Kayaker, Engineer, Athlete, Tinkerer

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The World Championship Course

It's been a while since the last update and that's because quite lot has been happening.  Everyone on the team has their boats and we are all in full training mode.  The course itself is on the Adda River in the Sondrio region of northern Italy. At race level the whitewater is big and continuous, it's hard to compare to anything because people in the US rarely paddle whitewater of this magnitude in wildwater boats, let alone race on it. If I had to describe it, I would say a mix between the big waves of the olympic section of the Ocoee and the continuous nature of the Cheoah  When we first arrived, the water level was low, which was good to learn lines, but there were more rocks to hit.  Even at this lower level I was a bit intimidated because this spring was quite busy for me with grad school applications/decisions and final projects and graduation and the never ending need for fundraising.  Coming over I didn't have the best preparation, but all things considered, I'm happy I was able to make it happen.  The water level was been all over the place,  we (the Irish, Americans and Australians) arrived a week before the other team in order to try and learn the course, the downside was that the water level wasn't regulated and the race lines change quite drastically with the higher water levels.
Hard to show the scale or continuous nature of the water, lets just say it's a little big and pushy

The first time the water was up at race level I was really nervous, I felt really out of control.  A swim on the course almost certainly will mean major damage to the boat.  After two more days at the lower water level, as well as changes to boat outfitting, I began to feel more comfortable and starting flirting with the idea of trying to put in some speed. Unfortunately the first sprint run that I really tried hard was when I blew the line on the bottom portion of the sprint course which resulted in a hit that managed to put a 16" hole along the side of the virtually new boat.
Two hits puts a 16" crack completely through the hull of a "new" boat.  10kg weight limits are pointless

While putting a large hole in a new boat is definitely depressing, I sort of figured it would happen this course is difficult and completely new to us and it takes time to learn the course.  Luckily we were able to scrounge up some resin from the Irish and i was able to patch this up pretty well.  With the patch, the boat is stronger than is was new, which is a sad testament to the build quality of light race boats. Today (Saturday)  the Irish, Aussies and American did an unofficial time trial to start working on bench marks for times and to see how everyone was doing.  The result is that I'm pretty slow but I figured the considering the continuous big nature of the whitewater. Anyway,  now I feel pretty comfortable with the course and can now work on pushing harder to squeeze out as much speed as possible.  4 days until the first race.

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