Easter Weekend - French Alps

   April 2000


We had a great time, lots of sunshine, little rain, great paddling. First we passed by the Goncelin wave on the Isère. Water was a bit low but it did get better in the afternoon. The wave was green and broken, but the broken part was hard to reach. When the water went up and the wave became steeper, up to 80cm high, you could flat spin, 180°, on the green wave and back surf a bit. 

Goncelin wave on the Isère

The pictures show Steven and me surfing the green part. The broken part is more to the center of the river, best way to get there was paddling from upstream. Everyone who attempted to play the broken part, got a good beating. 

Most fun was the green part 'cause it was easy to get on to. I had a good time spinning 180°s  and back surfing.

The Isère, Bourg-Saint-Maurice / Centron

Then we went to paddle the Isère in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Water was also low, 'cause they were working on the dam and it was open all the time. That natural flow gave us about 20 cbm's on the Isère, low but fun, and not always that easy. Some parts were a bit to quiet, but on those we didn't pass a rock without doing a splat, didn't pass a wave without having a surf, ....

WW-course in Sault-Brenaz

When we finally ended up on the course in Sault-Brenaz, we did some great hole riding. Lots of Belgian folks there, lots of sunshine, the not-paddlers trying out some hydrospeed, everybody happy... 

Here you see Mark showing off in his Pinball, great little fun boat, especially in this shallow hole.


This was pic of the week, Frank initiating a vertical cartwheel, but it's very unlikely for this move to succeed, 'cause it's there 's lots of chance in hitting the bottom.  Nevertheless it looks like a good start.

The last day I did some boat testing. Checked out the Medieval, Mr Clean, Pinball, XXX and Disco.

Down here you see me in squeezed in Steven's Triple X. It's a wonderful boat if you can fit in it. Flat wheels succeeded almost immediately. This was the first time it went that easy for me. Then I took it on a 30cm high wave that was only breaking a bit. It was incredibly loose, felt like I was sitting on a dinner plate and spinning.

In the bigger hole you see on the pic, it didn't do as well as the Disco and the Mr Clean, not that it isn't that good, but the low volume ends tended to go under, going more vertical into mc twist and cartwheel. And that wasn't possible in this hole. So I had to work a bit to keep this baby flat. You also need to keep it the XXX  upright to prevent the hard chines from catching the flow. But that was no problem. This was definitely the boat I liked the most, unfortunately my feet didn't agree.

Next up was the Riot Disco, great little spinning machine, as loose as the XXX, maybe more, very fun in shallow playspots. But suddenly, a Dutch girl, a Europagaai-kayak-course-student, coming from upstream, crashed into the hole which I was riding. Because she came so suddenly out of the blur, I couldn't get out of the hole. She being a beginner couldn't avoid me. She just paddled in without stopping or looking.  And I don't know why but all I remember was she sticking her paddle out in front of her, smashing the blade right onto my left eye, and me straight into the hospital. Hé, it's nobody's fault, just an accident.
Everything went black for a moment, when I handrolled back up, got to shore, all I saw and tasted was blood. The girls' instructor helped me onto the dry. She swam to the other shore and that's all I ever saw of her.
Finally the eye is ok, just needed 5 stitches on my eyebrow, and it was so badly swollen, that I couldn't open it anymore. It was so blue that's it became really spooky.

(Could I ask the paparazzo's, that made some photo's of the result of the crash, to mail me some of their pickies? If the Dutch girl ever reads this, feel free to react.)


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