The Asahan river is mostly unknown by the majority of kayakers.
Flowing out of the dam on Lake Toba, an old super vulcano in North Sumatra - Indonesia. This wonderful river mostly class IV and V (VI) flows all year at the same level. This year the White Water World Festival has been organized thanks to the money from the Government of North Sumatra. 3 Raft races and 4 kayaking races have been organized in the upper section of the Asahan. Michele Ramazza and the other kayakers invited to the event have trained for a week before the competition to perform at the best and have some fun in this spectacular valley.
The middle section of this river is not usually run, but the crew there was quite hungry of big rapids. Therefore the team has run this section with the second descent by Michele of the infamous local rapid called Nightmare.
The races have been really intense with the long distance the first day, slalom the second day and sprint and boater X the last day.
The local people were amazing, really friendly and they were venerating all the kayakers like Hollywood stars...
The races has been a hard battle between Michele Ramazza (ITA), Mike Dawson (NZ), Charlie (FRA) and Daniel Watkins (AUS).
Michele won the overall title of the event with good results in the slalom and the sprint.
Here you can find a detailed list of the most important river signal internationally known. A short guide to help the communication in the noisy river environment.
One of the most important rule about river signals is: simplicity, clearness and only the necessary information.
It's important to remember to have a short briefing with your group before any river descent in order to avoid dangerous misunderstanding. Some kayaker might not follows this standard!
The standard presented below is internationally known and comes from the Rescue and Rafting world.
OK, I UNDERSTOOD
The OK signal means "OK, I UNDERSTOOD". It's important to do this signal every time you receive a communication from anyone and you have understood the message. In case you don't do this message, it means the communication has not arrived.
This signal can also be used to say "I'M ALL RIGHT" and you haven't hurt yourself or someone else is safe.
The STOP signal meas "STOP NOW AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. WAIT FOR NEW SIGNALS".
You can to this signal either with the arms or with the paddle. You can use this signal to stop the group or to ask to wait a bit more.
This signal is very clear and visible from high distance. A simple vertical hand that move forward and back like an "ALT" signal, can generally be confused with a "GO" and thus it's not a river signal.
GO AHEAD signal
The GO AHEAD signal means: "GO STRAIGHT IN THE MIDDLE, NOTHING TO SCOUT".
You can to this signal either with the arms or with the paddle. It's important to give this signal only if the rapid or the drop can be done without any other additional information or scouting. It can also be used to ask the group to proceed ahead.
GO LEFT signal
The GO LEFT signal means: "GO LEFT, NOTHING TO SCOUT".
You can to this signal either with the arms or with the paddle. It's important to give this signal only if the rapid or the drop can be done without any other additional information or scouting.
Of course the opposite "GO RIGHT" signal can be done pointing the arm or the paddle in the opposite direction. If you wish to be more precise and have different signals for "GO HARD LEFT" and "GO MIDDLE-LEFT" you need to specify your standard before the run with your group. A misunderstanding in the river can lead to dangerous situations.
STOP IN THE EDDIE signal
The signal "STOP IN THE EDDIE" means: "STOP IN THE FIRST EDDIE ON RIVER LEFT".
You can to this signal either with the arms or with the paddle. It's possible to point the eddie you want with your finger after this signal. In this way you can ask to another kayaker to stop in a specific place. In general terms, it communicate to the group you want everybody to stop on river left.
Of course the opposite "STOP IN THE EDDIE ON RIVER RIGHT" signal can be done pointing the arm or the paddle in the opposite direction.
COME HERE signal
The COME HERE signal means: "COME TO ME, MEETING HERE".
You ask the group to meet up where you are. You can use it if you need to do a briefing or you have some safety issue to solve all together .
SAFETY REQUIRED signal
The SAFETY signal means: "SET UP SAFETY". You ask the group to cover a drop or a rapid using through bags or other safety measures.
The UNRUNNIBLE signal meas: "THE NEXT DROP OR RAPID IS UNRUNNIBLE". You can also point with your finger the place or drop you want to define unrunnible.
