The summer is on its way…

Waking up to see the sun shining on Saturday morning I decided that it was time to shake the dust from my shortie cag. However, when I stepped outside I started to question my decision as the weather was playing that trick where it looks really warm but is, in fact, a bit nippy! It didn’t dampen the spirits though, and with my drysuit still hung up and the shortie packed, it was off to Hurley I headed to meet Martyn for a fun afternoon in the sun.

The weir was on a really nice two gate level, and was almost empty for most of our session. Nice level….sunny….empty – we were on to a winner!

An empty Hurley in the afternoon sun

An empty Hurley in the afternoon sun

Someone's nicked his boat!

Someone’s nicked his boat!

Sunset as we walked back to the car park

Sunset as we walked back to the car park

Seeing as we had such a great session on Saturday afternoon, Martyn and I paid another visit to Hurley on Sunday morning. Again I awoke to glorious sunshine, but the thermometer in the car only showed 11 degrees on the drive across, and this time I started to question myself – especially as the shortie cag was still wet from the previous afternoon. When we arrived at the car park, it was starting to warm up and it wasn’t long before I was starting the second session of the year wearing my shortie. I wasn’t the only one in a shortie though – I was pleased to see that Pete had joined me (might have been down to a bit of persuasion though!), although Kate (who was trying to decide on long or short sleeve) wimped out and plumped for the long sleeve.

Sunday morning sunshine

Sunday morning sunshine

Kate

Kate

Pete trying to keep his arms out of the cold water

Pete trying to keep his arms out of the cold water

A novel way of travelling to Hurley

A novel way of travelling to Hurley

More of my photos from the weekend can be found at http://photos.andywicks.com/wicks.andy/2GateHurleyMarch2009#

Pete’s pictures from Sunday are available here

Kate’s pictures from Sunday are available here

Pay attention…

Towards the end of last week I started to become concerned that I was not going to be getting any paddling in that weekend – GB selection at Hurley meant that Hurley could well have been out of bounds to non-competitors all weekend. With this in mind, and some of the Kingfisher lot having accommodation booked in Llangollen for the Saturday night, a trip to North Wales was put together.
 

On Saturday night Doug Ammons was in Llangollen for the latest leg of his lecture tour, so we were to get to Llangollen in time for Ol and myself, who had no accommodation organised, to try and find somewhere to stay. We were successful on our second attempt and quickly had our tents erected and camp set up at Abbey Farm campsite, just outside Llangollen (within walking distance 🙂 ). The talk was inspiring and thought-provoking, focussing heavily on his descents down the Grand Canyon of the Stikine. The talk was followed by a few pints in a pub next to Town Falls on the Dee before we walked back to our campsite.

The view upstream of the pub on Saturday night

The view upstream of the pub on Saturday night

How the campsite got its name

How the campsite got its name

Sunday started bright and early for Ol and I – we had managed to get up, pack up camp and drive to the hotel only to find that everyone else was still asleep! Everyone, that is, except for Andy L who we saw out running as we drove across to the hotel. After a while the others gradually joined us for breakfast at the hotel, where a plan for the day was decided upon. We were to start with a quick run down the Dee into town before heading across to the Tryweryn for the afternoon.

The run down the Dee was relatively uneventful, with the exception of Lee’s backband breaking as he paddled down Serpent’s Tail, and me having some issues with the zip on my drysuit.

Paddling up the canal to the river Dee

Paddling up the canal to the river Dee

Lee paddling Serpent's Tail, just before his backband broke

Lee paddling Serpent just before his backband broke

The cars were rapidly loaded and we were soon on our way to the Tryweryn. As the top site (the section between the dam and the chipper) was not in use, we decided to paddle this section prior to the main section. Somehow Dave H managed to really struggle on this section, after getting caught in a weir before swimming out. Everyone else managed to descend the weir without so much as a wobble!

Dave getting back into his boat following his swim

Dave getting back into his boat following his swim

Dave should have paid more attention to this sign!

Dave should have paid more attention to this sign!

This was the only swim of the day, with the remainder of the afternoon spent practicing breaking-in and -out – including some eddies so small that it was a struggle to even spot them!

Andy N practicing his old-skool pop-outs!

Andy N practicing his old-skool pop-outs!

Ol

Ol

More photos from the trip are available at http://photos.andywicks.com/NorthWales1415thMarch2009#.

Every man and his dog…

We have been very fortunate of late in being treated to some fantastic water levels on the River Thames and this weekend was no exception. Plans for a weir league event were organised by Scout last week and it started with a 10am meet in the Hurley car park. Whilst getting changed, the theme for the event was decided – “backwards”. This could be interpreted in many ways, but I don’t think anyone expected Pikey’s interpretation! Most of us were going for back-stabs, back-loops etc but then Pikey stepped up. Well, I say stepped up. I actually mean that whilst queueing up (and boy was the queue big – it seemed like everyone in the Thames Valley, plus surrounding area, was in the eddy) we noticed Pikey was up to something but it wasn’t initially clear what.

Pikey is up to something

Pikey is up to something…

It all becomes clear

…it all becomes clear…

As he launches back into the water his plan becomes very clear. He had taken the theme of “backwards” to the extreme and was going to tackle the wave whilst kneeling backwards in his boat! We were impressed when he managed to surf the first gate like this. We were even more impressed when he moved across and surfed the second gate like this, but he had one more trick up his sleeve – he even managed a few blunts!! He very quickly discovered, however, that this position in the boat was not conducive to rolling and, as he flushed off the wave upside down, had little option but to pop his deck and swim for the bank. This effort effectively ended the weir league event with Pikey declared, unanimously as the victor.

We carried on the session for a while longer, until we all got bored of the MASSIVE queue and decided that enough was enough – time to move on!

Ken during the weir league

Ken during the weir league

Pikey pulling a normal blunt

Pikey pulling a normal blunt

An artistic shot

An artistic shot

Scout doing his best to take Ken

For some, a kayak is too easy!

For some, a kayak is too easy!

I was back down at Hurley on Sunday afternoon with Martyn and Tim. The level was absolutely fantastic – nice hole gates with a brilliant steep, green middle wave. To make the session even better, we were the only ones in the eddy queue for most of the session.

Tim has spent too long watching Martyn's technique

Tim has spent too long watching Martyn

Yet another beautiful sunset over the Thames

Yet another beautiful sunset over the Thames

More photos are available at http://photos.andywicks.com/Hurley1stMarch2009