The Alps 2012

Two weeks, three cars, four swims and one lost boat.

Southampton University ventured all the way to the French Alps in anticipation of sunny days and balmy nights. They got neither of these things. They did however get their fair share of spectacular scenery, delightful whitewater and oversized sandwiches. If you like your kayaking videos full of the big stuff and slickly edited…you probably won’t like this:

Looks like fun? Get involved right here.

The Thames Weirs

As you may have noticed, the last month has been a good month for rain and as such, a good month for kayaking. Whilst everybody else across the country has been moaning about the weather we’ve been making the most of the flows with a few trips to the weirs that the Thames has to offer, it’s been great fun. Old hands have been practising their panams, intermediates have been trying to get the hang of those flatspins and blunts and even those that only started paddling this year have been getting to grips with all that the Thames has to throw at them!

It’s been a lot of fun and everybody has learnt a lot. It has been great to watch everybody improve so quickly and seeing everyone gradually getting the hang of moves and techniques that they were wiping out on at the beginning of the day.

Let’s pray for more rain!

Scotland 2012

We took all but one of our Pyranha fleet to Scotland this Easter. With only one day of rain all week levels could have been better but then again we’re pretty well practised in running things low after two dry winters! Levels aside, we had a brilliant time taking on the Scottish classics, newbies and hardened veterans alike. Our last run of the Etive was a particular highlight, with some truly ridiculous showboating being pulled (although not always with great consequences!).

Photos can be found here!

Fresher’s Perranporth Trip 2011

Another Fresher’s Trip has passed and hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves. In time fresher’s flu will start to wear off, and anything caught at Perranporth will have been killed by the alcohol from the first social.

The trip started as always with maximum faff, people turned up late, the keys were in the wrong place, the van door would not close (it might have fallen off). All in all, a good start to the weekend.

When the majority of the group arrived it was to find the hut in a state of warfare with fortified positions at either end of the village hall, and to be shouted at to choose aside. What ensued next was either a mass lowering of the mental age of the group or everyone is just immature at heart and this was before anyone had decided to partake in the liquid gold we call cider.

After everyone had worn themselves out, we did what students do best – mingle and start playing some games (ring of fire, three man, to name just a few). The Ridge had brought it upon themselves to bring along the good old favourite, the funnel for the pleasure of all. For some this meant being cornered and encouraged to have a go “thanks for that” others queued up to show everyone what they are made of. It was then off to the beach for a the old classic skinny dipping. On the way there, someone spotted a phone box so what do any sensible people do try and break the world record number of people you can get in a phone box, I think we made 14?

This year there were some very friendly naked people; small groups gathered to chat and I can only assume discuss the weather. High 5 to you all or should I say High 10 [you know who you are Immi ;)]. Time to warm up so it was back to the hut for more fun and games. Heading to bed at the totally reasonable hour of 6am (not sure I have ever done this on a trip before).

Breakfast at 8am was not well received, but off to the BEACH!

The Safety Briefing was provided by our lovely Paddles and Stabby Jo. Everyone was split into pairs and kitted out with a boat, paddle, spray deck, wetsuit (Amazing retro colours), cag, Buoyancy aid and helmet.

The best tight and bright the club can offer!

It was then time to walk down the beach and time to surf!

To the Sea!

Some people misunderstood what they were supposed to be doing.

Not sure what was going on here

Everyone else attacked the sea and spent a good few happy hours mastering the basic technique of how to stay upright and surf waves like a pro (for more info see the Wombles guide to surfing).

Lunch was served, with the finest cuts of meat to choose from (chicken roll and ham roll), cheese, crisps, fruit all packaged neatly between two slices of bread. The more eager of the bunch then headed back to the water for another hour of surfing.

By about 16:00 everyone’d had enough and it was time to go back to the hut, grab a nap and wait for the chefs to prepare dinner. Pass the parcel was the nights entertainment kindly prepared for us by the lovely Social Secs. It is a remake of the good old birthday party game but each layer has a challenge the (un)lucky person it lands on has to complete.

Pass the Parcel - Sock fight

Next morning it was time to clean the hut and head back to the beach for another day of surfing.

Southampton University Canoe Club - new and old

Unfortunately the weekend had come to an end and it was time to travel back to the Boat Hard in Southampton. Thanks to everyone who took part; Drivers, committee members, club members, freshers and anyone else who helped and of course thanks to the RNLI Lifeguards who watched over us.

We hope to see you at a Social, Pool session, River session or Trip sometime soon. In the mean time check out some of the photos (get tagging).

SUCC Love xxxx


RNLI - Lifeguards


Matt Kelly writes:

At 9am, after driving along a spectacular mountain road with the rising sun, our mighty Laguna pulled majestically into the Vallouise campsite, nestled in the French Alps where the Gyr and the Onde coalesce into the Gyronde – because the French are creative like that.

Eighteen hours of driving, ferrying and snacking (along with the occasional unplanned excursion due to sub-optimal navigation) had landed our group of four in a well-known paddling hotspot around the Durance drainage. Better still, eight of Southampton Uni Canoe Club’s alumni and friends were there to meet us in the morning sunshine for breakfast, before planning out the first day’s paddling.

A gentle warmup on the Gyronde gave the three Alpine first-timers a flavour of what was to come. The slalom course was quickly followed up with a blast down the Onde, taking just fifteen minutes, with no trouble – things were starting well.

Our first evening, like those after it, found us taking in the stars and numerous stubby beers. Twelve hours in, I was already loving it – great food, spectacular continuous III-IV rapids, fine company and breathtaking scenery.

In the days that followed, our tour took in the Durance Gorge, the Middle Clarée, several runs of the Lower Guisanne, the Lower Guil, the Gyr, and countless runs of the Onde (well, when the get-off is pretty much in your campsite, you would too!). Rivers generally passed without incident, though the author took a couple of rolls on sections a little shallower than is ideal… See the video above for headcam evidence, along with a sphincter-loosening capsize on the incredible Gyr!

France was serving us well; our French car, however, was not. Eight days after our arrival, half way to the Ubaye, disaster struck:

A French mechanic echoed the diagnosis of our friend George: “Turbo… kaput.”

All was not lost. Though the last of our holiday companions were departing as our car gave up the ghost, we met four top guys who adopted their fellow British paddlers, taking us to some get-ons over our last couple of days in their van. Their kindness was repaid, as we spent a day and a half dislodging a pinned boat of theirs from the Gyr – long live the paddling community!

Sadly, our time was drawing to a close. To cut a long story short, our journey home took 36 hours, involving a taxi driver who firmly believed he was at leastas good as Colin McRae, an absolutely gutless Vauxhall Astra (though we at least convinced the hire company not to give us a Twingo) a second taxi driver who smelled awful and rudely got a flat tyre a mile away from the ferry port, a walk, a ferry ride, a couple of hours at Dover whilst they found a replacement for our hire car (which had been given away) and a weary arrival in Southampton, were John and I didn’t have any keys to any house anywhere in Southampton.

As for the car, boats and paddling gear…? We’ll let you know when they make it back to the UK.