Costa Rica!!!

It’s confirmed! We’ll be in Costa Rica as guest instructors with the Esprit Crew and Jim Coffey Dec 31 2016 – Jan 7th 2017. We’re booking our tickets today. Wanna join us? Check out the site for itinerary, lodging and if your a group of 5 or more there’s a discount!
Can’t wait!!about1/c10c9

Spring has Sprung!!!

Well, it’s trying to anyway.  It IS still March after all!

Andrew and I have been planning for the coming paddling season and will be updating the calendar page shortly. This year will see us going to the Yough, Madawaska, Wausau Wisconsin, Alberta, Manitoba and Vermont (just to name a few).   Looking forward to doing another cross Canada trip!

We’ll post information as we get it.

Paddle safe!


A Successful ACA 2015 NORAMS!

With about 80 slalom paddlers, clear warm weather, 5 days of water releases, a delicious banquet dinner, and many generous volunteers making it all happen, the 2015 ACA North American Open Canoe Slalom Championships was deemed a huge success. This was no doubt because it attracted such wonderful people, canoeists from all over, to an annual event that highlights great paddling, camaraderie and exciting slalom competition. Seeing old friends, making new ones and sharing the passion for the sport drives events like our slalom race, and as is our custom, many are already looking forward to next year’s race.

All seem to agree that this year’s race on the Madawaska River proved highly entertaining by providing both a challenging race course, and, a true downriver competition with current from the top to the bottom of the run. Whatever stands out in your memory, be it the surf to gate 12 or perhaps a dry line in Staircase, we hope that with the race behind us, that your recollections are positive and bring a smile as you recall your week at MKC.

Many thanks go out to the MKC team for supporting the administration of the event, preparing a wonderful banquet dinner and supporting the race activities.  Special thanks to Claudia Van Wijk for agreeing to hosting the race, freeing up MKC from its weekly instructional business so that we could have the site all to ourselves, was a treat for all attending slalom canoeists.

And finally, Carole and I would like to repeat our strong appreciation to all those who helped us run the race. As you no doubt will recall (if you were present at our awards ceremony) there were many, many generous folks that worked hard behind the scenes to make this event happen. Organizing the race was an enjoyable task in large part because it drew together a dedicated group of paddlers and friends who committed to doing one or more of the many tasks needed to host this race. If anyone out there is thinking of taking a turn in the future, I recommend it – supporting the paddling community maybe the heart of the job, but the memories and satisfaction may stick with you forever.

Looking forward to our next slalom event, so long for now.

ACA OC Slalom Update

The FB page for the 2015 ACA Open Canoe Slalom Nationals & North American Championships is now official! We’ll post info as we get it. A website is also being created as we speak!!

Wausau AW BH

2015 ACA Nationals (NORAM) on the Madawaska!!

Attention open canoers, this year the ACA North American Open Canoe Slalom Championships (NORAM) will be held at the Madawaska Canoe Centre in Barry’s Bay Ontario Canada. Race dates are July 22 – 24. Come earlier to partake in other paddling opportunities, or stick around afterward, the water is warm and levels in the area of Ontario will be great!

This family friendly slalom race spans the whole white-water canoeing community, novice to well-seasoned, North American to beyond, with two weeks of slalom courses and clinics, local river runs, practice time and, of course, the race itself.

MKC is home to one of the best slalom courses available anywhere, with warm water rushing through 25 gates, more the 70 practice eddies throughout the run, class II – III channels, all with a mature mixed forest backdrop to the rocky shoreline. The downriver run travels 5 km through nearly continuous white-water with rapids ranging in difficulty from class I to III.

If you have not yet visited MKC, check out their website.  It features a spectacular deck ringed chalet/dining room, boutique and coffee bar, log sauna, lodge rooms, dorms and cabanas, plus camping for 150+ paddlers. Delicious meal plans are available during the event so you can put all your energy into paddling then wind down on the deck with fellow paddlers in the evening.

Race classes are divided into categories for men, women, mixed, juniors and offer runs through both the slalom course and also the 5 km downriver event. If you are new to slalom the Citizen class attracts those who have not competed before and want to give racing a try. There are many Recreational classes for plastic canoes with some classes offering up some stiff competition. Then, there is the Race class with arguably the fastest boats, the glass race canoes.

In addition to the slalom race, all are invited to join in some local river runs prior to and after NORAM. Local sections of the Madawaska River offer more class I – III white-water runs. An hour and half away is the mighty Ottawa River with its famous class III middle channel and pumping class IV main Channel. Also worth visiting are the Petawawa, Gatineau and Rouge Rivers.

If more paddling variety is needed, maybe for family members not into canoeing, rafting on the Madawaska River at MKC the week prior is perfect for a float trip. Or, to up the adrenaline, rafting with OWL (MKC’s sister company) on the Ottawa River is spectacular.

Stay tuned for more information.

So, come join the canoeing fun! Race, paddle, meet new friends, catch up with old friends – this is going to be a great event!

See you there,

Carole and Andrew Westwood

Schedule of events and courses 2014!

The following are courses and trips that we will be participating in or conducting. Hope to see you on one of them!

Slalom Coaching Series

This year we’ve decided to do a Coaching on the fly style using clinics and short courses for those wishing to improve their slalom technique or would like to improve their river running by using the same skills as one would use to paddle slalom – precision! Look at our Westwood Cafe Menu to see what type of course would suit you. Contact us for further info.

April 26 – 27  MACKFEST 2014 

Hwy 7 rivers: Beaver and Black

Marmora, Ontario

For more info go to:


May 3 – 4  Paddle Canada Advanced Solo/Tandem Instructor Recertification 

at MKC on the Madawaska River

For more information go to:


May 10 – 11 Gateway to Better River Running

Build river running skills not by the school of hard knocks, rather, refine skills by running gates on relatively safe slalom courses. Repeat practice tunes your technique – besides, wouldn’t you rather miss a gate than splat a rock?

