Cardiff has quickly become one of my favorite whitewater centers to visit. A little bit of that is because I have learned some of the local free ride moves down the course, partly because the staff and the locals have created such a brilliant and welcoming atmosphere but mostly because I think Cardiff whitewater course has one of the strongest contingencies of mini senders in the world.
As this whitewater course is fairly local to the Palm Equipment HQ ,I have visited the course a decent amount, met a lot of the local kids before and at the risk of sounding like an overly proud parent, it is always so awesome to come back and see their progression.
I was thoroughly looking forward to this stop of the Park Jam and it did not disappoint. I got to kayak with an awesome crew of the regular young kayakers and got to meet a couple of new ones.
By and large we mostly just sessioned the entire course, hitting some freestyle moves, throwing down river tricks and just generally having a wicked time. Once again there was a mix of abilities and some of the kids were exceptionally talented and just crushed it all day, others were a little bit more timid.
The below photo is of a young shredder who whilst being a good kayaker, was struggling a little bit with hitting his lines and inevitably ended up getting swept up onto the blocks, getting pinned and swimming. I watched him courageously try and keep up with the rest of the kids and drag himself out of the water after each swim with a smile on his face ready to try again. On one lap I let the other kids do their thing, told him to follow me and took him down the course. Looking back and seeing the concentration on his face as we sent it down each rapid was awesome but the smile and the stoke on his face when he made it to the bottom successfully firmly eclipsed that. I remember being scared at the whitewater park and struggling, and so it was awesome to play a small part in helping this young shredder find his wings on the course. He crushed some laps after this with the rest of the kids and nailed his lines – super cool to see!
After lunch we held a BoaterX event, which was a brilliant conglomeration of unbridled youthful enthusiasm, strategic racing, stoke, carnage and chaos. I was particularly impressed with young Brogan holding her own against the bigger kids and finishing in the top 5.
I showed the kids our latest Send film and gave out some prizes, which finished an awesome day on the water at Cardiff.
Ultimately grass roots involvement, getting young people on the water and creating a welcoming, support full and fun community is paramount to the success of a center and the sport. I think that the locals and staff at Cardiff have nailed it, thanks again for an awesome day dooods!
Thanks to Justin Bunn for the sick photos!