Galasport paddles

I started paddling the Manic Elite MCQ last summer after many years wanting to switch paddles. I got it right in time for the Stikine and it was awesome to have such a nice paddle on such beautiful river. Since then I haven’t looked back and I am so happy I finally decided to join Galasport after many years of considering it.

Eric Parker Photography
In my opinion Galasport produces the nicest paddles on the market right now. They are strong and durable, lightweight, sexy and most important they feel good on the water, the make your paddling experience that much better because of their blade shape and design.

Mike Leeds Photography
Many people see Galasport as slalom paddles only as the company produces specific slalom paddles, slalom boats and more, however for the past few years Galasport has widened their paddle range to creeking and river running with multiple designs. Their river running paddles are strong and durable and so nice to use... its my only paddle for everyday.

Manuel Arnu
The Manic Elite MCQ is a 100% two parts carbon paddle. This means the blade and the shaft are one single part and the two shaft assemble in the middle of the paddle. Having a two parts paddle means you have a stiffer paddle as you only have one assembly point instead of two and you don’t have to worry about blades coming off loose or anything like that. Having such a smooth shape at the blade/shaft assembly means the blade glides really well and smoothly through the water at every stroke which translates to more controlled and precise strokes.

Another awesome thing Galasport makes is the USA Connector, which is a super strong and easy to use tool that can be set on any paddle and make it a two parts breakdown. This is really helpful for traveling and to lend your paddle to other people as its really easy to adjust the length and the feather. Once set the connector is really strong and the paddle is still super stiff, its just like using a normal paddle but you can play with the length and feather as you paddle down the river. Its really helpful for racing, multidays, freestyle, traveling and flying and it can also work great as an expedition breakdown paddle.

I’ve been using my USA connector everywhere this past season, racing Rey del Rio in Mexico, paddling waterfalls in Chile, racing in the PNW and freestyle ave surfing in BC and Quebec. Being able to adjust the length (10 cm range!!) and feather makes this paddle really versatile and the best all around one for everything paddle in the market, I’m really stoked I have one of this!!
Eric Parker Photography
For more information check all of their products at: galasport.com


IV The North Fork Championship 2015

The second weekend of June was the date, the IV North Fork Championship was going down in Banks, Idaho. The North Fork of the Payette is an awesome river that has 15 miles of amazing roadside whitewater. The water is warm, big and pushy making for lots of great rapids and hard moves. With the road on one side and the railway on the other the river is full of rock boulders that help create those rapids making them shallow and pretty dangerous at the same time though.

The North Fork Championship is a three day event that features a time trial, a boaterX and the biggest race of the weekend a Giant Slalom down whats considered the hardest rapid on the river, Jakes or jacks Ladder.

On Thursday, over 80 racers participated in “The Expert Race,” an over 7 minute time­trial from the top of “Juicer” to the bottom of “Cruncher” on the Lower 3 miles of the North Fork Payette. The top 5 finishers of those that weren’t already qualified for Saturdays race would become Elite members and have the chance to race down jakes so everyone gave it all they had. I was happy and surprised to take first after not really pushing it too much, good start!

The Melt Awards are that same night in downtown Boise where new movie were premiered and the qualifiers announced. We were happy to take second place for the second year in a row at the Cinematography Awards with our new SBP reel. 
On Friday we did some training at Jakes and there was a BoaterX in S-Turn which I didn’t attend not to get too tired…

Saturday was the day! After a couple practice laps I was feeling good and ready to put down a fast time on my first run. Went off and immediately missed the second gate… it was over, I just floated the course to the finish and tried not to get too pissed… 

I tried to forget about it and give it all again on my second run, only one chance. Started off the ramp and charged, luckily barely made the first second gate combo, kept on going and put together an ok run. After the race we all floated downstream and had a good time padding under the summer heat. 
Everyone was nervous at the awards, no one knows anything until its announced… I was super stoked to take first place! Even if my run wasn’t as good as I could have paddled I’m really happy I managed to put it all together for that second run and made it count, the pressure was definitely on!!

It was an amazing experience and a great time! Completing the podium were Dane Jackson and Isaac Levinson and my brother was 4th so super proud and stoked for him too!!
He had an amazing party and spent the next few days paddling TB on the North Fork, going to the hot springs and hang out, good times!

Thanks to James and Regan Byrd, the organizers, for putting this event together year after year, its an awesome event to be part of and it gets keeps getting bigger and better, can't wait for next year!
Also thanks to the best girlfriend Ali for being there all the time and helping me with everything!

Photos by Mike Leeds and Tait Trautman


The 40th Big Fork Festival

After spending the first two weeks of the month of May in Canada with the rest of the Adidas Sick-line Freestyle crew shooting around BC and Quebec I got back home really sore and tired. We paddled pretty much everyday and had forgotten how exhausting freestyle actually is! A couple days home to unpack and repack and off to the next stop, Montana! We left early on Friday and drove all day until we got to Big Fork, a small town at the mouth of the Black Swan river. Northern Montana is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. At the base of Glacier Park everything is green surrounded by white caped peaks and emerald lakes, it’s really awesome!

