Ya Falta Menos – Pamplona Preview

Posted in Not Kayaking on July 3, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

‘Ya falta menos’ is the unofficial slogan of San Fermines, the bull-running festival in the Basque Country’s city of Pamplona. It’s Spanish for ‘there’s not long to go’ and it’s what they say as the count down the months and days left to when the craziness begins again on July 6th. At the time of writing, it’s two days away, and I’m going back again this year. With Norway cancelled for me this year, it doesn’t look like there’ll be any whitewater fun for me for a while, so you have to figure something else to do to keep the heart rate up. And there’s nothing to simulate running hard whitewater like an early morning sprint in front of a herd of 600 kg bulls.

I’ve done this before a number of years back, with mixed results. The picture below is from Diario de Navarre, the local paper, in July 2001. That’s me right there in the middle wearing the completely inappropriate sandals, photographed moments before I become aware of the bull on my shoulder.

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Wind River Race

Posted in Kayaking on May 15, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

On the Saturday, the big event was the premiere of the new video from local boater Tao Berman. The kayaking talent in and around Hood River is fairly amazing. I think myself and Johno were the only ones in the bar who didn’t have videos on the market. Really must work on ‘pushing the brand’ – maybe mañana.

Sunday was the last day of boating for me – the Wind River Race. I’d run the race section of the Wind River twice during the week, once taking the longest swim of my boating life. Thanks for the rescue Jay; I appreciate that. Stupid swim really, coming off nothing more heinous than a crashing lateral and a failure to roll up. Embarrassing, and it was only a long-distance swim as it took me ages to get to the bank because I was trying to swim the boat and blades with me through decent volume water.

Anyway, let’s never speak of it again…

On race day, Austin opted for a friggin’ sea kayak for the speed, Christie in an old-school T-Canyon.

Tactics discussion…

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Canyon Creek

Posted in Kayaking on May 12, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

Off to the Canyon Creek they go…

Myself, Austin, and Christie headed to Canyon Creek back towards Portland and then an hour northeast. With just one vehicle we were standing around playing river poker on the shuttle options. Everyone was feeling lazy and inventing reasons why they should be the one to run shuttle and not paddle.

The conversation was verging on ridiculous when Eli and Tony showed up, on a similar one-vehicle mission. Problem sorted, and as always once the laziness was thrown aside, it was another fantastic day on the water. God, I love this sport.

Austin charges off, setting the early pace…

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Green Truss

Posted in Kayaking on May 8, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

With a bigger group (three…), we went back to the Green Truss section of the White Salmon. It’s not as intense as the Little White Salmon by any means, but a lot of fun nonetheless. It’s an excellent piece of water to have as your default river in this part of the world. This is probably the most-often-run harder river in the Columbia River Gorge.

Austin ran Big Brother, but neither myself nor Johno (New Zealand paddler passing through town – check out his scurrilous blog) were up for it. You have to hit the flake just so or you face ending up in the river-right cave.

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Little White Salmon

Posted in Kayaking on May 1, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

Up until myself and Austin went out to run the Little White Salmon, my topmost best-favouritest ever creek ever in the world had been the Codi in Corsica. There are a couple of other classics on my list too – the Castro Laborario in Portugal, the Gol Gol in Chile, the Toro in Costa Rica; but Washington’s Little White Salmon is an amazing thing, to put it mildly.

First of all we had to stop off at the AT paddle factory to do a little boat repair. Check out the ‘squishing’ tool.

Nice, eh? I’d imagine Simon will be looking for one of those for his birthday this year. What better way to test out a new plastic weld than head to the river? The ‘L Dub’ as they call it.

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Just Another Day on the Left Branch of the North Fork Little Upper

Posted in Kayaking on April 25, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

Two days later we were off to the next river. I’m so bad for remembering names of rivers and so on, so the lovely river shown in these photos will be called the ‘Left Branch of the North Fork Little Upper’ until such time as someone tells me otherwise. It’s as likely to be the correct name as not.

At the put-in you can see that it’s the tail-end of winter…

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Advantages of Working For The Man

Posted in Kayaking on April 23, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

Over the Easter week, The Man needed me to visit the company office in Oregon. The conversation went a little like this:

The Man: ‘I need you to visit the company office in Oregon.’
Me: ‘What? You want me to go to Boating Country, USA, in the middle of their spring kayaking season? At a time when I need to buy loads of gear? When the dollar is really weak? To a place where I have great boating buddies and the weather is nice?’
The Man: ‘Yeah, would that be possible?’
Me: ‘I don’t know; it’s a big ask…’
The Man: ‘I’d really appreciate it, and it would help push the company’s revenue over $1 billion this year.’
Me: ‘OK, I’ll do it, but on one condition, The Man… Only if I can take a week off when I’m there…’

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My Name is Jim Kennedy and I Own a Creekboat

Posted in Kayaking on April 16, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

Well, it’s been a few years coming but I’ve finally got myself a creekboat. Bigger than my creeking Disco. I concede, officially, that I’m getting old. I’m also getting tired of showing you guys how stuff can be run in small boats, only to have you remember nothing except that I surfed some hole on the way, but that’s by-the-by.

After years of adventures together, the Disco has decided to retire from international kayaking and has chosen to remain in Ireland in future.

Good times together on the Castro Laboreiro in Portugal:

The Disco announced its retirement after recently being inducted into the Mañana Mañana Boathouse of Fame with the accolade ‘Sexiest Boat Alive.’ Its final foreign trip, therefore, was Portugal in January. It intends to concentrate on the after-dinner speaking circuit.

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UCDCC Safety and Rescue Weekend in Wicklow

Posted in Kayaking on April 8, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

In mid-February there was a UCDCC Safety and Rescue Weekend. The title kind of explains it all really – a UCD Canoe Club weekend where the emphasis was on safety and rescue. About a dozen elder lemons of the club, with qualifications up the wazoo, and approximately 16 of the up-and-coming lemons decamped to Wicklow for an intense two-day session of rope-work, scenarios, lectures, and the finest vats of Spaghetti Bolognese ever created.

The morning of the first day was given over to technical skills and kicked off at 10 AM. That is to say, 10 AM at the river in Clara Lara, not ~10 AM at the Texaco deli counter on your way to the Boathouse shure we’ll be grand, nobody will be there yet. Oh no, Benny runs a tight kayak.

Eoin, Sara, and Meabh, all ready for action…

After the briefing, there was a tutorial on defensive swimming, mercifully given by the people who had drysuits, accompanied with lots of rope throwing.

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Snowboarding in Switzerland

Posted in Not Kayaking on April 4, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

At the start of February, Daithi and the Cork Boys organised the annual snowboarding trip. This year it was to Verbier in Switzerland, chosen for its altitude. The theory being that the higher the resort is up a mountain, the more likely there is to be snow there.

And so it happened, as it was written.

Verbier is in the very south of the country, right up against the border with Italy. In fact as the crow flies it’s only about 50 miles from Val Sesia in Italy where we were boating the previous May.

The view of chocolate-box Switzerland from the door of our apartment building…

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