Sunday, December 16, 2012

WWGP Finito

 The 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix was the most incredible competition I have ever participated in! It was such an unreal experience to be part of and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to hang out, paddle and party with such an amazing group of talented paddlers from all over the world. From the 1st to the 15th of December 25Men and 7 woman from all over the world came together and lived in each others space, paddled together, raged together and raced on some very technical and intense white water rivers here in Chile, South America. Every person that was part of this event was different in one way or another yet I had huge respect and appreciation for each and every one of them. We had 1-2days training before every event and this was all the time we had to get to know the lines on the rivers that we raced. On training days we grouped up with people that new the run and paddled down together figuring out the fastest lines. On race day the athletes were split into two groups and this allowed for each group to set safety for the other. This meant that safety was really well set up and under control. 
Me on the clean 20footer racing the Rio Nevados! Photo Credit Sergio Vidal
When moving from one event to the next we convoyed together with the media team and all of the athletes, this meant long drives in each others space...fortunately we had such an amazing crew of people on board. Our accomodation throughout the competition ranged from platforms to cabins but we were always super well looked after by our organisers and the owners of the venues. When off the water we were always keeping life occupied with card games, drinks and other random activities. Hanging out with everyone was a pleasure. 
The racing was pretty full on but I absolutely loved every race course and had so much fun competing in every stage. Huge respect to Nouria Newman who totally dominated the woman's field and Dane Jackson who destroyed the Mens!
For me I was just so stoked to be kayaking again after my injury and going into the event I believe my motivation for success in the races was lower than it should have been. I am a bit gutted that I did not perform as well as I should have but at the same time I am really really stoked to have been part of such an incredible event and stoked that I made it through each stage still holding my ground and putting down some clean runs. 
The standard of the events was the best that I have seen and the calibre of athletes was outstanding. No one was undeserving of being at the event, every athlete charged hard and brought strong game to the competition. 
I believe the White Water Grand Prix is the future of White Water Extreme kayaking and I really hope this event can find the funding to continue. 

Final results:
1st Place: Dane Jackson (USA)
2nd Place: Eric Deguil (FRA)
3rd Place: Evan Garcia (USA)
4th Place: Isaac Levinson (USA)
5th Place: Todd Wells (USA)
6th Place: Michele Ramazza (ITA)
7th Place: Joel Kowalski (CAN)
8th Place: Lorenzo Andrade Astorga (CHL)
9th Place: Galen Volckhausen (USA)
10th Place: Jakub Nemec (CZE)


1st Place: Nouria Newman (FRA)
2nd Place: Martina Wegman (NLD)
3rd Place: Katrina Van Wijk (CAN)
4th Place: Lu Urwin (NZL)
5th Place: Natalie Anderson (USA)
6th Place (tie): Nicole Mansfield (USA)
6th Place (tie): Louise Jull (NZL)

Big thanks to the organisers Patrick Camblin and Emily Meredith, they did an incredible job and made this all happen! Thanks to Duemstuff for supplying me with awesome gear for the event and Bliss-Stick for my beautiful kayak. Also big thanks to Sergio for sorting me out a kayak for the event as mine was destroyed on the Rio Palguin. 

 Ladies charging in the Head to Head 'Mass or Menus' Rio Futaleufu
Living on the banks of the Rio Futaleufu for stages 4 and 5!
 Welcome to Patagonia!

 Enroute to Futaleufu from Pucon- travelling the Chilean coast
 White Water Grand Prix Athletes enter Inferno Canyon- Rio Futaleufu
 All the awesome ladies stoked after finishing Stage 1!
 Ladies after Stage 3- Rio Nevados!
 Party Bus!
 Party Bus ride between stage 1 and 2!

The epic slide on Rio Nevados!
All of the photos above are credit of the photographers of the White Water Grand Prix Event. Please checkout the White Water Grand Prix Website-

Stage 5 WWGP- Enduro Bridge to Bridge

Stage 5 of the WWGP was a mass start from the top bridge all the way down to the bottom of Casa De Paedra, the second rapid below the bridge. I was feeling super stoked for this event as it was a solid 20-30minute paddle down class 4+ high big water and was non-stop. First us ladies set safety for the Men and having Dane Jackson tell me it was the hardest race he had ever done physically was enough to get my hype up for this final event. Not only was this the 5th and final stage of the WWGP but it was also the final place decider for all of the racers in the WWGP!
I charged out hard at the start and did not stop until the finish. Nouria Newman took the lead after the first rapid entrada and was closely followed by Martina Wegman. Katrina and I battled for a whil until she broke away and I was left to battle Natalie all the way to the end. She pulled ahead of me at the final rapid leaving me to finish in 5th place.

I ended up in 6th equal with Nicole Mansfield overall. I am a bit gutted that I couldn't perform better in the races but to be honest since my injury it has been hard to get back my confidence. I was just so happy to be out there racing and giving my best for the time that was.

Stage 4 WWGP- Head to Head Futa!

