Articles - The 2011 Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

2011 Canoe & Kayak UK Awards
2011 Canoe & Kayak UK Awards
Canoe & Kayak UK Editorial - Posted on 09 Nov 2011
It’s hard to believe that 2011 saw our tenth year of producing and publishing Canoe & Kayak UK Magazine. That’s a lot of midnight oil burned, several truck loads of boats and gear tested, and too many great people to mention that we’ve been lucky enough to meet, and work with, along the way. To celebrate our tenth anniversary we felt it was time that we celebrated our brilliant sport in style, from the guys working hard in the trade to innovate and bring us the best gear and services, to the paddlers and coaches out there on the water making the magic happen. We also felt that our experience and knowledge put us in a unique position, along with input from our readers’ panel and a selection of independent judges, from various branches of paddle-sport, to decide what where the real stand outs. If you’re planning on buying a new piece of kit this season, or want to know who’s really driving the sport forward read on as we reveal our top picks of 2011…

Find out how we judged the 2011 Canoe & Kayak UK Awards HERE

Canoes, Kayaks & Paddling Gear

Whitewater Kayak of the Year

Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Dagger Axiom
Dahher Axiom Whitewater Kayak Whitewater Kayak
We liked this boat from the moment we got our hands on one to test, and it’s continued to impress us ever since. The reason we chose the Axiom as our Whitewater Kayak of the Year is that in designing it Dagger have succeeded in creating a truly all-round whitewater boat, and brought it out in so many different sizes that literally anyone could have one, regardless of size or age. Not only does it surf, play and run rivers, but it does all of that really, really well. Its contrasting design features combine with each other to create the perfect balance between surf machine and sturdy river-runner, forgivingness and performance: a dry-riding bow compliments a slicey tail, and very forgiving soft profile sidewalls compliment the harder chines around the hull for crisp carving. It won’t play as well as a specialist freestyle kayak, and it won’t charge gnarly grade 5 like a specialist creeker, but if you want to own one high-performing whitewater kayak in which to do a little bit of everything, this could very well be it.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Pyranha Varun
Pyranha Varun Whitewater KayakWhitewater Kayak
The Pyranha Varun is a river-play boat that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s capable on mid grade water but it comes in to its own for playing and making the most of those holes and waves you encounter on your way down the river.

Zet RaptorZet Raptor Whitewater Kayak Whitewater Kayak
Zet burst onto the scene with their Raptor creek boat earlier in the year, a fast, high-riding, thoroughbred creek boat. It suits an aggressive paddling style and excels in big water making it the current weapon of choice for Boater-X and Extreme racers. We were impressed by the Raptor and will certainly be keeping an eye out for what Zet get up to in the future.

Freestyle Kayak of the Year

Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Wave Sport Project X
Wave Sport Project X Freestyle Kayak Freestyle Kayak
For a high-performing freestyle kayak that allows you to hit all of the modern moves on big or small water, we don’t think you’ll currently find much better than the Wave Sport Project X, which is why it’s our Freestyle Kayak of the Year. Its sleek lines and centred volume distribution give it plenty of control and pop for throwing those big loops and McNasties, and the fast edge-to-edge transition and slicey edges make for smooth blunts and sustained cartwheeling. The hull is super loose and releases well, and the surfing experience is smooth and predictable. The WhiteOut Outfitting looks great and does the job well without the need to spend the hours customising it, a high performance freestyle boat that looks easy on the eye and can mix it up with style and panache on the biggest, or smallest, of features. X marks the spot!

Canoe & kayak Awards

Pyranha Molan
Pyranha Molan Freestyle Kayak Freestyle Kayak
There was a huge amount of excitement at CK Towers around the release of the Molan, Pyranha’s latest all-out freestyle kayak. It lived up to the hype and we loved the way it moves intuitively around the wave, and busts out the big moves, a great contender and a kayak that should be on every wannabe freestyle kayaker’s demo list.

Jackson All StarJackson Kayaks All Star Freestyle Kayak Freestyle Kayak
We couldn’t have a freestyle kayak category and not give a mention to the Jackson All Star, a boat that really took the freestyle kayaking world by storm! Designed by former double World Freestyle Champion Eric Jackson it’s become the favourite of many freestyle paddlers in the UK, and indeed around the world, and enjoyed considerable competition success.

