Monday, October 31, 2011

This is ME in the Sea!

Justine Curgenven 
"Cackle TV produces award winning seakayaking and adventure films which are available for purchase on DVD. The company was set up in 2001 by Justine Curgenven to combine her professional television background with her love of kayaking and the outdoors. Justine has successfully pioneered a new genre in seakayaking films – the inspirational ‘This is the Sea’ series features talented paddlers, some of the world’s most beautiful paddling destinations and cutting edge expeditions. The films are shot with a kayak mounted camera system which captures warts-and-all action in the most challenging rough water. Justine’s films have been shown on the National Geographic Channel & BBC Wales, and have won awards at prestigious film festivals such as Banff Mountain Film Festival and Kendal Mountain Film Festival. In 2010 she released her first open boating DVD “This is Canoeing” which has been called the best ever collection of open canoeing films. Her aim – through films and her website – is to inspire everyone to escape from everyday life, and get out on the water."

So what's next?  

Get ready folks...the 5th installment of the award winning film series, "This is the Sea" is in production now.  I was lucky enough to be asked to do some filming with Justine just after the storm gathering.  We had a great time working together and I can't wait to see what else she has come up with for This is the Sea 5!!!

Her and Barry Shaw were such gracious hosts and showed me such a great time during my visit.  Justine and I went out for a couple of really fun paddling / film sessions around Anglesey.  We went for a super stormy surf session at Cable Bay the first day, then squeezed in another day of filming before I headed North to Scotland for some whitewater boating this week. 

 I got a chance to hit up The Swellies Wave in the Menai Straits of N. Wales with her and Barry, then we cruised up the hill to do an interview.  Be on the look out for her next flick.  From what I can gather, it's going to be another classic.  Some huge expeditions, a few laughs and a lot of sick boating.  Check out a few images for the shoot below and be sure to visit her website to see the rest of her work.  

Paddler: Paul Kuthe      Photos By: Justine Curgenven

Photos By: Barry Shaw

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coaching at the 6th UK Storm Gathering

Being invited to coach at the UK Storm Gathering was quite an honor.  Never before have I been surrounded by so many amazing coaches at once.  Having never been there I wasn't sure how I would fit in.  There were many unknowns for me leading up to the event.  For instance...Would I even have anything to show these folks?  What are the venues like?  Will I be able to manage a group of students on my own in unfamiliar waters?  What class am I even scheduled to run...? and with whom will I be coaching??  Where will we go???

It all became clear as the event got underway early Saturday morning.  Nick Cunnliffe and Matt Giblin did an amazing job of organizing coaches and students into groups based on the conditions of the day.  It was actually really good for me as a coach to not need a plan the day before.  Having the ability to set up and run a successful session with only about 20 minutes notice was key.

For more information about the event check out my post on the Kokatat Blog at

Check out some more photos from the event below:
A proper Welch breakfast at the center...when in Rome I guess... ;)  

Matt Gibling sorting the classes in the morning

It's even more rainy in Wales than it is back home in Portland!

 Axel Schoevers copying down his class list for his session the morning of.  
Once the classes were announced it was GO time!

Watching a student get after at at Treaddur Bay.  Go Jackie go!

The heavy South winds were churning up the water into a thick foam

Getting our nav on.

I love it when students go big!  Nice one Brian!!

A little fun with the coaches after a long day on the water.  

I had a great time coaching at the Storm Gathering and can only hope that one; there will be another one next year and two; that I will be invited back.  What an amazing event!  Thanks to everyone involved, especially Mark Tozer for organizing this year's event and for including me!   

Friday, October 21, 2011

I made it to Anglesey!

It was quite a journey, but I've made it all the way to Holyhead Wales in preparation for The Storm Gathering.  My flight left around noon on Wednesday from Portland.  Things went surprisingly smooth even with my "wind surfer" with me.  (No kayaks allowed on planes you know?)  I wasn't sure they would take it, so I put on an extra big smile and cheery disposition.  I wrapped my Pyranha Burn up tight in black felt and hoped for the best.  They charged me the expected $150 and I was on my way.  No questions asked.    The first leg of my trip took me to Atlanta, Georgia then onto Dublin.  

