Dan Caldwell '08 Vid

Well folks I hope everyone is enjoying a happy holiday season and is out somewhere warm kayaking. I'm still in the frozen tundra of Northern BC but threw together some clips from my 2008 season. See you in the spring!

Alzar School in Mexico

Well, we have just one day before our group of US students arrive in Mexico. We have been scouting out the rivers around our main basecamp here in Jalcomulco. They are incredible! Today we paddle the Rio Actopan, which is a continuous Class II-III rollercoaster. You start at a small waterfall, which you can choose to run or not run, then encounter three fun rapids in a tight canyon. At one point, a HUGE waterfall dumps into the river. Plus, the water on this river is exceptionally clear, with a slight blue tinge.

Our hotel here is SWEET, one of the nicest places for the Alzar School yet. Plus, we have the new van, which is a great ride, comfy. Plus, we have been eating excellent food... two 'paletas' each day (awesome popsicles).

One of the most exciting developments is that we are going to have not one, but TWO local students join us for the trip. They are named Mayan and Marisol. Kristin and I met with them yesterday and they are SO cool. They are both 15 and are excited to share Mexico with our students from the US. We can't wait. Their tuition is covered thanks to all the generous donations to the Jean Bierle Scholarship Initiative, so a big THANK YOU to those who helped with that!

You would all be happy to know that Pebbles (the Alzar School puppy) is adapting very well on her first trip out of the US... She made the drive down easily, napping most of the way. We were awed by how well she did in the car. And, she has finally discovered that she can swim and loves it. Today we played fetch in the river and she was having a blast. She still needs to work on her technique a little before hitting the main current, but she is now leaping into the river instead of reluctantly treading out, which is great. She also really enjoys all the new sites, sounds, and especially smells. Today on my jog with her, she chased after a burro for a little bit, and later tried to eat a gecko.


New Zealand

Hello from New Zealand!
New River Academy's trip started off on the Kaituna River. This was a completely epic run, with a fun double drop and a 20 footer on it and numerous other little drops. The run leads into the Kaituna
 hole, which is an unbelievable playspot. It was actually at this hole that a couple HUGE students created the move "phonix m
onkey" a few years back. The area itself was gorgeous. Picture rich rolling green hills 100 yds from lush jungle. The river put in was only around 3/4 of a mile from where we were staying, and the hole only around 1 1/2 miles from us, easy walking distance. It was a perfect set up.

We spent time at the River Valley Lodge on the Rangitiki River. Wh
ile we were there, the river flooded and a cool wave came in. New River Academy knocked off school early in order to play on it. 
We did lots of other runs on other rivers around New Zealand. We even got time in the ocean! There are rough riptides and it is so tiring
 fighting them for hours. But New Zealand coast has sweet waves for sure!
  We got to run Maruia Falls, which are on the South Island of New Zealand. The falls are 35 feet tall, and super
 fun. It is a park and huck, so there is no pressure. We had some interesting runs, including 3 hail marys (which were amazing), numerous free wheels, and even a sort of panam. We also had our fair share of interesting lines as well. No pain no gain though right?
New Zealand
 is an amazing trip, definitaly one I'll never forget.

Happy Holidays!
Tracy d'Arbeloff



So its been two sweet months for my friends and I at the White Nile. We have been hopping from different spots absorbing all the river has to offer. We first started at the upper section, by the notorious Nile River Outfitters. This upper part of the river has proved to be a great river running training grounds with big drops, big holes, big haystack waves, big reactionary waves, and elusive but extremely sharp rocks.

The lower section, From where the pictures are from, is 45 km down river at the Nile special and it's brother Club wave. This seems to be where we have been spending most of our time. We stay just downstream at the Hairy Lemon and paddle to the waves twice daily. The Hairy lemon is sort of a kayaking camp. You eat marginal food, surf 2-3 hrs, eat, rest, surf another 2-3 hours, eat, drink and talk with our new international kayak friends, go to sleep, and do it all over the next day. It some of the most fun I have had kayaking. Paddling with people from all over the globe. All with different customs and styles, but all sharing the love of Nile and kayaking.

