After the rains have come and the opening days of the season passes. The general populations excitement recedes and the cold comes. Ohh the cold. Keeping the pretenders at bay and the fearful huddled fire side.
But there are just a few, a few, who play when every one goes to bed.
Light club is for the hard core, its for the invited. Those who are from the valley and grow tired of waiting frustrated in 15 man line-ups for a surf. Those who seek the darkness to try those 80% fail maneuvers.
It all started back in the early 2000s, a collective once known as “Fat Cats” lead by nut case Ali Marshal, he bought a small petrol generator and lights. I remember having to help get this thing across the river and over the sharp railings guarding the weir bridge so we could illuminate that glorious wave and surf late in to the night. The only problem was the stench of petrol really got up your nose when you surfed.
People move on and light club diversified and numbers dwindled.
Back in 2008 myself and a friend Dan were training for GB selections. Dan was an electrician, I explained Light Club to him, naturally he arrived one evening shortly after with this light he had sourced from a petrol station, it was like turning the sun back on when we fired that bad boy up. We still lugged a generator over to the weir precarious as ever, but now we had a light weight model and it didn’t belch out black smoke. Light club was no longer a petrol bomb disaster waiting to happen.
We would often surf late in to the night and run out of fuel. Stumbling around in the pitch black trying to dismantle lights and a now burning hot generator was crazy but gave us the empty eddys we so wished for.
Times changed, people grew older and had families, some lost the love for kayaking some passed away. I was still thinking about light club but had been on the road for some time.
In my mind 2016 was the start of something great. I got back to the UK from a long traveling stint, I met this dude called Jiri, he had a group of friends who paddled at odd times of the day and he invited me to paddle with them from time to time, they had a facebook chat group. It was simple, if you wanted to paddle you posted when you planned to go and people might join you. Naturally this group got a bit bigger and bigger until someone decided to change its purpose. It became the TVF ( Thames Valley Freestylers ) chat. That’s great but I found myself lumped once again with hundreds of pretenders. You have to sift through mindless drivel about which kayak someone might buy and probably never paddle just to see if anyone actually felt like going for a rip again.
I was at a loss. I needed light club back.
Each year the Thames valley houses a handful of insanely talented and dedicated kayakers. I set up my own private chat “ late night shredders” was born. Simple, but this time I kept the admin tight and invited people who knew would show up regardless of weather conditions and would bring 100% stoke every time. Now armed with futuristic battery powered building site lights we could light the place up in seconds and at multiple angles. Every one had a light. The boys would come out with me in all conditions. Just post on the group, it was like dial a party but for kayaking.
One night I was setting the lights up with one of the boys and my hand stuck to the metal floor of the weir bridge because it was so cold, it was minus 8 and there was six of us out for a rip that night. I remember having to drive home in my dry suit because the zip had frozen up. These are the days I'm thankful to be surrounded by such a dedicated crew.
So what’s become of light club?
It never happened!