Thursday, 3 January 2013

Lead up to the Whitewater Grand Prix in Chile 2012

Two years ago I heard that Patrick Camblin was putting together an event to bring extreme racing to the next level, closer to where the sport has progressed.  Taking advantage of his known territory, the event was to take place the first two weeks of May as the rivers peak throughout Quebec. 

15 of the worlds best whitewater kayakers were pre selected to compete, they were household names I had heard of through magazines and videos, idolized, and aspired towards.  5 women were among the selected of which Tanya Faux from Australia, an inspiration for me, was one.  She would take me out for early morning sessions before work as a raft guide for my parents at OWL Rafting, and after work for a ‘TFaux Special’ run, that included way more than just running.

There was room for more applicants to submit an entry which would then be jury selected by the athletes that were pre selected.  I had just raced my first extreme race, the Green Race and spent more time in a playboat on the Ottawa River, so I decided to apply.  My main focus was still slalom, but I wanted to give it a shot.

I remember showing up at the Rouge River for the Stage 2 Boater Cross, feeling quite intimidated by the other competitors and the volume of water.  I had been selected as the first alternate, and since someone couldn’t make it, I was allowed to compete.  Having just come home from slalom training in Australia, with a race the following weekend in Charlotte, NC, I was only able to compete in this one event.  I didn’t quite become part of the family, but the atmosphere surrounding the athletes and on the river was addictive, that I had a desire for more.

Racing down the Rouge River, Quebec

When the time came around to apply to the 2013 Whitewater Grand Prix in Chile I felt ready.  I had just finished a stout season of kayaking in the Pacific Northwest, spring extreme racing; Teva Mountain Games, Little White Salmon Race, North Fork of the Payette Race, Red Bull Divide & Conquer Race, 2nd place at the Green Race, and I had a trip to Chile planned with two kiwi girls that shared the same dream.  We all were selected to compete, and left Canada November 6th to have a month to prepare.  Definitely the best month of kayaking of my short career (so far!).

Here are some highlights of my month in Patagonia:
In Santiago we picked up our luxurious Toyota Hilux named Gypsie Wagon, and cruised south to catch up to the water.  Chile was scorching hot, and Pucon was dry, so after a couple low water Palguin runs we continued south.  Raced on the Upper Llancahue, I took first, Lou Urwin 2nd and Alexis Jennings 3rd.

Chilling at the takeout of the Upper Fuy (great campsite)
We met up with Fidel and Mirko Moreno, two friends of ours from Argentina, and Beth Hume, a British chica.  Ran the Upper and Lower Fuy with gorgeous weather.  We walked into the Middle Fuy and found some incredible drops, that were a tad on the high side.

Celebrating in the bottom pool of Salto Nilahue
Next stop, Salto Nilahue!  A sick 30ft slanting slide lip, into a 40 foot free fall.  The entrance rapid was looking a little rowdy, so we seal launched in and fired it off.  Everyone had great lines, except for a big scare when Beth's skirt imploded and sent her into the left cave.  Luckily Mirko was right there for safety and caught her in time, Happy Days!
The next morning the drop was too tempting, so we saddled up for another lap!  I was feeling great and decided to run the entrance rapid- super stout/awesome!

Rolling over the lip-  Salto Nilahue
 Weather was moving in so we decided to splurge and stay in a Cabana in the middle of no where with thermas (hot springs)!!!!  We got cleaned up, first showers in a while, and then kept rolling south to the Rio Gol Gol!  Stout flows, and grey water with floating pumas rock from the volcano that errupted 2 years ago.  This river quickly rised to the top of my list, endless technical big water drops.

Fidel Moreno hucking Salto del Indio on the Gol Gol
Lu Urwin on El Feo, Rio  Gol Gol

Next stop ARGENTINA!!  After realizing that they are NOT drive through borders, and that you have to officially leave Chile, and enter Argentina, we made it to Bariloche for some late night Fernet con Coka with Matias Nunez.
Brenan drop on the Rio Blanco
Rallying south to the Futaleufu, we got to enjoy some rain which brought the river up subsantially!!  Big water Futa is the best, non stop smiles, HUGE hits, and epic waterfalls coming off the surrounding mountains.
Scouting Terminator Rapid
On the way back to Pucon, we were in a bit of a rush to get back for the start of the Grand Prix.  But of course there is always time for stouts.  At 8pm we rolled up at the Manso to check out Los Alerces, I was keen, so the other girls set safety and video and I rallied her alone!

Back in Pucon, there was still one thing on my list: Middle Palguin.  The water was a little higher than before, but still low enough that Stout 10 looked better.  It felt so good to fire it off!!!  Clean line of the 70ft, popped up upright!

Stout Ten into Medio Palguin

Keep an eye out this winter for a TiTS DEEP MOVIE featuring Green Race, Chile, and MORE!
Thanks you for everyone who made my trip to Chile a huge success!!!

Liquidlogic Kayaks, Immersion Research, Shred Ready, Lendal, Astral, TEVA  I couldn't have done it without you!!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like so much fun! I'd love to have the chance to do something like that.

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