This past weekend saw the 5th annual Whitewater Symposium at the ASCI center in Maryland.
Getting to the course late on Thursday Mike and I rolled in after a
long drive and a long season ready to see what the Symposium had in
store for this year. While it had been said the Upper Yough would
release for the event it turned out that the weather and dam had other
plans. However, seeing as there is a brand new whitewater course on the
top of a hill we went to see what it was all about. Whatever your view
of artificial whitewater it serves a certain purpose and paddles
slightly differently than the usual river. That said once you get used
to the fact that the eddies don’t stop, the current is always changing
and the boils are infuriating as hell, they are fun as you like; oh and
there’s an elevator.
Day one of the conference saw similar weather conditions and given that
the course is on the top of a hill, the wind was whipping. However, it
didn’t put a hold on the sharing of ideas; the on-water clinics
continued on. The first session that took place on the water was a
presentation on aggressive foot entrapment rescue techniques. Charlie
Walbridge was getting wet to show us all some methods. While there was
nothing new in terms of subject matter, the focus of being more
proactive and leaning towards less rope-intensive techniques showed a
shift towards more real-life options. Basically it was, get there quick
with whatever you have, and quite often that will be you and your boat.
During the weekend there were few clinics attended more heavily than
Janet Cowie’s “Game On!!”. As Head of Instruction at Zoar Janet has
been playing games on the water for some time and has an arsenal that
would make the most seasoned camp councilor immensely jealous. While
other groups were wondering where the shouts of “YOP!” and “POY!” and
the occasional NASCAR noise were coming from, the participants were
having a hoot playing Assassin and Guardians.
The Symposium is also a time to meet up with old friends from the
industry who are spread liberally around the country. So Saturday night
it was off to the Black Bear to see what we could get ourselves into. A
lot of locals and an average cover band made for a great night with
Woody and Wayner providing plenty of entertainment.
While we all dusted off the cobwebs from the night before Sunday was
equally informative and Mike Mather produced yet another fantastic rope
trick. Mary Deriemer got technical with teaching the roll and Bruce
Lessels schooled us all in the Slalom Survivor.
With the Red Sox leading the charge and the Symposium over we were
off to the course for one last session. The variable wave-shapers are
an amazing piece of engineering and there are four of them. With four
full pumps the main features allow you to do pretty much anything and
are not small. Although the features can be a little intimidating they
have some easier features too and it makes an interesting place to
While we are off to North Carolina we’ll leave you with some photos of the course.