Friday, June 9, 2017

Yukon River Quest Welcomes Back SUP Paddlers for the 19th Annual Iconic Race!

In 2016 we were very happy to have two of our sponsored athletes, +Lina Augaitis (Werner Paddles) and +Norm Hann (Kokatat) be part of the inaugural year of  Stand Up Paddling in the Yukon River Quest (735km/400 miles). As their support crew we had a very hands-on experience with their race and it was something we won't soon forget.

Lina was the first female SUP paddler to cross the finish line in Dawson City in 60 hours and 22 minutes. Norm finished in 54 hours and 56 minutes for a 2nd place finish making history along with all of the other SUP paddlers proving SUP had a legitimate place in the iconic race.

Nikki, Lina, Mark and Norm at the 2016 Yukon River Quest Awards Banquet

This year we once again support a local, Vancouver, BC SUP athlete, Peter Allen. Peter is the buyer for Kokatat and Werner dealer, Ecomarine located on Granville Island in Vancouver. While we would love to be in Whitehorse, Carmacks and Dawson City to support Peter, we will cheering him from afar while girlfriend, Erica takes on the critical role of Support Crew.

Paddling on Harrison Lake - Photo credit: Chris Christie

Peter has been training hard since he signed up for the race this past November. His training has taken him to various local races (MEC Big Chop, Indian Arm Challenge, Alberni Canal Downwind Challenge) this season. We had the good fortune of being on the water with Peter a few times over the winter when he did some training runs down the Fraser River between Hope and Chilliwack. During his winter training sessions Peter wore the Kokatat Surge Paddling Suit to keep him warm and dry, in addition to his Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD. His paddle of choice is the Werner Paddles Grand Prix 86 and his spare is the Performance Travel (3 pce) Flow 95, also by Werner Paddles.

All geared up for a paddle out of False Creek on Granville Island, home of Ecomarine.

Training on the Fraser River this winter

Thank you Peter for choosing Kokatat and Werner as part of your gear set up for the 19th Annual Yukon River Quest Race (June 28 - July 2)! We hope your race experience is a FANTASTIC one and we look forward to hearing all about it when you return.

If you are interested in following Peter (Team #5 aka SUP N IRISH) and other racers during the race you can do so via the 2017 Race Tracker as well as via Peter's instagram account.

All the best to all our friends who are also participating in the race in June (Jason, Stuart and Joanne for the second time!!!!) : Carmen Merkel (wearing the Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD), Jason Bennett (wearing the Kokatat Aries PFD), Stuart Knaack (wearing he Kokatat Guide PFD and paddling with a Werner Paddle) and Joanne Hamilton-Vale - heading back to Dawson City for her wedding ring!!!!

Joanne Hamilton-Vale photo credit: Mark Klein

Yukoner, Stuart Knaack Photo credit: Mark Klein

YRQ racing couple - Jason Bennett and Carmen Merkel Photo credit: Mark Klein

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cowichan River Youth Festival - 'One Of A Kind' Festival Held on Vancouver Island

The Cowichan River Youth Festival on Vancouver Island, is an annual youth kayaking festival hosted by Dan Norman and his students from Brentwood College. This festival is one of the only whitewater kayaking youth specific events in the country and we are happy to support it. At the beginning of this year we also started sponsoring, young whitewater kayaker, Avery Wilkins from Chilliwack, BC and below Avery shares his thoughts from the weekend. If you have a young person interested in whitewater kayaking get in touch with us, we can connect you to various youth programs that we know of here in Western Canada.

Last month (April 2017) my dad, a friend and I went to the Cowichan River Youth Festival on Vancouver Island. held at the Horseshoe Bend Group campsite on the Cowichan River (Duncan BC). A lot of people from Vancouver Island come to this event including adult volunteers and kids from schools across the island and lower mainland who want to learn how to paddle. This event is a unique event and the only youth dedicated festival in western Canada to my knowledge.

Photo: Darryl Spencer

The first paddling event was a mandatory pool session on Friday evening. At this time I practiced a few flatwater cartwheels and met some new paddlers and fellow CRYK Fest alumni. Then it was back to the campsite for a fire and some laughs. 

Duncan Aquatic Center - Photo: Dan Norman

  On Saturday there were two river runs. There were two groups, there was the advanced group and the beginners group. I was in the advanced group with 6 other people from Chilliwack. We did runs down the easier section that the beginners were practicing to do on Sunday for the first time. On Saturday all of the beginners were at the duck pond which was a part of the Cowichan that has no significant rapids making it a great learning experience. For our second run we did the initial section and then continued on down into the canyon section which was the section only the advanced paddlers were allowed. 

Beginners group about to launch at the duck pond near the mouth of the Cowichan River – Photo: Darryl Spencer

On Sunday the advanced group did the canyon again but with more people who had been working on their skills on the previous day. We had one swimmer on that run but they hiked out smiling.

WW shot of the advanced group instructors Jeff and Dave leading into the rapids – Photo: Darryl Spencer

  After the canyon I helped the instructors when the beginners were coming down the first section. This is always fun, having up to 40 boaters coming down the river at once.

The start of the combined groups heading out together on Sunday – Photo: Darryl Spencer

 Overall I had a really fun time during the festival and can’t wait to go next year.

For information on the festival for 2018 check out  for future dates.

Campsite Photo of the whole gang after the Sunday Floatilla – Photo: Darryl Spencer

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Keepin' It Moving Mantra

I have been terribly delinquent in my blogging and want to do a better job in 2017. This year has been off to a great start. We have a new mantra in our house, Keepin' It Moving and so far so good. 

2016 had some tough spots in it and at times, it was a real challenge. I had to do something different for ME and making a greater commitment to moving more is proving (so far) to be a real help. I work hard (some would say too much) and my life-work balance has NEVER been very good. I have been outside playing more consistently then ever before and I feel great. My ability to manage stress or upset is much, much better since I put myself FIRST.

I hope you will be encouraged and inspired to Keepin It Moving (if you are not already) and playing outside in 2017. We look forward to sharing our adventures with you. 

Enjoying the sunset on our local rotary trail

“You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain.” 
― Tom Hiddleston

Annual paddle into the cabin at Rainbow Alley

The view always makes the climb worthwhile. Tyhee Lake, BC

Winter Paddling on the Babine River

Friends make adventures fun!

These microspikes have been THE BOMB on so many adventures this winter. Thank you +Kahtoola Inc 

Exploring locally on Cultus Lake

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin