The first time I sat in a 9R I hated it. It felt unstable, the back rest wasn’t supporting me at all, I felt too high in the water, vulnerable and tense.
Fast forward 5 months and I own one. We were at the Tryweryn in North Wales recently, as rain was scarce in Scotland and on the 4th or 5th run down I was convinced to try the 9R again. If we’re being 100% honest…I was sitting in an eddy in my hand me down Pyranha B2 when this kayaking mermaid battered into the same eddy, looking wild eyed and beautiful, whooping and beaming. She began chattering to me about being in love with the 9R but she hadn’t needed to. Her glee for the boat was contagious and I figured why not give it another go!
In 10 minutes the 9R was borrowed from Ferg with foot plate adjusted, bum in seat and a couple practice rolls in, I was ready to go. As soon as I grabbed the first eddy I knew I was going to feel differently about the boat this time round. I was flying through the water, hit the top of the eddy and snapped in like you wouldn’t believe, almost capsizing but catching it. Pulling out of the eddy, edging the boat with ease, I peeled down the next rapid with a massive grin blooming across my face.
The 9R is the kind of boat that forces you to correct bad habits or poor paddling. It begs to be driven well, my hips, legs and feet seeming to play a bigger part in my boating than before. I’m beginning to realise I can muscle the boat around, so long as I engage my body correctly and combine it with strong or well timed strokes. My paddling ability and style is still very much in it’s infancy but I think the 9R has arrived for me at the correct time. It’s time to push hard and rid myself of ineffective paddling moves.
Reasons why I love the 9R so far:
– It is a dream to drive
– I feel more connected to the boat
– I can aim at massive holes and cut through/over them
– My confidence is increasing with every paddle
– It looks stunning
– It’s really freaking fast
– I feel the most comfortable and bad ass I’ve ever been in any boat
With France in only 10 days I’m feeling confident. I’ve been reading the write ups and watching the videos of the rivers we’ll be tackling and know that when I get there I may be initially nervous but I’ll remind myself that I have faith in my abilities, I have faith in my equipment and I have faith in the group I’m going with.