Sal

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Keep hold of your paddle!

It’s no secret that this has been a strange year for everyone. Scary at times. Frustrating and disappointing at others. As the months fly by though, as a community I think we’ve done amazingly at getting through it. Not only have we stayed positive and looked out for one another, we’ve also done what we do best – adapting and making the most of the situation.

When we get pushed off-line on a rapid, we don’t let go of our paddle and give up. We react. Immediately looking for an alternative line and put a new plan in to action. Like on the river, we’ve kept hold of our paddles and we’ve powered on, manoeuvring around barriers and tackling whatever’s been thrown at us. 

It’s a similar story for many outdoorsy types. When the river we wanted to paddle is too low, the surf non-existent, strong winds making your sea paddle a no-go, the rock too wet to continue your climb. Yeah we probably have a bit of a moan and sulk, but we don’t give up. Instead we look for the next best option and go with it.

Like pretty much everyone else out there, I’ve had some disappointments and hurdles to overcome the last few months. Aside from the worry for the safety of my friends and family, one of the biggest challenges has been the sudden and unexpected change of lifestyle. As many will know, the majority of my year is usually spent all over the world in my kayak. More than a sport to me, it’s what I live for. Driving towards goals, pushing skills and building upon experience, as well as all that comes along with that- teamwork, adrenaline when taking on bigger or more technical rapids, the highs and lows of river-life, all whilst in wild and remote places.

Once again we’ve been pushed off-line and are required to re-think our Plan A (I think I was on Plan F by May!) The plan was to go bigger, push harder and explore several new rivers internationally. Instead, with the halt on travel, I’ve done my exploring closer to home.

We’ve been lucky enough to have a few good summer storms here in the UK, allowing us to enjoy some of our awesome rivers. A variety of water levels on my favourite river in Dartmoor has kept me entertained, as well as paddling some new rivers (for me) over in North Wales. The whitewater courses are all starting to reopen now also, allowing us all to have some fun, as well as providing a consistent training ground.

Prior to the whitewater courses opening and the days when the rivers were empty though, it was necessary to look for other ways to keep ourselves happy and paddle-fit. Personally, I have the South West Coast to thank for this. The coast path provided endless miles of stunning sights and varied terrains, ensuring my runs were always interesting- no matter how many hours they went on for! The big game changer was the sea itself though. Sea kayaking, swimming and surfing helped with fitness, but most of all my craving to be in water again. I think it’s safe to say that us kayakers are all water-babies and when we don’t get our fix something just doesn’t feel right.

So as the times start to change once again, remember that you’re a paddler and you’ve got this- hold on to your paddle and keep looking ahead for that sweet line!

See you on the river soon!

Sal

Photos: Jack Grace, Rowan James, Curtis England

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