Kayaks East Hartford CT

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Collinsville Canoe & Kayak
41 Bridge St (Route 179)
Collinsville, CT
The Happiest Paddler
(860) 267-1764
70 North Main St
East Hampton, CT
Collinsville Canoe & Kayak
(860) 693-6977
41 Bridge St
Collinsville, CT
Connecticut Sea Kayakers
Po Box 571 Plantsville
Plantsville, CT
Eastern Mountain Sports Danbury Fair Mall
Danbury Fair Mall
Danbury, CT
Hales Shad and Outdoors
(860) 529-5282
273 Meadow Road
Rocky Hill, CT
Collinsville Canoe & Kayak
(860) 693-6977
41 Bridge Street
Canton, CT
Collinsville Canoe & Kayak
(860) 693-6977
41 Bridge Street (Route 179) Collinsville
Collinsville, CT
North Cove Outfitters, Inc.
(860) 388-6585
75 Main Street
Old Ssaybrook, CT
The Trading Post
(860) 354-3276
314 Kent Road
New Milford, CT

"Young Guns" Dominate US Freestyle Kayak Team Trials

"Young Guns" Dominate US Freestyle Kayak Team Trials

Dane Jackson lands a "clean blunt"
Photo: David E. Klutho/SI

Jason Craig wows the crowd
with a front flip

Photo: David E. Klutho/SI

"He just kept rapid-firing tricks all the way through the buzzer"

Missoula MT played host to an old-west style shoot-out this weekend as the US Freestyle Kayak Team trials were held at Brennan's Wave on the Clark Fork River. It wasn't exactly high-noon at the OK corral and absent were the Hatfield-McCoy like bitter rivalries, but the "Young Guns" certainly came out with both barrels blazing. When the dust settled and the final points were tallied both the mean's and women's teams were announced. The 21 men, women, and juniors are set to represent the United States at the International Canoe Federation Freestyle Kayak World Championships in Platting, Germany next summer.

The future looks especially bright for the US team. The trials were dominated by a couple of 16 year old guys, Dane Jackson and Jason Craig, along with 14 year old Jr. women's competitor Lauren Bess. These "Young Guns" should represent the US very well in Germany next summer and for years to come.

Dane Jackson, 16, not only qualified but outright topped the winner's stand in three classes, OC-1, C1 and Junior Men. In fact, Jackson's rides in the junior men's events were among the top-scoring rides of the entire competition. A flurry of McNasty's and Space Godzilla's in both directions, a barrage of loops, lunar orbits and more scored 1250. Jackson said that coming into the event he had hoped to make all three teams but surprised even himself by being the first place finisher in all three classes. Jackson also won top honors in all three classes in the USA Freestyle Kayak Point Series translating into three national crowns.

Jason Craig, the reigning Junior Men's Champion, put himself in a unique position when he competed in the Senior Men's semifinal on Saturday because the event also served as the final event of the national point series. Craig's 1265-point ride stunned the crowd and propelled him to a second place finish in both the event and the Senior Men's point series. Though he earned a spot on the Men's team Craig rescinded that spot because as reigning Jr. Men's World Champion he already has an automatic entry into the World Championships and he is looking forward to defending that title.

In an ironic twist, the seat Jason Craig gave up allowed Bryan Kirk to claim the final spot on the Sr. Men's team. Kirk is the man who finished ahead of Craig in the national point series to become the 2010 point series National Champion.

Dominating the junior women's division was 14-year-old Lauren Burress whose top scores in both rounds of competition were more than double that of the second-place finisher. Burress's prelim round ride of 440 would have qualified her for the senior women's finals.

In the OC-1 finals the top three finishers making the US...

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Computers by Kayak

Computers by Kayak

Kayaks have been used to deliver a lot of things. Whales come to mind, as do fish. Computers don't usually top the list.
But that's what Richard Smith -- a former elite special-forces officer from Scotland's Royal Marines, now turned IT manager for Oracle -- did on his Northern Lights Expedition to Greenland this summer. As part of his missive to raise awareness about global warming, he used his sea kayak to deliver laptop computers to Inuit children. Doing so, he reasoned, would enable them to better learn about the crisis by interfacing with partner organization thinkquest.org, while also becoming pen pals with students in Scotland.

Forget for a second the oddity of having a keyboard in your cockpit. Playboaters reserve such space for beach balls, designed to heighten loops not awareness about the global thermometer. Sea kayakers use the spot for drybags, camera cases and binoculars.
Not Smith. He carried the laptops during the entire course of his three-week, 300-mile foray along the country's coast.

Actually, he quickly found that his cockpit wasn't the best place for his school kids' laptops, hauling them instead in the hold of his 18-foot sea kayak. "The rear hatch was the only other place we could fit them," he says.

Using kayaks for their eco-friendliness, Greenlandic tradition and to support their message of raising environmental awareness, in all he and partner Craig Mathieson delivered three of the machines to schools in the southeast Greenland villages of Isortoq, Sermiligaq and Kungmiut, settlements only accessible by boat. He then registered the children with ThinkQuest to facilitate lesson plans, forum discussions and media file exchanges on climate change, which locals are experiencing first hand. "The laptops are merely a tool to help us link the Inuit schools with western schools and our partner site," he says.

No matter that the 37-year-old ex-Marine with a PhD in astrophysics had to dodge icebergs and polar bears along the way, while making up to 30 miles each day. Most of us would have been coveting a bottle of Glenfiddich as our most precious cargo on such an expedition, not computers. But Smith saw them as the best way to connect kids from different cultures.

And they did so while dealing with rather unorthodox paddling conditions. Steep-sided fjords and undulating geography created weather as incompatible with forecasts as Macs are to PCs. "The weather changed in minutes," says Smith, "from sunshine and calm to cold winds and confused seas."

Each afternoon, the ice cap heated up like a micro-processor, creating up to 30-mph winds. They also had to watch out for the dreaded Piteraq, winds that can top 210 mph, and fight 10-foot-high tides. Then came mazes of icebergs that threatened to smash them into smithereens with each passing stroke. They also created tsunami-like waves that sent them surfing as fast as the school kids would soon be doing on the Internet.

We can ...

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