Monday, March 27, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Well, this is a delayed post but I am SO pumped to finally get around to it! The North Alabama Whitewater Fest was an AMAZING event this year, way bigger than last year. Competitors from all over the states came to Alabama for a weekend of raffles, parties, big tricks, and Short Creek Falls (a perfect 15+ ft waterfall). Chris Gragtmans even flew in from Africa for the event.
Thursday night after school, I took off with my girlfriend (Samantha Brunner) to Kings Bend Campground, near Culman Alabama! We pulled in after dark and the first thing we checked out, was the new ramp! This thing is sick! The entire ramp was probably 25 ft tall with one of the tightest transitions I've ever seen in a kayak ramp. From the top it looks sketch at best, but this thing was a blast! Not too many boaters fired it up, most worried about theirs backs (so they said), but I think everyone felt a few butterflies their first time down. It was nice!
we got up first thing Friday morning and took off to Short Creek Falls for the event registration and competitor's meeting. EJ brought me my new "Slime Green" Rocker (pics of it in action coming soon) with the new Jackson "Boat Armor Outfitting" and Sam's new Jackson Star! From there, we all signed up, geared up, and got ready for the first competition of the Fest, the Waterfall Freestyle Competition off Short Creek Falls!
Photo by: Samantha Brunner
We could not have had better conditions for the falls comp! The night before it POURED rain and brought Short Creek Falls up to a boiling frothy drop pictured above. I nice little wave formed right on the lip, perfect for freewheels and kickflips! The hole was just a big frothy boiling, sucking competitors behind the curtain of the falls right before slamming them into the undercut shelves on the river left. Rescuers were placed on the rocks to fish out the boaters who went into the rocks too deep. This challenge just made the day that much better! As if Friday wasn't perfect enough, it was sunny and WARM!!! We all wore shorts and hucked away without a single chill or shiver, with a beautiful rainbow just over the horizon line.
The higher water level with the undercuts at the bottom, added a whole new element we didn't really have there last year, a mentle one. On more than one occasion, I found myself recirculated in the hole at the bottom, and one time I even found myself UNDER the rocks behind the falls. When you're underwater in your kayak, it's a pretty interesting experience to reach up and feel rocks instead of air above you. I got slammed hard under there, head first, and actually had to claw my way out and upright, still in my boat of course. (you didn't really think I would swim because of that did you?!) ;-) All that just to say, I think most competitors had a little more than just landing upside down on their minds. But that didn't stop us from going big! I nailed a lot of Kickflips off this falls including this nice little sequence shot by Sam:
action sequence by: Samantha B.
The move of the day for me, was definitely the kickflip entry into a rightside freewheel! After the Waterfall Freestyle competition, we kicked off the Boatercross race. Heats of about 5 competitors raced over the falls on river left, trying to boof to the river right side of the boiling hole. From there it was a race through a river right notch, only a boat width wide, and then upstream. Competitors then raced behind the waterfall curtain back to river left and through the hole and undercut shelves to the finish rock. This boatercross was a MAJOR workout. When the Men's Pro competition rolled around, I was in the first heat with Eric Jackson, Stephen Wright, and 2 others. The start off went GREAT, me and EJ took the lead right off, screaming toward the lip at full speed. EJ went pretty far left (I thought) and I tried to ride up a bit higher on the right shelf on the lip. Unfortunately, my plan didn't work and I got dramatically slowed down by the shallow lip of the falls. Stephen Wright caught up and passed me and I chased right behind him the rest of the way.
Photo by: Samantha B. Me and Stephen on the Lip
Boatercross is one of those things that can go either way, it's always a bit of a gamble. It's fun though! It's also very entertaining to watch. If any aspect of the sport would ever have a true public appeal, it is boatercross. I think the general public would be able to get into it because it's so easy to understand! They should take boatercross into the X-Games! From the falls, me and the rest of the Jackson Kayaks crew, decided to head downstream to check out the rest of this awesome little creek! That night, I took my first ride off the ramp. It was awesome! I hopped in line and started the climb with my boat and paddle, wondering what I would dare to try first. It looked like an inverted landing would hurt, so I decided to see how the bottom transition would act (the big question in everyones mind) by just flying down and doing a flat 360 spin to the right.
