesday and we've had some good flying since, including a lovely 37km flight in Shropshire on Wednesday. The wings are beautiful and fly like a dream - hopefully you'll be hearing much more about our exploits with them this season. I'm planning a concerted assault on the UK cross-country league while Simon is going on a road trip across Europe, taking in a number of flying sites and competitions.

The three members of the Swing Paragliding Team are myself, Simon, and Tim Guilford - hopefully the others will introduce themselves in due course.


Monday, 21 May 2007

Playboater Vee Tube deck

Some of you will now be using the Vee Tubes that we've been making. The Vee Tube is a concept that has been may years in the making but until now we didn't have the velcro technology to make it happen. The idea is that you can stick your cag to your deck to make it close to a cag deck in performance. Early reports are good but this probably won't make it as a commercially available product as the wear on the neoprene parts of the cag are quite high.

The pic shows the 2 white velcro tabs inside the twin waist tube, thay can be positioned to line up with any nylon lined neoprene parts on the cag waist. 2 more patches can be used to secure the back of the cag.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

My Stikine in Action

on my Wedding day, plus on the river, what a great padle for the start of the season, now after 6 weeks I am rewady for the Sho Gun again.

News from down south.. way south

Hi everyone,

Just to let you know I now reside in the whitewater mecca of Hokitika, New Zealand.

For news on my latest trip to Tibet check out Zak Shaws blog at, Sam Hughes' blog at or Jason Sheperds blog at

If you want to see some video from our tibet trip go check out my site and you can download JJ's short video edit.

At the moment I am furiously working on finishing my Tibet DVD which will feature two edits from our trip - the award winning rock and roll edit - 'Seven Weeks in Tibet' and the all grown up and sensible edit - 'Low life's in High Places' and hopefully some cool extras from Steve Rogers over in BC.

The DVD will be released int he UK and USA in July. It was all filmed in High Def so If I can figure out how to do it, then it will be a High Def DVD.

For more info keep an eye on

Anyhow hope all you lot over there in the Northern Hemisphere are getting excited by summer, Over here i am watching the powder pile up in the alps.

have fun


Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Plas y Brenin

Hi All,

Just a quick note to say to you all that if you are up this way searching for water feel free to give me a call here on 01690 720214 to find out what the rivers are up to - but I want to come too!



The Year Out so far...

Until the new year I could be found working in my local Aussie sports bar / club; Walkabout in Derby. Since then I have been travelling and paddling virtually every day. This has been quite an experience and something I am not likely to be able to do again for quite a while - I have to start studying again soon.

January was spent shredding the Atlantic swells in Sourthern Morocco. February consisted of creeking in Scotland with a trip to the Falls of Lora and March was the compulsory trip, for any playboater, to Uganda! I celebrated Easter with visiting family at home before heading out to Canada for a month and the World's. Unfortunately due to a number of reasons I did not do as well as expected but learnt a lot from the experience.
This is a collection of my best moments, most impressive paddling images and interesting places. More images can be found here.

This is an average day at a break called Crocodiles in Morocco. It is pretty hard to not get addicted to this...Thurso anyone, give me a call! The food in Morocco (below) was unbelievable; fresh and so cheap. The Falls of Lora never really produced their best for our trip. Fortunately we, Ross Montandon, my Dad and I, took our creek boats too and chilled out on some classics.

We didn't however bring plates to eat with; Ross's boat was the next best thing! Ross also accompanied me to Uganda and my Dad met us out there for the last fortnight. Ross and I paddle together quite a lot and get on really well. We always have fun even on trips to Hurley - only to discover it has dropped to one gate!

I forgot to mention that Dad took a three month Sabbatical and came on the second half of each trip. I really enjoy paddling with Dad, it is one of my favourite aspects of the sport. I help him out with technique on the river and he teaches me about everything else; from competition preparation to article writing.
Dad (Chris) on a Boda after the Day 1 section.
Ross getting inverted. During the first week that Ross and I spent at the Hairy Lemon there were some spectacular storms. I got the camera out, set it on f2.8 and 30 second shutter and shot away. The result is below.
I have been lucky enough to spend the better part of the year so far in as little kit as this.
I then boarded a plane to snowy Canada. I had to get the bus from Montreal to the Ottawa River which was easy, it was amusing to see snow starting to fall as the bus pulled out of Montreal. It didn't stop for about 26 hours; that was not amusing!
Spot the difference from the previous picture! The new drysuits work well though. Pistol flipping on Buseater, below. Courtesy of Peter Meares.

Now I am back at home, listening to the rain and wondering when the Trent weirs will start to run. I have paddled at Nottingham a couple of times since Canada; yes, it is not as fast or big but you can still have fun. You can put into practice things you have learnt from the World's and just mess about too. I am planning a surf trip though...

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Inside System X

Many of you will never have seen System X. So here's our office, that's Ant, Piers and Scott discussing where the next cup of tea is coming from, and here's inside our industrial unit in Wokingham, it looks a mess but this hides a ruthlessly efficient chaos management system.