Kayaker, Engineer, Athlete, Tinkerer

Friday, June 20, 2014

Austria World Cups

Hi there,   I just finished the first race of the world cup here in Lofer Austria.  Marin, Doug and I made the journey from Italy to the course in Austria without anything noteworthy, though with 3 people and gear and 4 boats on the roof, the VW polo was having some serious power issues on the steep inclines.   Lofer is primarily a ski town so there are a plethora of apartments and hotels to stay in.  The one we are at is 100ft from the put in for the sprint course so it’s quite convenient.  The evening we arrived we scoped out the sprint course and figured that the water was off because it was very low and honestly I didn’t think it would be possible to get down without hitting anywhere.  However, sadly I was mistaken and the water is actually quite low.  The next day we figured out where the longer course started so we loaded up and set out to paddle the first race course.   When we first arrived, the course looked very shallow and very flat and suddenly I started getting excited.
The crux move of the sprint course is very tight...
To normal, sane wildwater racers, a flat shallow course is just horrible.  However since I live and train in central PA where instead of good whitewater rivers, there are a lot of shallow moving water rivers, I was very excited.  This was basically what I train on and since I had the Bala, the perfect design for shallow water, I was pretty excited.  The classic is basically 10mins of flatwater paddling with the occasional riffle and then there’s the sprint course. While the upper classic is flat and shallow, the sprint is very tight with decent sized drops.  One of them drops about 2ft and the line is about 4” wide if you don’t want to hit your stern on the way down.  After a classic run and some sprint runs I was feeling pretty good, I had managed good lines virtually all of the time and it was really fun.  Then on Wednesday I decided to do some high intensity runs.  Just paddling down the course trying to survive is one thing, racing flat out is another.  After 3 decent runs I decided to do one more and call it a day.  Sadly at the crux move of the main drop, my boat became possessed by the eddy line and swerved to the right faster than I could correct and I pitoned the rock at nearly full speed.  When 200lbs of tall lankyness is going 15mph and decelerates to 0mhp in ¼ second, something has to give and strangely it wasn’t the boat.  Instead of major bow damage, I exploded through the carbon fiber supports of my footboard with a popping crackling sound all wildwater racers know. After sliding back up to a seating position I pushed off the rock and banged down the drop just trying to make it to the end, at least the boat wasn’t leaking. 

I can honestly say I’m done with boat repair, my patience and caring is all used up from dealing with the boat from previous hits.  But after two bad layups, the foot board is sort of in.  This morning before the race I put on two heavy duty zip ties which turned out to be integral parts of keeping the footboard in place.  The classic race when well I thought, I had good intensity through the flats at the top and survived through the whitewater with only a small tap of the stern in the sprint course. I ended up 33rd with Doug in 32nd besting me by 0.79 of a second, so close.   Tomorrow is the sprint race hopefully my boat can survive some flat out runs down the course with minimal damage.

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