Photo Sequence by: Samantha B.
It worked out great and I completely nailed the landing. I'll have to say though, the flat landing the first time hurt a little. I knew the next time I wanted to lean forward on my bow deck to make sure the shock wouldn't go up my back again. The next time off I decided to leave my paddle behind, just to get more comfortable with the ramp.
Photo by: Samantha Brunner
The next day, my wrist was hurting beyond belief. I was really starting to get worried I had done something really bad to it somehow and I was looking forward to my appointment with a wrist specialist. Since rodeo really isn't my thing right now anyway and I didn't want to mess my wrist up any more, I made a tough descision and decided not to compete Saturday in the big trick contest and rodeo. In hindsite, I really should have done the big trick competition! I didn't realize I could do them separate. It was still probably better that I didn't compete, as hard as it was not to, because when I hopped in to surf a bit after the day's competitions, my wrist was really hurting worse. It didn't take much to get it throbbing again. Saturday night's festivities were awesome! The bands were pretty cool, the raffle was awesome, and the awards were pretty cool. Of course EJ won the rodeo, Chris Gragtmans won "the men's event as a whole," and Keith Yell won the waterfall freestyle for his rockspin into a kickflip.... it looked really cool, but I think camra angles had a lot to do with the judging, just my opinion. ;-) Dane Jackson swept the Junior Class and Tia won big in the womens! Emily Jackson put on an awesome show and I think won the rodeo. I pulled off 4th place (though I was told 3rd) in the Men's Pro Waterfall Freestyle Competition; I was pretty pumped about that!
The next morning, Sunday morning, I got to help with the Jackson Kayak roll & freestyle clinic. After that, we took off to Guntersville for a mexican lunch with the Jackson family, before starting our drive back to Memphis and hitting the books the next day at school. Fun times! The Fest was AWESOME and I can't wait till next year!
Check out Samantha B's blog for a bit more! http://boatergrlsammie.blogspot.com/2006/03/nawf.html
Also, check out Ej's NAWF event trip report at http://www.jacksonkayak.com/jkstories06/story.cfm?article=200603131 and more pictures at http://www.jacksonkayak.com/jkstories06/story.cfm?article=200603211 Fun times!
Monday, March 20, 2006
View the full story on the Jackson Kayaks website!!!
Photo by: Samantha B.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Samantha can finally be seen out from behind the camra. This latest ad can be found on the inside back cover of the 2006 Whitewater Magazine! The Featured photo of Samantha Brunner was taken by our friend & cinematographer, Anna Muller. This ad kicked off the "World's Best" ad series by Stohlquist Waterware. So keep an eye out for this series of ads, featuring everyone on the Stohlquist team in kayaking magazines all over the world! Awesome job Samantha!
Fortress did a great job on this one! A sweet photo by Samantha from a quick photo shoot several months ago. This same photo went on to place in the top 3 pics at the National Paddling Film Festival in Kentucky! Check out the ad:
Also out now, is the full page ad in the new CKS Catalog (Colorado Kayak Supply); "The 5 Essentials." Sponsored by Stohlquist Waterware, this page sports another awesome shot by Samantha B. Her photos are definitely becoming known out there. Right on Sam!
Get your own copy of the CKS Catalog for FREE at www.coloradokayak.com!!!
Also make sure to keep an eye out for the new Stohlquist Ad (page 39) in the American Whitewater Mag!
That's it for now... WAY more exposure on the way. So stay tuned! :-)
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Every year, Memphis Whitewater, holds a huge whitewater gathering at Pickett State Park where kayakers and other whitewater enthusiasts come from all over the country to enjoy the creeks and rivers of the Cumberland Plateau together. I can't think of a more awesome group to spend the weekend with up on the plateau! Creek Week is for paddlers of every skill level to hang out and have a great time with like-minded, and not so like minded paddlers, on the various rivers and creeks Cumberland county has to offer. With a low water weekend in place on the Cumberland Plateau, the creeks were not looking good. Despite the low water, we had two great days on the Big South Fork and one fun surf session at Rock Island! Check out the pics!