Video from Stage 4:

After a long drive and about three ferry crossings down the coast of Chile we came to rest in the campsite of Bio Bio right on the edge of the Rio Futaleufu. Everyone was stoked to make it down here in beautiful Patagonia! The Rio Futaleufu lies below the mighty Andes mountains and with high amounts of rain was in full force from day 1. So after a day or two of paddling the bridge to bridge section we were set to prepare for stage 4- head to head boatercross down the mighty rapids of Mass or Menus! Mass or Menus is my favourite rapid here on the Futaleufu so I am totally stoked to be racing on it.
Unfortunately I did not fire as much as I had hoped in this race, I had an okay start and then ended up surfing a wave half way down which was not the fastest line! A great race and a lot of fun none the less!

Stage 3 WWGP- Rio Nevados!

Video from Stage 3:

Stage 3: With a lot of rain hitting the Pucon area the Rio Nevados came in! I was really stoked to get on this run! Starting with a massive slide this run includes a nice variety of clean drops, sweet boofs and tight gorges. The race course was just over a minute long and once you did your race run you were committed to paddling out the rest of the run. My first run went well however I got stuck on a rock at the bottom of the slide for a bit. My second run went better except for the final part where I took a few rolls. I finished in 5th. It was a really awesome day of racing and I was really happy to race such a fun and exciting race course.

Here is a preview put together by Rush Sturges:

Stage 2 WWGP- Rio Puesco

Checkout the video from stage 2!

Stage 2 was to be held on the Rio Puesco, a straight 2min or so sprint down this very technical boulder garden run. We had cruisy day of training and then it was all on. I was really fired up to perform on this course as I felt it was one that I could hit the lines on. However in both runs I messed up the main section. It was still super fun to race down this burly section and there was a bit of carnage as the hazards were definitely in force. I finished up 7th Woman unfortunately after I made some mistakes in the main section of the race course causing me to eddy out!

Stage 1 WWGP- Rio Gol Gol Enduro

Checkout the video of Stage 1 below!

video below of what we experienced as racers!

The first event was on the Rio Gol Gol. So we all loaded up and headed to this raging beauty to learn the lines for this 6minute Enduro race. The day before the competition it rained really hard and this caused the river to rise a lot. I felt pretty good for the race, I was the first woman off the start and was pretty sure of all of the lines. However the morning of the race came and the river had risen a lot more then we had expected. For the racing 2 groups had been assigned, Group A which both Kiwi Lou Urwin and myself were in and then group B. Group A was off first and this meant that Group B got to paddle down and run safety for group A. The option to do a scout run was there for the competitors in Group A, but I opted out as I wanted to save my energy for the racing and decided that most of the lines were probably the same. I got to the startline and ended up opting for the easiest line off the start. I was feeling conservative as the water was higher then the previous days and I was quite sure this was going to make things a bit more intense. I was right, going down the high water Rio Gol Gol was super exciting and definately one of the most intense race courses I have been on. My run was not fast but I had some okay lines off some of the drops. The next day we had our second run and for me this went a lot better. I still was not as fast as I believe I can be but I was just stoked to be out there competing on such a tough course. I finished up 5th lady after Nouria Newman, Martina Wegman, Katrina Van Wijk and Natalie Anderson.

White Water Grand Prix 2012- Chile!

The White Water Grand Prix is a 5 stage event that is being held over the course of two weeks here in Chile. With 25 of the worlds best men and 7 of the worlds top Female extreme White Water kayakers the event is set to be held on some of Chile’s finest challenging white water. After an epic year of paddling and racing I was fortunate to pick up an entry and really fired up to compete.

South America- Chile and Argentina!

Tits Deep- our favourite wagon
 After an epicly long drive from the Americas back to the Canadian capital city of Ottawa Louise Urwin, Katrina Van Wijk and I were left with 2days to organize ourselves and repack for the journey on to South America- Chile! Big thanks to Claudia and Dirk for having us to stay- pancakes and the hot tub were amazing! Katrina and I flew into Chiles capital city of Santiago on the Wednesday and were greeted with incredible hospitality from Christian, the guy we are renting our truck from. Big thanks to Dave Fusilli we are riding in style in the infamous  gypsy wagon! It is super sweet 

Me dropping into the 40footer on Rio Blanco- photo above!

The view from the top of Salto Del Nilahue in the picture below!

and runs smoothly. After a night in Santiago staying at Christians family home we picked up Louise Urwin who flew in the following day and we hit the road to Pucon. Pucon is a very beautiful little town that is surrounded by lots of nice mountains and an impressive volcano. It is also in range of many amazing rivers that are perfect for kayaking. Our opening night here was introduced with a good night out at Mamas and Tapas. This was followed by Katrina and Lou jumping on the upper Palguin. I was able to walk in and checkout the run, with my shoulder still healing I opted not to paddle. I managed to eventually get on a easy class 2/3 river called the Rio Laucauer, a good way to ease  back into kayaking after a good six weeks or so out of the boat. 

