Wet West Paddle Fest 2012

Well, while I didn’t make Wet West this year due to a house move, I was there in spirit. And, I was also made my mark there via the t-shirt design.

While my own design was not selected (boo hoo), the SCA did include my suggested Gaelic version of the event title in the excellent design they chose; really good to see the SCA embracing the language. Last year it was their new bilingual logo, now Wet West!

Fèis Fhliuch Shiar nam Pleadhag; glè math ma-thà!

Wet West Paddlefest T-Shirt 2012

Moriston River Race 2012 / Rèis Abhainn Moireastain 2012

Well, what can I say; the inaugural Moriston River Race (2012) was was an epic event; great day out and fun for all the family!

Glorious sunny weather saw 50 competitors and loads of onlookers take to the River Moriston on Sunday 6th May for the UK’s most hardcore white water paddling event.

This year I decided not to compete - basically I had no chance against some of the best boaters in the country – however I did volunteer to do safety. So, the weekend started for me and the squad of 12 rescuers on the River Spean on Saturday for some white water safety training with Dave Rossetter of www.stirlingcanoes.co.uk.

Little water meant a day stuck swiming up and down Fairy Steps, but despite my fears, the sun did make it into the gorge, so spirits remained high as we ran through a variety of rescue scenarios and tried a few different mechnical advantage set-ups; thankfully none were required on the day, however!

After an unsociable early rise on the Sunday, we arrived in Glen Moriston just as the dam began to release. This had been one of Jim Flemming’s stresses; no water, no race! After the Falkrik stragglers arrive and our team briefing was over, my team bush-whacked along the southern bank to set-up safety beside ‘stick hole’, the boof ledge midway down that has a habit of catching out the unwary paddler…few escape a wrong line on this one!

Before the race kicked-off at 11am, a few folk decided to take their boats for a test run. Sadly, this resulted in the first incident of the day; a dislocated shoulder. But, thankfully, most folk escaped unscathed, ready for the first run.

The race ran really pretty smoothly and their was some great boating action to keep us onlookers entertained for the next few hours. A couple of swims on the top section, but all-in-all, success was on the water in bucket loads.

Inverness Canoe Club was represented by Matt Speke and Torq Fraser. Both had a good first run, while Torq took a wee swim at the top drop on his second run down. Still, they both achived very respectible times, with Matt narrowly missing the cut for the final session.

By the time the top twenty were announced and they’d hit the river, it was clear that fatigue was setting in for some. Aching arms were evident and lines were becoming less precise in some cases. This led to the only real action of the day for me, with one guy plumeting right into the guts of sticky hole, getting an unavoidable working and then catching my line as he swung into the bank. His boat then ran pinball on its own, getting stuck in a number of holes on the way down and getting a dunt in the bow for the effort.

Anyhow, not all runs ended this way, and some of the UK’s top slalom paddlers used their training to maintain their pace and ran in some pretty top-drawer times. In the end, Pete Scutt won the race with a very respectable 3:17:54, second came Matty Nicholas with 3:17:76, and third was Ed Smith (of Canoe and Kayak Magazine fame) with 3:18:48. The top girl was Sandra Hyslop with 3:25:39 and a big thumbs up to Thomas Findlay, fastest of the two Under 16 entrants, with 3:39:29.

A full list of result can be found on the MRR website: www.planetpaddler.com/MRR.html. Or you can check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/169242013135914

Like most who attended the 2012 event, I can’t wait until next year. The Etive River Race, which this one repleaces, was a great event over the past few years, but in my humble opinion, the new venue has been a great move. A compact, testing and, this year at least, midge-free course; great for onlookers and guranteed levels. What more could you ask for?!

A couple of other bloggers have covered the race. You can check them out via the following links:

Given the lack of rescuing work required, I managed to snap a few pics of the boats as they passed. Enjoy…

Kayaking in Kenya / Caidheagadh anns a’ Cheinia

Following Jim Fleming and his Planet Paddler crew’s trip to Kenya in 2011, another great Paw Paw Production kayaking film has hit the net…

Some top action, quality footage, awesome drops and maga brown flood water…just make sure that you don’t pick up a tropical disease à la Mr Fleming if you decide to head over to Africa to check it all out for yourself!

Kayaking in Kenya, Africa. from james fleming on Vimeo.