Your's truly on the Big South Fork seal launch. Photo by Samantha B.
Photo by: Samantha Brunner
Surf time at Rock Island! Photo by: Samantha Brunner
At that point, my recent snowboarding injury to my wrist was REALLY catching up with me. All I could really do out there were big bounces, even with my wrist all taped up. But Rock Island is one of those places where even just front surfing can be fun. Since then, it's gotten so bad I can't even paddle. I'm really happy for that awesome day we had out there! But at least I'm finally getting this blog up and running!
Samantha B dropping into Double Drop on the Big South Fork. I took that one.
A shot I took of Samantha B enjoying Rock Island, TN
She got to try out a new Jackson Star and she LOVED it. The highlight of Creek was definitely the Jackson Kayak Raffle Memphis Whitewater held for American Whitewater! Jackson Kayak donated any boat of the winner's choice so that we could make money for river access and conservation! Boats rarely make over market value at raffles, but this crowd likes to go all out! The Creek Week Raffle was a HUGE success, raising nearly $1400 for American Whitewater!!! The winner, Mills, got a brand new Jackson Fun 1 for his little girl, Emlyn! I've got to send a HUGE thanks to Jackson Kayaks, for donating the kayak, and another thanks to Memphis Whitewater for their generosity and willingness to support our river access through American Whitewater! Despite the low water, it was an AWESOME trip, and I can't wait for the next Creek Week! Stay tuned for more updates as we head up to the North Alabama Whitewater Fest!
I just got back from a Jackson Kayaks video shoot in NC! We set out with the goal of collecting as much footage as possible for the Jackson Kayaks 2006 Promotional Video that Chris Emerick is producing right now. We were faced with a low water weekend in NC with only 2 days left to collect footage! We had to get creative. We took off for NC Friday night and pulled onto location at about 4 am, with just enough time to catch a couple hours of sleep in the car. Not long after, we were up and heading to Yellow Creek (class IV-V) in NC hoping enough water would still be draining down off the mountain for a quick run down for some video. It was too low for a full run so we had no other option, we had to hike up. I geared up and started the 1/2 mile hell hike over and under logs with my kayak, through thick sumac and heavy moutain laurel. It was a steep and strenuous climb up the gorge but we all knew it was worth it for the footage. Needless to say, the hard work paid off and this creek is an absolute gem! Leland isn't kidding when he says that Yellow Creek is one of the best kept secrets in NC, only a mile long with a big watershed and just a step below the Green Narrows in difficulty.
Photo by: Samantha B.
Completely exhausted we went back to NOC and took over the laundry mat for warmth and food, planning our move for the next day of video. Early the next morning around 5 or 5:30 am, a guy had the nerve to try to break into my truck! He got a bit of a shock we he found out I was in there; he took off pretty fast. After that you'd think we would all be completely awake but instead I caught a last hour or so of sleep before we took off to the next video location, Whiteoak Creek, NC (V-V+).
Photo by: Samantha B.
We met up with two of my friends, Nate & Evan from www.ClubSack.com and with the sub-freezing temps and the cold water we put on our wet and frozen gear for day two of the video shoot. I was in the water first, hucking a drop called Whiteoak Falls, a V+ cascading waterfall that drops about 30 vertical feet. It's not very tall, but this drop dishes out serious beatdowns to some of the worlds top kayakers, sending many to the local ER in Bryson City.
Photo by: Samantha B.
The sun wasn't quite out of the gorge yet so after a few runs down the falls we decided to head down stream to the easier Cascades section. The Cascades is a beautiful roadside IV (V) creek run that is always a joy to visit. Later that day the sun finally came into the gorge (still below freezing) so we went back up to whiteoak falls and the footage was AWESOME, complete with rainbows in the cascading falls.
Photo: Samantha B.
The video shoot turned out to be a HUGE success despite the low water and lack of rain so stay tuned for the finished version of the Jackson Kayaks Promotional Video to show up inevery new Jackson Kayak sold and in all Jackson Kayak dealers! For more info on Jackson Kayaks check out http://www.jacksonkayaks.com/!