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This year we’ve really made an effort to include a number of “Summertime” Whitewater events. This was the latest in a string of such outings but was to be a mix of Whitewater on the Saturday and Kayak surfing on the Sunday.

On Friday night the first contingent set off en route to Bristol,
where the journey was to broken up by an overnight stay. The plan was to get down in time for “A Cap invasion of the Bristol pub scene” but in the event we settled for a sociable en route drink in a Cotswold Pub, followed by more beers in our cosy Travelodge rooms.

Chris was acting as trip organizer and Mum for the weekend and had bought along a selection of flavoursome cheeses and crackers for us to nibble throughout the journey. Full marks for the very spicy Salami cheese, wow, did that have a kick to it. These were then washed down by copious cans of Stella.

U
p bright and early on Saturday and off for the one hour drive to Cardiff’s relatively new International Whitewater Course. We stopped for the compulsory BIG BREAKFAST at the local Morrison’s and then on to meet the others.

Ivan and Mel had stopped overnight near to the course in real Welsh Wales and Rob Gilroy, Remi, Ben and Mark were driving down on the Saturday morning. Sadly, disaster hit Rob’s recently acquired Gilroymobile. Refueling close to Heathrow the gleaming new People mover was inadvertently fed Petrol rather than it’s preferred tipple of Diesel, thus ending that car load’s Kayaking ambitions and they limped back home some eight hours after setting off, a real shame and sympathies to all ! (Maybe you should have tried Stella instead ?).

 

 

 

 

The Cardiff course has been substantially improved since Rob and Mark's first visit a year ago.

 

When both of them had tried to head butt the underwater obstacles and enjoyed a resultant visit to meet the lovely Nurses of Cardiff General and be rewarded with a brace of stitches each. What met them this time was a challenging, relatively shallow but fast flowing course.

Over the day the level of flow was changed at roughly hourly intervals, ranging from 4 cumecs up to 10 cumecs.  It was amazing to see how quickly they could drain the course, move the obstacles around, and within ten minutes or so re-open with completely changed features.

 

 

 

 

Our brave Whitewater paddlers were Ivan, Gary, Chris, Ed, Keith and Tom.

 

Chris gave it her best shot and did a good first run, but after swimming on her second descent decided to chill and watch the others.

Ivan spent most of the day on the course with a very determined and serious looking face
captured by Mel’s ever handy camera.  He was dogged by a rather lengthy Jackson Duo which seemed to enjoy completely blocking the complete width of the River whilst playing in the stopper. On the first encounter Ivan just managed to sneak past one end but on the next encounter that clearly wasn’t an option, quick decision, collide with it, crash over the top or go underneath.

Ivan took the underwater approach, he capsized, went over the drop and then under the Duo,
rolling up on the other side and avoiding their thrashing paddles. Very impressive Ivan, particularly as that stopper was so very shallow.

Keith and Tom were excellent, putting in some really good paddling in a range of different boats, both showing just how much their whitewater paddling has improved, thanks to the encouragement given to them by CAP.

 

 

 

It was good to see Gary in action, really enjoying himself for his own benefit as opposed to looking after others. He’d borrowed Darren’s minute little playboat and repeatedly demonstrated just how precise and technical his Kayaking ability is.

He seemed to enjoy pulling endless cartwheels and blunts etc in the various vicious stoppers that most others just seemed happy to be able to shoot through.

The FEST was due to continue on till 10pm, with four Bands playing and novelty races, but we all decided that following a quick look around the various trade stalls, and collecting lots of helmet stickers that we’d hit the road at about 4.30pm heading for the fabulous Gower Peninsula.

The sun had shone on and off all day but as we headed West along the M4 so the heavens absolutely opened. Torrential rain and very poor visibility did not bode well for our overnight camping plans.

Chris was in poor humour, as driving Mike’s passion wagon for the first time, she was not amused to find that the automatic car did not actually posses a gearstick, but her mood was no where near as foul as that of the weather.

 

 

Lo and behold, as we pulled into the Bank Farm campsite at Port Enyion, the rains stopped and the cloud lifted, enabling us to remain dry whilst pitching all our tents.

That evening we paid a repeat visit to The Smugglers Haunt, a lovely bistro-pub type restaurant serving tasty high quality food and copious amounts of alcohol. A really merry evening was had by all, following which we staggered the two miles back to the campsite, getting somewhat rained upon in the process.

All then crammed into Tom’s tent, for a final late night chat and nightcap, whilst Mike snored away in his sleeping bag.

 

 

Sunday morning and a leisurely start. Really nice as we sat there in our cliff top campsite overlooking the whole of the beautiful bay below. Chris woke us with mugs of steaming hot tea and then cooked us a tasty hot breakfast, superb.

