Category Archives: White Water Kayaking

2nd Annual Onion River Race & Ramble – June 6th 2015

What a great day for a river race!

If you didn’t know… today was the 2nd annual Onion River Race & Ramble  held on the Winooski River in Vermont. The course started below the Bolton Dam and finished at the bridge in Richmond. This ten mile stretch is a gorgeous scenic cut through the green mountains.

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The morning started out a little chilly for early June but attendance wasn’t affected from the cooler temps. Close to 90 people signed up this year to show their support and have fun at the same time which was almost double the turnout from last year. Umiak Outfitters helped out again by providing the shuttle for the eager participants. Noah from the Friends of the Winooski River led the group with a safety briefing before the heats started.

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Early in the race was the biggest obstacle, a set of rapids and rock garden, that stood between the racers and the flat water below. The tricky eddy lines surprised many paddlers letting them feel the cold temperatures of the Winooski River in June. There were many safety boaters on the water to help people to shore and recover their gear.

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Below the rapids lay many many miles of reasonably flat water on a normal day but today was different. A Northerly wind of 17 mph gave the paddlers a steady head wind most of the trip. At the end of the ten mile stretch you passed under the Richmond bridge and thus the finish line.

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After the racers finished and pulled their boats to shore they celebrated with a feast provided by Richmond Grange and sat down to reflect on the past few hours and enjoy some much needed food.

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All in all the day was beautiful, the people showed up to had fun and the Winooski River was once again conquered…at least for today.

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Big thanks to all the sponsors who without them this event wouldn’t have been possible. Sponsors include Friends of the Winooski River, with support from the Vermont River Conservancy,  Umiak Outfitters , the Vermont Paddlers’ Club , and the Richmond Grange.

Click the link below to view all of the photos from the days events.
Onion River Race & Ramble – June 6th 2015


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How To: Make A Safety Throw Bag (DIY)

A good throw bag is quite expensive and even fairly difficult to find the materials to make. First you have to track down a fabric seller that has Nylon Cordura and Nylon web strapping and then you have to buy all of the other stuff to go with the project as well. Unless you are putting together a dozen or more you may as well buy one.

There is a middle of the road alternative though and that is to make one from a nylon camp chair bag, the fabric is often cordura anyway but is always a close substitute. You can put a good rope bag together this way for under $20.

The first and most important thing you need is fifty feet of 3/8 floating rescue rope. This will cost about $15. You will also need a sewing machine, a seam ripper, some scissors, a couple grommets and setter, and one of those camp chair bags that everyone has in the closet and does not use.


You begin with the seam ripper and take all of the patches and carry handles off of the camp chair bag. These can be used to put a carry strap on your throw bag later if you want. With all of the nylon webbing off of the bag cut it 16 inches from the bottom. Save the draw string and keeper from the top of the bag to be used later. Once you have done that you will see all of the hard work is already done for you.


The first thing to is roll a one inch hem on the top end of the newly cut bag and sew that. I used white thread so it would show up good in the photo but you don’t have to. Just be sure it is very strong nylon thread that you cannot break with your hands.


So with the first hem in you can check the factory stitching on the original bag. If it is good leave it alone but if you suspect it is weak touch it up with a few stitches. Put a small grommet on the new hem be sure to fold the hem to the outside of your bag and put the smooth face of the grommet to the outside as well.


Next take that old draw string from the camp chair bag, and the keeper in hand. Run the string around the inside of your hem and pull the two ends through the grommet hole and put on the keeper. Tie a knot to keep from loosing your keeper. Carefully sew down the hem to the bag. The hem is now an inch or so wide so the draw string does not bind up. Do this slow as it is about the only hard part. Once you have this test your draw string to make sure it works good and that you didn’t sew through it or something.


The next thing to do is to take a piece of closed cell foam and cut it the same diameter as your bag. This makes a float. You can use a swimming pool foam board that you can get at the dollar store like I did or camping mat foam, it doesn’t matter. You also need a 3/8 inside diameter washer. You can just make one from some strong plastic if you like. A detergent bottle makes a great washer.


