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Paul Walker - Tue Jan 15, 2013 @ 12:42PM
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So, it's been thirty weeks since I was last in a kayak (meaning that this actually is the first relevent update to my blog since June last year and I haven't just forgotton about it).

January kayaking is always frigid, so I was in a bit of a panic when I heard that we might be going to the Middle Orchy (who's nature would demand at least two portages for the group, one of them rather long and unpleasant).   However, my fears of numb hands and feet were laid to rest when I heard we were going to the Tay.

There were two people in the group who had never been on a river, Louise (who had only been to two pool sessions) and Naomi (who has finally developed a passable brace), so these were going to be the groups main concerns.   Yet, it was, at least until very close to the end, an uneventful trip, with the first swim happening just above the Slalom Course at Grantully.

It was decided that the *ahem* experienced paddlers would run the Slalom Course and the Boat Breaker section first, and act as a net to catch anyone who swam on the way down.   This seemed like an okay plan until Alvaro capsized, and was eventually T-rescued after four unsuccessful roll attempts, because the river was higher than we had thought.

The group of beginners had a few more difficulties.   Five swims overall, with one trip to the hospital for Louise.   It was a pleasant surprise that Naomi made it down without a swim, and most of those who did swim at least now know that they can escape from their boat in seemingly unforgiving circumstances.

However, being part of the rescue operation for five sets of kit did put my plans of warm hands and feet to rest.   Oh well...there's always February :)

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Paul Walker - Tue Jun 19, 2012 @ 01:25PM
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Five years ago, I went to the French Alps with Glasgow University Canoe Club for the first time, I was in my second year; a confident and inexperienced paddler, willing to get on just about anything placed in front of me.   I couldn’t believe how different the weather was and how different the rivers were to those in Scotland and how much more tired I was after each day of paddling.

It’s difficult to convey how different an experience it was to be there this year.

This time I was one of the safety paddlers for the trip – one of the ones to look after the group on a river, pull them out of it and chase their boats in the event that they get picked up by the current…and for those reading this who know the rivers in France, you know that this will happen nine times out of ten.   After four years of kayaking in the same part of France, I’d have thought that the rivers would lose their appeal, that the country wouldn’t have the same hold on me it did on my first visit.   Well, I was wrong.   Most of the recounting of this Alps trip will end up reflecting on just how wrong I was when I came to that initial assessment.


Traditionally, these write-ups begin with a description of the journey, but given the mass of issues we had on the UK leg, I think I’ll miss out most of it.   After the ferry from Dover to Calais, the first thing the group noticed was the change in the weather: lightning!

Upon arriving at l’Argentière la Bessée, much grumbling ensued as the forecast was showing rain for most of the following week.   A few people, including Alps newcomers George Hamilton and George Elderfield, jumped on the slalom course at the campsite.

Very High Slalom Course

Both Georges, Fraser and Rupert on the Slalom Course

On the first day of paddling, we left the Sunshine Run section of the Lower Durance for the afternoon, and instead started with the Lower Guil (where I swear the grade 5 road was significantly over-graded).   The two groups, led by veteran Alps paddlers Tom Jenkins and Ben Marshall, set off about a half-hour apart.   The bigger and faster alpine water causes some of the newcomers some difficulty, but Stella and George bring their A-game and prove from day one that they have their river roll down.   Following lunch and a miraculous change in weather, we carry on down the Sunshine Run, where we learn that Stella has a knack for leading rivers unintentionally, and that Sam doesn’t like sticking to a group order.   When we arrived back at the campsite, the drinking began while Kieran and Tom made an awesome dinner of sausage and potato dauphinoise.   Oh, and Claire made Ben eat a lot of grass….