Touring Kayak of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Perception Expression
Perception Expression Touring KayakTouring Kayak
When Perception’s latest touring kayak came out it just looked right and we were very excited about getting it out on the water for a test drive, and despite the below zero temperatures of our first voyage in an Expression it didn’t disappoint. We’ve given the Perception Expression Touring Kayak of the Year because it incorporates everything you’d look for in a tourer in two different sized models and combines it with intelligent and thoughtful ergonomic design, all for an incredibly reasonable price. There’s plenty of storage, equally divided between bow and stern, the outfitting is comfortable and easy to adjust to different paddlers and the hull design and skeg makes the boat both forgiving enough to give a novice confidence, but the reduced length makes it playful enough that an experienced paddler could have fun surfing small waves. It also handles very well and is fast. The Expression is a reasonably priced kayak that genuinely has something for everyone, and we think it’s one of the best-performing options out there too.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Dagger Alchemy
Dagger Alchemy Touring Kayak Touring Kayak
Good performance, plenty of room for kit, able to cover miles and mix it up when things get a rougher and it’s still a forgiving boat for beginners, what’s not to love? No wonder that the Alchemy was another touring kayak high up our list of favourites.

Venture Kayaks FlexVenture Kayaks Flex Touring Kayak Touring Kayak
This boat does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s flexible. Not in a literal ‘bendy’ way of course but it can handle a whole gamut of situations. The Flex is great for introducing beginners to the delights of paddling on calm waters, or as a great day boat for more experienced paddlers looking for a little more adventure. We like it.

Composite Sea Kayak of the Year

Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Valley Sea Kayaks Etain
Vallet Etain composite expedition Sea kayak Sea Kayak
The Etain’s design is a departure from Valley’s traditional hull style, but combined with all the other really nice bits of attention to detail we think it’s paid off for the boys from Nottingham. That combined with the great feedback we received from readers that were raving about it is why we’ve awarded it with Composite Sea Kayak of the Year. The design lends itself to having good initial stability, and the moderate rocker provides excellent tracking, without compromising the quality of the ride. Unusually for a Valley boat, you are seated in front of the widest point of the hull, which means the stability is behind you, allowing for a different, more free, style of paddling. This combined with the excitement around the new design style, the performance and the neat design touches made it a winner with us.

  Canoe & kayak Awards

P&H Sea Kayaks Cetus 178 MV Sea Kayak

P&H Sea Kayaks Cetus 178 MV Sea Kayak
The Cetus combines speed and manoeuvrability in a sea kayak that’s ideal for everything from a day trip to a fully-fledged expedition. Available in three sizes (LV, MV and HV) it’s become a firm favourite amongst sea kayakers around the world. We really like the way the Cetus paddles, especially when it’s fully loaded, for us it’s all ready a modern-day classic.

Rockpool TaranRockpool Taran Sea Kayak Sea Kayak
We loved this slightly unconventional sea kayak. Designed for stability and speed in all conditions, it can be used for exploration and racing. The Taran is popular for those looking to push the limits and break records for circumnavigations. It has a strong personality and sets itself aside in looks and performance.

Plastic Sea Kayak of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

P&H Sea Kayaks Delphin 155 Plastic
P&H Delphin 155 Plastic Sea KayakSea Kayak
Since receiving our Delphin on test we haven’t been able to stop using it. Not only does it do everything a conventional sea kayak should do but also it totally redefines the ‘ocean play’ genre. P&H kind of threw away the rule book when they designed it and the position of the cockpit and the ample rocker make the Delphin perfect for surfing waves or swell, and for making tight gaps in rock gardens. For the experienced paddler this boat will encourage you to really push your limits, for the novice it will give you the confidence to start exploring what your limits are. Either way, you’ll be guaranteed a great time! We felt that it excels at everything it does, and although its calling is to be surfing those waves and dodging those rock gaps, you could own this boat an no other and still keep pace with more conventional sea kayaks on longer trips. The Delphin is a real design innovation and we can’t get enough of it, which is why, for us, the Delphin 155 was a stand out and an obvious choice for Plastic Sea Kayak of the Year!

Canoe & kayak Awards

Northshore Atlantic RM
Northshore Atlantic RM Sea Kayak Plastic Sea Kayak
The plastic version of the Atlantic RM is a great value option and supplies plenty of performance too. A shallow ‘V’ hull and soft chines make this a predictable ride out on the water making it good choice for those taking their first paddle strokes on the ocean.