RACCC – Ottawa’s Canoe and Camping Club (formerly the YCCC)

Must be a member to participate

May 31 – June 01 Essentials of Water Reading

Tap into the power of water; its wave featues, current lines and eddy pools,  by using colour and texture to read all that the  river has to offer.

RACCC – Ottawa’s Canoe and Camping Club (formerly the YCCC)

Must be a member to participate


June 28 – June 30  Dryway of the Deerfield River Release

Deerfield River, Massachusetts

Event full


July 7 – 11 Open Canoeing Unplugged!

Join Andrew and Paul Mason, as they present their own personal interpretation of Solo Open Boating sharing their secrets of how to go magically fast, make seemingly impossible moves using water features, or perform 360 spins, while still finding the time to throw in a little creeking, slalom and lots of river running! 


July 7 – 11 Paddling with Carole Westwood

Carole has been an avid paddler for over 20 years, excelling both in whitewater kayak and canoeing. Noted for her acute eye in water reading, she excels in many environments from river running, creeking to slalom racing and finding the most efficient lines. Teaching others how to do this effortlessly is a passion. She has been Kayak Chief Instructor for WO and is an  Advanced Instructor for Canoeing for Paddle Canada. She has also garnered many podium finishes Nationally and in North America in canoe slalom races. Join her at MKC for a week of honing your canoeing skills!

For more information go to: and ask to be put on Carole’s course


July 18 – 22 Alberta Paddling Trip

Schedule TBA. Contact Haskins Canoe at:


Aug 11 – 15   THE DREAM RIVER TRIP – Prepare for your Big Adventure & How to paddle with Partners !

When canoeing solo or tandem, well-honed paddling skills and excellent communication are vital to a great day on the water.  Whether a day trip or a multi week adventure, you need to develop strategies to navigate through rapids.  Effective water reading, boat maneuvers and stroke placement leads to success when running rapids.

Understanding your role within a group or with your partner also contributes to achieving the most from any day on the water.  We will explore methods of river reading, maneuvering in rapids as well as mental preparation and effective communication skills for the journey. Join noted canoe adventurers  Andrew and Carole for this 5 days of fun and discovery on both the Madawaska and Ottawa Rivers !

For more information go to:

 Sept 13 – 14  GULL River Race
Gull River, Minden ON

The Westwood Cafe!

New for this year is the Westwood Cafe with a menu style list of skills courses. Paddlers can feast by selecting appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Based on your selection, clinics and courses can last from a few hours to multi day instructional events. For more information contact us or checkout the Events page for courses.


Westwood CafeMenu web


One word describing Costa Rica? Fabulous!

Why so fabulous?

entertaining rivers

jungle rain forests

confident personable guides looking after all the logistics

wildlife and birds unlike anything at home

accommodation that was comfortable in a wilderness setting


Costa rica has everything going for it. Rivers can be handpicked for every skill level. Rivers paddled include different sections of the Sarapiqui, Pacuare, and the Reventazon.  Jim Coffey has all boat types to host every boat style from solo to tandem, openboat, kayak, and for those wanting a day off, a trip in a raft! For us, paddling in shorts and rash guard while neighbors back home dug out from under snow drifts and bitter cold temperatures only made this destination more satisfying! If your a paddler too and can book off a weeks holiday next year you have to see Costa Rica with Esprit. In fact we will be going again next Dec 28 – Jan 3 2015. Hope to see you there!

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Summer 2013 recap and Costa Rica in Dec!!

September is upon us and like most, I look back on our lovely summer which flew by much too fast. It seems like our personal motto is “What can we possibly fit in this space of time to maximize our play time on the water?” Just last week we looked at the house and thought that it would probably be a good thing to do some house maintenance. What can we do in 3 days? True to the motto, we packed re leveling a garden wall, grinding down 2 butternut tree stumps, regrading the back yard, conditioning the soil (read clay) with sand and seeding soil for grass. Dawn to dusk.

Our summer was the same, packed with fun and adventure!

We started with ACA North American OC Slalom Championships in Wausau, Wisconsin. Although I was concerned with our level of fitness due to our busy winter and spring with family duties, we did extremely well and a personal best for me – 4 golds, 2 silver, only woman to have a clean run and fastest woman paddler. Andrew brought in 3 golds, 3 silver and one bronze. It is also a meeting of friends and we were happy to see familiar faces, share stories and race together. Afterwards we joined a group to paddle the Wolf River inWisconsin, a mix of creek, gorge and sometimes big features. Definitely to do again!

Next we went down to our annual visit to the Deerfield River and paddled for 3 days, visited Boston for a quick overnight (thank you Ken and Ellen Glusman!), and then went up to the coast of Maine for a quick hello to the ocean. Lobster!!! Yum!!

We then spent 5 days at MKC for our Dream Trip Course, combining honing up whitewater skills in both tandem and solo with strategies to making a trip experience smooth – whether a day trip or one of several weeks. Great fun!!

Interspersed in this was the MKC Slalom Series happening once a month in June, July and August. Thank you to all the volunteers who really make it happen!! Always a good time and fun to share strategies and ideas with folks new to the sport.  We also had some exciting runs down the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers.

Coming up is the Gull River Race in Minden Sept 7-8th. Added excitement will be trips later this fall to the Upper Yough, Upper Gauley, and the Moose River Weekend. Perhaps most exciting of all will be our trip to Costa Rica as guest instructors with Esprit Dec 28 – Jan 4 for some amazing canoeing. Come and join us!! Contact Esprit at or email them for info at