Day 2 – the weather picks up, but the water hadn’t returned to reasonable levels yet, so we set sail for the Lower Clarée.   While I’d never put this down as one of my favourite rivers, I feel it got a bad name in my first year, where it was paddled on a “confidence building day” at very low levels.   This time round, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t dull, and it gave Craig a great opportunity to make a difficult eddy above a tree (which, to my joy, he succeeded in doing).   After the traditional lunch of baguette with meats, cheeses and salad, we went to the Briançon Gorge – a river which always gives me pause despite never having had a bad experience on it.   Well, like all good gorges, the difficulty increases exponentially with more water, so the run was an absolute blast…though Callum met with some difficulty and went for a swim.   Back at the campsite, while Harry and Fraser work on their spaghetti Bolognese, I jumped on the slalom course with no other safety presence...and promptly capsized!   Fortunately before returning to the Alps, my river roll returned, so I managed to avoid a particularly gimpy swim.   Now, something happened that Tuesday night that I cannot, in good conscience, leave out of the write-up: Sam stole a dog!   Sam stole a dog and then let it off its leash.

Upper Guisane

Tom leading the last section of the Upper Guisane

After Sam apologised for being a drunken idiot to the dog’s owner on the rainy and windy morning we went to the Guisane.   I spent most of the Upper Guisane thinking just how high this felt compared to the previous times I’d paddled it.   S-bends, as normal, was the highlight, though Mr Elderfield spent most of his time playing pinball while traversing it.   The big boys, Ben, Tom, Sam and Rupert went on to do the Lower Guisane, though Ben (as normal) forgot to turn his GoPro on for the best bit of the river, where it looks like you’re paddling into the jaws of death!   Oh well, one day he’ll learn.   While they were doing that, the rest of us paddled the Middle Durance, where Kirsty picked up her first no-swim river and Craig came awfully close, but he swam twenty metres from the end of the run.   Back at camp, after hearing tales of heroism and near misses from the advanced group, Emma and Kirsty made cous-cous while others set about playing piggyback volleyball.

Piggy-back Volley-ball

Piggyback Volleyball!

After more swims than most people realised, Harry decided that the morning of the fourth day would be used for some training.   Ben shot-gunned the advanced group consisting of Emma, the Georges, Kieran and Callum, training them in some slalom techniques useful in the Alps.   Rupert took Claire and Stella, Sam put in some work with Kirsty, and Tom gave Craig a masterclass in the basics.   This was followed by a run of the Gyronde (with far less swims that usual), and finally a run of the Onde in the evening.   That night, after Ben and Claire’s “chicken surprise,” we played ultimate Bago and British bulldogs, which Claire proved to be an utter demon at!

A tender morning the next day meant that the Sunshine Run was our destination – our first repeat run of the trip.   This was not Fraser’s day.   First, upon seeing Craig swimming, he found a wonderful little pour-over, leading Stella into it, and while Stella succeeded in making her roll, Fraser failed, marking the first ‘safety swim’ of the trip.   Then, after completing the run, Fraser managed to lock Harry’s keys in his car…   Following this, we returned to the Upper Guisane, allowing everyone to get on it this time, and letting some additional people run S-bends.   Following the faff-ful day, the Georges make mixed risotto for dinner…and it was awesome.

Almost half way into the trip, the lead four paddlers decide to go off and do something tricky once more.   In the past, I viewed ‘tricky’ as being rivers like the Gyr or Chateaux Queyras…well…this time it was the Durance Gorge.   In possibly the most depressingly funny moments before they head off with Rob Pilkington, the group mumble to each other in quiet voices:
Tom: “We’re all going to die…
Ben: “What colour are your pants this morning?”
Tom: “…brown…
While they were off paddling their über river, we went to the Gyronde, and had our annual epic – oh well, it was always going to happen.   And rather upsettingly, I found out that while I’m normally good with a throwline, I can’t throw one well when I’m not under pressure.   In the evening, after Sam and Rupert went for a play on the Fournel, Rupert and Callum made pesto pasta for the masses while cheesy music blared at the bank of the river.