P&H Sea Kayaks Scorpio Plastic Sea KayakP&H Scorpio Sea Kayak
We also liked the P&H Scorpio, the plastic cousin of the composite Cetus. It’s stable, fast and predictable even in more exposed conditions, making it a really solid expedition boat choice.

Open Canoe of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Venture Prospector 16
Open CanoeVenture Canoe Prospector Open Canoe
The Prospector is a tried and tested design, realised very nicely in Venture’s incarnation of the classic shape. Built out of tough, but lightweight, Corelite material, the Venture Prospector is a tough all-rounder suitable for clubs or individuals. It was a close call between the Wenonah Prospector, (the hardcore canoe enthusiasts choice) and the Venture but we, and our panel, felt that it was the Venture that many paddlers would choose as their first canoe, or indeed maybe use as a club or centre boat to dip their paddle in to canoeing for the first time. Because of this it gets our Open Canoe of the Year.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Mad River Explorer 16TT
Open CanoeMad River Explorer 16TT Open Canoe
We think this is another great option for a family or club, it’s durable, stable and there’s plenty of room for all your stuff.

Wenonah Prospector 16 Open CanoeWenonah Prospector 16 Open Canoe
The simplicity and craftsmanship of Wenonah’s take on the Prospector shape makes this boat stand out as well. It’s got a generous rocker and is a dream to turn, no wonder that it is very popular amongst serious open canoeists as a solo and tandem boat.

Recreational Kayak of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Islander Calypso Sport
Sit-On-TopIslander Calypso Sit On Top Kayak
The Islander Calypso Sport is the recreational sit-on-top kayak that has a lot to offer: two sealed storage hatches, a bungeed storage area and paddle parks, moulded side-handles as well as nylon front and back carrying handles, an adjustable padded seat as standard and an intelligently designed hull. The multiple chines allow the Calypso Sport to be manoeuvrable when needed, but without loss of tracking when travelling in a straight line. We think that the thought and energy that’s gone into the design of this stylish-looking sit-on-top renders is deserving of Recreational Kayak of the Year.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Perception Prodigy Recreational KayakPerception Kayaks Prodigy Recreational  Family Kayak
Also popular amongst our panel is the Perception Prodigy. Clever hull design, versatile outfitting and plenty of room onboard for up to three people make it a great family option.

Dagger Fiesta 9.3 Recreational Kayak
We had to give a mention to the Dagger Fiesta 9.3, a fantastic first boat, and made 100% from plastic recycled from the production of Dagger Europe Kayaks. Fun and easier on the environment! Dagger Fiesta Recreational Kayak

Kid’s Kayak of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Pyranha Rebel
Kid’s Kayak Pyranha Rebel Kid's Whitewater Kayak
The Pyranha Rebel combines the performance of ‘grown up’ whitewater kayaks that kids will hopeful progress into once they are fully grown while still providing a stable and fun platform for them to learn in and enjoy themselves as they progress and grow. The Rebel is small and lightweight, so the performance at the hands of a child should be very similar to that of an adult boat being paddled by a grown-up, which hopefully means that there will be a smooth transition after the teenage growth-spurt into a larger kayak. We felt the Rebel had to win the category for Kid’s Kayak of the Year for its thoughtful and successful design, which provides a perfect introduction to paddling for the future generation of kayakers.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Perception Carolina 12xs
Kid’s Kayak Preception Kayaks Carolina 12XS Kid's Touring Kayak
The Carolina 12xs is a touring boat designed specifically for kids and we thought that was a fantastic idea. It’s stable and fast and all the young paddlers that we put in to the 12xs absolutely loved its turn of speed. If you’re in to your touring and coastal exploring and want a boat for your nipper, so they can accompany you on your adventures we’re pretty sure this is it.

Dagger Axiom 6.9 Kid’s Kayak Dagger Axiom 6.9 Junior Kayak
We’ve made our feelings about the Axiom clear, and one of the strongest points about it is that it comes in enough sizes that anyone could have one, including children.

