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!

AN ALPINE ADVENTURE

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.Starkie-Lower-Guisanne

Jo, Onde

Superman

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!

Lower Gizz

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

Mountain Breakdown

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.

SUCC Win ‘Spirit of PGL’ at NSR 2011

Southampton takes home NSR’s Spirit of PGL Award

In a phenomenal weekend for Southampton University Canoe Club, the university’s 45 paddlers have impressed judges, organisers and other competitors so much they took home the National Student Rodeo’s “Spirit of PGL” award, securing a year’s sponsorship from PGL and Pyranha Kayaks.

PGL, who play an immense part in making the event happen each year, award the highly coveted prize to the university showing the best attitude, team spirit and enthusiasm for the event, which are the fundamentals of their business.

“It’s about making sure everyone around you has a great time, as well as just your own team.”

The world’s biggest kayak freestyle competition was the largest ever, at over 800 strong. SUCC brought an alternative take on the event’s “beach theme”: Instead of hula skirts and board shorts, we declared “Southampton Does D-Day”, sporting camo gear, aviator glasses and a huge number of toy guns. The distinctively dressed team, however, didn’t particularly make war on their rival Universities; they made them cups of tea, even offering round the occasional bacon sandwich, and made an impressive effort to socialise with other Universities in the competition.

The club’s generosity, the team spirit displayed in their en-masse dancing, the fearsome charging of the dance floor and wholehearted support of their team mates throughout the competition impressed everyone at the rodeo. Camo-Clad SUCC members tirelessly cheered on their friends (even at 8am) and spent hours helping boats and people out of the water from other Universities as well as their own. The NSR radio team were even heard to say:

“It’s gone a bit quiet – where’s Southampton gone?”

Southampton’s sponsorship will mean 6 brand new boats for the club this year, which they can buy at a discounted rate at the end of the year, as well as great deals on all the top-end manufacturer’s products. The University also picked up the “carnage” award for the best attitude to people capsizing and swimming in the cold waters of the Trent, earning them free Whitewater Safety and Rescue training for six people from Tom Parker Coaching.

Massive thanks for Leeds University Canoe ClubRiver Legacy and all other sponsors who made this fantastic event possible.

Pictures to follow soon.

Kayak or tank?

 

Southampton Uni Hit Scotland

Winning ‘The Spirit of PGL’ award at this year’s National Student Rodeo we bagged ourselves a year’s sponsorship with Pyranha and six shiny new boats! So whilst the boats make their way to us, here’s a splash of what we’ve been getting up to with a bit of classic Scotland:

After having a pretty scrapey season up to date, the words ‘SEVERE WEATHER WARNING’ were met with beaming smiles in the SUCC bunkhouse, as the club prepared for their week around Fort William. New members and older veterans of the club alike made the long drive north, and were rewarded from day one with fantastic levels on the Orchy. The water kept coming throughout the week, providing a healthy 6 pipe Upper Spean run to keep grins growing.

Of course water everywhere means two things for a university canoe club: first class boating and even better carnage. Some nailed lines, others failed lines. Most hucked up whilst the remainder mucked it up. But of course that’s all part of the fun of club boating and there were smiles all round for a great week that had an awesome vibe!

SUCC LOVE,

Southampton University Canoe Club

George Holmyard tackling Pattack falls Scotland 2011

Pyranha kayaks dominating the Road ahead

Pichee and the Molan taking the plunge

BUCS Whitewater Racing 2010

The Diary Entries of Robert J. McWhirly. Concerning the SUCC Expedition to the Arctic Tundra (North Yorkshire – BUCS Whitewater Racing):

Log- 25/11/10 13:00

Sub-zero temperatures, watersports, The North. Probably the worst combination since Matt Kelly’s parents’ sex cells.

Sitting here on the Thursday before the trip, I can’t be blamed for wandering how I’ve been roped into a weekend where I’ll be lucky to retain all my fingers. Derperately tring to secure thermals (I believe Andrew’s currently looking at twenty one layers) the outlook looks bleak.

Here’s the current Metcheck prediction:

Temperature -3C, feels Like: -7C

I still don’t understand how the weather can cheat 4 degrees from me. Ridiculous.

Log 28/11/10  11:00 – The Ascent of Mt. BUCS.

Who’s idea was it to put the campsite of the bottom of an icy hill? Faff of epic proportions ensused (Eric Westenbrink was suspiciously present) as wans and buses slithered around the ice. Eight bald sets of tyres later we have arrived at the River Washburn To kick some Loughborough ass.

Log 28/11/10  4:00

A one, two, three podium finish for SUCC as we wipe the slate in every event, with all other university boats suspiciously sinking mid race*** (the reliability of this log may have been affect by the frozen nature of my brain at the time of entry). [Results here]

Log 28/11/10  23:30

Fresher Sam Hurst has just single-handedly turned the tropical themed party into an orgy of carnage. He has so far thrown whipped cream over everyone, filled his tiger suit up with balloons and continuously bounced into strangers, got himself stuck inside a tyre to the point that we thought we would have to cut him out and pulled down half of the decoration. The night is but young!

Log 29/11/10 7:00

EVERYTHING IS FROZEN!

Snow drifts in camp, freezing temperatures had frozen everything!

Log 29/11/10  14:00

We’ve won everything; this is just getting boring, let’s send Eric down the course in a tiger onese, do some live baiting practice and go home.

Log 29/11/10  17:00

Tom Pritchard is dead and all is suddenly quite. The elements have closed in around us. Our vehicles are stuck and we’re in a barren part of the North somewhere, hundreds of miles away from civilisation I expect. However moral remains high because it is impossible to be sad when you are wearing a tiger suit!

Log 29/11/10  22:00

This was totally worth it. 4 star hotel, breakfast included and a great excuse to miss lectures, getting stuck in Yorkshire could not have worked out any better. We’ve just had a nice little snowboating session and are off to the pub for a well-deserved pint. Possible the best accommodation the club has ever seen?

Log 30/11/10  16:00

As we pull back into civilisation it is hard to believe the sight of the boathard. It is a sight that many of us had doubts that we would ever see again, fearing that we would be lost to an eternity of wandering Siberia. Behold then this tale of human perseverance and wonder at the 10 brave souls that made it back alive, and let us dine on Pritchard’s death!

The Heroic Explorers 

L-R Merlin Gore, Rob McWhirter, Andrew Sylvester, George Godfrey, Sam Hurst, Pete Ainscow, John Griffiths, Eric Westernbrink, Tom Pritchard (RIP), Matt Wright, Pete Rochester

*Facts and events may not be based on reality