Thursday, March 31, 2011

The First Official Nantahala Cascades Race

John, Toby, Adriene, Biscuit, Tater, and I loaded up the van and hauled a bunch of boats over to the First Annual Cascades Race on the Nantahala river Wednesday night.  Last week the call went out over the Facebook airwaves that there was going to be a race on Cascades.  We love us some extreme racing down here in the south so we knew we wanted to support this event on one of the classic southeastern sections of creek boating.  The race had a 5pm start, I love day light savings time so we had time to work most of the day then head over for a couple practice runs before it all went down.

As is per usual Toby "honey badger" MacDermott was faster, smoother, and in better shape than all of us so he took the top honors.  He was so fast I never got a picture of him.  Note the stylie medals made by Candice.  Thanks Candice!

Adriene laid down a scorching time as the only female entrant into the race.  In fact she hurt a lot of boys feelings by coming in 5th!  However the highlight of her night was meeting the infamous Mark Zwick.  If you have ever run the Green you will remember the rapid called Zwick's and you thought why in the world is this rapid called Zwick's?  Well its because Mark Zwick had that rapid named after him, and I will let him tell you that story.

The top 5 results as I understand them are:

1. Toby Macdermott
2. John Grace
3. Some asshole named Shane Benedict
4. Jon Clark / Tommy Yon tied
5. Adriene Levknecht

Here is a video I put together of my race run with a gopro and some other shots at Big Kahuna (the biggest rapid on the run) and a link to more photos.  Click Here 

Cheers  Shane

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One of my favorite days as a designer: Freeride 67 with Woody

I am lucky, there is no doubt about it.  The skills and job that I have pretty much fell in my lap.  Sure I worked hard and have a passion for it but really I just did what I loved and followed the path.  One day I was a kayaker playing around with my outfitting and adding foam to my kayak to see what it would do and  the next I was hacking away at a big piece of foam with a chainsaw making a "toy", that one day, I would get to paddle.  Like I said, I am lucky.  On this day I got to see another thing that motivates me rather than my own desire to paddle new things.  I got to see an old friend find playboating again because of a design I am working on.  If you don't know, Woody actually was a bad ass playboater a while ago.  He used to spend hours dropping into mystery spots, blasting holes, throwing one arm bandits, screwing around, and doing paddle behind the neck bow draw squirts.  (It hurts my rotator cuff when I think about it.)  Sure Woody is still dropping down the Green and self supporting through the Grand Canyon but he has a little part of him that always wants to play the river and wooo the ladies with his play skills(no offense Kim).  That is why this day was one of my favorite days as a designer.  Woody, all 6'4" 250 lbs of man meat that he is came off the river and said, "that was awesome!"  That is like music to my ears, like a little sugar in my coffee, like 5 sqaures of toilet paper left, its like hard rain late at night.  Ok you get the picture.  It was cool.

Woody and I took the prototype Freeride 67s over to the Pigeon river, or "dirty bird" if you are a local that has been around since that stanky river opened up for public consumption.  The nice thing is that nowadays the "bird" is down right pleasant for paddling, and smelling.  There are several fun playspots, especially at the high flows we have been having.  There were many good waves in Initiation and on down to Lost Guide.  The wave at the bottom of Lost Guide was really fun, quick, and dynamic.  Woody was stretching his long lost play boating wings with wave surfing, spinning, but he never did pull out the behind the neck bow draw stern squirt.  There are more photos of the day here.

Heres a little video.  Excuse the music.  I was feeling my dubstep.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freeride 67 prototype

Ken and Ryan buffing out the model

The Freeride 67 is getting close to the final design.  We just pulled a prototype mold off of this model and molded a couple test boats.  The first thing we do when we make a boat for bigger paddlers is walk down to shipping and receiving and get Tall Steve to hop in and see if his 6'5" height and 35" legs with size 13 dogs can get in the boat.   And yes my friends we have a winner!!  Steve hopped in no problem.  Next test will be Woody.

Tall Steve and Shane standing with the Freeride 67

Specs on Steve
6'5" tall
205 lbs
35" inseam
13 shoes

Specs on Shane
195 lbs
33" inseam
11 shoes

The specs for the Freeride 67 are:
6'9" long
26.5" wide
67 gallons

Woody and I hope to get these things out on the water this weekend.  Should be fun.  Steve isn't a big time kayaker but he did volunteer for me to throw him down the stairs in it.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Liquidlogic Freeride Surfing the Gauley

I took the protoypes of the Freeride 57 out on the Gauley river a couple weekends ago.  The Gauley was running pretty high so the river was a completely different animal from the normal fall release levels.  There were paddlers every where because of the high water and I was trying to paddle without being seen by tons of folks.  So I went down to the lower Gauley and paddled the boat at what at normal levels is 5 boat hole but at nearly 8000 cfs it was more like 2 or 3 boat wave.

Ross and, his smart half, Brianne joined me for the weekend.  We camped down below the Summersville dam and it was good sleeping with the roar of the water being pushed out of the massive overflow tubes of the powerhouse.  They usually don't run now that they have installed the underwater release tubes.  It reminds me of a few years ago when two huge pipes gushing water were the source of a crazy spectacle at the put in for the Upper Gauley.  It was a little chilly with a little snow the first evening but a nice camp fire made it all ok.  On Sunday we had temps in the 50s and sunny skies it was good stuff all around.

Too me the wave really was a perfect testing ground for this boat.  The wave was sort of a flatter shape that meant the boat had to have some speed to not only catch it but surf it well.  Ross and I were able to spin pretty much at will and on a little surge we could do blunts and back blunts.  The other thing I really liked was how smooth and easy it was to control the edges.  You can see in the video both Ross and I playing with the way the edges were working with the water.  We were able to surf all over the wave without our paddles by just using the edges to steer the boat and carve to different parts of the wave.

The paddling was perfect but I always like to throw in some other highlights and near the Gauley river is the town of Fayetteville which boasts more good food per capita than just about any place I have ever been.  The Classics are: Pies and Pints (pizza not cherry, beers not milk) and The Cathedral (great coffee and food).  There were also a couple other places that I hadn't visited before that were great.  The Secret Sandwich Society (where pies and pints used to be,  good vibe) and The Vandalian (strange vibe but the food was great).  Can you tell I like food and beverage?  Yum.

Here is a little video of our day on the Lower Gauley at 5 boat hole.

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