Duo means two times the fun, right? It did for Katrina Van Wijk and Nicole Mansfield, who recently doubled their fun on Sunday with a women’s tandem first descent of Oregon’s iconic Celestial Falls. The stunning 45-foot huck wasn’t part of the Upper Wind Festival, part of the Western Whitewater Championship Series. But the two TiTS DEEP kayakers decided to fire it up on the drop outside White, Ore., in Jackson Kayak Dynamic Duo for the hell of it. Canoe & Kayak‘s online editor Charli Kerns got to talk to them about their ride.
Canoe & Kayak magazine: So what made you decide to run Celestial Falls tandem style?
Katrina Van Wijk: On Saturday was the Wind Race, which was part of the Northwest Race Series. That Sunday, there was a big crew heading to Celestial so we thought why not give it a go. To make it more exciting, we decided to Duo it.
Nicole Mansfield: We came up with this a-typical idea, and a couple of days later we were dragging the boat to the seal-launch trying to figure out how to best approach the drop.
Could you talk about the line you all took in the Duo?
Mansfield: After watching solo boaters deal with being pushed against the left wall, we realized that the usual seal launch would not be the best approach in the duo. So, with some help we managed to lower the boat to some rocks closer to water level. It was a little nerve-racking sitting in the front of the duo hovering at the edge of the rock waiting for Katrina situate herself in the back. We had ideas of how we wanted to approach the drop depending on how the launch panned out. In the end, we went direct with a couple of back strokes and draws to each side to line up the lip.
Who was in front?
Mansfield: I was in the front.
Van Wijk: She so bravely took the hit for us. I got to sit back and enjoy the ride!
What kind of coordination/communication did you two need to have?
Van Wijk: The best way is if one person takes control, so I was the back. I called the strokes, but we worked as a team and Nicole made quick decisions for where the bow goes.
Mansfield: Katrina took charge and fired out some great directions to line up the Duo at the lip.
Where you nervous?
Mansfield: Yeah, I was nervous and excited.
Van Wijk: Definitely nervous! It was such a foreign thing, but it was worth it! I had the best buddy to fly off a waterfall with.
I’ve run Celestial 3 times prior in the Stomper 80, but it was Nicole’s first time!
Based on your experience, what should others who want to hit their next waterfall with a friend know?
Mansfield: There are two people in one boat, so twice as many opportunities for shit to go wrong … skirts to implode, paddles to break. Landing flat will hurt twice as much. Carrying the boat is a pain. It’s not light. Trust your partner.
Van Wijk: Definitely make sure you trust your partner. Figure out what side you roll before you get in the water, and always make a plan B.