Sunday, December 17, 2006

Feeling Blue

So the past few weeks i have been working with Juliana towards getting her ready to pass her Blue Card Test for Dickerson. For those who are unaware Dickerson is a whitewater course that was built for athletes to train for the Barcelona Olympics back in '92. It was built in the cooling water outflow of the Dickerson powerplant (coal burning plant, currently owned and operated by Mirant). Although it is not very big (900 feet long, 200-600 cfs depending on power plant operation) the course provides some excellent challenges for local paddlers. I can go on and on about how awesome Dickerson but i'll save some space here. Feel free to email me for more info.

Anyhow Liquid Adventure Kayak School (run by Tom McEwan) holds excellent weekly workout sessions there. Contact them (or me) for more information. Experienced boaters can also take what is known as the Blue Card Test to gain more or less unrestricted access to the course. Once you have the blue card you can come just about any time (with another blue card holder of course!). The test involves catching ten eddies (5 at the top of the course, and 5 at the bottom) and getting in 2 rolls in moving water. But alas the test is quite difficult for most!

Mark and i passed ours over the summer. I've since decided to help out as many people as i can. Jules has been doing absolutely wonderfully, making quick improvements! Today Mark came with us and, since he can't paddle, agreed to coach from the shore and take video.

Here are some of the videos he took. Unfortunately it was very crowded so it was difficult to get a lot of full runs on video. But these videos show each of the moves, as well as some mistakes. Hopefully we can get more complete runs recorded another time. I won't go into too much detail about how the test works, if you are interested feel free to email me. I'll just describe each video:

I'll start with the top section of the course. This part of the test is generally considered to be a lot easier than the bottom.

Here Scott catches eddy number three, four, then five. Eddy number 5, next to the stairs, is the most challenging move at the top part of the test. You can see that he surfs the back of the v-hole over and paddles hard into the last eddy.

Scott at top

Juliana makes the move from eddy 1 to eddy two and then demonstrates a beautiful roll as she peals back out to head to eddy three. Scott catches eddy four then eddy five. This time he surfs the meat of the hole and as you can see catches the eddy much higher. Juliana follows and does a similarly nice job. The current between eddies 4 and 5 is pushing hard from left to right but the move is from right to left. So surfing the hole makes it a lot easier to get far enough left.

Juliana and Scott at top

Jules has caught the 2nd eddy, does her roll, catches an extra eddy, then moves on to #3, 4, and 5. Very nicely done:

Juliana at top

Next are some videos from the bottom part of the course:

Here Jules has caught the first eddy and is pealing out to do her roll. Although this is the best place to do your roll Jules demonstrates a crucial mistake here. She sets up nicely and rolls in the right spot. However, she flips herself on her downsream side. As you can see this means that it takes a much much longer time for her to flip over completely so she barely rolls up in time to hit the next hole and has no time to adjust her angle, hitting it with no speed. Oh and the pin at the bottom is just for entertainment... sorry Jules!!!

Juliana at bottom

In this next video i've just caught the first three eddies (you're going to just have to trust me on that!!). I've just pealed out of eddy number 3 to head back to eddy 2. This may seem like extra work but it makes the move into eddy 4 a lot easier. Much better to do the ferry from the bottom of eddy 2 into 4 instead of trying to make that sharp C-turn from 3 to 4:

Maggie at bottom

Here i catch eddy 1, then peal out and catch eddy 2. Notice that as i head down to the v-hole i aim to hit about center, with left angle. The corners are rather elevated and can easily stern squirt you if you are not careful. The center of the hole is actually flatest and easiest to punch without getting stalled. Also notice that i catch eddy 2 pretty low, right next to Kibbler's hole. There is a fairly calm spot in the eddy there and it gives me time to breathe without getting railroaded back into the v-hole. After a quick breath i paddle out into the v-hole to surf it across to eddy 3. Notice that i angle away from the wall, to hit the hole a few feet from river left. Again, this makes it easier to get a good ferry angle and keeps you from getting pushed into the steepest part of the hole. The move from 2 to 3 is pretty easy, just let the hole do the work for you! Really you want to spend more time in the eddy than i did here but i was in a hurry to get out of Andy's way. I had intended to surf the v-hole back to #2 but no problem, just surf the back of Kibbler's instead! The move to eddy 4 is then pretty straight forward. Finally eddy 5! All a lot easier to do in a creekboat!!

Maggie at bottom

Patrick makes catches eddy 2 nicely (notice how he goes down the tongue and punches the hole with left angle near the center). I think he was planning to surf back to eddy 2 but unfortunately entered the hole too high (easily done as the eddies railroad you into themeselves) and looses his angle.

Patrick at bottom

Again, in this video Scott surfs from 2 to 3, back to 2 and then on to 4 and 5, very nice job!!

Scott at bottom

This time Scott's run was not so great. Gotta provide this one for the entertainment value! Seriously though it is good to learn from. So he catches the eddy fine and executes a nice upstream flip to do his roll. Unfortunately he rolls up facing upstream which screws up his approach angle to the v-hole and he ends up hitting it on the left, where it is steepest, inevitably causing him to get endered. Obviously in this case he could not avoid this and also had very little speed going into the hole. Nonetheless remeber that the center is actually friendliest in this case! Also excellent job done working his way out of Kibbler's. Sure it's quite the rodeo ride but you can see how he really works with his paddle to spin himself toward the weakest part of the hole and works his way out!!

Scott at bottom

Good luck to those working on the test, i know you can all do it!!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Maggie and Mark for taking the time to put this together & for your many helpful suggestions !
This is a great way to learn from my oh so many mistakes.
I can't wait to get out there again & hit those 10 eddies in style.

11:46 AM  

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