Inspired by lots of beer and Nile river legend Sam Ward's tales of creeking we took a side trip, to the Sippi Falls region of Uganda. Their Sam showed us his treat, a not too challenging, but fun and beautiful first desent of upper Sippi river. Yes, we got to go creek boating in Uganda!
In all of my kayaking endeavors and some not in the kayak, (motorcycle taxis, Boda Boda's, = not safe. Helmets are sweet!) WRSI gear has been there. We used it creeking with the Hail Mairy and the comfy fit of the helmet let me forget I have it on every day for up to six hours. I can not even begin to say how necessary the simple built in visor is with the equatorial sun, super intence. Thanks WRSI, looking forword to letting you know how the trip finishes, We are trying to see if it is economicaly possible for us to go to the Zambize.... till then, Cheers from Todd and the Montana boys!


Kia Ora everyone.
Well ive just returned from an emotionally charged rafting expedition on the Franklin river in Western tasmania. It was a memorial trip to remember and spread the ashes of WRSI team member and close friend Benny Earle, who drowned whilst attempting a first descent of Finn creek BC during the canadian spring.
I couldn't think of a better way to remember a friend- than to raft the river he loved so much- telling stories , laughing, crying with all his best mates and family.
It was a great trip, perfect weather, great waterlevels and good company. Many a time we thought ben must be watching over us, giving us sunny days and a relatively safe passage through the 'great ravine'.
We did however manage to 'plug hole' a 12 foot raft into a Sieve with all our gear on it. The rapid known as nasty notch is renowned for causing issues and losing rafts. which causes a headache considering how remote the river is and how necessary it is to have your raft and gear to get out of the wilderness. It was either sheer luck or a bit of divine intervention from our fallen friend- that after removing the top layer of gear the raft managed to toaster out of the sieve and we pulled it over the boulder, we did however have to swim for some gear that went floating down river- including the toilet.
Because of time restrictions- we were forced to descend the river in 6 days (usually takes 10), but apart from a couple of long days was no real drama.
I will try and get some photos up and running on this blog.
And to all the crew that came down the river- thanks for devoting the time to remember an amazing man. We will miss you Benny Earle, but rest easy for your spirit will always flow strong and free in the wild waters of the Franklin River.
peace out brother.

cheers- Thorpie


Back on Snow!

Whats up family,

I wanted to write and share my excitement with everyone.  I am finally skiing for the first time since my fractured knee cap last March!  It is great to be in the cold and back at my first love.  We are in Summit, CO skiing at Arapahoe Basin.  Most of the resorts here are open with a few groomed runs but the coverage is getting better as it has been snowing a few inches everyday.  The training is good and hopefully we will be jumping some time next week.  

I will be in Colorado until December 21st.  I have a U.S. Team Camp November 24-December 5.  Then I head down to Telluride for the first 
Jeep King of the Mountain Skier Cross event.  Immediately following that I go up to Winter Park for U.S. Team Selections event.  The next 6 weeks are going to be busy but there is nothing I would rather be doing.  Pray for snow!


Green Race

I had a great time hanging out and racing at the Green last weekend. My WRSI gear came in handy. The water was low and I was grateful for my full face helmet. I used it on the Russell Fork the weekend before, and just popped the face protection on for the Green Race. It is like having two helmets in one. I also threw my Hail Mary to a swimmer for the first time. He was a PFD-less, helmetless swimmer. I am certain the rope saved his life as he fell into the middle of Scream Machine, the first Class V slide below Gorilla. Thanks,WRSI. Phtot by Anthony Bellemare. Click here for more.


A disturbing video with some NWT and BC boating

Here is the vid of my going insane due to lack of whitewater at my current location, and some boating in BC and the Northwest Territories. Enjoy.



Right here two recent videos about the last month.

Enjoy ;-)


French news

A sweet Summer by Mathieu Coldebella

Mi-June is the end of the school year in France and then the beginning of the kayak time. The night after my last exam I took a plane from Lyon destination : UGANDA.

One month paddling every day on the awesome white Nile river : always moving between Bujagali and the Hairy Lemon to paddle a lot the river and the Nile Special wave.

After those 4 weeks in this awesome country, it was time to go back in Europe to have the euro championship in Spanish Galicia.
Unfortunately I have had some problem with my van on the way and arrived the day before the competition after 17,5 hours driving. In fact I miss the event and finished at the 17th rank.

