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Jitsu Impressions!

Posted: 01.20.2015 by Andrew Holcombe

Dagger Jitsu

From the first Radical Play Machine to the next, introducing the Dagger Jitsu!

I am truly honored to be able to write my impressions of the soon to be available Dagger Jitsu, our newest freestyle project!  It's been a little while I know but that wait will be well worth it.  This boat has the full force of the Dagger design team behind and it shows.  I can't recall how many conversations I've had with other Team members, other paddlers and Mark "Snowy" Robertson and that was before we even had a boat to talk about!    Now that the boat has been through the paces, the prototypes, and the evaluation of some of the best freestyle paddlers on the planet I'm so excited I don't even know where to start:)  Here's my best effort, sorry if its a jumbled I really am just that pumped about this kayak!

It seems whenever I get asked about a freestyle boat people always want to know about the Hull Speed for the waves and how big does it loop.  Hull speed.... well I've thought about this and I'm just going to refer to the picture below of a recent test session at Skook.  Notice the compression of where Chris left the water and where he is in the air,  I think we're good on Hull Speed!  

Chris Gragtmans airing it out.

As for looping sometimes that doesn't always go hand in hand with good wave performance.  Not this time.  A huge goal of ours through the entire process was to combine a good wave boat with one that doesn't sacrifice on smaller features that most of us paddle on.  I'm happy to say that not only are the loops big but the cartwheels are very balanced, meaning that you don't feel like you're going to fall on your head on the stern end.  Check out one my earlier test sessions in the first prototype at Big Rocks on the Nolichucky last September:

Dagger Jitsu from Andrew Holcombe on Vimeo.

What I'm really getting at here is the overall and all around awesomeness of this kayak!  It performs on all types of features big (think Skook, the New River Dries, etc..) and small (Big Rocks), its aggressive without throwing you around too much, and its actually alright to sit in for a bit.  Plus with three sizes it'll span the distance of sizes out there.   I'll finish with one more link, this is Rush absolutely crushing it on Skook.  Keep an eye out the Jitsu is coming your way soon!

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Rio Pacuare a Costa Rican gem

Posted: 01.21.2012 by Andrew Holcombe

It's been a solid 10 days of kayaking here in Costa Rica the land of sunshine and amazing rivers. While there are numerous opportunities to paddle all over the country my favorite run so far has been the Rio Pacuare.

The Pacuare has  a long history of kayaking and rafting in Costa Rica with some of the first companies setting up operations in the early 80's.  After spending several days running all the sections I can see why.  First off the Pacuare has an amazing amount of whitewater that is very accessible (for Latin America anyways).  On top of that the variety is second to none.  From the Headwaters to the takeout of the Lower has got to be in the realm of 75-100 miles and there are 5 distinct different stretches that range from class III to fun Class V (as in not too terrifying).  It even has a great classic overnight option on the Lower complete with stays at various different Jungle Camps. 

I'm really drawn to rivers that have such long sections of whitewater that isn't crazy hard.  It gives folks a chance to really get that feeling of moving from source to sea or passing through really distinct sections of rivers.  On the Pacuare the higher up sections are continuous class III while the Upper and the Lower give way to great boulder garden rapids tucked into jungle canyons.  Top this off with some great surf waves and a river that runs year around (you do have to watch the high water in the rainy season) and you've got one amazing paddling zone.  I highly recommend this run to anyone that gets a chance to kayak in Costa Rica.  Enjoy some of the pictures y Pura Vida!

Following Emily into the biggest drop on the Upper Upper

Boofing through one of the endless boulder gardens on the Upper

Arnaldo and Anna leading the way on the Upper

The view looking upstream at the crux of the Upper

Stern squirting on the Upper Upper

One of the many surf spots on the Lower

The scenery ain't bad either.  Anna on the Lower
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Posted: 12.27.2011 by Andrew Holcombe

Although it really doesn't feel like it most days here in the southeast we've officially reached Winter. Winter brings a lot of good things but it can often be a hard time to motivate to go kayaking.

After all snow, sleet, winter mix, or rain when its 35 degrees don't really scream "let's go get wet". 

However if I can get past that some of the best days I've had on the river have been in the Winter.  For me it really brings a different feel, it's often super quite and less crowded.  Often at the end of the day I find myself thinking "now that day was way I kayak".  I find that the secret to good times in the winter is having a good crew.  One that's not only motivated but aware of the extra safety issues that come up when's its cold.  It's not enough for just you to be appropriately dressed everyone needs to have the right clothes and be aware of the short days. 

