| Ultimate SUP clinics...

I just came back from an incrediblemazing trip to Ottawa's awesome river. The Canada's first Ultimate SUP Challenge is happening this WE hosted by Owl Rafting with some of the best whitewater stand up paddlers on the planet. I left work around 6:00 pm yesterday and drove straight to the camp (which is amazing btw) hoping to enjoy a good night of sleep before what should be a busy day in the water.
nice fire pit at the camp and the van with the roof extended...
Unfortunately that night was really cold (~12ºC) and i wasn't prepared at all so it was pretty miserable to be honest, at least it was great to stay in the van with an open roof for the 1st time since i bought it. The breakfast was filling enough and the view on the river is absolutely breathtaking.
Although the staff didn't really know what was really happening on the SUP side (they are specialized in rafting) and i apparently missed an email from the organizers with all the useful instructions so i ended up following the instructors on their way to the Pushbutton rapids and arrived on site way early, the class i subscribed to would normally start at 11:00 am but the overall schedule slipped out a bit. There is no way i could miss the two clinics offered today, best excuse for a well deserved day-off :)
behind me is Johno Fosters, Starboard rep, ready to surf...
Jonah, Badfish rep enjoying the class...
Dan Gavere is probably the most recognizable name in white water SUP today and he was giving the Introduction to whitewater class. Arriving early was a good opportunity to see the 1st group jumping in the closest (intimidating) eddy and starting to experience the trouble of navigating through chaotic currents, raging foam, rocks and big waves. It's always impressive to see pros at work (true for all sports and domains) because everything they do seem so easy and natural compare to us, mere mortals!
We've learned the foundations of paddling in a river, and how to make efficient use of bow draw strokes, ferry across the stream and do eddy turns in and out. It was great to try, fall, fall again and eventually manage to play in the current, everything that seem impossible or too scary at first became progressively more accessible.  We all enjoyed the class, Dan gave us plenty of information without excess so we could focus on applying the basic techniques step-by-step, and he doesn't care about the clock, what a great job. In the end we were all smiles but also dead tired.
Now it's all about training and the Lachine rapids will be a good playground where i can repeat those fundamentals and get back into shape.
John from Distressed Mullet...
exhausted crew...
The following clinic was about to start as they were waiting for me to catch my breath. I had 5mn to drink a little, eat a cereal bar and realize that i have to go back in the water without any strength left.
Mike T rides for Badfish, he is an amazing SUP surfer who travel the continent with his dog in a large RV and a trailer full of boards. He gave the Introduction to river surfing class, seriously i was completely toasted at this point, but the excitement took over.
Another great moment of learning and practising new techniques, we've all tried hard to surf the Pushbutton wave but it was too small to stay on it (although Mike and Dan did it). I could use the bow draw efficiently to get on the wave many times which felt good, the girls on our team did really well, they seemed to enjoy the class tremendously.
I wish i had the energy to try the big wave on a River Surfer 8' board but my body just shut down, too tired to survive the crazy wave train behind so i choked. And you know, walking over the aggressive slippery rocks with all your equipment and a wet board is enough to make you think twice about the priorities ^_^
Returning home was very loOong and boring, especially after such a beautiful and exhausting day, this trip was totally worth it and i can't wait to meet these guys again, everyone was so helpful and friendly. It's difficult to explain how much i've learned and appreciated the exchange of information and knowledge with all these people, it's a great community and a fantastic sport!
Thank you Harmony, Dan, the staff and all the volunteers for the organization of this amazing event.

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