1 week later happened the R3 : Rabioux River Rodeo in the Alps which was a pretty cool event an a nice final for me against Mathieu Dumoulin and Gerd from Spain. I was 2nd and this result allowed me to win the Free Kayak Tour : French Championship.

Immediately after that we left France to go to Praha in the Czech republic for the first World Cup event. We had a sweet training week in a pretty city with nice people. The hole was really small but every move possible I managed to pass through the prelims but unfortunately finished 11th of the quarterfinals.

A last party in this amazing city and lets go for the 2nd event of the 2008 world Cup : Augsbourg. Result 31st after a very bad 2nd ride.

The last event in Thun was very different thanks to a small wave on the opposite with the 2 first spots. Sun and blue water are the paddling conditions in Switzerland. A reel nice event with a 4 prelim runs system to enjoy the spot. 16th of the qualifications but very good sensation in my new Nemesis S. The next day during the quarterfinals, I was not really in the course and finished 18th.

The world cup over I had to go back to school knowing I was on the 17th rank which is OK but I really want to do better next year.

Go big and have fun.



thorpie's update.

Hi All.
Well im now hanging down in New Zealand after a successful paddling trip to Mexico.
Yesterday We paddled the Nevis River in southern NZ, its an angry little class5 creek. And with all the spring melt it was charging along at over 20cumecs- which is on the high side of fun.
well - keep charging the lines.


West Virginia in the Fall

Whats up guys! This is Tracy with an update on New River Academy. We've been up in West Virginia this past week. It is so nice to be in warm weather after freezing our butts off in Canada. Everyone was totally pumped to be able to hit up the Gauley! Personally, The Gauley is one of my favorite rivers in the US. It has runs for all skill levels. The lower is a fun run, with some intro to big water. It is really good for tuning up skills and getting experience. The Upper has sweet class V rapids with awesome play and infinite lines. Whats not to love? This past weekend was the final weekend of Gauley Season. I actually got to try my hand out at rafting! I have to say, I missed my playboat. Rafting was SO scary. At one point, we lost all our crew surfing Hungary Mother (a hole on the Upper). Somehow I managed to stay in the raft. The whole time I was cowering on the floor of the raft, just waiting for the hole to let go of it. Not my proudest moment. It was a cool experience though. The river seems totally different from a raft's perspective. If you are ever feeling burnt out on kayaking, give rafting a go. Its fun and totally worth trying!

Yesterday New River Academy hit up the Tygart. The Tygart has two completely clean 10-12 foot waterfalls. They are AMAZING. It was totally sweet to get to work on boofs and freewheels. The best thing about these waterfalls is that they are super safe. With all the lines you can run, they are perfect for beginner and advanced levels. I definitally improved my boof stroke a ton. I am so ready to get to New Zealand and run some big falls. The only embarrassing moment for me was when I was paddling hard to get to the tip of this rock that was sticking out to boof it. I was concentrating super hard when all of the sudden, I fell off the side of it and plugged! I laughed it off, but man. talk about Oops. The Tygart is a really good 'park and huck' to check out if you are in the area. It is also a super photogenic spot if you are into photography.

Keep it real!
-Tracy d'Arbeloff


Jay Panther

Whats up everyone!?  My name is  Jay Panther and I am a freestyle skier that is real excited about the winter side of WRSI.  Here is a video of two of the jumps I have been working on for the moguls.

I can barely wait for the season to start.  We are heading to Canada at the end of October for early season training.  In the mean time I am visiting family and getting real real antsy.  If you have spent the last few months praying for snow, here is a video of last season to hold you over!


Russell Fork Forever

I took my Session + up to the Russell Fork last weekend for some sick Class V playboating. The turnout was small, but we had a solid crew of Southeastern paddlers show up for one of the best runs on Earth. All photos by Will Stubblefield.


One last hurrah!

