January 30, 2005
The World Championships stands alone as a meeting place of the best whitewater paddlers in the world gathered for a competition, fellowship, and a good time. They arrive interested in the feature they will be competing on and training. Then they gather in groups by country in the beginning, having team meetings and sharing information that can help them win. As the competition becomes closer, and everybody gets to know each other better, the borders open up and friendships form across the lines and the team cohesiveness becomes just another source of camaraderie instead of a defense or offense against another group. Another factor that shows just how ludicrous blind patriotism is the fact that most of the people here are on a kayak manufacturers team, like Team JK. It is fun to see how much fun people have cheering on team mates that paddle the same boat, are born in the same country, and then finally, everybody seems to get to the next level of global awareness and cheer on anybody competing, because we are all in the same game together, no matter what boat or what country we call our own.
Then there are the parties. One of the most popular is the “losers party” as it is called. This year held at O’Donahues Irish Pub. I didn’t go since it was the night before finals but there were plenty of great stories from it. Last night we had the Finals Party and the After the Party Party at Anothony Yapps house. It was awesome, again starting at O’Donahue’s before getting kicked out there and moving to Anthony’s House (about 200 people+) There were quite a few characters, plenty of booze, and a DJ, and everybody joined by a common bond, kayaking. We left when the police pulled up, just checking things out, but it was late enough, Jay Kincaid needed a ride before he had any more whiskey, and we still had Emily with us, so it was time to get going before it got out of hand.
Billy Harris made the big mistake of having an “AB OFF” with Tanya Faux, which is simply to show your abs and have a vote on who has the best abs. She asked me to compete with her and I conceded immediately knowing that there was no way a man could beat a women with abs like hers! Well, no surprise, Billy lost, and the bet was the loser gets their eyebrows shaved off. So, Billy was pinned down and off with the eyebrows in the middle of the lawn. Watch for photos.
Well, the competition was a dream come true for me. Both of my kids got to represent the USA Team and they paddled really well in training and competition, and made tons of friends. It has been 4 years since I won the world championships in Spain and wanted to win this one as much as any I have been in, and in the end, I paddled like I didn’t care, going all out and having a good time doing it. Even though winning is my goal at any event, it isn’t the reason I do it. Anybody who competes only to try to achieve a goal, loses the enjoyment that comes from the journey, which represents 99.9% of the time we spend kayaking. I kayak for fun, compete to win, but if I was dead last, it would not be a factor in my decision to keep competing or kayaking, not at all. Most kayakers arrived at their current level with that attitude, making them a great group of people to be with.
See you in the 2007 World Championships on Bus Eater Wave, in Canada! But before that, there will be 2 years of great kayaking and kayaking stories. Creeking anybody? Rocker here I come!