We had a blast at DeeFest this year, with a few of our Groms from the Palm Groms Mentorship Programme joining us – Charlotte Hughes, Jools Gardner and Cameron Tickner. For some of them, this was their first time on the River Dee, a UK classic in Llangollen, North Wales. It was a great opportunity for them to paddle a new stretch of river at great levels, get to know the community and get involved with the events. Check out their write-up about the event and what they got up to.

Day 1 – Jools

We started our trip off with a couple laps on the Dee, the level was perfect for the bottom wave so after our laps we got on for a freestyle session and was very surprised at how much power that small feature has.

The first official day of DeeFest consisted of the ducky race, tailee jam and mass start. The ducky race was absolute carnage as the bottom wave had a foam pile which was perfect for flipping the inflatables. Next was the tailee jam – it was super cool to see everyone trying new moves. The final event was the mass start race which was crazy, everyone was racing down Town Falls at the same time!

Mass start on Town Falls, photo Jack Ledwith @jled_photo

Day 2 – Charlotte

The second day of the first went above and beyond expectations from everyone. It involved the Palm freestyle rodeo on middle hole, warrior of the wave event, a social float and a carnage run with pool inflatables.

Palm rodeo freestyle event was super fun. The water level had dropped a significant amount overnight, which meant that the feature had changed and became more shallow. This meant that people were creating new party wave tricks in the feature rather than plugging the hole – this was a great spectator sport too!

My favourite out of all of them was the inflatable race – we were charging down rapids, bouncing through holes and many attempts of surfing which only meant one thing and that was a cheeky swim!

This weekend was so much fun all around. I got to run Town Falls for the first time, and having heard so many stories of bad lines on it, it made me a bit nervous. Much like double drop in Galway, once I had conquered it and overcome my nerves, it was fun to paddle.

On Sunday afternoon, Cameron and I lapped this feature a few times to get steezy lines. It was a really fun way to encourage each other to try new moves. We did manage to round up an audience on the bridge above as we paddled through the town, this was a new experience for both of us at urban kayaking.

The event finished off with prize giving – for people who brought the most creativity, threw down the hardest, and delivered the most joy on and off the water! Thanks to the organisers who made the event so much fun. We can’t wait to be back next year!