Gear of the Year – Software

Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Peak UK Creek One Piece Dry Suit
Peak UK One-Piece Whitewater Drysuit
We think the zip placement on this dry suit is an absolute innovation; it makes getting in and out of the Peak UK Adventure One Piece faster and easier than any other dry suit out there. Off the water, you’ll be changed and in the tea shop while your mates are still at the car waiting for a hand with their zip. On the water it does the job as well as any other dry suit too, with its X4 breathable nylon and reinforced Cordura knees and elbows it will keep you dry and survive being put through its paces. In all, we believe it’s a deserving winner of our Gear of the Year – Software category.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Palm Equipment Torrent Dry Suit

Palm Torrent Dry Suit Dry Suit
For an all-purpose whitewater dry suit that you can use everyday we also like the Palm Torrent. You’ve only got to take a look around out on the rivers once the weather turns nippy, it can seem like every whitewater paddler in the UK has donned a Torrent! No wonder as it will serve you fine in all of your day-to-day whitewater trips, and the cut and flexible t-zip provide excellent freedom of movement, all for a reasonable price.

Sweet Prophecy Dry Top
Sweet Protection don’t do whitewater dry tops, but if they did they’d be the… hang on a second, they made one! We had to mention the Sweet Prophecy, heavy duty Goretex and an intelligent cut make this an Sweet Prophect Dry Top for whitewater kayakingexcellent, albeit a little pricey, dry top. Paddling software exotica at its finest.

Gear of the Year – Hard Wear
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Werner Stikine Kayak Paddles
Werner Stikine Whitewater Kayak Paddle
Werner Paddles have long been a favourite amongst whitewater paddlers for their durability, lightness, and effective design. We think the Stikine Paddles, named after the ‘Everest of whitewater kayaking’, do a great job of continuing this tradition of being the whitewater paddlers’ choice. Like its predecessors the Stikine is light, powerful, and the trademarked impact resistant Kevlar and double layer of Dynel make them one of the most durable Werner paddles yet, and the winner of the CKUK Gear of the Year - Hard Wear category.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Sweet Rocker Helmet
Sweet Rocker Whitewater Kayaking Helmet
An iconic product from the very popular Norwegian gear manufacturers Sweet Protection! It’s been many years since Sweet first brought out a Rocker for kayakers, but they’ve been bringing out a tweaked new range every year since and they continue to be popular choice and a benchmark for safe and stylish headgear.

The Handikart Trolley
We loved the innovative design of this all-terrain trolley that really works and sets it aside from the competition. The patented ‘Camba’ hemi-spherical wheels make this a unique product in its class.
Handikart Canoe and Kayak Portage Trolley
Most Innovative Product of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Palm Extrem Buoyancy Aid
Palm Extrem Whitewater Buoyancy Aid
We opened up this catergory for you, the readers to vote for on the website and the Canoe & Kayak Facebook page and loads of you voted for the Palm Extrem Buoyancy Aid as your most innovative product of the year, and, although the name has been around for a long time, the latest version does certainly seem to be leading the way in re-inventing the whitewater buoyancy aid to make it one of the safest and most ergonomic designs out there. The Extrem is the Palm’s flagship front opening design, it fastens with four buckles and arguably provides the best fit ever for added safety and freedom of movement. What with all of the other standard safety features such as removable chest harness, reflective panels and fail-safe shoulder straps test to 500kg, along with nice extras such as separate river-knife mounts, generous storage pockets and comfort panels on the shoulders to ease boat carrying we think you’ve made a great choice!

The People & Places

Paddling Facility of The Year

Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Plas Y Brenin – The National Mountain Centre
Plas Y Brenin the National Mountain Centre
Nestled amongst the mountains, lakes and rivers of Snowdonia Plas Y Brenin is interwoven into the very fabric and history of our sport. It’s location amongst the mountains, but still within easy reach of some of the UK’s best coastline makes it just about perfect for delivering a comprehensive range of courses to suit all levels and disciplines. The Brenin boasts an excellent stores and boat shed bursting with top line equipment, canoes and kayaks, the highest standards of coaching, staff who areas passionate about the outdoors as you are and you have a facility that really shines. Add in to this the legendary catering and cake, they even have their own range of real ales and wine available in the bar, you can see why paddlers of all ages come back again and again to learn new skills or to brush up and refresh existing ones. Plas Y Brenin delivers a great experience every time whatever the course, be it an intro to Open Canoeing or a Level 5 Assessment the students’ journey, development and enjoyment is paramount and that’s why we’ve chosen it as our Facility of the Year
Canoe & kayak Awards

Cardiff International White Water Centre
Cardiff International white Water Centre for whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
We were lucky enough to visit the new whitewater facility at Cardiff before it opened to the public. As we watched it slowly fill up with water we were impressed by two things. Firstly the speed of the water and the features that the course designers had managed to squeeze out of a fairly small area; and the second was the enthusiasm, dedication and willingness to listen of the centre’s staff who were determined getting things just right and to provide the best experience they could to visiting paddlers. Over the time it has been open CIWW has already hosted a wealth of events and competitions and has developed in to an important, and dare we say, much loved facility for paddlers and canoe clubs in Wales, the midlands and the south west. As with any whitewater centre with running costs to cover whitewater rafting is a big part of what they do, but never at the expense of canoeists and kayakers and this combined with a great onsite café, canoe shop and ‘family/partner’ friendly location means that we can’t commend it high enough. If you haven’t already paid a visit to CIWW get a date booked in your diary now.

