Newbury UK. But these days It’s where ever my van is parked.
Where did you last paddle?
Nepal, Thuli Bheri.
What are your best paddling memories?
There are too many to recount. Honestly! It’s funny, because I feel just as fond as some of the earlier memories as I do as the more recent trips.
As a kid I was part of a paddling club called Adventure Dolphin ‘Newbury’ There are too many people here that I have to thank. Some of my earliest paddling memories of the local weirs will never leave me. That feeling of excitement and trepidation! The progression curve at the beginning is awesome.
Turning seventeen was a dangerous but fun time. Passing our driving tests allowed for adventure! We started to paddle things like the Upper Dart, Nedd Fechan more regularly. Losing three boats on the M4 in the middle lane at 70 mph probably summarises that time the best. Sketchy.
My friend Mike used to say that some of your first adventures are some of wildest and most fun. We spend the rest of life’s trying to recapture that same feeling. The trouble is, as we get better, to gain that same feeling, the difficulty and risk in the terrain we choose often has to increase.
Where should everybody go paddling once?
I have been to Nepal five times now. I don’t know how that has happened. But I think there is a reason it did. Here you can have adventures on an unprecedented scale! There is little to stop you. Go as big & as long as you want. Go as remote as your brain dares. Go with as little as you thinks possible. Just see what might happen …
Slovenia, near the start of your kayaking career … a wonderful place.
Nepal for multi-day experience.
Norway for the quality of whitewater.
A big deep canyon where you can only paddle through … just to feel it.
What else do you like to do when you’re not out paddling?
I ski. For the past four winters I have lived in Chamonix. You get to play with the water before it melts. Twice the potential of adventure, set on the same medium. One is just colder!
Ski touring and freeride skiing provides similar adventures to what I enjoy in kayaking. The camaraderie, the decision making, the risks, the feelings of flow and joy. Being in nature is a big part of it I guess.
I also paraglide, this shares that same special thing of whitewater kayaking. Playing in a flowing medium. Air works like a fluid, it flows and has currents. You have to learn to feel them, the same as the water.
What’s your best advice for other paddlers?
Make good decisions. Do things because you want too. Paddle with people better than you.
What are your favourite bits of kit?
Amp PFD has been a very trusty steed! This year’s Gradient boots are the best water shoes I’ve ever used.
Where is left on your list of places to go?
Lots I guess. South America, the Pacific Northwest, Cali, more of Asia and Africa … there is so much out there!
Describe your perfect day on the water
It all starts off with the company. Having great friends with you sets the day up to be a winner! Some of my favourite kayaking days have often been on multi-day trips. You get the full experience. Waking up in the sand, in a beautiful remote land, stoking the fire from the night before, getting the coffee going. Then slurping up some porridge before packing up all the stuff that’s actually important in life into the back of your kayak. Then it’s just a case of seeing what the day brings! I think the best days are usually where you have to overcome obstacles. Kayaking chucks all sorts of problems to be solved. I like solving problems.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
Sharing more great experiences.