Lots of tough cuts to pair down for the finals on Sunday.
Starting with 60 men in SUP, we are down to the top 20 in downriver and 15 in SUP Cross. Kai Lenny from Hawaii won the downriver sprint for his second day in a row and Fernando from Mexico got second. Dane is still in the hunt with a 7th place finish in the downriver SUP and is raising eyebrows in this heavy hitter crowd. The race is basically a 10 minute flat water sprint with a short whitewater finish with two “gates” that test your ability to do eddy turns and ferrys. While that sounds easy enough, it isn’t easy to be fast like these guys and it isn’t easy to do the whitewater fast without falling off of the narrow race boards, especially the downstream dive gate/pivot and ferry over a boily eddyline. I got 22nd yesterday after trading up my slalom board to a training board improving from 36th. Unfortunately only 20 make finals today and I was 4 seconds out of that. Too bad as I am getting better each day and I think I know how to race in a pack better now (I decided to say wide and away from everyone and the fastest pack left me yesterday in the mass start)
Men’s and Women’s boater cross is interesting and a solid battleground here. A ramp that starts everyone, 4 at a time, make the beginning interesting. Aniol Sarrasolses had Rush Sturgis land on him off the ramp and I saw one person manage to actually cross under somebody in mid-air to cut him off… it was both a smooth and a dangerous move. My heat had me pitted against Joe Morely from England, and he has pole position in the start. We had a strong run and were in and out of the gates mostly together until the rest of our heat ended up in the main hole and got behind. We coasted through the rest of the course. Emily, Nick and Dane all made it through. Results in electronic form are hard to come by here, and there is no way to remember everyone, so I am not even going to try. Today we’ll do two more elimination rounds to the finals and then have a 5 boat finals. that is a lot of people on the ramp!
What can you say about that event, other than – “don’t do this unless you are prepared to get hurt!” David Silk had his nose broken in spectacular form by Jason from New Zealand (8 Baller). Emily told me not 2 minutes before that, “Dad, I am not sure I want to do this, Jason is destroying people coming into the main wave.” I told her that it was up to her, but she should just make sure not to get in front of him on the way down. She went, and couldn’t have lined up on him any better as if she wanted to joust with him. In her case, she got a glancing blow and snaked by almost unscathed and won her heat after taking another 10 hits on the way to the finish from lots of adrenaline jacked men from all over the world. I was doing good against Igor and Trent Long and 2 others with a sweet start that I went from being in 5th (far upstream on the ramp) to 2nd after the landing and a big over the boat stroke, but got taken out by Lorenzo from Chile not 20 yards above the finish line and was “banked”. I am out for today’s 8 ball.
A great event with amazing SUP paddlers and some former and current kayakers doing SUP. Corran Addison, Dan Gavere, Luke Hopkins, Eric Giddens, Andrew Holcomb, Dane Jackson, and I for example. Top SUP paddlers with racing experience, big wave experience, and some with whitewater experience are battling it out in the 5 board heats where 2 make it through. The course is a backwards start in the flat water above the course, into a short sprint and then a “dive gate” in the eddy above the main hole. You want to flirt with the rocks above the gate to get a good angle on it, but too close and your fin will catch and stop you dead, making you do the SUPerman at high speeds into a rocky shallow eddy (one broken hand already). A pivot turn to a ferry above the hole for Gate 2 using narrow tracking race boards is next, and with 5 people it becomes clear that you can’t swing your board through people’s legs, so the turn and ferry is tricky for everyone but the leader. Gate 2 is a normal upstream buoy, but there is little room between it and the shore and you can “Bank” people if you get the inside line. Gate 2 to 3 is a very tough one. A ferry just above the hole into a tough curling eddy line that you have to lift your bow over, while standing on the back of the tippy board into a swirly eddy and not get eddied out. What makes it harder is 50% of the people fall off their boards there and often the boards are sideways blocking your path making it a mess. You turn straight back to river right after getting far enough downstream to catch the 3rd wave and do the last hard peel out/ferry over a very swirly eddyline, catch the eddy on the other side and peel out of gate 4. Gate 4 is technically easy. Gate 4 to 5 you are paddling through waves with your non-rockered race board and keeping balance is tough. Gate 5 is an “S-Turn” gate and it is the final place to pass people and the non-whitewater SUP paddlers tend to leave an open window there.
