Tuesday, 17 April 2012

EVENT - The Norwegian kayak race scene kicked off this last weekend on the Bygdaelva (a.k.a by the locals as Korsbrekkelva) near the village of Hellesylt on the northern west coast of Norway. Part of the X2 outdoor/extreme Festivalen and the first leg of the Norwegian Whitewater Cup.

SCENE - My 10 fingers and in particular my right hand, right wrist and my right pointer finger were feeling up to the challenge of a kayak race after the last 4 months of moving a mouse and wearing out my keyboard whilst writing a big chunk of our River Travellers Guide to the Orange River in South Africa. My boat was also stoked to go after holding up the shed wall all winter, i think she actually loaded herself.

The weather report looked bleak, so we decided to forego the charges on the full festival ticket price and rather rent a cabin. The thought of slumming in chilly,slushy,snowy,wet,muddy conditions in the free camp with a few 100 others with 1 or 2 shitters as possibly the warmest, driest retreat, just did not cut into the `kiff my bru´ factor. Word earlier in the week on the interweb was that the original planned location on the Rossåa river in Ørsta was going to be possibly shelved and moved to the Bygdaelva, due to low water and freezing conditions. We took a chance and booked a cabin, in Hellesylt. Worst case, we would have to drive the 40 minutes to Ørsta if the river did pick up. A friday evening call to the organisers and we had realised we had lucked-in with booking that cabin which turned out to be 150m downriver of the race take-out. A braai and a beer and we was happy.

RACE - Woke up race day to find 2 inches of snow overnight on the kayaks. Faen! Is going to be a chilly 1 today. In good Norwegian spirit, competitors rallied for warm-up runs at 10am and the competition kicked off at midday. 4 women and 17 men found their lines down the roughly 250m low water bedrock run. Competitors kept themselves warm whilst waiting their turn with socks on hands, skipping, running up and down the road and some stiff looking yoga manoeuvres.

3,2,1, GO ….Down a short ramp with a waky-waky ice-cold splash into a pool and then 4 or 5 strokes got you into moving water, soon followed by the first snaking slide into a river narrowing with 2 bubbly constrictions. Horizon line at the next slide with a semi-submerged boulder mid-pool below to give a hiding to straying bows. The gradient mellowed for the next 30 metres at the go left or go right shallow bump and grind with 2 offset stoppers at the exit. Charge river right to the last slide and then back to the middle of the river for the last auto-boof drop with the intention of speed and landing mid-boil, left or right of the boil had you scrambling the walls of the bowled out exit pool for the last 20 metre dash to the time-stopping, numb hand on banner.

A little prize-giving and podium ceremony on the road-side with the boys and girls tucking into the steaming hot `balls-in-a-bucket´ rounded off the occasion.

RESULT - The mens and women winners were light years ahead of the rest of their competitors. A sub 1min 50 time for a run down the river course was good, but the sub 1min 45 was where the podium places were. We were given 2 runs with the times added for a final result. My computer arms were pretty stoked with 7th place. A 1.49 on the first run and a 1.53 on the second. Nothing like kicking off the Norwegian `summer´ with a race, and a fun 1 at that. 

Shout out to organiser, Joar Wæhle and volunteers and to rescue ranger dudes for keeping an eye on safety.  


aå - creek

elva - river

faen! - s#!t 

kiff, my bru - cool, my brother

braai - barbecue

X2 Festivalen 2012 Event website


Event results


Event video


Stadheimfossen Camping and Hytter


Fluid Big Bang


Norwegian Whitewater Cup 2012