Glenmore LodgeGlenmore Lodge National Outdoor Training Centre
Situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, and just down the road from Aviemore, Glenmore Lodge is Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre. The Lodge has some stunning Lochs and rivers right on the doorstep and has a strong and passionate paddle-sports department. With over 60 years of coaching people in the outdoors the Lodge has earned a well-deserved reputation for delivering excellent coaching at the highest level. The centre itself has a warm and welcoming atmosphere (especially in the bar) and they were awarded the Hospitality Assured mark earlier in 2011. Combine this with a range and quality of the equipment and boats available to customers that is first class and you have facility that’s more than deserving of a CKUK commendation.

Professional Coach of The Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Loel Collins
Canoe & Kayak UK Pro Coach of the year Loel Collins of the University of central Lancaster
There are many fantastic coaches out there providing quality learning experiences but their was one name that really stood out head and shoulders as the winner of the CKUK Professional Coach of the Year Award and that name was Leo Collins Leo has been at the cutting edge of professional coaching in paddle-sports and the outdoors for a long, long time. A passionate peddler in his own right he was instrumental in opening up many of the more ‘sporty’ white-water runs of Wales, including some impressive first descents. He also represented Team GB in open canoe at the freestyle World Champs and has been a key member of many notable expeditions all over the globe. Loel is a BCU Level 5 Coach in a range of disciplines including whitewater, open canoe, sea and surf. A former Director of the National Whitewater Centre and a senior member of staff at the National Mountain Centre, Loel Collins has worked in the adventure sport industry for over 20 years. In that time he’s worked closely with the Welsh Canoe association, the British Canoe Union and his fellow outdoor professionals and we think that it’s fair to say that he has been instrumental in the how we think and approach coaching paddle-sports today. In his current position at the University of Central Lancashire Loel continues to push the boundaries and increase his understanding of delivering ‘innovative and groundbreaking’ programs of professional coach education.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Dave Rossiter
Canoe & Kayak Coach Dave Rossiter of Standing Waves
Dave simply loves paddling, whatever the discipline and after working for centres for many years he finally set up his own canoe shop and coaching business called Standing Waves based in Sterling, alongside his wife Susan and his mother-in-law Rena. Dave’s always looking for the next adventure and his enthusiasm and warmth makes him an inspirational coach out on the water. Dave also continues to be involved with the BCU in the developments and reviews of the new awards, and this still sees him commit a huge amount of time to help with all levels of the coaching scheme including design and implementation of new awards as well as expertise within the disciplines.

Matt Blue
Matt Blue has been involved in the adventure education sector for over 17 years. After completing his training in outdoor education, Matt moved into the schools’ outdoor education sector for a number of years, before developing his love of whitewater rafting, including becoming a Level 5 Rafting Coach. Alongside this he continues to enjoy rivers in both a kayak and canoe.Canoe & Kayak Level 5 Coach Matt Blue
Matt is a National Trainer of Paddle Sports and Rafting for Canoe Wales, in this role he course directs, trains and assess a wide spectrum of BCU and Canoe Wales courses. He’s has recently spent time training and assessing the guides for the new course at Cardiff International White Water Centre and Lee Valley White Water Center, home to the Olympic slalom course, and helped in developing grass roots coaching through work with canoe clubs.