Before the rest day, it was time for everyone to up their games: in the morning, Stella and Claire got to jump on the Briançon Gorge.    Unfortunately for Stella (and her boat), she had a swim above the barrage, and after a prolonged rescue effort, we finally managed to force it down the barrage…and made her Inazone’s nose bear serious resemblance to Jaws!   Add to this that while paddling the gorge, Claire and Rupert’s kayaks also split.   Before lunch, we went to the Gyr, where I finally feel confident enough to jump on with the elite four plus Fraser.   It was awesome, despite a backwards spell that I had at one of the trickiest bits.   We all finish elated…until Ben discovers that his boat had broken on the run of the Gyr!   After this, there’s another run of the Gyronde for which I lent Stella my Mamba…and she gave it its first ever dent.   We went to Regain for the Alps meal which, as usual, was excellent.   Craig and Harry did their best to embarrass the group, with the former being overly drunk and slurring French phrases, and the latter commenting that the waitress “doesn’t speak very well” while asking Emma to order his food for him.

The rest day began with welding (given that four kayaks had been broken the previous day that hardly came as a surprise).   By lunch time we had made our plans.   Most of us decided that a day at the walled city in Briançon would be the best way to spend the day, whilst Tom and Sam borrowed Fraser to take them climbing.

PHOTOSNIPE!

Claire photosniping at Briançon

Now over half way through the Alps trip, breakfast with croissants and pain au chocolat is becoming more of a chore than nutritious.   This is Ubaye day, meaning an early get-up, a long drive, and me pleading with Tom for him to drive as I want to take photos: naturally this meant that while I held shot-gun, the storms of the like not seen since the Old Testament rampaged so I couldn’t get any good photos.   The Upper Ubaye is a ridiculously cold river, though it proved that Craig can not only hand-roll, but he’s rather adept at hand paddling too.   It also brought a cheer to many in the group when Sam went for an unintentional swim/technical exit whilst trying to rescue Craig’s kayak.   The Ubaye Race Course, which was my favourite river in my first year in the Alps, proved to be several peoples favourite run of the holiday, however, it also brought about Kieran’s first swim since the 12th of March 2011!   He was not amused.   To many people’s despair, as we were running late, we had McDonalds for dinner.

The Alps: Resplendent in all their glory!

I did get one awesome photo though :)

The following day, the Upper Upper Guil proved to be our first ‘no swim’ river – a mere ten days into the holiday.   A sizable portion of the group continues down to paddle the Upper Guil, where a number of people have a rather intimate experience with it, with Claire swimming in the same spot I swam at five years ago.   After both of these rivers were completed, most of us went back to the campsite where Stella and I worked on our Turkey Curry (that was, perhaps, a little over seasoned), while Tom, Rupert and Sam went with Rob Pilkington to paddle the Guil Gorge.   With them seemingly gone for hours, a number of people began to worry that they had gotten in trouble.   Eventually we received a call saying they had bailed off the river, and there was a collective sigh of relief.   It turns out that they had been paddling it at a level several feet above what is recorded in the guidebook (so the gentle grade three warm-up was nothing of the kind!).   And yet despite this, and despite spending an hour abseiling down to the river, while halfway through dinner I heard:

Tom: “This is my Everest.”

Now that we were nearing the end of our stay, France seemed to finally pull out all the stops and the sun split the heavens!   Returning to the Lower Guisane, I had to make a choice: was I ready to get back on the horse that stopped me paddling for seven days three years ago, or was I going to sit it out and miss one of the best rivers I’ve ever paddled?   I think I’ll give it one more year.   After an uneventful paddle of a very low Lower Guisane, it was time for the group to tackle the upper section for the final time.   This was general uneventful except for a revelation from Mr Doyle, who commented on how much more stable he felt when using the H3’s thigh rests.   Upon hearing this, Ben, Sam and I couldn’t contain our laughter…frankly, after hearing that we were amazed Craig had paddled that well!

On our final day, we have a fairly relaxed start, and then head to paddle the Sunshine Run one last time.   Another river was considered for the afternoon, but most people just wanted to relax and let their kit dry for the two day journey home that was to follow.

