BREN’S PARK JAM 2021
Lee Valley, Sunday // 17th October
For those who aren't familiar with the Park Jam, it consists of Bren Orton hosting a kayak jam sesh out on the water where anyone can tag along, chill with Bren, try out some whitewater course challenges or just kick back and enjoy a day of shredding on the water.
This year we had two events taking place, the first at Cardiff International White Water and final at Lee Valley White Water Centre.
So we kicked off the event at CIWW, where after some coffee and driving, we hooked up with friends and co-hosts of the events, Palm Equipment and Pyranha Kayaking. Long term collaborators of the Park Jam.
Once the kayaks were out and the drysuits were on, we headed down to the water to start off the first session of the day, where we were joined by a super pumped team of kids and adults. As we started the day, the water level to begin with was 4/6 cumecs which would rise to 8 cumecs for the later session.
It was ace to see some familiar faces out on the water, and honestly just to be out at an event with friends for the day, especially after the previous year. Bren puts it nicely as he reflects over the event:
“I’ll be honest, I’ve been kayaking on my own a lot since the world turned upside down. It was a little bit spooky at first but then I got used to it and even started to like it, but that’s a whole other side to the sport that is probably best not talked about. On the other end of that is kayaking with your friends.
Laughing, learning, winning, losing, pushing each other and inevitably, sometimes, getting in over your head and having your friends have to help you out. It’s the side of the sport I love most, hanging out on the water with my friends and trying to come up with new lines to hit or tricks to learn.”
And Bren was right, we were super stoked to be there on the day, hanging out with friends and generally just being involved with Bren's Park Jam - third year running now!
There were some super fun challenges and mini competitions that took place over the day, one of our favourites was watching Bren teaching the kids how to front flip / air loop, especially when it was their first time and smashed within their 3rd or 4th attempt - so awesome!
Looking back over the CIWW event Bren mentions:
“Being back on the water at Cardiff was special. We had the entire day there to session. In the morning when the pumps were turned down, it was quiet enough that I could work on teaching specific skills to the kids. Whether that was surfing, catching eddies or hitting rock spins I’m always a bit surprised with just how much you can learn on this little park.
One of my favourite things to teach at Cardiff is the front flip / loop of the docks. Doing it this way means that the kids can try multiple times, get a perfect start to the trick and learn the most important part of the loop, which is snapping back to finish the trick. I’m always shocked at how many kids learn to do it this way and again I think it comes down to them being encouraged by other kids and having a fun environment to learn in. A few kids figured it out and hit their first loops off the dock and I loved seeing their faces as they finished the trick; surprised, stoked and wondering whether that was right as it all happens so fast? I remember that same feeling from a long time ago when I was learning that trick."
One of the highlights was Bren teaching that part of the session to Charlotte, who consistently hit massive air loops off the dock for her first time and for her to be cheered on by her dad from his kayak.
Right after landing her first Air loop! She was so stoked which was so epic to see!
Another fun challenge was Bren teaching how to wall ride, and we got some awesome results! Even the team got involved and tried it out, just look at Janice from Palm go!
Look at George go - cruisin'.
Another favourite from Bren was getting the double kayak out.
"The double kayak is such a unique tool for teaching people and getting their confidence up, we got to work on edging and letting the water slide underneath the kayak, cheers to the little shredder for all the good times!" - Bren
After hitting the water all day, we then headed into the indoor surf room where Bren showed a new edit he’d been working on, followed by a Q&A session and to wrap it up we worked with Palm and Pyranha to hook up the kids with some sweet goodies!
Overall it was an awesome day and it was awesome to see everyone. Afterwards, we packed up and headed up to Lee Valley!
Lee Valley White Water Centre // Wednesday, 10th October
After regrouping with the gang from Palm Equipment and Pyranha Kayaks and the team from Above and Below, we all started to head down to the water where we met up with the kids. To kick it off, we hit up the smaller Legacy park first where Bren sessioned some of the freestyle spots with the kids.
“I’m not too into small, techie freestyle tricks at the moment but the kids at Lee Valley are all about it so I jumped in one of the Above and Below demo kayaks and went out on the smaller Legacy park first to session some of the freestyle spots with the kids.
It was really cool to session this side of the sport again and especially to help the kids hit some of the harder tricks they’ve been working on. A lot of them were at the point that the trick was so close to happening, they just need one or two small tweaks to get it, which is a really rewarding time to be sharing the water and ideas with them.” - Bren
It was awesome to see Bren help those who hadn’t passed their test to go on the bigger park, especially watching them find harder eddies and boof lines to hit.
After sessioning on the smaller legacy park, we all slowly gathered our way to the main and biggest park. Once things started to get going, it was amazing! Most of us watching from the side constantly found ourselves twisting side to side trying to catch all the dope things the kids were doing on the water.
It had been over two years since we last seen the kids and it was insane just how good they all had gotten! Bren found himself giving less and less tips and instead just sessioning and trying to come up with new things to hit with the crew.
"It was magic. Honestly some of the most fun I have had on the water all year.
The best part to it for me was not only seeing all the skills but seeing everyone just having a laugh while doing it, regardless of how good they are in a kayak everyone was trying something new and having a good time doing it." - Bren
After we finished hitting the water, we headed back inside for a catch up with everyone, watched Bren's film followed by a Q&A and gave out gifts!
An awesome 2 days that's for sure. So stoked to be involved and get back out to events like this! Until next year.