Whitewater Aptitude is an idea in development to highlight Gavin Hart's skills, adventures and accomplishments with an insight into the thoughts and feeling he has throughout his journeys. As well as this blog please visit his Photography Portfolio Website showcasing his best photography. For shorter more regular updates on Whitewater Aptitude adventures Like it on Facebook or Follow on Twitter. Get in contact via email using gavin@whitewateraptitude.co.uk

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Descent Cycles

The week has been spent completing coursework. The week has not been pleasant.

Today however I handed in that coursework and balance is slowly being restored to the Galaxy. Also today I helped out my good friend Tom get some photos and video for his soon to be constructed website for his new mountain bike guiding company that he is aiming to have up and peddling strong as soon as uni is finished. The day was a new experience and hard. I was running/stumbling/rolling around Whinlatter Forest on foot chasing after Tom and his friend David. The trails were icy and I did a fair bit of sliding about getting into positions to capture the specific burms, jumps and climbing sections the two selected. Although bright out in the open the wooded sections of the trails were particularly hard to get good sharp images. I was relying on my Canon 600D, 18-135mm lens, tripod and GoPro HD Hero to capture the action I intend to to go through the footage and images with Tom on Thursday. The result from the day weren't my best so i hope not to disappoint my pal. Below is a snapshot from my GoPro of me filming.

I'm hoping to also do some kayaking with Tom this week but its rather chilly. Check out my Facebook and Twitter for on the day updates on my activity. Links to these can be seen on my website that has also had some alterations to it and pictures added so make sure you look at them.


In the world of kayaking this week has been the start of the White Water Grand Prix 2012 where the sickest white water boaters in the world compete over two weeks to win the title. Among the white water community this events coverage has been shared and viewed countless times the content showcasing the highlights of the different stages set in Chile. The competition currently only at stage 3 has many different competitions to test the different abilities of the paddlers. One of my favourite stages from last year was the Big Wave Freestyle where athletes perform kayak tricks and flips whilst surfing a wave similar to that of what a surfer would however the waves stays in place on the river. This is called a standing wave. If you cant imagine what that looks like the link below is to one of my all time inspirational kayaking films showcasing some of the best freestyle atheletes some of whom are in the WWGP. Good luck to all the athletes in the competition especially the GB guys whom are lagging.

Stakeout - https://vimeo.com/8208615

Monday, 3 December 2012

Travel Writing #2 - Boater X

The highlight of this week by far was paddling on the Leven again. This was on the 28th November 2013. After heavy rain a few days before, the river was very high at 1.3m, too high for the intended UCUM -v- UCLAN Boater X. This race event was planned to be a social competition between my University of Cumbria (UCUM) paddling club and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) paddling club. However due to many people dropping out the night before numbers to the event slowly dwindled and by the time we met at the river Leven there were a grand total of seven people from both unis. Clearly only the elite could manage boating on this day. Luckily I knew everyone that turned up and their paddling ability so making the decision to bench the race for another day was easy and we decided to paddle the whole river rather then just the top easier section. After a slow start the day went well. The group stopped to inspect each rapid before proceeding picking the best line suited to each individuals ability. We had two swimmers throughout the day, myself on Backbarrow Bridge rapid and Mike on a the last rapid of the day.

Backbarrow Bridge is a notorious spot in the Lake District for paddlers as the rapid is big, not easily inspected and intimidating due to the fact that there is a large stopper under the bridge that you can always see is there but you can't judge how large it really is. Due to this fact, only three of seven participants on the day paddled this rapid. In their larger boats Matt and Jack successfully managed to punch through the make or break stopper under the bridge however, I was not so lucky. The Boof stroke I put in on my right side was too weak to get the nose of my kayak over the foam pile of the stopper to then allow me to make progress through the stopper. Therefore the nose of my boat was taken by the water and I was flipped over, capsized. Feeling the water rush around my face I tucked up to protect it, something I had failed to do quick enough the time I broke my nose. Holding my breath still in my boat, I waited being thrown about by the water. I was waiting to be flushed out of the stopper into the large pool below where I knew I could roll up but I wasn't getting flushed. With this thought in my head, I held on one more moment hoping to feel the surface of the water with my paddle to then roll up, however, running out of breath I pulled my spray deck off to get out of my kayak and try swimming out of this sticky situation. 

Luckily by this point I had been flushed out and was on the edge of the stoppers grasp. As soon as I came up I took a large breath of air grateful to have made it out. I then started swimming to shore aided by my pal Tom. My boat unfortunately didn't get out of the grasp of the stopper and was thrown around before coming out and being rescued by the rest of the crew who also retrieved my blades (paddles), all before reaching 30m down river the looming Backbarrow Death Weir that is "unrunable" in a kayak. Looking back at the footage from Tom’s head cam I'm gutted I hadn't held on a little longer as when I came out my boat I would have been able to make that roll and paddle away in anger rather than swim away in shock. On the other hand, I feel it was a step that needed to be met at one point to make me less intimidated by these rapids and to allow me to focus on what needs to be done to conquer them.
The rest of the descent for me was great although a little chilly due to water coming in through my neck seal on my dry cag as it is split. It’s getting cold now and I’m not sure how many more kayaking session I'll be having before Christmas.