Well with wife, dog and house in tow, we headed up to the Northwest Territories for one last boating trip of the year on the Slave River. I decided to take the 'scenic' route which didn't really live up to its name unless you consider flat gravel highway's as scenic (for three days straight). I decided to take the waterfall route and was a bit dissappointed when the combined flow of all of the drops I looked at was less than I can pee after drinking a dozen energy drinks. I did manage to run a few lines on one of the drops though (but you will notice the water has a yellow tinge to it...
Finally after driving FOREVER and dodging Buffalo ( a fun game on it's own) we arrived in Fort Smith and the Slave River. Now it seeems that not a whole lot of boaters go up there in mid September but luckily I hooked up (in a totally platonic way) with some of the local boaters and
got the tour of the goods.
Tweaking the Nipple and An evening on the English Channel Photo: John Blyth
The first day was a trip down Molly's Nipple, some Avalanche action and then over to the Edge before a quick rip through The Playground. YUMMY! So I'm sure you've all heard about the wonderful things up there but no one speaks of the dark side. For example the 'mountain' you need to climb back up to your car. Or how about the 45minute flatwater paddle before you actually hit a rapid. Whoever said you can't get lost on a river might try it out here. And then 'finding' the takeout on some rapids - 'Oh just look for the dark green trees' Guess what tips? All the trees are dark green. How about the bugs? I went when they weren't supposed to be bad which means in the summer you probably inhale them while breathing. I guess it's cheaper than buying food. And lets not forget about the town's proximity to NOTHING!
But despite all of these things I'd still go back. Yup, the river is just that good. So thats it for now but stayed tuned for a vid of the aforementioned tomfoolery.

Rush hour on the Highway and Big water = Good times


Dan Caldwell



Brock Nelson----Diagnosis: Broken Nose

Oregon, September, 22, 2008

This picture was sent to us from Brock Nelson, here is what he had to say " WRSI....thought you guys might like this picture, it was the 2nd day on a 4 day trip in Oregon. I broke my nose in three places. It was an awesome trip other than that! The full face guard is on order... enough said!!"
Brock Nelson


Land of the Lost...Coast

If you left the California Oregon boarder in a 17 foot sea kayak, I would tell you that, your about 7 long days in the saddle from the Lost Coast. Despite huge swells, dumping surf, endless reef and rock, and some of the most isolated beaches on the west Coast, it really is worth the time. For all the reason that it sounds out of reach, it's what makes this place so unique. However, come prepared; expect unpredictable weather, no cell or radio contact, no road access, very little foot traffic, limited fresh water, a limited selection of landable beaches and did I mention the FOG. Though, I didn't come across a monkey boy named Chaka, or any Sleestacks I manage to find a place that the brightness couldn't reach. Alone, on the 7th day of a 63 day paddle I dug in at Wheeler Camp, Lost Coast California...


A little Low Water Late Season Play in CO!

The water is fading in Colorado but I had one last chance to head to Salida for a little fun.

Happy Paddling!



From Sweden with Love

Strompis Wave in Orebro's city center-by Idamaria Johansson (Sweden)

What a summer!!It started three months ago when everyone was making the long journey west. I however traveled east, far east. I traveled from the land of trailer parks and pawn shops to a land of castles and cafes. From eating fried chicken and drinking sweet tea, to eating cinnamon buns and drinking the best damn coffee on earth. Ah, the land of Sverige, better known as Sweden, where the sun never sleeps. What took me there you might ask? Well my Swedish girlfriend of course. I went to Sweden to stay with her. To get to know her homeland and to go kayaking.

Sweden's Hell hole-(pic by Tomas Rundgren)
Being from Alabama, I thought I came from a tight group of paddlers, but it is nothing compared to Sweden. I guess it's because kayaking in Sweden is still relatively young compared to here, but its growing substantially due to company's like Kajaktiv that are offering extremely good instruction on all levels from extremely good kayakers and teachers. Sweden's neighbor Norway gets most of the press for Scandinavian kayaking, but if one is looking for adventure on a different path, Sweden should be considered. It's not just the paddling that makes Sweden a great place to visit, the culture is worth going there alone. I found the people to be very friendly and the towns and villages to be very charming and beautiful. The food and coffee is excellent and there's always festivals going on in the summer, not to mention there is a big lack of American tourist which I liked.

Pic by Tomas Rundgren
For more info on kayaking in Sweden, check out:

When I got back to the states it rained:

And now it's time to hit the books so I can graduate before I'm 40...
Until next time,
-Charlie Mix


All work and no play make Dan a dull boy!

