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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Colin Wong Checks in Expedition Inception


“Expedition Inception” (EI) what is it? Why? How? Are to name a few questions that are asked of us on a constant basis. To try and help explain I am going to give a short account of what EI means to me. The name originated from the idea of trying to do loads of little expeditions all within one bigger expedition. Taking from the movie inception, with the plot based on dreams and what happens in your dreams we found the name Expedition Inception very fitting. This trip is nothing short of a dream and for the past two and a half years it felt like a dream. All of a sudden I’m in the Transkie writing this blog. Inception!


From the start we have experienced all emotions, happy, sad, excited, let down, scared, etc. TIA, Living/Adventuring in Africa was once explained to be as being Bi-polar. One second you love it the next you hate it. Thankfully with the people on the trip along with the people we have met along the way we have had way more ups than downs.


The first 2 weeks of EI was spent organizing a vehicle and all the fine details so we can cross borders with the vehicle. The next 2 weeks we spent collecting boats, searching for water and in general trying not to be sad at the lack of rainfall. However even though there was a lack of water we had some amazing days on some classic whitewater around the Crocodile River. Swaziland was an exciting prospect for kayaking, sadly the rains didn't come after all the rain dancing we did I was sure the rivers would be full. However we did get to race a very nice section of water during swazifest, with Jarred coming 3rd Colin 2nd and local boy Shane Raw sneaking a victory by 2 seconds, I blame the terrible hangover from the night before.


Currently we are at the transkie resting from the epic kayaking around this area. We are organizing a 3 day First D for New Years. This area is a dream.

We have landed on our feet with the contacts we have built up along with the people we are paddling with. We are all getting ready for an emotional ride deep into the Transkie were the laws are different, fields of weed are planted along the river side and if we pick the wrong campsite there is a likely hood of getting shot by the local drug dealer! However the beauty of this area and the excitement of going into areas were not many if any people have been is too attractive for us to turn down. This place makes us feel like true adventurers, we cook every night over a fire, make bread from beer and when possible sleep under the stars. We have found an area not touched by many and we are the only kayakers here. EI!

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Colin is supported by I-CANOE for Jackson Kayaks and Kokatat Waterwear and Shred Ready Helmets support EI.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Liquidlogic Flying Squirrel 95–1st View

The Flying Squirrel was realised this summer from Liquidlogic but today was the first time we got to try one on the water.


The Flying Squirrel whitewater kayak comes in two sizes: 85 and 95 gallons and is an evolution from the Remix design of fast river running kayaks.  It has a similar hull to the Remix (long and slender with no defined edges) but with more volume on the deck to make it ride higher and resurface better on steeper creeks.


Off the water, its heavier than some kayaks in this category (Tuna/Karma) but still lighter than most others and well balanced on the shoulder.


I chose to try the bigger 95 size model as I wanted to assess its speed – at just under 9 feet long, this is intended to be a fast boat and a contender in whitewater and boatercross racing.  On the water, it feels every bit of its 95 gallons and takes a fair bit of muscle to boss it around.  Being only at its bottom size and weight range, I would definitely raise up the seat height a notch and use a longer paddle to get the best leverage possible.


The boat still feels very much like the Remix in terms of how it handles on the water.  It is not very aggressive due to the lack of rail which should make it very forgiving on harder whitewater and relies on the paddler powering it in and out of eddies rather than letting a rail do all the work.


First impressions suggest that this is primarily a fast, point and shoot river runner/racer.  After a couple of strokes, and up to cruising speed, the bow sits up and rides its own bow wave just back from the nose.  Stability wise, the boat is very stable both sitting flat and on edge.  The construction, finish and outfitting (its Badass) are all impeccable and what you would expect from Liquidlogic.  With so much length and deck volume, you can cram a lot of gear in here if you are looking for an instructors kayak or one for tackling multi days trips.


This was just a very brief, first outing on big volume water.  I’m looking forward at getting it out on something steeper over the next days/weeks.