When I hit the ground in Dublin I cruised through immigration, picked up my two oversized bags and ventured out into the world to find a bus.  No easy task when you have a backpack, a huge golf bag, and a kayak.  As I began to board, the bus driver shot me a look of disbelief.  I asked if he had any suggestions.  He replied in his thick Irish accent, "I suggest you get that thing on the bus if you wish to take it with you."  I wrestled it aboard and we were off to the City Center in no time.  From there I listened for the driver to call out my stop, but managed to miss pushing the stop button in time.  That's ok, it gave me a chance to stroll the streets of Dublin.  
It's WINDY here.  
The looks the locals in Dublin gave me were precious memories in the making.  Everyone was SO nice.  Several total strangers stopped and offered to help me find my way.  When I found the central bus station, I waddled inside to figured out where to pick up my next bus.  That bus took me to the Ferry Port and the ferry would take me to Holyhead.  

Upon arrival I wasn't sure who would pick me up.  With no phone number to call and no mobile (that's of course a cell phone for you fellow Yanks;) I was left with little options.  I sat myself down and logged on to the free wifi in the terminal and e-mailed Mark Tozer, The Storm Gathering organizer.  He shot back a quick e-mail and re-assured me that his friend Jim would be by to "fetch me".  In no time he was there and we made our way to the Anglesey Sports Center where the gathering would happen. (By way of the pub of course).

The wind whistled around the Anglesey Sea Center all night as we slept.  It’s only fitting that an intense storm is on the way for this event.  For those that know how to read the surface pressure forecast above…you can see that we are set to have some wicked South and SW winds as that low comes across Ireland and the rest of the UK.  By Sunday things should be properly HUGE.   

Before everyone arrived to the gathering and before the winds build we went out for a short paddle.  I showed up early to pick up my loaner Tide Race Extreme  and some other pieces of gear from the local premier shop called Summit to Sea.  I packed most of my own kit, but I was forced to borrow a PFD and skirt to complete my ensemble.   Hopefully my sponsors will take pity on me and show me forgiveness for temporarily straying out of necessity.    

 Local expert and guide book author Jim Krawiecki showed me around.  We went to the North to hide from the wind.  We put in at Bull Bay and paddled over to an old deserted brick works facility called Porth Wen Brickworks. Here between 1850 and1914, silica ore was mined by hand from open cast pits.  What’s left behind is beautiful dome shaped kilns and a towering smoke stack along with massive brick buildings that are slowing eroding into the sea.  In it’s prime, this place would have been a buzz with activity with ships coming and going from the working port.  It was really fun exploring the ruins.  It’s a great place to duck out of the south wind as well.   

We had a good time poking around the rocks and seeing the sights.   I think I’m going to like this place!  I can hardly wait for The Storm Gathering to begin!!

Photo By Jim Krawiecki:   For more images and great stories from Jim, visit:

I'll be blogging in up along the way.  Stay tuned for much more!  Also visit for my Storm Gathering post coming soon! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Storm Begins with Lumpy Waters

It's go time!  I have two big time sea kayaking symposiums coming up that I have been anticipating for MONTHS! 


The 3rd Annual Lumpy Waters Symposium is fast approaching.  The classes are locked in and coaches are on their way from all over.  As one of the event coordinators, I am feeling the crunch big time.  Orchestrating coastal and rough water classes for almost 90 beginner and intermediate paddlers at once is an organizational "challenge" to say the least.  We are watching the forecast close and crossing our fingers for GOOD weather.  

The 6th Annual Storm Gathering on the other hand is all about paddling in challenging conditions.  It's specifically scheduled for a bit more...turbulent weather window.  This year's event is to be held at the Isle of Anglesey, in Wales.  The goals of this symposium are to bring together intermediate and advanced boaters with similar passions while providing solid programs with an emphasis on challenging conditions, commitment, and open crossings.  It's my first year being invited to coach at the event.  It's also my first international sea kayak symposium!  I look forward to exploring this sea kayaking mecca and working with more British Canoe Union Coaches while I'm there.  

Once the Storm Gathering is over I will be participating in the necessary training and completing the required courses to begin the 5 star assessment process.  Then it's onto Scotland where I hope to explore more whitewater rivers and visit some friends I made on my previous trip there in 2008.  After Scotland it's over to Ireland to meet up with Kate.  

It's going to be an exciting month coming up.  Wish me luck.