After a few days in Pucon staying at the Pucon Kayak Hostel we headed South towards the Upper Rio Llancahue where there was a little race being held. I supported well the ladies threw down cleaning up the competition. 
Next we headed to the Rio Fuy where we met up with our good Argentinian friends Fidel and Mirko Moreno. The Rio Fuy has three sections. First we hit up the Lower section  for a cruisy run down some fluffy high volume. This was my first proper river run since I broke my scapular 6weeks earlier and it was so sweet to be back on the river!
We then cruised up to the Upper section of the Fuy. This is class 3/4 and has a lot of really cool fun rapids. The last section of it ends on the Leona waterfall section which is a spectacular scene of clean drops. Such a beautiful place and I am really stoked to be lucky enough to be here. The shuttle for this is roadside so super easy. 

After a couple of days of paddling the Upper Fuy we decided to move South to Salto Del Nilahue. This is a perfectly beautiful 60-70 foot slide into freefall waterfall landing in a massive pool of pumice filled water. With my shoulder feeling better everyday I was soo keen to paddle this drop, it just looked so good to go! The first day I decided to take it easy as I was concious of not pushing myself too early. The next day my body was feeling good and I made the call to run the falls. I had a great line and a soft landing! It felt amazing to be back on the water and routing off such a beautiful drop. Salto Del Nilahue is a magnificent drop that is totally good to go. I would recommend setting safety on the river left as there was a harsh undercut cave. We were camped at a campsite right above the falls on the river left for a cheap cost of around $2 per night. We drunk wine and enjoyed Argentinian style meat (Asado) cooked on the fire with our epic crew- Katrina, Lu, Fidel, Mirko, Beth and myself!

Next we decided to head to the Rio Florine. As we arrived in this section of the country the rain gods had let loose so we decided to give our tents a rest for the night and stayed in a cozy cabin next to the river at a Thermas. The Thermas were amazing and a great treat for our bodies. The next day we got up and decided to paddle the Rio Currungue, a pretty cruisey class 3/4 run that took around 2hours. 
Next up we headed to the Rio Gol Gol. This river is right at the Argentinian and Chillaen border. A very sweet class 4+ run with at least 6 major drops. When we got there the river was a bit higher than usual but still pretty good to go. We had a really sweet day on the river and stayed right on the rivers edge camping just above the mighty Salto Del Indio drop. This is a 40-50foot drop that we all fired up! It provides a big hit at the bottom and my paddle was ripped out of my hands, after failed handroll attempts Katrina and I resorted to swimming!
Next stop was our first river in Argentina- Rio Blanco. We were fortunate to meet up with Matias a Argentinian friend of the Moreno boys. He took us in and to what has been my favorite run in South America so far! The Rio Blanco is a super sick run that I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to run. It was a bit high for us to run the biggest drops at the start of the run however we were able to paddle everything else, minus the portage rapids. Clean drops, a sweet 40footer and really scenic continuous gorge sections kept us stoked for a couple of hours. After a night of staying in the Argentinian wilderness we ran the Rio Blanco again the next day. Such an awesome run!
The next night we rallied to Esqual to stay at the Moreno brothers home. We rested there before heading to the Rio Futalefu the next day. After an interesting crossing of the border back into Chile we arrived in the small town of Futalefu. We were greeted with buckets of rain and a chill in the air. Fidel and Mirko’s friend owns a hostel near the river so we went there to drink matte and soup before heading to the rio. We hopped on the Rio Futalefu just above the Terminater section. This is a super fun continuous section of white water. There are many lines you can take, some more challenging then others. 
We continued down the bridge to bridge section which includes many super sweet rapids. When we got to the end of this section we then carried on to my favorite rapid- Mass or Menus and a final rapid that prooved fun but challenging. 
I was super stoked to be at the Futalefu but we needed to head back to Pucon to start preparing for the White Water Grand Prix competition starting on the 1st of December. We had a day off the water and caught up with my good friend Laura Cashmore who took us out on her boyfriend Ima’s farm just out of the small town of Esqual. It was amazing there, a super beautiful place and we were treated to a nice BBQ followed by some horse riding in the wilderness! So happy to catch up with Laura, she is one of the raddest chicks I know and so much fun to be around. The next day we cruised back up to the Argentinian town of Bariloche. It was here that we caught up with our friend Matius again and stayed the night at his place. Big thanks to Matius for his hospitality, it was really sweet. 

We finally made it back to Pucon and met up with all of our friends that will be joining us in the White Water Grand Prix. Being back on the water I was pretty happy to be able to go out and paddle the Upper Palguin- a super fun run. 

 Enjoying lunch at the put in of the Rio Fuy- my first day back on the river since my injury.
 Enjoying our nightly vino with dinner
 Crossing the border from Chile to Argentina- amazing scenery!
 Ladies in Argentina:) me, Kat, Lou
 En route to my favourite run in South America, Rio Blanco- Argentina
 Horse Riding with one of my favourite Kiwi ladies in Argentina- Laura Cashmore:)!!!
 Kartina Van Wijk firing up Los Allerces at Dusk...
 Lou Urwin and I chilling in the Chillean sun- Pucon Kayak Hostel
 Katrina and I after some sweet lines off Salto Del Nilahue
 At the bottom of Salto Del Indio!!!