On then to one of the best surfing beaches on the peninsula, Llangennith, much favoured by the surfing fraternity.

Ivan, Chris, Keith and Tom went out and had a good time on the endless rolling surf waves, performing some brilliant surfing maneuvers in the process. Gary once again enjoyed himself flying Chris’ kite, showing just how it should be done.

Eventually the long drive home and an early crash into bed for all, exhausted but exhilarated. A BIG thank you to Chris for agreeing to co-ordinate this weekend, a superb trip very well organized indeed.

Finally, this was probably Tom’s last paddling trip with us, for a while, prior to moving up to Loughborough University to study Mechanical Engineering. We wish you well Tom, work hard and play even harder, as CAP have trained you !! Looking forward to seeing you out on some raging waters with us sometime during the Winter.

There and back again in the dark

This paddling write-up comes to you through the medium of verse...mainly because I couldn't think of anything to say about it other than it was very pretty and quite dark. Also, I've never seen Gary paddle as fast as when he thought we might not make it back to the pub in time for a beer :o)

Thanks to Adrian for the piccie and, as always, to Mike for organising and Gary and Jay for shepherding,

Ali

While sunset spread across the lands
Glow sticks wrapped round arms and boats
Twelve set out in groups of four
Soon all that showed were coloured bands
Up the Medway against the flow
Reflections all in silver strands
Through rising mists that hugged the banks
Enveloped in a moonlit glow
On to canoe shoot and to weir
Down the frothing torch-lit slide 
Then back at speed, with flow behind
To reach the pub for food and beer
 
 
 

After January's fun and the cancelled River Mole trip we all woke up to glorious sunshine and a nice paddle from Byfleet to Weybridge. Only 11 paddlers but lots of ducks! We've got the Organiser - Mike, Coach -Jay, usual suspects - Will, Adrian and Sarah, newer suspects - Andy, Vicky, Nick, Lucy, Chris and Simon.

Quite a few trees and some current but we'll all doing fine up until we find the tree of doom....a river wide monster hiding behind a sharp bend preventing all progress downstream? No its a small willow on the side! Eddying up just downstream was followed the sight of Nick, kayak and paddle being escorted by Adrian to a reuniting point and Vickys boat going for a ride by itself before I pushed it into another eddy. Unfortunately on the other side from Vicky, now rescued by Jay and Chris who fished himself out of the same tree. Jay came and fetched the boat and we all carried on to Brooklands Museum for lunch plus a lovely show of Austin and Morris cars there for the day.

There's quite a few signs of the floods down the river with debris all over the place and the odd sunken boat plus one stuck on the bank. Lots of houses down here from tatty through half built to new, modern and very shiny! Not that we were being nosy at all.

Next is the weir, Jays says it's fine to run but there are trees down in the channel below so we all have to portage but we can run the second weir. For some unknown reason Adrian decides now is a good time to try rolling (not the Thames) this actually went quite well (he almost got there) but the rescue saw a slightly popped deck and a boat full of water but a least he didn't swim. Everyone with a suitable boat is game for it and after being lowered down the bank (thanks Adrian) we're ready to go. With everyone down the little drop successfully it was going so well that playing in the wave seemed like a good idea.....Jays says its a bit retentive so Will and Adrian try anyway. Alls going well until Adrian ends up sideways and stuck! Only one way out now, over you go, out you pop and here's a nice bow for you to grab. What a lot of new scratches on your paddle there are now.

Congratulations to everyone who stayed upright especially Simon, you have excellent get and stay in eddy instincts and if you swam now you know why the 'not swimming this timers' were wearing those silly suits....

Just need to sort the video out now and yes it was caught on camera :)



The river Chelmer - discribed as a nice little flatwater paddle with 5 weirs. Early give aways should have been taken a bit more seriously as the locals pointed out the river flooded err yesterday. Whilst the shuttle tried to find a dry road we had tea and cake and got caught for the licence fee. Oh and contempleted the first weir. After some stretching and suggestions for some summer fun (hydrozorbing and stand up paddling anyone?) Jay talked us through the 1st drop. This went pretty well until I went down, over and swimming, almost managed the t-rescue really.

Anyway we all paddled down to the second weir and things got a bit more 'fun'. 3 down and Mike takes it all a bit too relaxed leaving his boat in the stopper for Keith to livebait out. OK we'll all still keen to go and paddle! paddle! paddle! Me next this one didn't go well either so after Jay had pulled me out and Keith got my boat back and Charlotte got retrived from a nice tree the rest proceeded down. One though, two though, Rich not though. Patrick's turn at boat fishing, very nicely done. So three swimmers and an hour later we paddled down to the next weir.

