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Paddle in Pink Pigeon Recap

Confidence Series Dirty Bird Recap

On June 24th, 18 women gathered at the Pigeon River to get their play on. This year marked 3 years of Paddle in Pink putting on this event and every year things seem to get better. Groups this year were split into smaller numbers so there was more one-on-one instruction. Nikki Malatin (team Pyranha) and Katie Dean (team Dagger) guided the recklessly vertical groups and myself, Crystal Gustin (team Jackson) lead the short playboat group while Katie Jackson (team Jackson) ran sweep to keep things safe. The pigeon was releasing higher than normal which increased the down river play fun factor.

Paddle in Pink Confidence Series Pigeon
All the ladies before hitting the river (minus 2)

Girls were working on anything from stern squirts, splats, rock spins, double pump, wave wheels, surfing and cartwheels. There is something to be said about a larger group of women all together on the river, learning and laughing when the river is primarily filled with men. While the larger flow increased the downriver fun factor, it made the park-n-play hole very difficult especially attaining back up to the hole. A number of women still attempted to play while the rest of the females were enjoying their SweetWater beer on the NOC platform at river’s edge cheering on any move attempted.

Katie Dean
Katie Dean getting rad

Jackson kayak, SweetWater Brewing
The event is put on in memory of Jennifer Watson, who lost her life to the Little White River, to raise money for a local animal shelter. The raffle consisted of Pyranha schwag (hats and t-shirts), Astral discount cards, a very generous Kokatat gift card and the grand prize, a hot pink and black Orion stocked full of SweetWater Brewing Company beer. This year’s grand prize winner was Kristin House! Small or big, everyone walked away with something and most importantly, these ladies helped raise more money than the year before. I’m pretty sure Jen was looking down on all 18 badass women smiling and cheering them on!

Orion cooler SweetWater Brewing Company
Taking home the Orion cooler!

A huge thank you to Jackson Kayak, Pyranha Kayaks, Kokatat, Astral, NOC, Jackson Action Wagon and SweetWater Brewing Company. I’d also like to personally thank Nikki and Katie for taking charge and showing the ladies how to get vertical. Stay tuned for next year’s confidence series events here on Paddle in Pink.

Photo Credits: Cuong Nguyen, Nikki Malatin, Crystal Gustin, Wesley Bradley, Kristin House

Additional action shots click here taken by Nikki Malatin


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!