Kayaker, Engineer, Athlete, Tinkerer

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sprint Race Recap

Today was the sprint race.  Every competitor gets two runs down the course and the best time is used, the top 15 advance to the sprint finals tomorrow. With the increased water levels the sprint course is the biggest rapid of the run, there are huge holes that can nearly stop a wildwater boat going full speed and boily eddies and surging breaking waves.  Chance and luck have a big influence on each run especially for someone like me who lacks training at this scale.  I deliberately haven't spent a lot of time on the sprint course because I know I will only psych myself out.  After warming up and heading to the course for my first run I genuinely felt good, after all I was paddling a red white and blue kayak in the World Championships live on Italian National TV.   The top part of my first run went well, but despite the higher water levels I managed to find a rock in the bottom of the course and the hit was substantial and when I could feel water on my legs I knew the damage was bad.
My next sprint run was in an hour and 20 minutes, time to improvise

After my first run I was sitting in 47th place, since there wasn't time to properly fix my boat I had to improvise.  Luckily I had my roll of gorilla tape with me. The plan was to tape every open orifice in the stern, to seal out the water, then mash my stern crunch pad on to give it the right shape and hopefully a little strength in case I would have the misfortune of finding another rock. 
All taped up and hopefully water tight

Ready to race?

Now that everything was taped up and as good as it was going to get it was time to try and focus. After finding a little shade to get out of the scorching heat I drank some water, listened to a little music and headed back to the line. I deliberately waited as close to my start time as possible to put on as to minimize the amount of water that could seep into my boat before my run. Sitting in the starting position watching the seconds tick down,  I could look downstream and see Chris waving the American flag and suddenly the massive structural damage of my boat didn't matter,  all that mattered was when that clock hit 0 I would pulling as hard as I could.  The top of the course was decent, room for improvement, but I've had worse runs, then the bottom was significantly better, I managed to avoid that rock and keep some more speed till the end.  The final result? I shaved nearly 2 seconds off my first runs and jumped up two places into 45th, not too shabby. 

The biggest surprise was when Emmanuel had a smoking run which qualified him for the sprint finals tomorrow.  In light of the recent damage, I have opted out of the team sprint race so that I don't have to hurry to fix my boat, (and potentially break it again).  There are 3 world cup races coming up and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to racing on some different course, hopefully with a little smaller whitewater...

1 comment:

  1. Kurt - We are Penn State and USA proud!

    gotta be lovin those views!