By Eric Jackson
Dane on his way to Grand Prix #1 Victory, 2011
This is my first time accepting my invitation to compete in the Whitewater Grand Prix. People always ask me why I haven’t been competing in it before. I would prefer to tell you why I am competing in it this year. I have decided that I don’t care how I do in the event. In the past freestyle competitions are judged somewhat randomly, and the rules are rarely known before you finish competing, making it a shot in the dark when you are planning what you intend to do on the wave. I am approaching this event as a fun event to compete in with the others who have decided to come and not focused on the winning part of the event. Of course, on the day, I’ll do my best at what I think the judges will want to see, or race to win, but for the most part, I am going to enjoy some big water waves, whatever creek or river running races we do, and the time with many of my friends. I am not sure who all is attending this year, but I am sure they’ll try to get a full roster of 25 if possible. It looks like most of the girls are not coming this year, and some of the invited guys as well, but there are lots of good boaters in Canada that can be substituted in as needed if they decide to do that.
I only spent one day on Buseater so far, then went to Minnesota to meet with Starkey Hearing Aids and Starkey Foundation, where I also got some new hearing aids! I am on my way back to Canada now and will see if the “Ruins” wave is in… Dane and Nick are picking me up at the airport and we’ll go straight there.
I am fired up to paddle some new waves this year, high water waves that are not in when I am usually in Canada, but only run now when the snow is melting and it rains a lot. The Ruins is one of those on my list.
I will let you know how things go for the Grand Prix as it unfolds. Steve Fisher just let me know that his VISA to get into Canada was delayed and he can’t make it. We were going to pal around as the “older guys” who have been on the scene since before most of these kids were born. There have been many events like this in the past, each one with its own flavor… The “Oregon Cup” was a 90’s phenomena that included a Canyon Creek Race, Ocean freestyle competition on big waves, Two freestyle events at Maupin and Dechutes. It was a staple in the 90s until about 10 years ago. Gorge Games was a combo of a creek race and boater cross and the Potomac Festival was a combo of everything- freestyle, extreme race, boater cross (format for the creek race for several years until my injury screwed it up), attainment race, downriver race, squirting comp, old school surfing comp. What is different about the Grand Prix which I like is that the locations are water level dependent. This means that we wake up and if water levels are not right, we’ll find another spot or wait a day.
Today is Day 1. We had the opening meeting last night at Wilderness Tours/Ottawa Kayak School headquarters. Today we are hoping to compete on Gladiator or Big Buseater Wave, depending on water levels.
The list of competitors has been completed and Bibs handed out. I am bib 11. There is a voting competition with prize money for anyone who goes online and gets the results of the event correct before the event. We are encouraged to do the brackets ourselves and can also win prize money if we get them right. Hmm… I remember the first year they did this and there were only 2 votes for Dane to win (his family members voted of course, as you don’t want your 18 your old son being the only one with no votes ) No prize money would have been given out that year on the bracket system.
I am smiling right now, as I woke up to Sun for the first time in about 2 weeks! Grey skies and rain up here have given way to bluebird skies for a day, then back to rain for the rest of the week.
time to get ready!