Hit some power lines and took out 2 light polls. One light poll that came down (part way) had two ENO hammocks attached to it, the other ends were hooked to a Jeep Wrangler. The hammock sleepers were tossed out but surprisingly enough, the Jeep and the hammocks held the poll up at a 45 degree angle and possibly saved some campers. When those polls came down, it laid live power lines across the row of cars on the lake side. It was resting on the kayak on top of my car. At any rate, Duke Energy showed up to remove the power lines and some volunteer firefighters removed the tree because it blocked in a bunch of people who were camped back near the trailer boat launch.
And they still do all the classic. I won't take anything bigger than my Jed down the Upper Gauley.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my RPM. But short boats downriver play too, and add a whole new dimension to the available tricks!
And as previously mentioned, if you're not seeing it, you're not paddling with the right people. Dem Long Creek Gangstas been keepin' it real throughout the SE, and if you've ever been to the Green in the summer (or spring, or early fall), the river is littered with sunken stern hooligans harassing perfectly avoidable rocks.
Downriver freestyle is alive and well, in every boat, on every river.
That said, I do think DRF is much more popular in more skilled paddling circles--people who are more comfortable in unusual situations, confident in the bomb-proofness of their rolls, and are looking to make their experiences more challenging. If you paddle with people of a certain skill level, you'll see the DRF again. Maybe you should reevaluate your choice in crews!
Apologies because some of this is going to sound pretty cliche. As a sponsored athlete/brand ambassador or whatever you want to call it, I always wanted to work with companies where I could honestly recommend their product to friends. It also seems that I'm unusually hard on boats, and Prijon would have been a good choice for me early on, because blow-molded kayaks have an incredible lifespan. Unfortunately at that time I didn't like their designs (Hercules, Cross, Embudo). By the time shapes that more suited my taste came out (Pure, Pure XL), the importer was more or less retiring so that wasn't an option.
Going through two to five boats a year must have had a significant carbon footprint, on top of being a pain in the ass, especially on multi-day rivers. One year I went through four boats while a friend paddled the same rivers in one Prijon the entire time, and sold it at the end of the season. I still see that boat with it's new owner, three years later and still not cracked. That year made it hard to say "you should buy this brand that I'm representing".
I always thought the Pure M was a bit too small for me, and assumed the Pure XL was too big. I tried a Cali this year and was surprised by the fit, I'm certainly on the smaller side for it (I'm only 5'6") yet it performs much better than I expected once outfitted well. Liking the design & knowing the quality of the plastic, when I got an offer to help importing the brand it was something that made sense.
The more I learned about Prijon as a company, the more I liked them. Not only are they run by a family of kayakers, they are owned outright by the family; not outside investors. Toni & Jurgen Prijon are at the factory every day. They have too many employees because they didn't lay people off after production peaked over a decade ago. Some of these employees have been with the company over twenty years, it's great to see they treat them like family. Their factory is solar powered, and all the parts are sourced within 100km.
Honestly importing has been an uphill battle because of the the, shall we say, lackluster designs of previous years make it hard for people to accept that the new designs might be good, and below industry standard outfitting makes it hard to tell how good the design is while demoing. When you're going to own a boat for years it's well worth doing some outfitting work with foam, but that's not an easy pitch on the sales floor. Thankfully Prijon is working with us on improving the outfitting, but it's been a slow process as that's the nature of a small business on a different continent.
They truly are a company with integrity and it sure was nice not to break a kayak this season. Any questions about the company or whatever else welcome. We're trying to get more demos around the U.S. but it's a big challenge, as we have considerably lower margins than any other brand because treating employees like family comes with a cost - the production cost of each boat is not trivial.
Do we want to improve the race? Of course! Do we want to be taken seriously as a sport? Of course!
But with this specific event, grass roots are at the core of its existence and huge media crews, sponsor banners (which are banned), and general commercialization which would lead the affordability of advanced timing equipment go against that grain.
The type of sponsors the race gets now, praise be unto them, are not the folks able to afford such equipment, nor should we expect them to be. Local shops, local brands, local brews. The Green Race is not the NFC or Sickline--that's not what the organizers wanted from it when it began, or (to my knowledge) what they want now.
Better timing would be great--but we've got to remember where we are, who we are, and what this event is about, then recognize the limits of what is feasible.
If you have a solution to offer (not an idea, but the actual experience, equipment, and time to donate), contact Jason Hale and help better the race. But remember that the Green Race is not about selling out and broadcasting the to world a professional sporting event--it's about exactly the opposite. It's not about the times. It's not about who wins. It's not about who makes the fastest boat. It's about a community coming together to appreciate the spectacular gem of the southeast that is the Green River.