The Big Fork Festival was celebrating their 40th edition and it was a great one indeed. It’s definitely one of the oldest kayaking festivals in the US and still attracts a lot of competitors from all over the North West. The organization does a great job setting up the slalom course and and taking care of the competitors providing free camping next to the river, dinner, prizes and great hospitality. 

Even though the water was a little bit lower than last year the slalom course was still challenging and the whole run is still great. On Saturday we did the slalom race on the Staircase rapid. We did two runs through 18 gates that made for some pretty fun moves and did another lap in the afternoon to paddle the whole section which was really fun. On Sunday we did the downriver and the giant slalom down the whole ‘Wild Mile’ section. The name says it all, one mile of good rapids all the way to the take out right in downtown Big Fork. The downriver took around 7 minutes an a bit longer for the GS that included 6 gates throughout the whole run.

After all the races we did another lap to say goodbye to the Black Swan and headed to the awards. I was stoked to take first place and retain my title from last year (going for three next year!) and even more happy to see Ali do the same and win the women’s class!! It was a really fun weekend for both of us and even better after the awards. 

Thank you to the organizers, specially Mike for designing and setting up the course, Jonny Meyers for being the man, Coral, Beth and everyone else for putting their time into the event making it one of the best in the US! Thanks safety team, gate keepers, time people and volunteers, it was an amazing weekend! See you al next year!!


LW Race 2015

The first weekend of May was the date, the awaited Little White race would finally happen and it was epic. A dry and low snow winter and spring meant really low water levels all season long, however the river is still great offering good rapids and super fun moves. The LW race is one of the most well known races on the circuit, the river is beautiful and pristine with clear drinkable water surrounded by thick old growth forest and some of the best and most fun rapids there are, its an amazing place!

On Friday we did a pre race on the best rapids of the Green Truss. We had perfect weather and a bunch of racers, it was a really fun event. 

In the evening we had the Gorge Paddling Film Festival across the river in Hood River, OR. There were a bunch of sick video entries and a big fundraiser for First Descents. In the end our entry from SB Productions won the first place on the Pro category so it was an awesome night for us. A good night of sleep and the big day is finally here.
We drove up to the put in and geared up, enjoyed the sun for a while and slowly made our way to the start line. The racecourse is really continuous and has many tight lines and moves, specially at low water being extremely technical. Its a 16 minute plus race so you want to make sure you don’t go all out at the start and have nothing left for the end. I tried to pace myself  and only did a few mistakes that obviously costed me a ew good seconds. In the end though I was happy with my run, felt good in the water and enjoyed it! I was happy taking first after a couple years on second place and felt I performed good on my race run. It was an awesome day followed by a bunch of sick Spirit laps to say goodbye for the season to our beloved Ldub! 

The awards were held in Hood River and it was a great fun night with awesome people. I was happy to take the win on both races and win my first LW race, it feels good to do well on the river you paddle everyday and love so much!

Thanks Capo at WCKA for putting the event together another year, thanks to the students for timing and safety and thanks Cat and Lee Timons for the pics!


IR skirts 2014

I've been using the Lucky Charm skirt from Immersion Research for the last six months straight and I'm stoked it still looks like the first day!

Immersion Research is based in Confluence, PA, USA and they produce all kind of kayaking gear, from drysuits to skirts to backbands and other accessories.

Salto del Indio, Gol Gol, Chile | pic: Evan Garcia
IR is most famous because of their world renowned skirts. They are the best in the market simply because they are the safest while still being dry, durable and comfortable to wear and paddle everyday. Their rubber band stays on your boat on every drop or waterfall you run and you can even land on your head and still stay in your kayak which is pretty nice sometimes.

Rey del Rio, Agua Azul, Mexico
I’ve been using the 2014 Lucky Charm but they just came out with the 2015 collection and they look sweet. Both the Rand Royale and the new Lucky Charm look great and bright with some new colors, materials, more comfortable and even safer, so get out there and enjoy them!

Crashing into some waves on the Baker, Chile 
Or just go to http://www.immersionresearch.com and check all their catalog. IR is probably the brand that’s pushed their products the most within the last couple years so expect great design and quality from all their products.

Enjoying some laps on the Mariman, Chile
Stoked to be using and representing the best skirts out there!!


Year Review 2014

I guess you are normally supposed to do this before the year actually ends but I was busy traveling in southern Chile so I didn't have time then. Here it is anyway!

2014 was a great year, super fun and almost 100% injury free with lots of kayaking on my favorite destinations! So stoked to be living this life right now, focusing on traveling, kayaking and trying to enjoy life to the fullest!

I spent the winter in Okere Falls, New Zealand where I did lots of paddling on the Kaituna, slept in a bed every night and had tons of fun hanging out, learning to surf and taking part on the different kiwi events. Went to the South Island in February but got injured on the Citroen BoaterX and couldn't paddle any of the West Coast classics. I guess I'll just have to go back!