Fun times on the 13 wave

Hey there folks,
Well I've definately been working way too much these days (and it's been pushing rubber) but at least the locals found a small playspot for after work therapy. Now B.C. isn't exactly known for the mega play but this little wave/hole is great for training and just what the doctor has ordered for the long work filled summer. Hopefully I'll get some time to hit up the creeks around here before heading East for a few weeks back home on the Ottawa. In the meantime keep on keepin' on.

Working my 'Robot'

There is a 18ft raft in there somewhere

Dan Caldwell


dunière drop

by waiting for good water level, I looking for to have great time in creek... it's not easy during this time in France.
There is a easy drop in Ardèche area in Dunière river. it's possible to run it during all day. The last week end, I gone there with Yan Neime, Cédric Conte, Romain Dumoulin (Mathieu's brother). We past a good day to practice this drop.


Whitewater Research & Safety Institute (WRSI) celebrates the life of WRSI Team Paddler---Ben Earle

Sunday, August, 10, 2008
Sad and devastating news came early one morning when I heard that Ben Earle from Australia drowned after being vertically pinned under a log on Finn Creek in British Columbia, Canada, June 1, 2008. Adrian Kiernan was on the run with Ben and attempted to rescue Ben, but to no avail. Ben’s body was eventually extracted after two days of effort by local rescue teams. Ben leaves behind a large community of friends across the world, his wife Robin and their two young children Rio and Finnley.

It is a sobering reality that our sport is dangerous and always demands a high level of safety and respect for the rivers we travel. I have paddled with, and have worked along side Ben and his close friends and know their high level of professionalism and passion for the rivers they work and explore on. Ben Earle was a respected athlete on our WRSI Team, and I speak personally from the company when I send my heart felt regards to his family and friends.

Ben’s family live in Clearwater, BC, where last year he helped organize the first Clearwater Festival.This years Clearwater Kayak Festival was a celebration dedicated to the memory of Ben Earle. Click here for updated 2008 festival highlights. (http://www.clearwaterkayakfest.com/)

Kim Ward-Robberts ( WRSI Team Manager)
Ben Earle 1982 – 2008
Adrian Kiernan, a friend and fellow Australian Team Fluid Paddler wrote up an amazing article about the incident, and Ben Earle’s life. Please visit Adrian Kiernan’s personal blog for more information (http://www.goboatingaus.blogspot.com/) and read below for his thoughts .Photo’s courtesy of Maggie Crocker

(Ben Earle and Adrian Kiernan)
Below is an article Tasmanian paddler and close friend James Thorp wrote and photo’s courtesy of Josh Firth.

I first met Ben many years ago at a paddling festival in Tasmania. At the time Ben was drunk, wearing a dress and dancing on the pool table in the Bronte pub. We were both young then; Ben had just started kayaking and rafting. Over the years Ben grew into a great individual. He became a talented kayaker, an extremely professional raft guide, a husband, a father and a close mate. Ben chose not to conform to conventional ideals but instead to live the vagrant existence of a ‘ river gypsy’ moving around the globe chasing summers of kayaking and raft guiding.

I have paddled with both Ben and Adrian on many rivers in many countries and thus can emphatically say that Ben’s death was more a freak accident than a reckless or complacent act. Both Ben and Adrian are very safe, sensible and exceptionally skilled paddlers who would not haphazardly risk their life. In fact the rapid Ben drowned on was only class4 and he scouted it before paddling it, but unfortunately did not see the submerged log. Sometimes accidents just happen and we have to deal with them in their simplistic nature and not play a blame game to try and ease the pain.

In many respects we should not mourn Ben’s death but instead celebrate his life. Ben was an eternal optimist with an infectious enthusiasm and an endless energy that made him very driven and ambitious. Even on the biggest river epics, when everyone else had a grim face Ben would be wearing his cheeky smile, accepting the terms and conditions of the adventure in his trademark positive manner. Ben was always hard to say ‘no’ to and always the first to say ‘yes’.