Specs and ordering info can be found here:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Euros Wrap Up

The European Championships  finished up almost a week ago now, however this trip will not fade in the memory fast. A closely knit group coupled with the largest support group seen in years made this the most enjoyable competition to date. This year the team was made up of a lot of new faces with a strong presence of Galway boaters coupled with some great paddlers from Cork, Laois, Killkenny, Wicklow and Dublin. From the start there was a great atmosphere in the group as everyone videoed, coached & helped out in any way they could. That coupled with the perfect location to hold a competition that Cuvono is made the trip for everyone.

Prelims took place last Thursday with most of the Irish Men off in the early heats. Team training had been going well in the preceding days keeping confidence up and settling the nerves. David McClure was first up for the Irish in heat two putting together some good rides that would eventually leave him in 30th place. I was also up towards the end of heat two. Having been getting through most of my ride in previous days I dropped in feeling good. I managed to score some of my bigger moves to edge through to quarter finals in 17th place.

Aran Kilroy and Andrew Regan were up next in heat three. Some strict scoring left them a little further down the order then their rides deserved coming in at 33rd and 40th position. Shane Little was the last of the Irish Men having to wait until heat seven to put down his rides. Throwing down some big moves Shane was just short of the cut to quarters placing 24th.

Senior Women were up next with both Aisling's and Niamh paddling hard to get all they could into their 45 second rides. The progression that they all made during their training was clear to see with a bright future ahead for all. Aisling, Niamh & Aisling finished up in 22nd, 23rd & 24th position.

Junior men were the last to go on Thursday afternoon with Calvin O'Brien and Sean Cahill flying the flag for Ireland. The junior men's class was hotly contested with Max Karlsson breaking 1000 points for a single ride during the competition! Calvin and Sean put in solid rides to place in 26th & 28th Position.

Friday morning saw quarter finals kick off at 9am with some rowdy Irish support the envy of all nations. Going into quarter finals I felt better then the previous day with some pressure off having made it through a round. Having three rides with the best two counting allows a bit more leeway then prelims were everything counts. I was able to throw down some good moves improving my overall score and placing from prelims moving up one spot to 16th.

Friday evening saw the semi finals produce some of the best paddling ever seen with Peter Csonka laying down the highest scoring ride of all time. The ride was a none stop combo linking trophy moves to every other move to set Peter well apart from the rest of the field . Coming in to finals on Sunday there was little doubt in anyone's mind who was going to take top spot. Peter laid down 1500 points in his first ride to ensure he was crowned European Champion for a second time.

Next up is the World Championships on Garberator wave in Canada next summer. Its been over five years since the last ICF wave competition so there is sure to be a big shake up in the usual order of things. Team trials are less then two months away and with lots of old faces planning on making a return to action it could be a very different Irish Team that heads to Canada next year. Hopefully the rain will return soon so the rivers return to good flows to get some training in!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

European Championships

Team training is in full swing here in Cuvono for the European Freestyle Championships. Prelims start on Thursday morning with only one more day of training for Men, Women and Junior Men. Training has been going well with everyone progressing while being able to train everyday on what is a deceptively tricky feature. The whole team has been here a few days taking as much time as they can to get used to the feature here. The hole is quite shallow with regular hits off the bottom common place, however it is quite retentive without being to violent giving you plenty of control to set up for your moves.

Our last training session tomorrow morning will be used to put the finishing touches on our rides, aiming to get every move in before the buzzer sounds. With a ten strong team our team training slots have been just under an hour long allowing everyone to get in six or seven ride. The water on the course is turned off at eight o clock every evening taking away any opportunities of training under lights but despite this everyone is looking well prepared.

Unfortunately it does not look like there will be live streaming for the event but with a strong crew of supporters out here updates will be coming thick and fast as prelims unfold. Keep an eye on Irish Freestyle Facebook for updates on Thursday morning!