Home away from home

Camp at Night 

Other than my first Alps trip back in 2007, this was the one with the most swimming, the greatest variety of rivers and the most learning evident throughout it.   The Alps trips for Glasgow Uni Canoe Club have never been a matter of taking the best people on ridiculously hard rivers (or I’d have never managed to make it onto one), but about pushing the boundaries of people at all levels of competence in the club.   In 2007, I was towards the low end of the bell-curve, managing to get through the basic rivers and a few of the harder ones more because of confidence than skill.   Now, it feels like that venire of confidence has been stripped away, but the skills I have picked up since then more than compensate for it.   I think that everyone who went on this trip had something they could be proud of – a ‘no swim’ river; helping out with a rescue; tackling a new river; developing their roll – and that certainly puts this as one of the best Alps trips I’ve been on.

Good job everyone, and thank you Harry.

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Paul Walker - Mon May 28, 2012 @ 10:27AM
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Well, as of last week, I finished my undergraduate degree in Physics with Astrophysics and became a graduand of the University of Glasgow.

Since then, every waking moment has been about assessing and confirming what I'm going to be doing with the next few years of my life.   As of this afternoon, this is mostly finalised:

I shall be examining METATOYs, optical objects capable of manipulating visible and near visible light in particularly strange ways, to see if they are capable of emulating the Lorentz changes caused by travelling at relativistic speeds.   So I'm getting to learn some Java and applying it to a rather fun raytracing program called TIM.

This is only nearly finalised, but this means that I'm no longer going to be sweating constantly whilst in the French Alps this year, and will be able to relax....finally, relax.....

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Paul Walker - Fri Apr 20, 2012 @ 09:05AM
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All I can say about this trip is that it was planned as a replacement of the Glasgow Uni Canoe Club pool sessions whilst the Stevenson Building undergoes some upgrades.   For myself, Kieran, Ross H, George, Peter and pretty much everyone else who went on it, it was an uneventful trip to the Clyde.

For Stephan, who had shown up forty-five minutes late (owing to a McDonalds food stop while we were all busy packing the bus), he received his much deserved comeuppance  in the form of a particularly gimpy swim.

Oh, that and my lack of helmet, so I'm now going to look particularly silly and post up about a missing FnA helmet two weeks after the last time I used it...and with no idea of when it finally went missing. :(

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Paul Walker - Sun Apr 15, 2012 @ 06:41AM
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Outdoor kayak polo. Nothing could quite be so miserable in Scotland.

These were my thoughts looking at the weather forecast on the run-up to the most last minute entry to ever occur for a competition.   With rain scheduled to be hitting the majority of Scotland, and with a deadline only a few days later this seemed the ideal time to jump on a river or hide indoors, rather than defend goals on an open loch.

I am so glad I decided to go ahead with the competition and get it all organised because it was phenomenal!   Our team consisted of Ross Barnie (as captain), myself, Keong, both Georges (proving a bit confusing, particularly on the pitch), Stephan (arriving almost an hour late even with a wakeup text!!!) and Rory Slater (who had never played polo competitively before)....so I could be forgiven for expecting us to place fairly low out of the seven teams finally showed up to P in the Loch.

Arriving there, we found that Louise Cullum (an honourary lifetime member of Glasgow Uni Canoe Club) was there with her new club, Forth, who have just succeeded in earning a promotion to Division 2 at the national league; Gavin from Dundee Uni was there as part of the 'Dundee Ladies' *snigger*; and a bunch of other people who I was hoping to not have to play showed up in the same team as the, appropriately named, Misfits.

By 11am, the sun was out and everyone was having a great time when we saw the amount of food for the included BBQ arriving....nomnomnomnomnom!

Anyway, our first game was against the Misfits, and it was a pretty even game.   A star turn from George and Keong saw the first goal of the game, Keong made the second on his own, and a lapse in my keeping ability meant that the final score was 2-1.

Our second game was against Fife B, who were pretty damn strong and just kept pushung us back into our own half, so even losing with a score of 3-1 seemed a reasonable effort.

The next game was against the Dundee Ladies, so I sat this one out and let Ross have a turn in goals.   As normal he proved a good replacement and kept a clean sheet (with one particularly good save right at the end).   The game ended 1-0 to us.

