Rob & Armando @ XCreek 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

The kayak racing season carved a slice off the end of winter and took a bite into summer. First event of the Norwegian Whitewater Cup at the X2 Festivalen. 

4th April. 

A relaxed sunny afternoon drive from Sjoa over Strynfjellet, with stops at Lom Bakeri for tasty baked goodies and some retail therapy for Ine at two of the three, Moods of Norway shops in Stryn.

A dozen kayakers congregated on the shoreline of Geirangerfjord at Hellesylt Camping. Scrounged firewood was fed to the fire, after an unsuccessful 45 minute convoy into the mountains in search of free camping. Over a few cold ones winter stories were shared, and slowly the group dwindled into layers of sleeping bags, blankets and tents, under a cool, clean & starry spring sky.

5th April.

Rolling out sleeping bags into cups of coffee and hot sweet porridge got the group going for the 10 minute drive to the 450 metre race course on the lower Bygdaselva in Hellesylt. A few warm-up practice runs got the blood flowing and the smiles glowing. At the race brief Armando was given a sticker with #1 on it, to set off the field of about 14 men & 4 women paddlers for our 2 runs each. I drew lucky #13. The sun warmed up the river valley, which helped the many paddlers who were taking their first paddling stokes of the season. The low water conditions were well received, as this kept the level of intensity to happy, cruisy racing conditions. 

After round 1, i was really surprised to find myself in 3rd position and requested that the event end right now. This was politely declined by all. Armando was fired up to improve on his 7th position.

The weather shifted to cloudier, cooler conditions adding to the mood of more aggressive paddling in the 2nd run by all. The consequences of mistakes were highlighted, but clean lines got you good times. This was reflected in the shifting in positions the the overall standings for many of the competitors, after the 2nd run. My slower second run after an eddy visit after the second drop dropped me 1 second off 3rd place down to a happy tied 4th, with Armando´s faster, aggressive 2nd run pushing him up the scoresheet into a respectable 6th overall.

words by Rob Wilson

NB. Boaters to make sure all river gear is clean from Gyro(salmon parasite) when paddling here.