Early March we flew to Vancouver, bought a 22 year old Astro van and started the drive south to the Gorge, WA. Settled down at Todd's trailer and paddled non stop. We had nice weather and great levels on the Little White and White Salmon, it was a great season with lots of boating with amazing friends on my favorite spot in the world. Spring went by really fast and we left to the White Water Grand Prix in Quebec for a couple weeks in May.
We found big waves and lots of ice! It was good times with lots of freestyle and some good boating around Quebec and a 5th place finish with some bad luck and pretty average performances on most of the stages.

After Canada it was time for some races on the NW! First off we went to the Big Fork event in Montana, organized by my friend Jonny Meyers it was a great weekend with 3 different races (downriver, slalom and GS) for the overall. I was so stoked to take first and bring home some cash! 
One of my personal most important races of the season was next, the Little White Salmon race! After some good training thisyear I was feeling really good, the 9r prototype was working really well and I was stoked. Race day didn't go too well though, never felt good during the 15 minutes race, had a numb leg and went too hard at the start having nothing left for the end… Not feeling good about my downriver race run I was fired up to do well on the Spirit slalom. Training run was great, race run I go off and miss gate 1! Ahhhh  anyways it was a great weekend and finishing second wasn't that bad! Stoked for Evan to take his second title and can't wait for another chance next year!

After Ldub race is Idaho bound! We drove to Banks to paddle the North Fork everyday and get ready for the NFC III. On Thursday we had the Expert Lower 3 race, a 10 minutes race down some class III-IV where its pretty hard to go fast as there are lots of crashing waves and white water. I did my best but had lots of trouble keeping the boat under control and doing many mistakes, at the end I got first with less than a second lead though, it was a tight one! After the premiere in Boise where we showed our new SBP reel 2014 and partied a bit everyone got ready for Saturday at Jakes. I had two decent runs but lost quite a bit of time on gate 2 on both runs and hit a few more rocks than desired. This conservative runs were only good enough for 4th place this year, will have to go faster and take more chances next year for sure!
We paddled the North Fork for another week and then headed up to the Payette River Games just a few miles upstream. I entered the freestyle, boaterX and 8Ball races. Ended up 10th at the freestyle event after a couple training sessions, got 4th at the 8Ball and luckily took the win at the boaterX going home with some more dolla$! So stoked! After the PRG I started the drive back west and then north back to Canada, it's BC time! 

Got to Whistler early July, started working at Wedge rafting and padded the Cheak and Callaghan everyday with Ali and friends, pretty good times! Unfortunately the levels weren't as high as I expected but it was a good time! We entered the Cheak time trial and the Callaghan race. I managed to win both events and it was a really nice time.
Time went by fast and the Stikine dropped in earlier than expected so by August 1st I quit and got ready to head north. After a long drive we got to the put in of this magical place ready to go for the first trip of the season. Nice weather, good flow and a sick crew, let's go! We took it easy shooting a bunch and making it the traditional 3 day trip. We did another 3 day trip with great water levels and an awesome one day. It's such an amazing place!

After the Stikine we went to Revelstoke where there wasn't much water but enough for Sutherland and Pinkston. After a couple days we drove back to Whistler to finish off the trip on the Ashlu. A couple great weekends on the box and some days on the Cheak left us all tired and ready to go home.

Landed in Spain mid september, hang out for a week painting my grandmas house and paddling in Sort and left to Sickline. Sickline was great, we had good flows and pretty nice weather overall. I surprised myself and I managed to win the qualification on the lower section and clocked a couple fast times on the top section, however I didn't have a good run on my final and had to content myself with 4th after doing good all weekend… This was my best result yet and a good experience for next edition.

Right after Sick-Line we flew back to BC to finish The Keyhole Red Bull project as we needed Fall lows water flows. Everything went great and I went back home for a few days before flying to Chile for the whole winter.
After some days of traveling troubles I landed in Chile late October and paddled the Maipo just outside of Santiago. We then moved south and paddled around Pucon including a couple trips further south to GolGol area. Mid Novemeber we flew to Mexico for the Rey del Río, an event in Agua Azul that included a BoaterX and a Waterfall comp. After the event we went to Tlapacoyan and paddled on the Alseseca and Jalacingo, two of the best runs in Mexico.

After Mexico we spent some time around Pucón and then traveled south following the water and paddling as many rivers as possible. It's been an awesome time just camping everywhere and paddling all of the good classics that still have some water. It's been really dry and all the snow and rain from the winter is almost gone so the rivers are pretty low right now but there's always water and rivers to paddle, you just have to keep going south.

Overall it's been a great year for me, I've managed to spend all year traveling around the world visiting NZ, the USA, Canada, Chile, México and Argentina and only go home for over 2-3 weeks. I've only had minor injuries and I've paddled a lot, almost everyday and in some amazing places. I've paddled the 9r prototype all spring and I'm now super stoked to have the final version, it's sick. I feel my paddling still improves year after year even though sometimes it's hard to see it and easy to get frustrated. I can only ask for 2015 to be as good as 2014 and I'm sure it will be with plenty of adventures and expeditions ahead.