JK Team 17/05/2015 | Posted in 2010 star, Creeking, Whitewater
Fun in China. This is a confession of sorts. I have always had Illusions of Grandeur about whitewater kayaking. I have always considered myself better than I really am. I love the sport and I do work very hard to learn the skills. I am a reasonably capable on Class IV if my skills are current with maybe 40+ runs on the Upper Youghiogheny, also Little etc.
But I am no play boater even though my first Jackson boat was an All-Star. I have always wanted to consider myself better than I really am. I kind of looked down on folks who just paddled Funs or similar boats, they just weren’t working hard enough or they did not set high goals like I do.
Well a strange set of circumstances brought me to China and I did not think I would kayak in China, too many unknowns. On afternoon I was missing kayaking so I searched China Whitewater or Whitewater Kayaking in China. The only thing that came up is Eric Jackson’s blog about coming to China for Spring Festival 2013 kayaking event on the Salween River. I emailed Eric and got in touch with Liu Wen Feng, China’s most experienced Whitewater Instructor known as “The Master”.
Liu invited me to go kayaking and help him with a Clinic over the 5 day National Holiday at a very beautiful village called Sha Wan (sand at the turn of the river) on a beautiful Class II/III river called Da Xi (big creek). The only boat available for me was a Red Fun. I was happy to try it out. After just a short time in the Fun, I realized this is and AMAZING boat. I did not even think about the boat, about balance or about the edges, running in the Fun was very natural, I just go and the boat is there like and extension of my body. After a couple of days I really started to like this boat.
Later I go to Tibet, to the town of Youshu. I bring a Fun Runner and a Fun to donate to a local conservation effort working on protecting the water coming off of the Tibetan Plateau. This is the source of most of China’s water. We will run the Tong Tian River. This is the Highest river on the planet with the whole course of the river from source to confluence with the Yangze occurring above 4000 meters altitude.
The Tong Tian is crystal clear and it is cold. At this altitude a lung full of air has only 50% of the Oxygen that the same breath would have at sea level. After on roll, I sit catching my breath for several minutes and find I only have 2 roll attempts before I absolutely run out of Oxygen.
We scout most of the length of the river over a couple of days then they decide they would like to video me running a low Class III rapid. None of the people on this trip are capable Class III boaters so I agree to run the rapid solo while our video crew shoot some video. The rapid is not hard but the water is cold and there no air so I decide to take the Fun Runner thinking it would be more stable. While running the rapid, I had to ‘think’ about the boat, about turning about the edges and was conscious of having to do this thinking about the boat.
Later, my friend Chris Yuan, who is leading this effort in Tibet, joins me on the river for some nice Class II boating down to the confluence with the Yangze. I trade boats and I take the Fun and let Chris go in the Fun Runner. Out on the water I quickly realize I should have taken the Fun down that rapid. For me boat control in the Fun is so natural. It feel so good just to do what you want to do and not have to think about controlling the boat. The Fun just does what I want it to do and it does it so easily. It is SO MUCH FUN.
I subsequently formed a Whitewater Outfitting company with Liu Wen Feng called China Whitewater. We have about 40 Jackson Kayaks and our student have been using various different Jackson boats. But after running a few Clinics I have come to the conclusion that the Fun series are the best boats for our Beginner, and Novice Clinics so we are ordering 12 new Fun series boats including 7 Funs to be shipped to China soon.
I now I have to apologize to all those people I used to look down on because they just ran in Fun series boats. I realize it is ok not to try to aspire to the level of Eric Jackson or Nick or Dane, which is really nothing more than an illusion for most of us, but rather to just admire these people for their high level of accomplishment and be able to just go out on the river and enjoy it and have Fun.
Oh ya, you can check us out at: www dot chinawhitewater dot com
SYOTR and I will probably be in a Fun !!!