I am delighted to announce that I have joined with Kokatat as a Regional Ambassador. These guys make the best kayaking kit in the business and are the market leaders when it comes to staying dry and safe on the water. Kokatat are probably most famous for there dry suits especially there Gore-Tex models, which are without doubt the driest suits on the market. They also provide a customer service that is second to none.
A company with high standards for quality and community, Kokatat have stayed true to there founding ideals in this age of mass production and still produce over 90% of there products by hand in Arcata USA. I have been using there kit for about 5 years now and I have first hand experience of there customer service, craftsmanship and dedication to keeping you dry. The work that is put in to servicing your old suit is phenomenal.
With new designs coming in January and a dry suit that is set to change everything I am already looking forward to 2015!
Check out I-Canoe for all Kokatat products in Ireland.
Last week (31/3-5/4) I was in Slovenia for the Gene17 next Generation training course. We were based in the beautiful Soča Valley in the Julian alps not far from the Italian border in north west Slovenia. This area has become very well known in the kayaking community as the place to go in Europe for nice class 2-4 white water, predictable levels, good weather and excellent ice cream!.
The Soča lends itself perfectly to this type of course. It offers lots of natural classrooms for improving personal skills and developing your coaching. The Next Generation course has been running for a number of years now, it was know as future staff training until this year when it was made open to paddlers to apply for a place on the course. There were 12 places available over 2 weeks. It suited me best to go on the second week.
Winter is well and truly here and I'm sure you can feel it every time you step outside. Well its just as bad when you have to get on the water for a flat water training session or a day on a white water river. Having good thermal base layers is the key to staying warm in these conditions. There is a huge range of base layer products on the market now that offer varying degrees of protection and comfort. For me I have been using CRAFT sportswear products for about 3 years now for all types of kayaking and training. CRAFT are a Swedish company that specialise in making performance sportswear for cycling, running and skiing and have done so for the last four decades. Why CRAFT? Three reasons
The Crana Canoe weekend took place over the weekend (19th/20th). This year seen nearly 200 kayakers taking to the water in 6 disciplines. There was Sea kayak racing, Freestyle, Slalom, Rafting, Wild Water racing and Boater Cross to choose from. There is also coaching clinics in paddling technique and safety and rescue available to everyone over the weekend. This event has been running for a few years now and has become the biggest white water kayaking event on the Irish calendar. The setting is perfect for such an event. The Crana river is dam released for the weekend so the water is guaranteed which is fantastic as you can plan your weekend well in advance and not worry about the event being cancelled due to no water. A novelty in Ireland!
Saturday was a busy day packed with competitions. Starting in the morning with the sea kayak race. I took the win in the sea kayak category in the Tahe Marine Wind Solo. This is the second time I have raced this boat and the second win. Definitely one of the fastest plastic sea kayak on the go. Then there was a raft race which was great craic and after that the Dagger Dash fun race. At the same time there was also a freestyle competition on the lower part of the river and racers training on the boater cross course.
The main event of the weekend is the advanced boater cross which is raced over the upper section of the river and the infamous "Claw" drop on Sunday afternoon. The level of carnage here on race day is unbelievable and a real show for the spectators who line the river bank. I came 2nd in this event last year so I was hopeful of a repeat performance this year. I got of to a good start winning my first heat. But I got caught up in some dirty tactics at the start of the next heat and this left me in 3rd place coming into the Claw. Only 1st and 2nd would advance. So a last ditch effort was made to take out Eoin Keyes in 2nd. Boofing on to his deck sent me right into the "room of doom" and the slow line. Crossed the line in 4th and was out of the competition. The final was set to be a cracker. Irish international slalom paddler Ciaran Heurteau had come specially for the event and didn't disappoint. He charged through the heats and took the final win in style.
Well done to Adrian Harkin and the Just Kayak team for putting on such a great event. Put it in your calendar for 2014 no doubt it will be even bigger and better next year.
David Horkan from Paddle & Pedal. Posting info on various outdoor adventures in Mayo and around Ireland.