Whilst I spent far more time in 2012 riding surfskis, plenty happened in the world of kayaking to keep us all amused. In fact, some of the most popular kayaking posts were from the year before, but continued to get lots of visitors regardless. It’s not surprising really, considering how many incredible kayak paddlers are out there doing fantastic stuff on rivers, at sea or in the surf. Here’s the most popular antics from visitors to the site last year. Cheers, FP
The Tsunami Rangers are well know for their crazy antics in big surf, wild rock gardens and surfing in caves. This band of renegade paddlers spent many a year playing along the west coast of the US and become renown for smashing boats and big wave surfing. I have an inclination towards coastal exploration (a diplomatic way of saying rubbing my kayak up against rocks and cliffs in frothy water), but there are few mentors in my neck of the woods with any real experience in this type of playful (and sometimes painful!) style of paddling. [ Read More ]
#9 – Rock Gardens are like the Ocean, Never Turn Your Back on Them. A Painful Lesson for Fat Paddler
It started off well. Mike, Lt. Gelo and I met at Sydney Harbour Kayaks at the start of a magnificent Saturday morning. We kitted up in protective gear – wetsuits, booties, helmets etc – and set off for Grotto Point looking for some fun in either surf or rocks. The weather report for the morning looked great (seas a little under a metre and 13knts of wind) and we couldn’t wait to get amongst it. [ Read More ]
There’s something about paddling that’s been bothering me for a while – I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I just sensed there was something missing. Recently, whilst reading other people’s paddling blogs, I came across the following “Wanted” notice on Eric Soares’ blog about the future of the Tsunami Rangers. The opening paragraph went as follows:
“The Tsunami Rangers are looking for new members. Ideal candidates will be strong, bold, courageous, fun-loving, adventurous and love water, kayak well, be proficient at many outdoor activities, be individualistic and a team player, a fast learner, and a true friend. And young—18 to 21.”
Those final words grabbed my attention as I realised what it was that had been eating away at me about the sport I love. There aren’t any young people in it. [ Read More ]
Sitting here in Australia it’s easy to get carried away in our own coastal paddling exploits – surfski paddling, sea kayaking, SUP paddling, recreational paddling. But in the Northern hemisphere one of the biggest paddling sports is white water, and one of the craziest events is the Green River Extreme Narrows race in North Carolina.
Each year the best and maddest white water creekers converge on the Green River and wonder what the water levels are going to be and how much carnage they’re going to see. By the look of the footage, this year’s was mental. [ Read More ]
Last weekend I took Gelo out for a surf session. I had my Stellar SR surfski, and I took my Liquidlogic Remix XP10 for him. One is close to 20 foot long and 19″ wide, the other is 10 foot long and over 40″ wide! You just couldn’t image two more different boats, and yet there we were out surfing together and having a blast.
We weren’t alone of course. There were plastic skis, short surf-board like surf skis, SUPs , a few outriggers, a mattering of ocean and spec skis and a couple of sea kayaks. All frolicking in the surf and having a great time. [ Read More ]
As I’ve found myself drawn to dynamic ocean whitewater, my boat needs have started to change as my paddling shifts from medium distance exploration to short bursts of speed and adrenalin in amongst the surf and rocks. My current tupperware sea kayak is quite good for the rough stuff but at 18 feet, is too long to manoeuvre in close to rocks. Its hull design also makes it a tad tippy when you catch paddles or parts of the hull on submerged rocks.
So I’ve spent the last 6 months considering many different boat designs and options. In the sea kayak realm there are a few boats designed for surfing and rock gardening, such as the poly P&H Delphin, which comes in at 15 feet and has a unique hull design especially for surfing, or the Sterling Reflection, with a hull designed to surf equally well backwards as forwards. And let’s not forget the Tsunami X15 as paddled by the Tsunami Rangers, with a length of 14 feet and a wash-deck for easy dismounts and remounts. [Read More ]
A few weeks ago the kayaking world was shocked to learn of the sudden passing of Eric Soares, co-founder of the Tsunami Rangers and well-loved extreme kayaker. This larger than life personality had been an enormous source of inspiration to other paddlers and shared his experiences and knowledge with other paddlers through his blog TsunamiRangers.com.
I had never met Eric, but had got to know him via his blog and through email around a year ago after becoming friends with fellow Tsunami Ranger Jim Kakuk. My growing love of rock gardening was challenged by a lack of local mentors and I had turned to Eric for advice and guidance, showing him clips of my experiences amongst the rocks and getting feedback on what I could have done better. Eric was always generous in his advice, brutally honest and unafraid to tell me off when he thought I’d been reckless. At the same time he was enthusiastic about my attempts, keen to see my skills grow and had a clear understanding of the absolute rush that rock gardening provides. Simply, he understood. [ Read More ]
I was recently tasked by the CEO of my workplace Dimmi to come up with a kayak-based activity for a National Conference we were holding in Manly. His instructions were clear – “Don’t make it some boring, gentle paddle… I want some excitement, I want action!”.
With 30 people to cater for with different strengths and weaknesses, this challenge seemed a little daunting. I enlisted the held of Benefit Active to organise boats and help with the activity planning, and between us we came up with a plan – a gentle paddle to start with for the whole team, followed by a game I’d been thinking up in my head which I’d unimaginatively called “Murder Ball”. The rules would be easy – two teams, an enclosed area, a ball that the teams had to compete for, and a target or goal. [ Read More ]
Back in March of 2011 those scallywags of the US west coast, the Tsunami Rangers, issued a challenge to find, scale and take a photo at the peak of “Neptune’s Castle“, a rocky islet somewhere on the Californian coast. Some twenty years earlier the Tsunami Rangers had done the same and hadn’t been back since. I wrote a reply calling for antipodean paddlers to take up the challenge, and had quietly made approaches to local Californian paddlers about teaming up to win the quest.
In September of the same year a group of Bay Area paddlers decided over tequila and marshmallows to form a team for the attempt, a team that would take it’s name from the Castle itself. Then, using satellite imagery and local knowledge, located, paddled to and scaled the peak, claiming the victory as their own. Neptune’s Rangers were born and a new chapter in extreme ocean white water was written. [ Read More ]
Every now and then you come across a paddler that you see enormous potential in. I watch a lot of content streaming through social media and a certain paddler has been catching my eye for a while, a young Greenland paddler from British Columbia, James Manke. What’s even more surprising is how new to paddling James is, having only taken it up 18 months ago despite an overwhelming fear of the ocean.
Like many new kayakers, James quickly became addicted to paddling and in particular, the Greenland styles. Living by a lake on Vancouver Island certainly helps – he spends time on the water every day (and sometimes at night) practicing different Greenland-style rolls, a key reason for his rapid skills development. Living in BC has also brought him into contact with those crazed ocean white water lovers,The Hurricane Riders, with whom he draws inspiration from and has been lucky enough to paddle with. [ Read More ]