Greetings from the Freestyle World Championships in Ontucky, a deep south feel in Canada’s Ontario province. The foggy, early morning trek to the Garberator Wave on the Ottawa River inspires that prickly feeling where you're sure you just heard a banjo twang in off in the trees. The unmistakable sound of the wave inspires a much happier feeling as you approach the steep, rocky bank where Garb’s awe comes into view. This rugged river scene is now covered in cables, platforms, bleachers, generators (affectionately called gennies by the locals), and a rainbow of plastic and composite kayaks littering the woods in a surreal landscape of what looks like an alien kayak mushrooms patch. And then there’s the river. This river is the king of playboating locations.
I am here, running the scoring software with Demshitz paddler Matt Anger. We are in Day 4 of competition and this is the first time I've had a chance to report from the event. We started out Monday with the Squirt Boating Competition. Most people (and I used to be one of them) either don't understand squirt or simply dismiss it. I am changed. After watching the likes of our new Squirt World Champ, Stephen Wright and second place Clay Wright carefully paddle towards the eddy line then just disappear for upwards of 30 seconds, I have a new appreciation for the discipline. The mystery move was invented for this squirt location affectionately called Big Smoothie.
The Squirt comp was held in one day and some thought it was a bit rushed. While that may be the case, the women's world champion of squirt, Claire O'Hara, not only took away first place, but she also came away with an engagement ring. Jez Jezz from Australia proposed to her in the eddy. It was a fine addition to the competition to see such a touching scene for two highly respected and adored paddlers in our community.
Day two brought the Junior Men and Women along with the Open Canoe (OC) class. As expected, the Juniors saw a strong showing from the US Paddlers. Sage Donnelly topped off the Jr. Women while the top jr. man, Alec Voorhees came in second to a GB paddler. The OC class was highly entertaining. I must say that it takes a high level of skill paddling a bathtub into Garb. All in all, the first two days were entertaining.
Day three is the longest of the competition; the Mens K1 prelims. Yesterday saw 296 rides. Some paddlers flushed, most put down rides that exceeds that which the average paddler can perform, and a top class of 20 paddlers (our own Paul Palmer sitting 14th) who came to demonstrate that they belong on that podium.
Day four, today, was the Women’s K1 and C1 prelims. After a start delay due to a rather nasty storm, 40 women and 20 men competed in these respective preliminaries. You can find all the results on (generated by WaveMonkey Scoring, I might point out!).
The live Stream, while not totally reliable given the remote location, is of high quality and can be accessed here: https://www.worldfreestylekayakchamp...nt/watch-live/
The US Team Marching in the opening Ceremonies Parade
Alec Voorhees in the Jr. Men's Prelims
Clay Wright in Mens K1 Prelims
Kayak Mushroom Patch