It's Thursday afternoon, and I'm so excited I can hardly get my work done. Why? Because as soon as we close the doors to the shop I'm off, heading for the Oregon coast to Lumpy Waters 2014!
I rush to my car, all packed, gear prepped and ready to go, all I need is my partner in crime Romuald, who is going with me for the weekend. Since it's nearly a five hour drive we planned to stop south of Portland for the night and continue in the morning. Several hours worth of kayak talk later we crash for the night, giddy like two kids heading to summer camp the next day.
Next morning it's breakfast and we hit the road. By the way, If you've never visited the Oregon coast you're missing out, it's amazing.
An easy couple hours later and we were in Pacific City. Pretty quickly we found the event, parked, signed in, and put bright labels on our helmets with our name, and color coded for experience level. Being early we set up our tents to save some effort after class (good call). After lunch it was time to start!
All pics by Andrew Romanelli unless otherwise noted. You can see all the images at: Lumpy Waters 2014 Facebook Page
Getting into the spirit:
After a rousing cheer we were off to classes. This meant loading boats onto trailers for the short drive to Nestucca Bay where my first class was. Confession time: This was my first event like this, and my first time ever taking formalized lessons, but not to worry. Who else but Gordon Brown!? Nervous? You bet, but being the world class coach he is, the group started out on land singing a silly song and trying to get the choreography right. We didn't, but we left the beach laughing and with smiles on our faces, relaxed and ready to paddle. It was an amazing class, and I learned so much more about the hows and whys of moving my boat around.
One of the younger paddlers and Gordon:
After happy hour back at the resort and a delicious dinner it was time for a video presentation of Sail 2 Surf by Matt Nelson and Chris Bensch. Really interesting as it tied sailing and kayaking together in a beautiful way and increased my the excitement for both.
Waking up early Saturday I heard rumor that the surf was big and predicted to get huge over the next two days and some classes would be modified due to that. I looked at my options and decided to stick with the classes I had selected even though 'Longboat Surfing' would be classroom only due to conditions. Romuald chose 'Dynamic Rolling' and learned a lot, even though it was a pool session with the afternoon surf session changed to a hike to look at and discuss surf, again, due to conditions.
As an example this is Sean Morley going huge in some of the tamer waves:
Turned out my class with Kate Hives of The Hurricane Riders was perfect. Great information and it made me a much better surfer in my sea kayak.
After lunch I loaded my boat onto the trailer for the ride to the Sandlake area for afternoon class, also with Kate Hives. After splitting the group into our choice of 'Beginner Lumps', Medium Lumpy', and 'Extra Lumpy' based on experience, we headed out. I chose 'Extra Lumpy'. :-D
Not where I was paddling, but it gives the general idea:
I chose wisely! We had a great group of people, wonderful coaching staff and a prefect venue to allow us lumpy conditions that we could handle. I caught lots of waves and had some really nice long surfs all while practicing putting my boat exactly where I wanted it in rough conditions. Really good stuff. After plenty of Lumpy for everyone we loaded the boats up (and I got to play hero and unlock Kate's car after she locked her keys inside) and drove back to the resort for another round of happy hour and much needed sustenance. Let's just say that after a hard day of paddling, pizza and beer might be the best thing ever . . .
After a presentation by Nick Cunliffe about 'A sea kayak trip to St Kilda', an isle in Scotland I was bushed and headed to bed. I had to save enough energy to play hard the next day!
After the infamous Lumpy Waters Pub Quiz was the event we were waiting for, the 2014 event film, shot Friday, throughout Saturday and edited during dinner and the evening. Enjoy!
Sunday was another lovely day with even bigger surf that continued to build throughout the day. In front of the resort there were consistent 30' wave faces breaking and the occasional 40' faces. Did you catch that? Forty foot tall waves faces!!!!! They were breaking over sea stacks that were 60' off the water and beautiful if terrifying to watch. But again the folks at Alder Creek did a perfect job of having secondary locations planned out if the conditions did exactly this. For our 'Boat Control In Conditions' taught by Matt Nelson and Nick Cunliffe we headed about 25 minutes south to the mouth of the Salmon River. After unloading our boats, getting gear on and ready to go we slowed the pace a bit and had a serious discussion about what we would be doing, where and how to make decisions to keep the entire group safe.
And then we were off, but before heading into anything we needed to stop at the mouth of the river on the sandbar and take our time to see what was actually happening. After about 15 - 20 minutes of planning and discussion what we saw and what that meant,, Matt and Nick headed out into the big stuff to see how it really was. They determined it was safe and then it was our turn.
I probably did 15 rolls after getting tipped over but did manage to catch a few BIG waves and get some great rides. The instructors had us waiting in a safe zone and heading into the surf to Nick, then sideways to the waves (good practice in the surf zone) paddle to Matt and then head back toward the sandbar catching waves as we liked.
Then lunch on the beach and after determining if the group was ready to head back out we went for it. More big waves, and mind you, we were inside riding on the reformed waves breaking outside, again they were in the 30' - 40' on the outside and reforming to 6' - 10'. Fun but worthy of your full attention. We had a few swimmers after failed rolls but all were handled quickly and safely. Also, because we were at a river mouth on the incoming tide the push was toward the beach should anything go wrong.
And because of the planning that we did as a team it was perfect. Not that no one went swimming, but that we all knew what to do, and all of us had the level of experience to be learning in those conditions. Hey, the sun even came out for a bit.
A informative debrief back on the beach and it was the beginning of the end.
Romuald and I loaded up our boats and headed back to Pacific City to pack up our gear and start the long drive home. Of special mention were the calzones at Fort George Brewery And Public House, they were much needed and fit the bill perfectly.
All in all it was a truly impressive event. World class coaches, staff and venue, and the coolest people you'll ever meet attending. Thanks to Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, all the coaches and staff, my fellow paddlers that make up the best parts of paddling, and thank you to the other Jim, Scott and Mark for covering for me, Ship To Shore for paying my way.
I'm going back next year, are you?