Lastly, in the group stages, we were to play against Stirling University.   If we won, we would be in 3rd place in the competition (competing for the trophy), if we lost, we would be in 5th place (competing for the plate).   We won, but for me, the biggest victory was capsizing Fraser - the cheer from his team suggested that they agreed with me on that one too.

Somehow, after all the games had been resolved, every semi-final was a rematch.   Our rematch was against the Misfits.   We scored the first goal, but they scored the second two.   So much for being impenetrable...

The Misfits won the competition overall, but at least we can say that we beat them :)

After the competition was done, we went exploring Bridge of Allan to find somewhere to have a team meal as the day had been good enough to deserve it.   The Allanwater Cafe, with it's chip shop menu and amazing ice cream fit the bill rather nicely.

Overall, a spectacular day, made even better by the occational making fun of Ross (Chandler) Henderson and his palace in St. Andrews where he eats swans for lunch and has a chat with queenie before afternoon tea...who still made his presence felt because of George Henders...no HAMILTON!!!

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Paul Walker - Thu Mar 29, 2012 @ 01:58PM
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Nothing screams upcoming exams like an unprecedented urge to go kayaking.   As such, with the weather in Scotland emulating summer (and for all we know, this may be all we'll end up getting) it was time for a casual trip up to Glen Etive to have fun times and barbecues!

Recruited in this trip were Kieran, Stephan and Ross (I suppose I should specify that it's Ross Barnie, not Ross Henderson who had, at this point, returned to his palace in St Andrews).   With this group, and the predelection for one of them to show up late, a suitably early start time was arranged and - surprise, surprise - someone was late.

After collecting BBQ food, we boosted up to the Etive to find it PWL - actually the first time I've seen it like that in a while.   Bristol Uni Canoe Club were there, and in the two minutes we spent admiring just how low it was, we witnessed two swimmers at the second drop.   Well we weren't going to have any trouble there.....

With a race down Triple Falls planned, the other three decided to have a test run down it while I was doing the shuttle (proving it is possible to be ready and on a river for the driver's return, unlike what happens on so many a club trip).   In this period, Kieran's run almost met with tragedy, running the third drop he'd ended up capsizing, and his 'bombproof' roll refused to get him upright three times, only just avoiding swimming on the fourth attempt.

We lined up, backwards, about 10 metres away from the first drop.   Everyone was joking about how, with my incredibly slow Mamba, the race wouldn't be about who would win, but about who could be closest in front of me to get the most camera time.   Well, with such faith in my paddling ability being presented it was only fair that I took the lead before the first drop and never bothered looking back....and then paid for my arrogance twice by capsizing at the third drop (thankfully rolling up) and then realising after I'd won, that I'd forgotton to put on my GoPro....

While Letterbox technically had enough water to be runnable, it wasn't worth it.   We put in above Ski-Jump  and all paddled it without difficulty.

Knowing how little hold Crack of Doom has at such low levels, we just paddled it with me sitting in the eddy in the crack 'just in case'.   It wasn't needed, but it allowed me to get footage of everyone running the rapid.   The other Crack was it's usual portage.

Great Waterslide actually proved a bit more devastating than usual.   I ended up going down it backwards, Kieran and Ross went into the wall (I would have provided a picture, but the video is better), meaning that it was Stephan who got the best line out of everyone.   To show just how grim a realisation that is....well....

Stephan on Great Waterslide - by Paul Walker

Sometimes the best line just isn't good enough...

So after this heroic display of how to not kayak, we went down to Right Angle.   For Stephan, it's old hat.   For me, it would normally be even more simple, but since the last time I did the dog-leg was the day I broke my last set of paddles (may the rest in peace) I was pretty nervous too.   Kieran was quite up for doing the dog-leg for the first time, and Ross, well, he just likes to be scared.

To cut things short, everyone did it fine, with Ross and I rolling at the bottom, and Kieran getting a great landing for his first run of the full thing.

Kieran on Right Angle - by Paul Walker

Kieran on a PWL Right Angle

With the Etive pretty much done, all there was left to do was paddle down to the get-off, snack a bit, and decide what to do with the rest of the day.   Allt a’ Chaorainn you say?