But again once everyone's on board and making good decisions kayaking in the snow is something special.  I had the chance to get reminded of this a couple of weeks ago with a good rain event here in North Carolina.  I got a chance to paddle the Linville, the Whitewater, the Rocky Broad, and Big Creek.  Felt good to get back on a lineup like that and it was super nice to be some of the only folks on the river.  The Linville and the Whitewater are especially good cause you get out there a little.  Enjoy a couple of photos from the Linville and stay motivated!

Nothing beats a clear, crisp winter day on the Linville. Brian Knight starting the hike down at Babel

Getting dressed at the put-in


Mike Patterson crushing the line at Tower

One of the many amazing views on the river.


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The Green Race and Short Term Memory

Posted: 11.03.2011 by Andrew Holcombe

Green Race! My most anticipated race is right around the corner, first racer at high noon this Saturday. The runs are in, the attainments done, the smack is being laid down, bets made, the list of what surrounds this race goes on and on.

This year is a special one for me as its my first one back on my road to recovering from a herniated disc.  It's been super fun to be a part of everything again and I can't wait to fire out of that start gate.  But that's Saturday and this is today.  I noticed something in the parking lot the other day, after a particular unimpressive display of practice race runs on my behalf.  As I told my story almost every one joined in with a spectacular crash story of their own and many of them were from that day or the one before.  Most of them are pretty funny cause most folks made it out relatively unscathed.  Then I got to thinking, partly from my own experience and from listening to everyone else's tales of the crash, "Man I've got to go back out there tomorrow and do this again".  Then I realized that I'm in this situation every year cause let me tell you the lines are not always there.  I think this is a very common thing in competition, especially in sports that carry a good bit of danger in them.  How do you get back out there after a big crash and move forward?  Some folks say you need to realize the danger and fear to learn from them, I think you need a bit of short term memory loss:) 

That's not to say you don't learn from a mistake but a lot of times you've just got to forget it happened.  Cause you're gonna run the monkey backwards, you're gonna surf the speed trap, you're gonna pin and you're gonna piton Zwicks.  After each one of these things happen you need that short term memory loss to kick in so each run after the crash can be the best one ever.  Make no mistake this doesn't mean forget about the consequences or paddle outside of your ability.  It just means that when you roll out of that start gate the only thought going through your head needs to be

" This is going to be the run of my life!"  So good luck to all you racers and keep your eye on the prize!

Focus on the horizon line and forgot those other runs!

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Eddy Catching 101: let the eddy work for you

Posted: 08.10.2011 by Andrew Holcombe

Hey all hope everyone's summer has been good. It's been a fun one here in the southeast a little on the hot side I suppose but that's just a great excuse to get in the water!

I'm going to take a moment to talk about catching eddies, actually what I really want to talk about is making it easy.  No more almost making it but sliding out the back or struggling to cross the eddy line.  Eddies can turn from your nemesis into your friend by following one easy concept:  Let the eddy do the work!  Often times we work way to hard to get into these things, I've found that if I follow the three straightforward tips below (also illustrated in the videos) those eddies are no longer such a challenge.

Step 1:  Set your angle and paddle. 

Ideally you want to set your angle so that you are pointed downstream but into the eddy.  Then you've got to paddle, you won't make it by just looking:)

Step 2:  Hold that angle and speed all the way into the eddy. 

This is the letting the eddy do the work part.  Oftentimes we are tempted to initiate our turn before we actually get into the eddy which causes our boat to slip or slide along the eddy line.  If you drive your kayak all the way across the eddy line and let the slack water in the eddy begin to turn your boat your problems (well most of them) will be solved.

Step 3:  Paddle through that turn. 

Once the eddy water begins to turn you its important to remember to keep paddling, this provides speed around your corner which also helps stop that sliding feeling.  If you paddle on the inside of your turn it will make your eddy turns silky smooth.  Tip:  Try using a wide stroke like a stern draw or sweep for large eddies or turbulent eddylines this will put you deeper in the eddy.  Try a more vertical stroke like a bow draw or even a regular forward stroke for those small eddies.  Remember these strokes are placed in the eddy not the current

Enjoy the video examples below and happy eddy catching!

Eddy Catching 101: catching small eddies from Andrew Holcombe on Vimeo.

Eddy Catching 101: catching big eddies from Andrew Holcombe on Vimeo.

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