On Thursday night the Jackson RV arrived at Tarrifville, CT in time to train up for the 2010 New England Whitewater Championships/Triple Crown. This is the second annual event, the brainchild of Jamie McEwan, and chief organizer Andy Kuhlberg who went above and beyond making this event awesome.
The concept is to mix up the different groups of kayak athletes and to test overall skills for racing and freestyle. The event consists of a wildwater race using wildwater boats (lots of sharing boats going on, as not that many people have wildwater racing boats. The next event is the slalom race and finally the freestyle competition. Tarriffville has been home to kayak racing for many years. My first time racing there was in 1984. Freestyle competition is much newer to T’Ville (Farmington River) and this is only my second time competing in freestyle here. Jamie McEwan, got this event started last year and has more competitive whitewater history than just about anyone alive. In 1972 he won the bronze medal at the Munich Olympics in C1 slalom. In 1992 he was 4th in the C2 class at the Barcelona Olympics with Lecky Haller.
T’Ville is also host of Jessie Stone’s Inner City Kids Camp that she does every year. In the summer the water is still flowing enough to paddle, playboat, and have a great time, but the river run is easy enough that the kids, after just three days of instruction, can make it down alright. The little town of T’Ville and East Granby are old New England small towns. Quaint greens, nice local restaurants, friendly people, and a very centralized old school town set up back before there were cars.
Back to the competition….
Saturday we met at the “Mill” at 8am to get our bibs, and starting list for the prelims day. The first event was the down river race and it was a head to head race (2 at a time) but timed. I was the first to go and was in my boat waiting for my competitor. Suddenly Jeff Parker (won all of the New England Championships races in Wildwater) pops out from behind the retaining wall in the river in his composite wildwater boat, and wing blades and attains up to the start. I am in a Wavehopper plastic boat, which is a great wildwater training boat and fine for racing if you aren’t competing against lightweight, narrower, faster, longer competition boats. My mind started racing already and I was thinking, “OK, need to win the start, pick the fastest lines, and don’t let him pass.” we started a moment later with a 5,4,3,2, 1 go and our sterns being held. I did my best sprinting start, and kept sprinting full speed until I had a 1/2 boat length lead and moved over to the best line quickly and kept on the gas until Jeff dropped in behind me. The first rapid has several good lines and Jeff took the left one and started moving up on me. I kept on the gas going too fast to continue much longer at that pace, hoping to get to the first squeeze in first, which was the bridge piling rapid. We entered into the top of that rapid and he was up to my hip and gaining. I gave another full sprint and held him off until we were staring down the pilings and moved left giving him two choices, sprint and pass if he could but risk being too close, or drop back. He dropped back and I managed to stay in the lead for the rest of the race. I didn’t feel too good after the race, going more lactic than ideal for a 5 minute race. Jeff did a great job in the race and had he won the start, he surely would have won.
Emily won her head to head race against Elaine Cambell and Nick won against Dane.
We were off to the slalom race next, with only 30 minutes in between races. I had two clean runs at 117 and 115 seconds to win the race, and emily won the women’s. The freestyle prelims were next, all in one day! In this one, Nick won, Dane was second, and I was third. Emily won, followed by Elaine, and then Marcella.
Meanwhile there was a C1 class going on and Jordon Poffenberger brought all of the right tools in a wildwater c1, slalom boat and playboat. He won the downriver race, the slalom race and was second in the freestyle competition. Dane competed in all of them, as did Devyn MCEwen (Jamie’s son).
The prelims were over on Saturday night and awards were held for the individual events and the seeding for the finals was done.
In the men’s class I was seeded first, then Nick, and then Dane. In Women’s it was Emily and then Elaine and then Marcella. In C1 it was Jordan, then Devyn, then Dane.
Sunday AM we met again at 8am for the wildwater race. This time it was only a time trial and we started individually. Dane did his kayak run first, and then me. Dane really looked fast out of the start. I knew that I needed to win each event if I wanted to guarantee winning overall. Getting third in the prelims in freestyle was a wake up call. While I was ranked first, if I were to not win either race, and then get third in the freestyle, I would not win. I sprinted out of the start and decided that I would prefer to risk going too hard in the beginning then to give up time in the beginning. My strokes were way better than in the head to head and my boat took a much better line overall. Focusing on the river and boat being flat and missing the little waves, etc. made for a better race. I pushed all I had at the end as well and finished with the winning time. Emily won her race and Jordan won again in C1.
In the slalom race, the hard move was gate 16 to 17. 17 was in a little eddy on river left that if you missed it, you would miss at least one more gate too. The ferry is across right above a big hole and then you catch a small wave into the eddy. Many (50%) or so of the competitors missed that move making it the crux move. Dane nailed it on his second run along with generally paddling really well throughout in kayak class, while Nick did it well but dropped a little lower in the eddy than Dane and allowed Dane to beat him. I had two good runs to take first place. Emily made it well on her first run to win, while she missed it on her second run. In the C1 class Dane’s second run was also awesome and he took second behind Devyn, and one ahead of Jordan.
The final event was the freestyle competition and I really wanted to win all three events for the perfect score of 90 points. (you get 30 points for each win, then 28, then 27, 26, 25, etc.) it was a Freestyle through a rapid with 4 good, but shallow hardcore holes, and one good wave (babylon) . Major workings were seen in prelims in both Klingon and pencil sharpener holes. Jimmy Blakeney was chief judge and organized the course. It started at the top of the rapid and went to the bottom, simple enough. There were some good wave wheel or macho move waves at the top, but close to Babylon Wave which was the best spot for doing a variety of moves, until you flush off and then it is pencil sharpener which is a great combination of shallow, retentive, and hard to control, and feeds you back in to the middle when you get out of control. There were several swims out of there in the men’s and women’s classes. My ride routine was, Macho Move, quick turn and drive to catch Babylon, Flip Turn, air loop, space godzilla both ways, airscrew, mcnasty left, backloop, wavemonkey. However, I flushed before that each time. After flushing I would go to Pencil sharpener and do the mcnasty right and then throw tumbling cartwheel moves. My first ride was short but 440 points to take the lead. Dane got a 441 on his second ride to pull the lead by one point. Nick was in 3rd. On my 2nd ride I got a 630 point ride, getting a lot of my moves, but the wave got too steep for me to throw the airscrew. Still I through some big air, a sweet macho move to start it off and had my full time on a feature. Nobody beat my second ride (I was last to go as top seed from Sat) so I had a victory lap. I intended to do a big ride but I petoned the bottom hard on my macho move attempt and exploded my skirt off (may not have been on all of the way) and just paddled down the rapid up to my neck in water.
Emily had a huge second ride to win with 280 points. Dane and Jordon were battling it out for first place in C1 and Jordon had the lead at 240, but then Dane got 280 and then Jordan got 330 on his final ride to win.
Dane was the ironman in this competition, competing in both K1 and C1 doing 6 competitions in two days.
We met at the green in T’ville for awards. Everyone tired but happy on this 70 degree sunny day. The 2010 New England Triple Crown Champions were:
- Emily Jackson – women’s kayak champion. (90 points, perfect score)
- Jordan Poffenberger- C1 champion (87 points)
- Eric Jackson- Kayak Champion (90 points)
Some sideline stuff- KC loves being outside and had a great time. Krisitine was awesome all weekend helping out and keeping things working. Emily and Nick were fun to have around as always, we played games at night and had a great time.
I am got a window of opportunity to stop at my house on the way to North Carolina for the NOC Shootout next weekend. See you there!
p.s. Enjoy the photos… Nick will make a short video showing all three events of the triple crown in action.