As has been the case for the past 6 years of my life, June brings the end of exams and an accompanying burst of kayaking to make up for all the time spent library-bound. This year is particularly significant: my (hopefully) last ever exams have been sat and my degree is complete! 

So how to celebrate? 

Soon after finishing, I headed to North Wales with Cambridge University Canoe Club for a long weekend of Dee and Tryweryn paddling. The feeling of post-exam freedom combined with great whitewater and double-figure temperatures makes it one of the best club trips of the year, and understandably a popular one. While would normally be more likely to see me paddling a RockstarXS, with a trip to the Alps approaching, I decided some whitewater-time in my creek boat would be a good plan. The little boat was left at home for once.

But just because you’re not in a playboat, doesn’t mean you can’t play, especially if the alternative is a Jackson Zen.

From rock-spins and boofs to some old-school shudder-rudders, each of our (many) laps of the Tryweryn was filled with fun: surfing every wave possible, pulling paddle spins/throws/javelins and trying to hit each micro-eddy and rock-grab… and then running for the shuttle and doing it all over again. By the end of the weekend it had escalated from simply running the river with beginners, to double rock-grabs (Alex hanging onto Andy hanging onto the Ski-Slope rock-grab), double Everest rock boofs and king-of-the-wave style surfing. And the more fun that was had, the more confident people were to push for smaller eddies or dafter moves, and overall challenge themselves and their kayaking skills to a greater degree. 

I was personally thrilled to be in a boat big enough to run larger rivers in, but which is equally nimble, quick and controllable enough to have an awesome time on a wave or in a hole. The Zen is speedy enough to have enabled me to get a decent distance on the flat river Cam during short revision breaks this term, but once in a deep enough hole, is perfectly loopable. A great combination for a boat in my books! I can’t wait to get out on whitewater in it again this month….and then to the Alps and beyond!

Thanks to Iain McConnell (Turnip Towers Photography: www.turniptowers.co.uk ) for the awesome surfing shots!
And thanks to CUCC for a great trip and Aaron and Squarerock for their support and brilliant kit as always.

by Jen McGaley