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Garry Boater X – why you should be there next year!

This is my third year at the Garry Boater Cross (X) second year competing and I’m here to tell you why you should be signing up for next year’s race!

The Organisers

Before I start talking on anything else, big shout out needs to go to everyone who helps make this event a success.  Daryn Hubbucks and Kev Barclay have been running the events since 2012 (I believe), supported by Gavin Miller and Howard Aspinall. The amount of effort they put in clearly shows in the smooth running and excellence of the event.  There is so much work put in behind the scenes from t-shirt’s ordering to organising running order, ferrying about podiums, arranging prizes and trophies, ensuring everyone is looked after on and off the water and about a million other things, as well as, competing in the event itself!  The guys’ whole families get involved and without these wonderful people events like this would not be possible.  Thank you!! 

It’s thanks to Kev, Daryn, Howard, Gav and friends that these events are such a success.

The Location

The past few years’ people have stayed in Cumbernauld’s Campsite in the town of Fort Augustus. It’s a beautiful town with only a few pubs and some really quaint wee shops including a wee jewellery shop called Iceberg Glass where they blow stunning glass creations like the Jelly Fish pendants I’m currently coveting.  People are very friendly and it’s not too far from the Garry.

The Set-Up

The setup is perfect.  If you arrive Friday afternoon as a lot of folk do you will congregate somewhere on the campsite to help draw names from a hat (plastic bag!) to see who you will be racing in the first heat.  Depending on how you place in the first race will determine your placing in the next race until your final where there is everything to play for because everyone has the chance to place on the podium for your heat.

Male champions Michael Brown, Gavin Miller and Ewan Campbell took 1st, 2nd and 3rd at this year’s event

The People and Atmosphere

This year there were 17 women and 42 men racing and it was glorious.  I was feeding off the energy that everyone was exuding, trying to calm people’s nerves and generally having a great time with everyone I met.  Everyone is honestly so supportive and the atmosphere is addictive.  When you’re nor racing you spend some time on the ‘cheering rock’ in the gorge of the bridge at the finish line, shouting words of encouragement to your fellow participants, inspiring them across that finish line!

Mulling around between heats (c) Linda Stewart

The Race

The race starts at 12 and is every hour after this.  When I took part in the race last year I was sh**ting myself.  I always seemed to put pressure on myself to do well, despite not having trained or even having the desire to race competitively.

Ride that wave (c) Linda Stewart

Coming back a year later I had managed my own expectations and had two ambitions.  To go as fast as I possibly could and to stay upright because I knew a capsize would place me out of the race.  Of course it is competitive as it’s a race but everyone plays fair and I’ve never had any problems myself with any of the other racers.  As soon as the whistle or shout ‘Go!’ is sounded everything else turns off and you race your wee heart out as fast as you can, trying to avoid a tussle that could slow you down!  Once in the gorge you use the flow to catch your breath before powering it down the rest of the course to a cheering finish line.

(c) Linda Stewart, GBX 2017

The prizes

Everyone who enters of volunteers on the day recieved a goody bag with a Garry Boater X t-shirt, stickers, juice, packet of crisps and a chocolate bar.  There is always a raffle of some kind at the end using bibs to choose a lucky winner and most of the podium placed winners receive a small prize of some sort.  This particular year the trophies were out of this world created by Jennifer Hartnett and I am beyond stoked to have one sitting on my sideboard at home!

Stoked and disbelieving Danger

The After Party

This year’s after party was not as legendary as previous years as the council have upped the licence costs of local businesses in the area and the Campsite staff couldn’t afford to open the Campsite Bar/BBQ as before, however, that didn’t stop most of us having a boogie and beer underneath a gazeebo in the Campsite grounds, with some attempting a mini pub crawl around Fort Augustus.  Hopefully we’ll be back to normal next year but safe to say the people make the party anyway.

Well deserved pints in our GBX 2017 tees

If you are having reservations about entering please don’t! This event is completely accessible to everyone no matter how long you’ve been paddling. An example of this at both Garry Boater X and Tully X this year was Andreana Caldwell entering and competing after only paddling a couple of months. She felt supported and energised by the events and would also recommend to everyone!

Andreana crossing the finish line at Garry Boater X 2017

Remember you can do your bit by sharing the Garry Boater X and Tully X events, offering assistance to the guys (as I’m sure there are numerous jobs they’d love help with) and simply signing up to give it a bash, ensuring it’s continued success!  See you all July 2018 

Hugs aplenty! Suzy and Danger (c) Linda Stewart

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The Pyranha 9R

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!

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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.

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