Retailer of the Year
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

AS Watersports - Exeter
The Staff of Canoe & Kayak shop AS Watersports in Exeter, Devon
This was a category that we opened up to voting by the paddling public and it was hard fought to say the least. In these days of online shopping we were glad to see that so many of you were passionate about supporting your local retailer. We think a good retailer is about so much more than just providing the cheapest price and from your responses it was clear that you agree. We were looking for a shop that alongside providing good levels of varied stock also went the extra mile to see that their customers got the boat and kit that was right for them and did everything in their power to help enhance the customer experience. From free mini-coaching sessions to help beginners get started, to organising group paddles and events, to supporting their local canoe clubs and generally acting as a vital hub and font of all knowledge to the paddlers in their region. It was clear that the eventual winners award were doing all of that and more so it gives us great pleasure to declare AS Watersports our 2011 CKUK Retailer of the Year
Canoe & kayak Awards

Whitewater The Canoe Centre - Shepperton
Whitewater The Canoe Centre, Shepperton - canoe shop
Based in Shepperton Marina on the River Thames Whitewater The Canoe Centre has a long and rich history in the world of canoeing and kayaking. Founded by George and Shirley Reardon (George produced the first glass fibre kayaks in the UK) it has seen a procession of leading lights in the sport take a stint behind the till (including our very own Ed). Over the last twenty odd years WWTCC has been owned and run by the indomitable Mr George Woods. Throughout that time George always went the extra mile to make sure his customers were given the best choice and service possible. George pioneered the ‘Open Day Come-And-Try-It’ concept. George recently stepped down from the helm to return to his native Scotland with his young family and can now be found exploring the coast in his sea kayak and the Lochs in his Canoe but former right hand man and new Owner Pete Scutt is determined to continue the tradition of top class customer care on in to the future.

Brookbank – Stockport
Mark Birch the man behind Brookbank Canoes really pioneered the new breed of canoe shop chains and online selling and his stores now stretch all the way from London all the way to Perth in Brookbank Canoe & Kayak Store StockportScotland. The original Stockport has moved premises and may have become a little larger in recent years but it remains somewhere where you can go to, not only check out and buy a mind-boggling array of kit, but also to get advice, enjoy a chat and a brew and really feel part of the Brookbank family. Mark remains a keen paddler himself and gets out on the water whenever he can. The shop hosts regular weekly ‘shop’ paddles on the local river and often puts on slide shows and presentations for the pleasure of its patrons.

Volunteer Coach of the Year – Unsung Hero
Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

Will Smith, Tweed Canoe Club
Canoe & Kayak Volunteer Canoe Club Coach of the Year Will Smith of Tweed Canoe Club
Thank you for all of your nominations, the winner of CKUK Volunteer Coach of the Year 2011 is Will Smith, who was nominated by Colin Meager. Will sounds like exactly the sort of person we were looking for when we opened this category: his continued long-term dedication and enthusiasm has obviously enabled and inspired future generations of paddler, and he has given up countless hours of his own time in the name of teaching kayaking. Colin’s nomination says it all: “Will has been involved with the Tweed Canoe Club since it began over 20 years ago. He has supported countless paddlers of all ages from their first pool sessions up to doing some more challenging whitewater. Will turns up week on week come rain, shine or even on occasion snow! Will is the backbone of our club: he’s always enthusiastic, keeps us safe and is a great ambassador for the fun of paddling.”

The Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler of the Year Award

Canoe & Kayak UK Awards
The Canoe & Kayak UK Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler of the Year Award

Dave BurneCanoe & Kayak UK Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler of the Year Award Winner Dave Burne
For us this is the most important award of all, because this award is dedicated to Chris Wheeler. Chris lost his life while paddling the Upper Dart, a river he loved in 2009. Here at CKUK we were lucky enough to have called Chris our friend and he had been contributing to the magazine on a regular basis from the beginning. Chris was always supportive and positive, but his feedback was frank and honest and over the years his input certainly shaped the way the magazine is today. As a kayaker Chris was a highly experienced and wise whitewater paddler who had paddled on many of the world’s greatest whitewater rivers. In later years he had also become an accomplished and skilled sea kayaker. Quietly spoken and a true gentleman Chris touched the lives and inspired many with his infectious enthusiasm and eloquent writing about the sport that he was truly passionate about. I know many of you will have read with pleasure Chris’s articles. Be it a report from a challenging expedition to a far flung river, sea kayaking in Ireland with his partner Julia, and even on one occasion his guide to ‘Marriage Guidance for Paddlers’; Chris always wrote from his heart, with candour and integrity and, of course, with his trademark dry wit. As we said in our editorial at the time, ‘Chris’s light burned brightly.’ So the recipient of this award is somebody that we feel best represents the passion, enthusiasm and drive that Chris had in spades, but also someone who shares that energy with their fellow paddlers on the water and by inspiring others by documenting and sharing the adventure in words and pictures. The Winner of the 2011 Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler Award is Dave Burne.