Kieran wasn't feeling 100% after the Etive, so he volunteered to be designated camera man while Ross, Stephan and I tackled this famous trib.   Ross was petrified but, in a rare and pleasant example of manning up, still took on the challenge.

First up was Speed.   Aptly named as most will know.   It fired all three of us down it flume style and without any problems.

Next up was Ecstacy.   It looks significantly more intimidating but, like Speed, is fairly friendly, particularly at this level.

Pinball proved to be a bit more questionable.   Stephan decided to lower himself onto it, and still bounced around with seemingly no control.   Ross and I fared little better, running the whole thing.   For the third time in a day I found myself running a rapid backwards (though my entry had looked fairly good), and Ross, though his entry looked bad, came as close as you can to styling a rapid that bounces you around like a bucking bronco.

Ross on Pinball - by Paul Walker

Ross on the scary one!

Finally there's Chasm.   Just like Speed, but steeper.   Stephan looked like he was caught at the top of it for a bit, but all was well.

Me on Chasm - by Paul Walker

The light at the end of the tunnel!

Well, with the paddling done for the day, it was time for our barbecue and for locking Kieran in the boot.   He seemed really calm about it for some reason...hopefully Holly (his girlfriend) has not been locking him up too often.   After a beautiful day in one of Scotlands most scenic valleys it was finally time to head home and hope that this day of perfect paddling procrastination would provide a productive work ethic for the rest of the examination period.

Probably not.

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Paul Walker - Fri Mar 23, 2012 @ 06:26PM
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Well, the titles a good giveaway as to what this is about: I entered the Strathclyde University Canoe Club Film Competition (as I always do), and failed to win anything (as I always do). Even though this time my film did receive a decent amount of applause, it was clear who the three winners were going to be.

Well done to Julia, Callum, Dan and Murray for their respective films.   If I get the chance I'll upload them here for people to wonder at, but until then, here's mine:

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Paul Walker - Wed Mar 21, 2012 @ 03:59PM
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As I imagine anyone in Glasgow Uni Canoe Club will inform you, my failure to paddle the Leny in my seven years at the club has become something of a joke.   Fifty trips, private and otherwise, must have been run there throughout my time at university.   Well, today is the day that everything changed - and just like with the Moriston, it took Mark Mulrain and Strathclyde Uni Canoe Club to do it.

Well, with a 12:30 start, I am pleased to say that no-one was late.   And seeing as everyone going had as much in the way of common sence as kayakers have, we'd all packed food, cameras, towels (unless you were in a drysuit), meaning that there wasn't even any faff!....until Murray missed the turn off.

I shan't bore you with endless details about the river.   Suffice it to say, the upper section (before the Falls of Leny) is a fairly nice and continuous grade 2, maybe 3, bimble.

At the Falls, it was time for me to make the choice that had been plaguing me the entire journey: would I run the Falls of Leny?   Could I up the ante, and tackle a grade 5 that was both technical, and with a decent volume?

Me on the Falls of Leny

Challenge Accepted!!

I have it on good authority from Dan that my line wasn't that far off Mark's line (we were the only two to run it)...but anything better than a maiming is a victory as far as I'm concerned.

The lower half of the river caused me some more trouble, with me having to fall back on my brace and even roll (yes, no-one was more surprised than me when it actually worked!) as we got further down.

The Leny's definitely up there with the rivers of that level, and because it's nice and continuous, it feels more challenging than some of the others that I've run that are probably, technically, more difficult.   I can certainly see why it's such a popular river, and I look forward to returning their before seven years passes again...otherwise this may end up being my Pon Farr river (that's in here just for you Mark).

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Paul Walker - Mon Mar 19, 2012 @ 08:52AM
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With seven years of coaching experience with Glasgow Uni Canoe Club, it's been a while since anyone has really surprised me with their successes on a river, so I suppose I'm going to start out this post by saying well done to George and to Ross for catching me off guard.