This one has a limbo so Rob got on to the bridge to help us through. Quite a lot of umming and ahing going on here. But the limbo isn't as low as it looks and Jay makes it down. Keith next to join the swimming club and oddly enough no-one seems to want to try it now. Nice spot for lunch though. Which leaves everyone rested for the portage though the waterfilled ditch and down the very muddy field to get round the trees.

 



Some tree dodging leads us to the next drop which everyone runs ok and onto the next weir. This time quite a few of us portaged round and watched the action from the safety of the bank. No dramas here but there's trees coming up and we're running late. The group get through the first few bits but the current is getting strong and the trees closer together. While we are waiting for the go signal it all goes a bit more pear shaped and Chris loses her boat and paddle. Everyone out and portage this bit hopefully we can get to the get out from here. At the last weir Jay checks for the lost boat but its hiding somewhere else and the light is fading. The last part was paddled in the dark followed by loading the boats and collecting car from the start before we all went for a well earned post paddle pub visit.

Final hiccup of the day the pub had no hot drinks but Chris did have some lovely banofee and chocolate muffins to celebrate Mike's and Dee's birthdays. We arrived back 4 hours late with all paddlers intact. Even though this was Charlotte's first trip we failed to put her off and she's going to bring a friend next time! Although we'd prefer the other Chelmer (carnage free) next time, when are we going back ?

Statistics of the Day

In joint first place with no swims or rescues

Adrian, Ali and Dee

In joint fourth t-rescue only

Jay, Patrick and Rob

Seventh - you swam

Charlotte
Chris
Keith
Mike
Rich

Last - twice!!!

Me

Sarah Coomber

 

As we drove out of Pulborough and along the A283 we could not help but notice that the roadside meadows were no more, water stretching as far as the eye could see. We parked up yards from the White Hart Inn and discovered that the get in had vanished, hidden under a blanket of water.

 

Rain had been forecast all week but in the event it was a lovely warm and sunny day. Our sixteen enthusiastic members, many of them on their first CAP trip gathered at the water's edge. Chris led a few warm up exercises and a name introduction game that she'd learnt back in the forests of Borneo. Apparently, the Gorilla’s learnt each other’s names by throwing Kayaking helmets at each other  ???

 

We initially set off up stream towards the navigable end of the river and as expected, as the river narrowed so the current became quite strong. Eventually we turned around and headed back towards the historic Stopham Bridge. It had been my intention, for a bit if fun, to do a sort of waterborne conga through all of it's ancient arches but in the event some of the arches were only between a

few inches and a couple of feet above the surface. Fear not however, many of the CAP team managed to limbo their way under the arches.

 

A little further on, after slaloming through the trees, we came across the advanced party who were sitting in their Kayaks surrounding a couple of public footpath signs. Ignore the signs, whatever way one looked was just a seemingly endless lake of water. Fun however, paddling through the posh house's back garden, circumnavigating the kids climbing trees and park bench which were just peering out of the water.

 

The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the wide selection of tall trees, willow trees and indeed just tree trees, reflected in the mirror like waters, hauntingly beautiful indeed. We stopped at the footbridge, that started and finished in the middle of this pop up lake and Chris, Keith, Mark and Rich, decided to jump into the depths from the 15ft high parapet!

 

Some bright spark, no names mentioned, then tried to mount a game of Kayak polo but with the ball sinking without trace the first time it hit the water !

 

On to the Weir at the confluence of The River Rother, as we beat our way around the trees the sight of the raging weir towering six feet above the water stood magnificently in front of us. Well actually, no it didn’t, there was no weir, it had vanished under the Sussex flood waters!  As we ate our lunches on the banks of the river we chatted about cheery things such as Weill's Disease, Leptospirosis and Mad CAP disease.

 

After lunch, we decided to make the most of the small waves created by the Titanic Weir, firstly we had a couple of races over it and then Keith, Gary and Chris stood on the weir and helped newcomers to experience their very first taste of surfing, ferry gliding and synchronised swimming with their Kayaks.

 

On the way back towards the pub, a couple of the paddlers were disappointed that they hadn’t enjoyed a full descent of the towering six foot weir and therefore decided to make up for it by seal launching off the parapet of the 15ft high footbridge. A deep breath, heart pumping, stomach churning Gary and Mark proceeded to launch from the heavens into the mirror like waters below, stupid or impressive, not sure, but didn’t they do well. That’s about it, we paddled back across the beautiful flooded meadows and headed for the pub.

 

We were very pleased to welcome Ali, Reiko, Stuart, Chris V and Chris M on their first CAP outing and also Rich who was brave / mad enough to have returned for his second CAP trip. We finished off with delicious home made birthday cakes, which Chris B had made for Keith, Happy Birthday Keith, which was followed by a pint and a good old chat in the Historic riverside Inn.

 

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