Jack's report of his kayaking trip to the Alps this summer!

I have recently returned from a three-week road trip around Europe whitewater paddling and competing in an International Canoe Polo Tournament armed with my trust BOING bracelets. The trip started off with the long drive from London to L’Argentière-La-Bessée in the South-Eastern French Alps where we would be staying on a campsite at the get-out for the Durance slalom course. I travelled out there with two friends from university, but met up with lots of university clubs who were out there for their annual summer trip. During our time in the Alps we got to paddle on a variety of different whitewater; from the big water of the Ubaye Race Course to the steep and technical Lower Guisane river.

Along with paddling, one of the guys who came out with us is also a keen climber and brought with him three sets of Via Ferrata harnesses and slings. Via Ferrata; latin for “Iron Way” is a protected climbing route consisting of a steel cable which runs along a route and you climb using a series of rungs, ladders and bridges to ascend and descend some spectacular routes. During our trip we spent three of our days out in the mountain, and saw some absolutely amazing views. It was nice to have a break from boating and just get to do something a little bit different, I have done stuff similar to this before but never quite as exposed and as exhilarating. My personal favourite route was the one running alongside the Chateau Queyras gorge which we had just paddled so it was good to see what the section looked like from above.

ViaFerrata

Viaferrata2

Unfortunately, only 6 days into my trip my boat that was brand new before I came out split underneath the seat, which put a bit of a downer on the trip. Luckily I was able to weld the crack up which lasted for a couple of days before splitting again, so I was left paddling a very leaky boat for the remainder of the holiday which wasn’t exactly ideal!

After the French Alps we drove over to Castello in Italy to meet up with the rest of the University of Nottingham canoe polo team where we would be competing in the Franco Baschirotto Memorial Challenge Trophy competition. This was to be my first international tournament in canoe polo and it was certainly great to be playing somewhere where the water actually felt warm! Unfortunately I was quite out of practice in canoe polo after spending many months off the water following the incident with my back but it was good to be back.

During our training week in Italy, we decided to make the trip over to Slovenia for the day while the others explored Venice for the day. What Slovenia didn’t offer in hard technical rivers, it certainly made up for in beautiful surroundings and crystal clear blue water. It is one of the most amazing places I have paddled and the way the area is set up for paddling is brilliant; there are signposts on the roads as well as the rivers for all the put-ins and take-outs. Slovenia also offered up incredible food at the end of our days paddling, and this was definitely one of the most memorable days of our trip!

Back to Castello at the weekend and it was time for the tournament; with the campsite quickly filling up with teams from all over Europe. For our first international tournament with a team that hadn’t played together much we did well to finish in 8th place and the ladies finishing in 5th.

mensteam

CanoePolo

My favourite bands at the moment are the Black Run Double Wrap and the Parrot! Unlike other bracelets the magnetic clasp on Boing bands stays on no matter what the conditions, whether I'm whitewater kayaking, climbing or swimming in rough waters; you don't need to worry about them coming off! I love my Boing Bands and they are on constantly!

Jack