Both of them had been looking at rivers they wanted to do, so when I invited them to come paddling they asked about doing the Middle Etive.   Having paddled it a lot, I was willing to head there, but was expecting to have to portage a couple of the rapids due to limitations on safety coverage.   However, Stephan was up for a jaunt to the Etive as well, so accompanied us, and was invaluable in providing safety cover while I demonstrated the line and set up cover at the bottom before switching.

Triple Falls proved to be Ross' best rapid of the day, styling all three drops, and managing a perfect boof on the third drop...though the amount of time he spent not capsizing while being pushed against the walls after the second drop was pretty funny.

We all ran Letterbox too, though I was the only one not to plug it, and George was shoved into the river right alcove by the water and had to make a technical exit onto the bank.

Ski-Jump was its usual, friendly, self - though I think it was one of the ones that had scared Ross most up to this point.

Crack of Doom was my screw-up of the day: my line in was great, unfortunately between choosing whether to run the drop at the end left or right, I went centre and then backwards down the right.   On the plus side, my reverse boof/brace works fairly well.   Ross and George both ran this easily.   Stephan gave it a miss as his back started giving him some bother.

Crack of Dawn was it's usual portage and seal launch.

Great Waterslide was styled my Ross and I, caused Stephan to capsize, and George was our dedicated crasher.

Right Angle was paddled my me, George and Ross.   Only Ross capsized, and his roll saved him.   He then capsized against the wall, and after a little nudge from my paddles to move him away from the rockface, he rolled up again.   Despite having a sore back, Stephan decided that sliding down the drop was a good idea...

Many moments were spent later sniggering as Stephan hobbled around at the Real Food Cafe and trying to climb sideways into his car.   Silly Stephan.

It's been a very long time since I've been to the Etive and no-one has swum, particularly when with people who've never run it before.   So well done again to Ross and George on what was, overall, an excellent trip.

My New Paddles

The new paddles no longer look like this though....

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Paul Walker - Wed Feb 29, 2012 @ 10:43AM
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Nearing the end of the season, with just one genuine win (a second due to a team failing to show up) was starting to take its toll on the team. So this time, despite being against Woodmill (reigning champions), Kelpies, Stirling Black and Stirling Blue, we were determined to pull out all the stops in order to regain some lost dignity.

In the game against Woodmill, due to a weak start it was decided that I should play out of goals and attempt to mitigate the damage they were causing. Needless to say, this didn't work, and Ross went away for at least twenty minutes after the game ended so that he didn't break some of our players.

In our second game, against the Kelpies, we returned to our regular tactics with some improvement: I would stay in goals for the most part and coordinate, Ross and Cat would be full-time defence, George would be full-time attack, and Colin and Ezra would switch between both as needed throughout the game. We lost the game, but it didn't feel like a hammering, so the team morale was up for the final two matches.

Glasgow Uni Canoe Club has a long relationship with many of the people in the two Stirling teams, even having a current (Honorary Lifetime) member playing for Stirling Blue, so it's no surprise that half the battle in this kind of game is the analysis of the players and whom to mark.

In any match against Stirling Black, Alex Bowie must be marked. He has one of the strongest shots in Division 1, and even on my best days, he has scored past me. Ross Galloway and Fiona Beveridge are also stalwart players who seem to appear from no-where to score. So I had them marked out by Ezra, Cat, Ross and Colin whenever it looked like they were coming into attack. This was very successful, and we managed to hold onto a 3 - 3 tie with their team, in what had been one of the better matches of the tournament.

Our final match of the day was against Stirling Blue, with GUCC veteran John MacArthur in their team, they would likely be playing our tactics back against us too. Unfortunately, given what I'd seen that day, all I was able to advise our team was that if they were marking Ali Denny and another person moved into their area, they should mark that other person, as everyone else on that team has a formidible shot. In this game I was also forced to move out of goals more often than in previous ones, and for the first time in quite a while, I found myself being marked heavily....I suppose I should thank them for the compliment. I somehow managed to sneak a goal in under the radar, much to the distress of their keeper who was convinced it was missing the target.

So, at the end of this tournament, we had lost two games, tied one....and somehow....won 3 - 2 in our match against John's team.

Serena's tasted particularly good that evening.

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