The British Columbia Wild

What a hectic summer so far! Things have been high paced with the first three world cups, Pan-Am Games Torch relay, Cam's Silver medal in the Pan-Am Games being packed in to 30 days! Following the Pan-Am Games we traveled to Canada's most precious landscape: British Columbia, for the Canadian national championships.

The 2015 nationals, hosted in Chiliwack, British Columbia, meant paddling on a beautiful natural river and camping off the grid. The opportunity to disconnect for a quick week was well received by us and our teammates. Perhaps our favourite slalom races are the ones where you simply camp in the woods, cook your oatmeal in the morning, and get on the water to see just how fast you can paddle your canoe. That's bliss.

Here's our side of the lens throughout the week :).

The Smedley morning oatmeal!
Credit: Liam Smedley
All kayakers have a piece of light my fire with them
Credit: Liam Smedley

Liam's early work in Fabric Architecture ;)
Credit: Liam Smedley

Egg sandwiches for Race Lunch
Credit: Liam Smedley

Cleaning time!
Credit: Liam Smedley

Loving the Pack-Up Bottle
Credit: Liam Smedley

Thanks so much to the Light My Fire team! With our new gear we packed more efficiently than ever before. Everything we needed simply packed into our Lunch Kits, pack up bottles, and assortment of sporks :).

Smedley Canoe managed to claim 1st, Cam, and 2nd, Liam, in Canoe Singles men for the third consecutive year. More importantly: we struck gold with our Ontario teammate Ben Risk in the Canoe Single Men Team Race! This is our favourite event at the national championships and every year we are closer to the kayaks! This year only a couple seconds out. We'll get them next year!

Here's some of the action !

 Cam on his way to the 2015 C1 Men National Title
Credit: Rfort Fotos

Liam laying down his Silver run behind Cam
Credit: Rfort Fotos

Liam Smedley, Cameron Smedley, and Ben Risk. C1 Men Team (Ontario) Gold
Credit: Rfort Fotos
What a week. Excited to return to British Columbia next spring for our Olympic Team Selections in Rutherford!

Next time on Whitewater hunters: we travel to the artificial slalom courses of Spain and France to compete among the world's best and test how well a spork works as a canoe paddle ;).

Happy paddling,

Liam & Cameron Smedley
"Smedley Canoe"

Canadian Spring - Come Hell or High Water

Come Hell or Highwater VII

Let the Light My Fire and Smedley Canoe adventures begin! 

         This past weekend we returned to our home waters in the Ottawa Valley, for the annual Hell or High Water race on the Petawawa river. This race started seven years ago to raise awareness about the proposed damming project from the Xeneca group on the Petawawa river. The race has now grown to become one of the largest whitewater races in Canada, tipping over one thousand people in attendance for the 6th edition last year. The Petawawa is also now one of the few rivers in Southern Ontario that remains largely untouched, running through the famous Algonquin park. With a passion for free flowing rivers and the beautiful landscape of the Canadian wild Cam and I look forward all year round to putting our names down on that start list. We race to raise awareness. To push our limits. To keep searching for faster lines and bigger whitewater!

Working our Swedish Fire Knife to stay warm the night before the race

LMF Tinder picking up flame

Our adventure this year traveling up to the town of Petawawa was similar to other years, very last minute! Cam arrived in from London, England on the night of Friday May 8th and we were on the shore of the Petawawa the morning of May 9th ready to go. With little to no time to practice the river or the lines for the larger rapids we find ourselves exploiting our slalom expertise. Taking the big rapids and breaking them down into the little turns, feather strokes, and rocks to avoid. Our training on the slalom national team pays off in this respect as we set down some of the fastest times ever recorded in the race with only one practice run under our belt.

The main hydraulic on "Lovers" with a Slalom Race Buoy hanging behind.
At the end of the day Cam and I had completed 2 fulls runs of the race course, one straight downriver and one slalom run taking us around six minutes to complete each run. The downriver race is quite simple: fastest boat to the bottom wins! The rapid captured above is near the end of the race course which means you are tired and set to get beat down if you make the wrong move. 

The slalom race is where each kayaker must enter each "eddy" where an orange buoy is hung as fast as they can while completing the whole race course. This usually being Liam's faster category he came out with second place overall. 

Finally, we both competed in the most prized event at Hell or High Water: the Boater-cross. For this event twenty or more paddlers start on land and sprint to their boats, hop in, and then its a full contact race through "Lovers" and "Catwalk", the final two rapids of the downriver race course. We barely missed the win this year with Cam placing second and Liam third. We needed to be more aggressive in our contact but a good race nonetheless. Your adrenaline definitely runs on a completely different level when you're coming in fast to a big water rapid with a horde of boats behind you ready to smack into you in order to take the lead. We love it.

Liam contemplating the line on the most challenging rapid "Lovers"
The winning line must be perfect. Perfection takes time.
How to paddle the rapid with a LMF spork?

Riverside breakfast cereal to recover from the race
Let's hope for a snowy 2016 winter, a big melt, and bigger whitewater. HOHW VIII, we'll be waiting.

See you on the river,

Liam & Cameron Smedley


Hell or High Water: Website | Twitter | Results