In my heat, I got off to a 5th place start in the sprint to the first gate… (seems to be a trend in SUP for me) so it was a mess in gate 1 but I kept my bow from engaging anyone’s legs and made the turn and caught up by 50% to gate 2. In gate 2 people were bunched up and I flew in hot and banked the group, except for the leader that did gate 2 as a dive gate. I had to battle hard as two people were all over my board with their paddles trying to stop my pass, but I got a good push off the bank with my paddle and got a ferry angle and started sprinting and cleared the pack. The leader was 10 feet in front of me going into gate 3 but wiped out on the eddy line and I lifted my bow right over his head and board and just cleared him as I planed out into the eddy and made the dive gate, turn and ferry with no competition near by. The rest of the race was just a cruise… I am hoping I can keep up the progress in today’s finals. Dane had a better story- he was winning his heat and Dan Gavere yelled “Surf the wave” right above the finish line. Dane was so far ahead that he reacted quickly (Notice I didn’t say “thought”) and pivoted to surf, but fell off his board and swam over the finish line and was DQ’d. Boy was he mad at himself. Luckily for that round there was a “losers” bracket, or second chance of a big mass start and only the winner makes the next round. Dane went and won again, this time staying on his board at the finish. Dane and Andrew Holcomb are the two kayakers with a chance at the overall results with the $10,000 first prize. Kai Lenny seems to be the man to beat in the downriver, but the SUP Cross is going to get harder and the randomness, strategy, and whitewater reading abilities start to come into play as we get to today’s finals there. Dane is the best in the gates that I have seen and has been 7th and 8th in the downriver. We’ll see how the race goes today- Sunday- Finals day.
We cut the men and women down to the top 5 in semi-finals. Perfect late night light (finished at 9pm) made for a great event to watch (sun in your eyes when competing, however :)) In the women’s class, It was a battle between the the top 5 from prelims mostly as the top score in the 2nd heat was only 195 by Rowan. Adrienne, Claire, Sage, and Emily were the real battle. Sage, Adrienne both got scores in the 400’s and Claire and Emily in the 500’s. Jen Grimes got a great back loop but kept flushing and didn’t get anything else, so Rowan made finals from heat 1 with a 195. I still don’t know if Claire or Emily won, as Emily’s final ride score; I never heard but it looked like her best ride. Claire was winning before that. Adrienne has had some rides here that looked awesome and she is really paddling well, improving a lot in her freestyle moves. It is great to see. Claire is an amazing paddler and she can make some great moves with perfect style. Sage at 13 is a rock star that always amazes. She is going for high scoring rides and misses a lot of moves, but also gets a lot. Watch out when she learns a few more and gets more consistent!! Emily is Emily- hard to beat in any situation as she not only knows how to do the moves, but seems to rise to the occasion, in most occasions and pull it out.
In the men’s class in the first heat, lots of big scores. 10th place prelims finisher Brandon from England got a 1016 point ride. Clay a 955, and Alec Vorhees a 1070 to win his heat at age 17.
I got an 855 and an 830 or so, flushing early on both rides on my helix, a move I didn’t think I could flush on here. My rides were going well, not missing any moves other than my Backloop on one ride, but that Helix (a good move for me) was my undoing. It was clear that I would not make the cut the second I flushed on my Helix for the second time… score about the same, because I got to the same point in my routine.
Dane, Jason, Nick, and Mattieu battled hard staying in the hole for the 60 seconds and it went: Dane 1800, Jason 1700, Mattieu 1600, and Nick 1300. It will be an all Rock Star/Team JK men’s finals- which is quite a feat with Peter Czonka, Tomas Czaplipski, Brandon, Gerd, etc. etc. competing.
It is 8am on Sunday morning as I write this… things start up again at 10am. You can watch the finals all day by live Feed here on the Jackson Kayak website at this link: https://legacy.jacksonkayak.com/team-jk/whitewater2013/live-stream/
The Rock Star is killing it here at Kelly’s. Dane, Emily, Sage, Alec, and I are in the “competition models” which is a plastic hull, but carbon/foam core hull support and special designed seat that lowers the weight. My dad did a good job on that outfitting and it allows us to make a boat that is only 27 pounds but strong too. “Light, Comfortable, Durable, and Dry” Jason, Matthieu, Nick, Rush, and Claire have composite kayaks made at Murkey Waters and Gui Gui. These boats are super lightweight, and rigid and make it easier to rotate in the air, compared to even the competition models. However, as Dane attested, he prefers to be able to plug hard, hit bottom, and loop higher, for example in the Competition version of the Rock Star. I am the same way- I love plastic boats for the durability and no stress paddling of them. The good news is that we have both, so anyone who wants both a carbon and competition, or standard model (plastic hull/plastic track with fiberglass reinforcements and 29.8 pounds total weight for the medium) can get them.
Last year’s top 5 all Rock Stars… this year’s top five men will be the same! Great boat- I hope you’ll try it!! Ask for the competition version if you want the ultimate ride!
See you tomorrow!