FEBRUARY 2016 ~ COVER PHOTO. by Chris Macdonald. Article with MikeToughill

DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE is charging hard into the new month. I looked for an image to use for February’s cover photo that would be as bold and innovative as the image I have for the future of Dirt Bag Paddlers. 

I found what I was looking for in the manipulated screen shots of DBP Admin Chris Macdonald of the UK. The first works he produced “messing around in GoPro Studio with my Ben Brown pose”, which produced the cover shot of our Facebook page, prompted me to ask him to produce the series from which our cover photo for February is selected. The inspiring young kayaker also took a moment to explain his roots and aspirations. 

“Kayaking as a sport is a journey, improving skills, confidence, experience and most importantly a journey about having fun! When I first sat in a kayak (when I was 8) I hated it. I found it really hard to control the boat in any way. I was on a grade 1 river in Italy and was just floating downstream. I gave up.
Four years later I moved to a boarding school in North Wales. There they had an outdoor education department. Every now and then we got to choose an outdoor sport and go and try it. Having completely forgot about my kayaking experience when I was 8, one day I chose to go kayaking. This time I fell in love with it the moment I sat in the boat. 
For the 4 years I was at my boarding school I went kayaking more and more, getting hooked. Those 4 years I improved my confidence loads, and if it wasn’t for the staff at St David’s College I would never be the kayaker I am today. Just a special mention to Ian Martin, my first ever kayak coach. Thank You Ian for getting me in that boat that day, the most important day of my life.
After I left St David’s I moved to York. There I joined Lower Wharfe Canoe Club. I started Canoe Slalom, entering my first division 4 race after 1 month of training. On my first run I got a 50 second penalty and was in last place. But my second run went completely the opposite. I got the gate I missed previously and I won! 

Over the next couple of months I made a massive improvement on whitewater, especially during winter training. I started the 2015 season in Division 3 and within 5 races I got promoted to Division 2. I continued to improve, but later I moved down to Falmouth, making the decision to quit slalom. I finished slalom ranked 62nd in Division 2. I want to thank Rob Softley, my main coach. I couldn’t have made the progress I did without him.
Two weeks after I quit slalom I sea kayaked across the English Channel for charity and in memory of a friend who died. The crossing took 5 hours and 10 minutes and I raised over £2000 for charity. This is where I got sponsorship from Big Pond Kayaks. They gave me a free boat which performed really well in the choppy conditions of the channel. 
I got to keep the boat, and that has inspired me to undertake other challenges; a few are in the planning stage as you are reading this. As a DBP Admin I will keep you updated on my challenges with Big Pond Kayaks. Also I would like to thanks Full Throttle Boat Charters for providing safety cover for my crossing and taking really cool photos.

I had a month before I was to make the move to Falmouth. I decided to get into freestyle and creek boating. I ran the short course at Tees Barrage International White Water Centre (forwards and backwards) and the River Tees. There I ran two really cool rapids, Dog Leg and Horseshoe. I also ran Low Force Waterfall for my first time (forwards and backwards obviously).
Then I moved to Falmouth. I have joined the club down here. They’re a really cool bunch of people, and I’ve got into surf kayaking. I mainly use my Jackson 2016 Rockstar, and I’m making good progress. The club does trips to rivers and various events around the UK, and I’ve run the river Dart and the Tavy. I also competed in the awesome Hurley Classic, which was my first of hopefully many freestyle competitions, and provided first hand coverage of the event for DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE as a correspondent.
I am now 18 years old and I have enjoyed kayaking for the last 6 years, and I really look forward to what my future holds. I have many plans including teaching injured soldiers how to kayak, a 96 mile race and many more. Some will get off the ground, some won’t, but if you keep at your dreams you will achieve them! I will keep you updated with my paddling adventures. I love kayaking and hope to do it forever. When I’m in a kayak it’s like you enter a new world and it’s just a fantastic feeling physically and mentally. Finally just want to give GoPro a massive shout out. I currently own two HERO 4 Silvers and have just bought the Session. They enable me to capture my adventures in such as cool way. I look forward to what my future holds and I will keep you updated with everything. I take great pride in being part of a fantastic team that is DIRT BAG PADDLERS.”
Sweet edit-
Chris’ official page, where you can follow his missions-

Big Pond Kayaks-

Taken by my parents
Taken by David Turnbull
Taken by Sean Quinn 
“Waterfall is Low Force,” Chris explained, identifying the locations of the photos. “The big drop and me in the red playboat is Tees Barrage (man made). The slalom ones are at Howsham Mill, Nene and HPP (Nene and HPP are man made).” It’s a pleasure to work with such an energetic young go getter! I’m a huge fan. 
The month of February will see interesting interviews of paddlers, HIGHLIGHT PADDLING MEDIA features, and BOOKCLUB reviews, among other stories. We’re also lining up local coverage of Ganga Kayak Fest 2016 in Rishikesh, India. The Editorial Staff is gathering to cover the National Paddling Film Festival in a few weekends in Frankfort, KY for the second year running. We are also gunning for some hardware in various classes in the Non-NPFF Downriver Race on Elkhorn Creek Saturday Feb 20.
Consider the hat thrown in the ring! And yes we love Bourbon. Two days a year! 

(My date with destiny… Meeting and defeating Nori Kayak at the Animal Race this fall, starts with a win in Kentucky! #imcomingforuNORI…) 

So there it is! See you at the Put In,
Mike Toughill, Editor-in-Chief 
National Paddling Film Festival info:

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