Name: Jon Wyles
Kayaking ability: Questionable
4th year Geography student at St Andrews. Grade 3/4 uni boater with 3 years experience.
I’ve never owned my own boat, almost entirely due to lack of funds and also due to the fact that the University has quite a large inventory of boats. I first frequented an old Liquid Logic Huck, which saw me through the first few trips I’d been on. This unfortunately was involved in a swim on a high Knaike while in use by another member of the club who shall remain unnamed (James McMahon), and was not seen again.
Above: Me on my first river trip (Grandtully), on one of the Huck’s last voyages. Photo: Jonny Hawkins
From there I paddled a Dagger Nomad, which saw me through quite a few rivers. A large, very forgiving boat.
Colour coordinated doing an early tuck on Right Angle Falls, River Etive. Photo: John Rothwell
One day the club purchased a large blue Karnali, which I instantly claimed as my own. This boat is massive, with its dimensions regularly compared to that of a container ship, but it is a fantastic, confidence inspiring boat that is dependable when things get a bit choppy. Saw me through two weeks in the Alps. The club then splashed out on a Fluid Bazooka, which, although still large was the first time I’d really paddled anything that wasn’t a massive creek boat. It’s incredible for surfing as well as river running, but the edges can take a bit of getting used to. Lastly, when surfing in St Andrews, I use a Pyranha 7-0. Great fun.
Taking the container ship down the Meig. Photo: Jon Harwell
I also tried canoeing once. It didn’t go well.
Room for improvement. Photo: Sam Roberts
Yet again, I don’t own a paddle, for reasons aforementioned. Slightly less of a wide range of good paddles in the club, but still plenty to go round. Amazingly, the club owned a carbon paddle, light and powerful, which I took to the Alps as well. I forget the model. Unfortunately this also was involved in a sticky incident up against the grill at Pinkston (don’t ask) and was spewed out of the pumps in lots of little pieces. It’s now on my mantelpiece. These days I grab whatever I can in the pre-trip packing frenzy.
I actually do own one of these, so this article is not just all about me describing various pieces in the St Andrews inventory in not much detail. Funnily enough, I can’t remember what it is. Time for a bit of Googling. Palm Axis. I’ve had it for three years, and got it for two reasons. It looked good on my friends and it was relatively cheap. It’s heavy duty, gives good freedom of movement and has a quick release harness which has come in handy on several occasions. Also has a large pocket on the front, full of empty chocolate wrappers, various pieces of kayak and a sling and crab.
Excited for kayaking. Photo: Kathryn Haddick
First piece of kit I acquired. Black Shred Ready Half Cut. Great value for money helmet, the majority of scratches on it can be attributed to time spent in the back of vans over the course of three years, but I tell people it was from kayaking. Shhh don’t tell anyone.
A club member purchased one and then a week later decided he wanted a drysuit, so I attained a Peak Creek Dry Cag for relatively cheaply. The best piece of kayaking kit I’ve owned. Bombproof, thoroughly recommended. It also matches my BA.
Strutting my stuff on the Allt A’ Chaorainn. Photo: Kathryn Haddick
Spraydeck – Whatever I can grab in the pre-trip packing frenzy.
Thermals – A non-descript thermal top. Sometimes it gets washed. Usually it doesn’t.
Boots – Lomo Aqua Boots. Incredible value for money, have lasted me three years.
Wetsuit trousers – Again, Lomo. I regret not buying a drysuit when it snows.
GoPro – New Entry Level GoPro. Got it for Christmas, hasn’t been on a river yet.
Crab and sling – Left unclaimed in the back of a van once. They’re mine now.
The Club. Photo: Canoe St Andrews
I’ve had a great time as a member St Andrews University Canoe Club, and the kayaking hasn’t been too bad either.