It’s been a long ride with many ups and downs but in the end I’m beyond stoked with the outcome. 34 new rivers, 10 first descents, and many new lifelong friends. South America has provided the experience of a lifetime, I’ll be forever grateful and glad for all the long hours of work that paid for this adventure. From the jungles of Brazil to the deserts of northern Chile then South down the country to deep Patagonia.
It’s no secret that in the world of paddling, females are the minority. Therefore it is very hard for us to find comfort in most paddling kits, as they are generally tailored to a male figure. I’m sure many ladies will agree with me that finding a snug fitting yet practical drysuit is probably one of the most challenging parts of being a paddler. But as the female paddling community continues to grow, the increase in women’s kit means a huge improvement in the overall experience for us all.
When I first began kayaking, I was 13 years-old and strongly against cold weather paddling. It only took a couple of winter club trips to persuade my Dad that a wetsuit just didn’t cut it. When choosing my first suit, I felt DamX was the best option, as their suits are made to measure. I loved my suit, but as I progressed, I found it to be restricting, mainly due to its weight.
“Ooh I love the colour”, “Such a pretty drysuit!”, “It matches your boat!”
These are comments that I’ve had about my Immersion Research Shawty drysuit which I’ve been using for the past couple of months. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colour but I also think it’s a great bit of kit and am disappointed that no one’s asked me why I actually bought it rather than assuming I got it because it’s purple!
Here’s my tuppence worth:
I’m 5ft 3, size 10/12 with short (T-Rex!) arms and I have a medium Shawty. I use my drysuit for coaching (when it’s cold), WW Kayaking, “freestyle” (being upside down a lot!), SUPing and bizarrely, rescuing sheep!
The Arch Rival drysuit gets an upgrade and it’s looking pretty good. We are hoping to get one in for review.
The Arch Rival Rear Zip Dry Suit is one of Immersion Research’s hardest working garments and certainly one of the best values. Maybe it isn’t as flashy as the 7Figure, or brooding and mysterious like the Devil’s Club but that is about to change. Introducing the Arch Rival Rear Zip Limited Edition!
We employed the Devil’s Club and Arch Rival Rear Zip pattern, which is well articulated for better paddling performance while eliminating extra fabric. Then we utilized our 7figure fabric in the body of the suit which offers excellent waterproofness and breathability. Finally, we included Devil’s Club Fabric Feet for increased durability. This is the culmination of our best dry suit qualities in one spectacular looking package.
Gerd is the older half of the famous paddling Serrasolses brothers. Hitting big whitewater, competing in world class competitions (and winning) and crafting superb GoPro edits is where Gerd spends most of his time. If a country has quality whitewater the chances are that Gerd has already been there or is planning an expedition to seek out first descents.
I’ve been following Gerd’s travels and adventures for some time and am super stoked that Gerd agreed to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series, especially as he was in training for the Sickline event (which he won).
How did you first get into kayaking? Who introduced you to the sport?
One day I was biking along our local river, the Ter and saw some people paddling around. I got curious and with some persuasion from my mum I decided to join the local kayak club, the Salt-Ter. It all started really slow with only a couple hours a week on Saturday morning, but as soon as I could go to the river by myself riding my bike and pulling my playboat on a little trailer I started to get obsessed about kayaking until it became my life.
I can pretty much guarantee that you have seen one of David Fusilli’s edits online or have heard of Demshitz. If you haven’t you are definitely missing out. Take a read and check out some of David’s social media links at the bottom of this interview.
I don’t think a week goes by without me watching one of David’s edits. I love his work and I am stoked that David has agreed to take part in the Unsponsored Q&A series.
Photo: Bren Orton
How did you first get into kayaking? Who introduced you to the sport?
I first got into kayaking at the age of 7. My Dad taught me to roll in the Clarion University swimming pool.
What was your first kayak?
1st kayak was a home made??? I don’t think it had a name, but it was red with sparkles and had a sticker the back that said “red hot red” so I guess that was the name of the boat hahaha.
Who are Immersion Research Europe? Tell us a little about the company and its history.
Immersion Research was founded in 1997 by John and Kara Weld. They started off by making board shorts and then thermals. The line up and company grew every year but John and Kara are still running the show. Today, IR makes some of the most innovative, smart and practical gear available.
At the end of 2010, Immersion Research did not have a proper distributor in Europe, so it was tough to get many items of our gear on this side of the Atlantic. IR saw this as an opportunity to sell to customers directly using an online store. Immersion Research Europe was born!
We take orders on our website and ship directly to European customers from our base in the UK.
Immersion Research Europe is just now in the process of expanding to a new, larger location. This new set up will mean a much larger amount of stock can be held in the UK, allowing us to get gear to our customers faster.
A great edit from friend of Unsponsored, Mark Mulrain. Mark takes a run down the Coe Gorge – a classic Scottish run.
Name: Nick Pearce
Location: I split my time between Somerset and Voss, Norway
I have been paddling for the last 11 years and during that time, I have been lucky enough to paddle in some of the coolest locations around the world from the UK to Chile, France, India and New Zealand. My personal favorite and the place that constantly draws me back is Norway. It’s a land full of amazing rivers with still so much undiscovered potential. For the last 5 years I have spent my life working as a raft guide which allowed me to be closer to the river and to get as much boating in as possible. I also have the pleasure of being supported by some of the best companies on the market: Zet UK, AS watersports, System X and Silverstick.
The end of the year inevitably brings the highlight reel. Some a great, others not so. But this one from Dave Fusilli is a corker.
The new IR website is looking rather good. As is their new range of gear. Looking forward to having a chance to test some of the gear out.
Name: Ben Hawthorne
About me: Been paddling for a while now, maybe 24 years?? Christ I’m old!!! I have however been fortunate to take my passion all over the world and paddle in a whole lot of places including New Zealand, Nepal, Chile and Canada. For the last 2 summers and next I have been running the Sjoa Kayak Camp in Norway along with my beautiful wife and the Gene 17 boys. I’m lucky enough to be supported by Colorado Kayak Supply in the US, super cool guys, check em out.
Location: Currently, Chamonix for the winter. Stoked.
Boat: ZET Raptor. Now when these came out I thought they looked a bit industrial, rough around the edges and wasn’t that keen. Then I ended up paddling one for a bit, and after a couple of runs was completely converted. It does everything a creek boat should do. Fast (for a creek boat), boofs and rolls easy, light, comfortable and most importantly, bomb proof. I do think its not really a great beginners boat, it definitely needs to be driven around the river and will kick your arse pretty fast if youre not a pro-active paddler but I love it. It really suits my paddling style. I’m pretty excited to see the new boat they’ve got lined up, details boys details!!! Also a Bliss-stick Smoothy for my play boat, like a project in my size, love it.