Once you have those pieces made cut a small hole in the bottom and add another grommet. The best way to do this is to cut a tiny hole with scissors and melt the edges with a lighter so they don’t fray. Add the grommet next. You could reinforce the hole by sewing a bit of nylon web strapping both inside and out and heat up a big metal spike and melt the rope hole if you do not have grommets at hand and have no plan to buy some. This is messy and smelly but it works.


Feed your rope through the bottom bag hole and tie a bowline knot loop and pull the knot back snug to the bag.


Punch a hole through your foam and slide the foam and washer onto the rope and into the bottom of your bag. The washer is simply there to keep the foam from working its way up the rope. Seal everything off with a knot tied as close to the washer as you can get it.


OK; now you’re done. Stuff the rope in and cinch the draw string. You can add nylon carry handles, belts, and plastic clips if you want, but remember whatever you add is just a potential extra to get snagged on a tree or a rock. It is best to just carry it around by the loop. That and it is no good to you strapped to the front of your canoe, keep it close.


As an option if you want to go all out you can find high visibility and reflective strips at most fabric stores you may want to sew some on to your throw bag for the few extra dollars.

Original article from Canoe Canada East

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Geek Beak – Why an Iconic Whitewater Fad Won’t Die

Check out this fun article written by Katrina Pyne of Rapid Media  to learn the history and future of the Salamander visor. If you’ve been around whitewater for a while, you probably have one stuffed away somewhere or maybe even still attached to your old school, but still good, helmet. I know I do. In fact, I rocked it just a few weeks ago on my SUP.

SUP The Winooski 2013 Salamander Visor

In the days when play-boats were more than 10 feet long, freestyle was called rodeo and pirouettes were a hot move, paddlers had a problem.

It was the early ’90s, and the Pro-Tec and Wildwater helmets of the day worked well for protection but nothing for sun protection.

People layered baseball caps under their helmets to add a brim, but the pressure of the hats’ buttons pressing into their skulls meant every paddling session ended with headaches.

Around the same time, Patrick Kruse sat in his Seal Beach, California, basement apartment trying to solve a dilemma of his own: how to launch his startup gear company into the world of whitewater and stand out against other manufactures.

A paddler himself, Kruse had heard complaints about the baseball cap conundrum.

After a two-day flurry of cardboard and fabric cutting and pasting, he emerged with a design that would push his new business into the mainstream.

The Salamander brim was a hit.

For years, every Dagger Crossfire and Perception Pirouette contained a paddler whose helmet had a sticky Velcro strip and colorful, three-inch, foam-filled visor.

It came out in more and more colors and jungle and hibiscus patterns that would’ve made the Fresh Prince proud.

More than two decades later, the same brim comes with the same Salamander logo on the same 600-denier poly-cloth and Volara foam with Velcro-705 molded hooks, as when Kruse first designed it.

It remains on Salamander’s best seller list and is easily the company’s defining product.

In the late ’90s though, helmet companies like Orosi started catching on – modern helmets emerged with built-in brims and started turning heads.

The Salamander does offer one advantage over built-in brims, says current owner, Shane Preston, who’s been with the company for six years. “If a kayaker is upside down, the bill will actually flip back rather than catch the water and yank your head back.”

Today, companies like Sweet Protection, WRSI, Shred Ready and Predator all make brimmed buckets of their own. But Salamander lives on.

The company still sells 2,500 visors every year, although for the most part, it’s not us buying them.

“To be 100 percent honest, it’s the horse industry – they love these things,” says Preston.

Salamander now sells 20 times more brims to its equestrian market  than to whitewater paddlers. The visors fit on riding helmets just as well as they once did on whitewater helmets.

He’s also selling to bike and ski shops.

“For the hot kayaker, not too many kids are wearing them because they’re a little dorky looking,” Preston says. “But they work. You can’t deny that it gives you some nice protection.”

Salamander’s original visor designer Patrick Kruse now runs a company called Ruffwear selling performance dog gear in Oregon.

Three years ago on a hot summer day he was driving down Highway 395 towards Red Rock Canyon when a giant grin spread across his face. On the side of the road he saw a crew of 20 or so road workers, each with a bright red Salamander visor Velcroed to their hardhats.

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