As you can imagine this was an extremely difficult award to judge, but for us young Mr Burne represents many of the attributes that we feel Chris would of approved of. He’s both motivated and a motivator and is happy to instigate a trip and then work in a team to ensure that trip happens and that all involved enjoy a rewarding and challenging experience. Dave always seems to be on, or in the process of organising, an adventure to a far flung corner of the world. He’s happy to push his limits, but not at the expense of his or his companions safety and he’s willing to put the work in to produce articles and features, not for personal glory, but to simply share the sheer exhilaration of paddling and to try and inspire others to get out there and explore. Most of all, in between a demanding schedule of study (He’s currently studying to become a Dr), Dave gets just as excited by paddling his kayak with his friends on his local run as he does in some far of exotic location. We believe that Dave’s got the right motivations and attitudes behind his desire to explore and paddle and we think Chris would think so too, which is why we’ve awarded him the honour of the very first Chris Wheeler Adventure Paddler of the Year Award.

Canoe & kayak Awards

Justine Curgenven
Sea Kayaker & Filmmaker Justine Curenven
Justine’s no stranger to the pages of CKUK and her award winning sea kayaking and canoeing films have inspired many. A talented filmmaker in recent years Justine has really pushed the envelope with some really impressive expeditions of her own. Her latest adventures have included an attempt to sea kayak around the Tierra del Fuego and accompanying around the world adventurer Sarah Outen on sea kayaking and cycling legs of her epic journey across the English Channel and then in Russia Kazakhstan and China.

Simon Tapley
He probably won’t thank us for saying this but we can remember Simon paddling as a wee nipper, surfing it up on the Bitches Tidal Race in Pembrokeshire in his extremely padded Dagger Vertigo, it seemed like Whitewater expedition kayaker Simon Tapleyhe could just about see over the lip of his cockpit. He’s grown up a bit since then and in the intervening years he’s packed in more adventure kayaking than you can shake a sharpened stick at. The Grand Canyon of the Stikine, the Humla Karnali, you name an epic run and the chances are Simon will have paddled it. Over the last year or so studying for a degree from Nottingham university has slowed him down a little, but now he’s graduated we're pretty sure there’ll be some more awesome adventures to come from young Mr Tapley. Watch this space.

Keep your eyes peeled on the News section for details of the 2012 Canoe & Kayak Awards and how you can get involved.

Think we've made the right choices? Tell us your views in the Canoe & Kayak forum HERE

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01 Oct 2012

The Canoe & Kakak UK Team have been on the road to visit and paddle at the newly-revamped artificial whitewater course at Tees Barrage International Whitewater Centre, Stockton-upon-Tees. Here are som

The 50 Best Whitewater River Sections in the UK - according to Canoe & Kayak UK

01 Oct 2012

As the UK whitewater season is upon us, we thought we’d celebrate by giving you the Canoe & kayak UK low-down on what we think are the 50 best whitewater river runs in the UK. From remote, rapid strew

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The Best Canoes, Kayaks & Paddling Gear of the Year - The 2012 Canoe & Kayak UK Awards

06 Sep 2012

After months of debate in the Canoe & Kayak UK office and discussion we were finally able to reveal the products and people that, for us, have stood out over the last 12-months as we proudly announce

Sea Kayaking Dry Suit Group Test

02 Jul 2012

The Canoe & Kayak UK test team put six sea kayaking dry suits to the test!

Plastic Sea Kayak Group Test

14 Jun 2012

We put 12 leading Plastic Sea Kayak designs through their paces in a head to head plastic sea kayak group test

Sea Kayak Head to Head Test - The Taran Sea Kayak V The Inuk Sea Kayak

15 May 2012

Sea kayaks have one of boating’s oldest pedigrees. While river kayaks mutate into new shapes with every season, their ocean cousins still carry those ancient Eskimo looks. But that doesn't mean that s

Buying a Canoe or Kayak - Choosing the Right Canoe or Kayak For You

07 Feb 2012

All You Need to Know About Buying a Canoe or Kayak, ready to GO Canoeing & Kayaking This Summer.

Canoe & Kayak UK Retailer of the Year 2011 - Winner - AS Watersports

10 Dec 2011

Find out why we awarded AS Watersports in Exeter the winners of our prestigious Canoe & Kayak UK Retailer of the Year Award