My heart goes out to Adrian who had to witness his mate drown. No kayaker deserves to have to endure that nightmare. And to Robin who lost a husband and must now raise two children that will never get to know their father.
In many respects Ben was a martyr for kayaking and the ‘river gypsy’ lifestyle. He paid the ultimate price for the love of the river.

We will miss you Benny Earle, but rest easy mate for your spirit will always flow strong in the timeless currents and freedom of the river and in the memories of those who shared your amazing journey.

James Thorpie


The Pinch

I rocked my WRSI face protection this summer. We are in an extended drought in the South. Low water increases the potential for facial trauma. A couple of weeks ago LVM hosted a Giant Slalom race on the Green. We did not race through Gorilla, but I was still glad I was wearing the Pinch.
The face guard stiffens up well on the helmet. It is easy to remove if you are on a mellow section of river. I was apprehensive about racing with it, but it did not interfere with my breathing. I look forward to busting it out on the steep stuff this winter. Thanks to Rob Tompkins for the pictures.

funny boof

Hey all,

Just few shots about a funny boof. Hope you all will enjoy!


after rapid on guil river.

Be Safe, Marc ( France)


Vote for my Space Godzilla!

Hey everyone.
The town of Avon in Colorado is hosting a big air competition to promote the WWP. The top men and woman's trick take home some big bucks. The competition is judged by the public; anyone can vote and you can vote as many times as you would like until all the entries are in on Aug. 15th.

The hole was a monster at higher flows this year and we finally hit the park at a pretty good medium flow before the water dropped off this week.

Please click the link below to check out my big air entry and help me out.

Title name: Space Godzilla


Thanks so much!



Front Range Play Boating

The water on the Front Range has been at a pretty steady medium flow because of temperature fluctuations in Colorado (it is still randomly snowing in the high country in the middle of June) which hopefully means a long steady season.
I started off my play boating season hanging out in Buena Vista for a few weeks. I was talked into competing in the Pimp and Ho Rodeo. I was the only girl in the competition and was in the same heat as Dustin Urban and other fantastic world class play boaters. I was a little intimidated but had a great time.
View of the Golden Whitewater Park
photo by: Chester Joe Crab
The best part of living on the Front Range in the summer is the Golden Community Rodeo series. http://eddyflower.com/EventDetail.aspx?EventId=86 . As a beginner, this event was the highlight of my week; everyone around the FR would gather at the Clear Creek Play Park in Golden, hang out and compete for awesome prizes. This event consists of four competitions, each one having schwag and awards afterwards and on the final night the overall prizes are given away. The divisions are as follows: men’s and woman’s novice, intermediate and expert classes, a junior class and finally a masters class. I decided I was ready to compete in the woman’s expert division this year in preparation for stepping it up next season and competing at FIBArk and other larger events. I did very well in the series this year.

In the first rodeo competition, I was a little shaky and could not go vertical because of the water level (grrrr, rocks!), but I still managed to place first.

Sometimes it is hard to concentrate when the MC is making fun of you. Thanks Reed!
Photo by: George Gatz Photgraphy

The women got after it!
Shannon Ronan sporting the pink WRSI.
Photo by: George Gatz Photgraphy

After hanging out with Steven Wright in Lyons and Corey Volt in Golden and Buena Vista, I was able to get a few pointers. In the second two events, I improved big time sticking my air loops, cartwheels and trying very hard to throw and stick my McNasty and Airwheels. I was super siked that I placed first in both of those competitions as well.

Throwing down, Check out the reflection of the water in the flames on the helmet. Sweet!
Photo by: George Gatz Photography
Photo by: George Gatz Photography

The final competition was no big deal because I was the only girl in my division. I swept and took the overall title in the woman’s expert. The best part of the competition is the overall awards. This year I won a brand new boat!!!! I still need to pick out which one I want. I am so excited!
I also want to thank WRSI for sponsoring this event!!!! I feel it is very important to support grassroot community events like this, where everyone becomes a super star regardless of level. These events are very well attended and usually have just as many spectators as many of the large pro freestyle competitions. Golden is very lucky to have such a great volunteer boating community and sponsors to put this event together.
I can't wait to help out with this event next year and encourage more woman to compete!!!

Now that the freestyle comps and the Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge are over, I guess it is time to step it up and start planning some multi-day trips.