Staff Profile: Meet George
Canoe & Kayak
Also knowledgable in
Wakeboard & Waterski
Triathlon & Swim
How did you get into your sport
I’ve been in the water as long as I can remember. My dad was the chairman of West Yorkshire Canoe Club. As such, I was taken in open canoes even when still in a carrycot, so it was natural that I’d take up the sport. Having said that, until the age of ten or eleven the pool sessions were all that interested me and I saw kayaking as my dads passion, not really mine. This all changed with the release of shorter boat designs that were perceived as ‘cool’ by the younger generation, a stark contrast when compared with Rotobats, Aquabats and Conquests! Two boats that stood out for me when I think about my early paddling years were the Pyranha Attack and Dagger G-Force. It’s not to say these are epic boats in comparison to the modern era but ultimately if kit gets you excited to paddle then it’s more than done its job. Getting back looped and swimming from the Attack on the Woodencroft rapid (R. Tees) in winter is my worst early paddling memory and makes me jealous of all the great equipment available now. Since those days I have been through a significant number of boats and paddled in some fantastic places throughout Europe. During 25+ years in the boat I have always had a close connection with Robin Hood Watersports, both as a customer and now staff. Long may it continue!
2020 Trips planned
I’m hoping to make 2020 a big year with lots of trips both within the UK and internationally. Plans are still to be finalised but the aim would be Italy for the Val Sesia river festival in May, which is always well combined with a few days in Ticino. I have loved my time in Val Sesia both because of the quality of white water and number of UK paddlers who make the trip. The Ice cream and coffee isn’t bad either! After this, Norway would be a dream location that is widely regarded as the mecca for steep and challenging white water in Europe. As I understand it there is a real mix of grades to go at and thus everyone should consider this for a trip, whatever your ability and aspirations.
Favourite location for your sport
As a true Yorkshireman I have to stay local on this one. International trips are great but there’s nothing quote like a day out on our local runs with good friends. The River Swale in Keld has brought me some of the best memories from time on the water so I’d have to choose this as my top pick. It’s a run that has a reputation but I think it’s only due to the multiple waterfalls being quite different from most other UK rivers. If you have a solid boof the grade 3+/4 paddler has little to fear at normal levels and in some ways I would suggest that having a little more water actually makes things easier. In addition, increased flows allow you to extend the trip, either heading up to whitsundale beck or down to Muker.
Well, if you’ve been paddling in the Dales why not drop into the Wensleydale Creamery and sample their epic tasting room. After all, cheese improves your boof! Just be sure to make a purchase.
Memorable last session and why
My last session was paddling on the River Ure at Slenningford Watermill, close to Ripon. This river has great memories for me as I spent many Summers messing around in boats, inflatable dinghy’s and tractor inner tubes when i was younger. In addition, my dad ran the Sleningford slalom in September for over forty years. He still never really managed to get me into that discipline though, although I appreciate the benefits for white water paddlers of the training and resulting boat control. Perhaps it's something i will still get into!
At normal levels Sleningford is grade 2/3 and can form part of a longer trip should your group desire. However, I tend to head there when the levels are high, treating it as a park and play spot. The grade is then 3/4 but the sheer volume of water makes the main rapid feel more intimidating. Some of you might have heard the term ‘Slenbezi’, although this should be taken with a pinch of salt! My last session was at a huge level according to Rainchasers and I took a Pyranha Ripper. This crossover river-play model is perfect to make the most of large standing waves, while also providing the speed to make crosses and eddy sequences. A pure freestyle boat would be epic here and I’ve seen big moves such as Helix and Airscrews on the main waves. Maybe I’ll stick a Pyranha Jed in next time!
Piece of kit that makes you smile
At the moment it’s got to be the Ripper by Pyranha as mentioned above. These are massively popular in store and as a one boat quiver can really progress your paddling. Creek boat front, playful low volume stern and plenty of speed. What could be better!
Advice to customers for progressing and enjoying your sport.
The key here is not taking anything too seriously. Ultimately we get on the water to have fun and whatever your level this MUST be your main priority. If you find yourself lacking motivation to get on the water then why not try a different discipline? Heading back to basics is fantastic and in many ways i think progression is what drives me as a paddler.
Thanks for reading, I hope to speak with you on the phone or in store over a brew!