It's important to not define a drop unrunnible only if you think to portage it. Other kayakers might want to scout it before to portage it. Use this signal only if the drop is obstructed and 100% unrunnible.
The SCOUT signal means: "YOU NEED TO SCOUT THE DROP".
This signal means that you must scout the drop before running it or portage. It's important to request a scout all the time a drop can't be run only with the indication of thestarting point: left, middle or right.
The PORTAGE signal means: "START THE PORTAGE" or "I'M PORTAGING".
This signal require to begin the portage directly without scouting. It can also be used in order to communicate you are going to portage one drop or rapid.
I CAN'T SEE signal
This signal means: "I CAN'T SEE".
You can use this signal to notify you can't see or scout the drop from my position. You can also use this signal in order to communicate you can't see a missing person or kayak.
This signal means: "SOMEONE IS INJURED AND I NEED FIRST AID".
If you see this signal you might take your first aid kid or be ready to call the emergency service.
Lots of creek kayakers want to buy a slalom boat to start training to get a better paddler. Is that a good idea or not?
Slalom kayakers have a better technique rather than any other paddlers but, is this enough to prove the slalom training is necessary to improve?
Many people asked me about slalom training to improve creek boating skills. I think is very easy to connect the fact that slalom paddlers are good kayakers and the idea that slalom training is important to get better. However this assumption could not be completely correct.
Slalom kayakers are probably better paddlers because they use to spend a good part of their life on a kayak, training day after day in order to clean every single stroke to improve race performance. They had learned to 'read' the water, remember lines, use in the correct way the power and a lot of balance in the white water. Of course, if you give a creekboat to a slalom kayaker, he is going probably much better than most part of creekers. Despite this fact, the question is: how strong he could have been if he had spent his training life in a creek boat rather than in a slalom one?
I spent probably my training life half on a slalom boat and half on a creek boat. I'm convinced that the two techniques are quite different and I spent a lot of effort in order to switch from slalom to creek. The body movement is completely different and the boat's tails have opposite behaviours. The creek boat slides sidewise much more than a slalom one, requiring different paddle strokes to keep it in line.
The key concept is: to improve skills is necessary to train a lot and focus on every detail to create an efficient movement. The more the training is similar to the discipline, the better it is.
Slalom is a very good school which teaches how to train, read the water, remember lines and give a lot of balance, but the technique is significantly different to the creek boating one. Freestyle can be useful as well in order to learn a very good roll and to control the kayak while is stacked into holes or is surfing waves. However, to really learn the creek boating technique, there is nothing better than train on a creek kayak.
Sometimes I train with slalom guys because doing gates is a very good training for hard lines. I do this training sessions with my plastic boat and I almost can do everything like my mates. Of course my shoulders are a bit tired at the end of the day to carry my boat up the course million of times, but I always found this kind of training very useful.
Doing different disciplines is never a bad thing, changing movement gives a great chance to learn, especially for kids. What I'm saying is that if you have one chance or two a week to train, it's better to focus in the closest movement to the sport you are training for. If you can train 5 times a week, you can spend some time doing different disciplines as well.
I hope these considerations can help. If you want to check my technique section go to Micheleramazza.com
The first impression on the new Recon has been of an easy and forgiving boat. But I wasn't personally sure about it's performance in short and long creek race.
After a normal training time on the new model I can now affirm that the Recon is a very good race boat as well. How can I say that? I just won 3 race in a row in the alps with differt race format: a long distance class IV run, few boaterX like the Sweet Rumble, a short sprint on class V and a 26 minute marathon with a mass start.
I never done a such good result and I felt the new WS creek boat helped me a lot. I found all the races easier and all the drops a little bit less difficult and the chance to make mistakes is dropped since last time in the habitat.
This boat let me avoid a lot of correction strokes to take the line and to boof little waves since it does it by itself. Thus my energy is more available to increse speed and to clean the line without mistakes.
I might be in a good physical shape as well at moment but I really felt a very good impovement in terms of race performnce and class V skills.