Paddling in Thun Switzerland may be even better than it was during the World’s in 2009! Two years ago, I watched with horror as a bulldozer dug up the riverbed in Thun right where the former amazing World’s Wave had been. I thought that that was the end of paddling life at Thun. However, low and behold, this summer reports started trickling across the Atlantic about how Thun had come back and was better than ever. Not seeing for myself, I thought, “this is nice, but how can it be, and it probably is not as good as it used to be!” Well, boy was I wrong – and thankfully so! For the last week, an amazing world-class wave has been there for all to surf. The local paddling posse who are all in some form of Jackson boat – which is great to see too – have been out everyday. With everyone floating in the eddy, we look like a pack of exploded M&Ms with all the bright colors and red faces from paddling so much!
The new Thun wave is in a different location than the World’s wave and its definitely a little bigger and more dynamic! The wave is also quite fast with a left shoulder a lot like club wave on the Nile, so you have the sensation of surfing a big fast and powerful wave. And you can try any move you like on it, which is great fun. This new wave has really made for a fantastic and unexpected Fall paddling treat here in the Berner Oberland. The surfers are pretty happy with the wave too, and it’s been great to see all kinds of people enjoying this spot. Another great thing about this wave is that catching it is a little tricky so it has the added benefit of getting you in awesome paddling shape just to play at the spot. If all that weren't enough, the weather has been very mild this Fall so the water is still a very pleasant temperature. Overall, it’s been some of the best Fall paddling I have done in years. Here’s to an unexpected surprise in Switzerland this Fall!
[Dr Jessie Stone is Aquapac Outdoor Champion 2014]
Deena Hoagland of Island Dolphin Care
What is the Aquapac Outdoor Champions programme?
We'd all like to do something, however small, to make the world a better place. To that end we at Aquapac try our best to support people who devote their whole lives to doing just that.
Each year we pick an individual who we think deserves a lot more public recognition. Somebody - anywhere in the world - who has devoted their life to making the world a better place for others.
2009 - Daniel Fox
2010 - Roz Savage
2011 - Sarah Outen
2012 - Dave Cornthwaite
2013 - Emily Penn
2014 - Dr Jessie Stone
So who is Deena Hoagland?
Deena founded Island Dolphin Care 17 years ago. It's a non-profit/charity that aims to help children with special needs, children at risk, and also wounded veterans. Through activities centered around dolphin-human therapy, those in need reclaim hope, shed stress, and find inspiration.
The dolphins themselves live in ocean water in a basin in the Key Largo canals.
Deena with her son Joe
Deena came across dolphin therapy in the treatment of her own critically ill child. She found the friendship of dolphins provided her with the answers to help her son Joe, which led her to create the Island Dolphin Care facility.
This spacious, multifunction centre provides full accessibility to unique activity spaces, a dolphin human therapy area, sensory garden and touch tank.
Deena gets a USD1500 cash award, plus at least USD1000-worth of Aquapac products which will be used to aid treatments in and around the pools.
Both therapists and dolphin trainers want Aquapac's waterproof cases so as to track and record information on iPads while in the water. And they are implementing a number of new test therapies which involve adding sound elements to the water experience which means the iPod/iPhone cases, together with Aquapac's 100%-waterproof earphones, will be really useful. They also want to be able to shoot video in the pool, and again Aquapac can offer all sorts of cases to help here.
Deena with her husband Pete
For more about Deena and Island Dolphin Care click here.
If you are in contact with any media out there, it currently feels like we live in a really chaotic and crazy world! And it would be hard to conceive of why anyone would want to travel halfway around the world to kayak in a place where either you may get blown up by terrorists or get Ebola and on top of that your kayak may get lost in transit. There is good kayaking in many places and well why go through all that to paddle when you can be home, right? Well, I am sorry to say that once you have been to the Nile, it's really really hard to not fall in love with the river and want to paddle there all the time. The journey there is part of the adventure and once you arrive to warm, friendly Uganda that also has the right price point for just about all kayakers, it's hard not to stay for a while or keep coming back.
Another thing you discover when you get to Uganda is that the media hype that you happened to hear up until your arrival was just that – hype – very good for selling newspapers and advertising space but not necessarily reality based. First off, getting Ebola in Uganda when there are no confirmed cases would be really hard to do, especially since the outbreak is as far from Uganda as London is from Uganda. Plus, there are no direct flights from Uganda to West Africa where the Ebola outbreak is. You have to fly through Europe to get there and overland would be next to impossible especially with stepped up border controls checking everyone coming into the country not to mention crossing the Congo which has no viable roads. Second, and probably the most compelling reason to visit the Nile and paddle it is that the Nile is under yet another threat of being dammed. This new proposed Isimba dam would be done in 3 years and flood all the great whitewater!
The latest news on the dam is a little sketchy – a Chinese company that has been blacklisted by the World Bank – the Chinese Water and Electric Company – is supposed to be building this new Isimba dam. Locals and businesses that would be affected by the dam are fighting back and making their voices heard in the Ugandan parliament so any other voices in favor of saving the Nile should also make their wishes known at Save Adventure Tourism Uganda. It is definitely not too late and the effort to save this mighty river is far from over!! In the meantime, stop listening to the media and get yourself over to Uganda to paddle one of the world’s greatest rivers! It’s an experience you’ll never forget. The only things you really have to be careful of are getting Malaria – which is easily preventable – ask me any questions you like on the subject or anything related to paddling in Uganda - and travelling by public transportation – definitely hazardous to your health but manageable by hired car!
Finally, here is a link to the latest published news about the Isimba dam in Uganda: http://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Reviews/Bujagali-is-no-place-for-tourists-now/-/691232/2475930/-/5xioxe/-/index.html
Remember, “He who hesitates is lost!” So don’t wait until it’s too late and hope to see you in Uganda!
[Dr Jessie Stone is Aquapac Outdoor Champion 2014]
So there you have it. The competition was fierce but we chose this caption by a close margin.
The lucky winner is Tom Mycock of Staffordshire, UK (shown below). He wins one of our new TrailProof Drybags. Many congratulations, Tom!
There will be another competition along shortly. Keep an eye on our Blog.
Sorry, competition now closed. Another one coming soon.
This shot was taken in Mauritius by Aquapaccer Harry Winnington www.harrywinnington.com.
Enter your caption below. The best will win one of our new 25L TrailProof Drybags, worth $35 / £25.
These bags are so new they're not even in the shops yet!
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First prize is a 25-litre TrailProof Drybag worth $35 MSRP / £25 RRP. No cash alternatives will be available.
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They're not going to be available in stores till Christmas, but they are available - from today - on www.aquapac.net.