“Let’s all make it known that Maine boaters not only have the skills to send, but also the skills to save”
Whitewater kayaking is a lot of fun, sometimes too much fun, and sometimes we all get lost in the moment and forget the basics, the basics that keep us alive. We’re all guilty of it, we’ve all been there. You put on your favorite creek, your whole crew has run it multiple times and you get casual about setting safety. While this might work for your crew, and you might all have the swiftwater rescue knowledge to make quick life saving decisions, this is not a good example to be setting for younger generations. There are a lot of younger paddlers entering the sport and a lot of the videos on the web show only the good side of paddling. Often times to get that one shot of someone running a clean drop there were many shots of carnage that you don’t see. I’ve personally seen a lot of videos on the web lately the lack severely in proper safety setting and while often times things play out ok, there’s always a chance that your number might be up. And when it is, you need to be ready. Through Send It, Whitewater, we’re bringing professional swiftwater rescue clinics to Maine taught by paddlers that know and use swiftwater rescue knowledge on a regular basis. I would like to personally call on Maine guides and paddlers of all sorts to strive towards being safe and knowledgable whitewater enthusiasts. We live in one of the most whitewater rich areas in the world, let’s all make it known that Maine boaters not only have the skills to send, but also the skills to save.
The live bait rescue at the end of the video was performed by Send It, Whitewater Instructor Jeremy Cass just above the lip of Toaster Falls on the New Haven River during the New Haven Race.
Spring is just around the bend and we figured why not get everyone together for a run down the Kennebec to kick off the Maine whitewater season. We’re hoping rafters, body boarders, kayakers and anyone else will join us for an early season run on April 7th. We’ll be meeting at the put-in around 10. To prepare for the chilly day on the river we’ll be partying at The Marshalls in The Forks the night before, April 6th. Chris and Karen have graciously invited the Maine whitewater community and anyone else that would like to join us to come together for drinks, music and whitewater films. We’ll be playing a random assortment of whatever films people show up with all night. Bring some whitewater footage if you have any, also an instrument if you like to play music. There’s sure to be lots of jamming. The Marshalls has hotel rooms and so does the Inn next door. There might not be snow in the campground by then either. We hope to see everyone there! Jeremy and I will be giving away a free spot in one of our Swiftwater Rescue Clinics www.senditwhitewater.com
In 2011 Chuck Mathieu came up with the idea for Huckfest. Taking advantage of scheduled releases, something Maine is privileged to have, Chuck threw himself a birthday party. In true Chuck fassion it involved the river and big sending. The stage was Grand Falls of the Dead River, roughly a 35-40 foot waterfall with spectacular views and ideal layout for the Huckfest.
The original Chuckfest was attended by 9 whitewater kayakers and a small crowd of spectators, mostly raft guides and local bartenders with the day off. As all good whitewater boaters in The Forks do, we gathered at the Marshalls the night before and talked lines over some refreshing beers and amazing food.
We put together a shoddy video of the first gathering and in 2012 tried to spread the word as best we could. The result was huge, with nearly 30 whitewater kayakers running the falls and a raft first descent. Not to mention the insane crowd of spectators that cheered everyone on.
In 2013 the shenanigans continue… This year the Huckfest is the day following the K-BOMB, a whitewater kayak race on the Kennebec River. There will be live music the night before at the K-BOMB after party and many a boater in town. Come join us for all the fun, you’re not going to want to miss this one.
A 20 year vision for Sacarappa Falls and the Westbrook River park
Jan. 4-5 the town of Westbrook is hosting a winter festival in the same area of the Presumpscot River where Rob Mitchell has proposed a whitewater park. Sappi, a paper company owns and operates a dam at Sacarappa Falls. If you haven’t been following along, Rob is proposing that Sappi installs a whitewater park instead of a concrete fish ladder. The park will act as a natural fish ladder. Sappi must install a fish ladder to comply with re-licensing agreements, it’s simply a matter of convincing them to consider paddlers and community recreation when they do it by creating a whitewater park and natural fish ladder.
To rally some support and show the town that people are excited about the idea Rob is looking for whitewater kayakers to attend the Westbrook Winter Fest and run Sacarappa Falls (flow permitting). Make sure you show up with all your boats on the roof so people see lots of kayaks. Bring cameras, friends and lets send it. Sounds like people are meeting West side of Riverbank Park at the AMVETs Hall (Dunn st) a little before noon. Be there! This is a great opportunity to promote whitewater kayaking in Maine and get the ball rolling on whitewater parks!
Digging through old files I turned up a few shots from Madison sometime in the summer of 2008. The huge air shot of the yellow Pyranha is Tim Norton, who actually doesn’t really paddle anymore… something about being a dad and all? The female shredder is Sarah Pine, who’s basement I actually live in now and of course Chris Hull in the orange Pyranha bringing style to the wave sesh as always. Just good old whitewater kayaking in Maine.
Earlier this summer we had a bit of a dry spell. Itching for some big wave surfing, Chuck managed to talk Andy Wahl and myself into a road trip. We decided to head for Montreal where bigger waves can be found on the Lachine rapid of the St Lawrence Sea Way. Realistically it makes more sense to spend a couple days, the drive is about five hours one way. With jobs preventing a multi day trip we left The Forks at 4am and set off on a day trip. It’s actually a fairly scenic drive and we made it back to The Forks sometime after 10 that night. It was worth it.
Here’s a short edit of the “Madison Wave,” one of Maine’s many hidden gems. Madison is well known amongst the boating community here in Maine and attracts whitewater kayakers from all parts of the state when its in. Madison generally runs after heavy rains or in spring. Ideal flows are around or just above 17,000 CFS on the Kennebec River at Madison USGS gauge. This video was filmed at slightly higher than ideal flows making the wave a little less retentive than usual.
A little over two years ago “Huckfest” was born, the idea came from one of Maine’s diehard boaters, Chuck Mathieu. At the time, I didn’t know nearly the number of paddlers in Maine that I do now and it was the Huckfest that connected me with fellas like Jeremy Cass. I pulled some strings and scored the day off with the intention of filming these crazy hooligans running Grand Falls. At the first Huckfest 9 paddlers showed up, beverages were enjoyed the night before at Marshalls and the following day all 9 paddlers sent the falls. That day marked the beginning of my desire to expose Maine whitewater through media. This year the game stepped up with something like 23 paddlers running the falls and the first ever R2 raft decent by Ryan Waterhouse and Ryan Thompson. We also stepped it up on the media side, with 3 cameras and multiple GoPro’s covering the event. If you haven’t already seen it, check out the film from the first ever Huckfest:
There were a handful of spectators the first year as well, mostly local raft guides and bar tenders that had the day off. However this past season, the second season of Huckfest, saw a huge increase in spectators and everyone really got the boaters fired up! This short edit below is from this years Huckfest, however we have yet to release some spectacular footage that will be part of a bigger project in the works. Chuck’s idea has grown, and will continue to do so!