Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Himalayan Whitewater Championships

This KAYAK.im blog entry was written by Christina Dawkins of GRG Adventure Kayaking.

On the 27th-29th November a small village along the Trisuli River was overrun with professional kayakers for the 9th Himalayan Whitewater Championships (or the ‘Rodeo’ as it is locally known). With over 60 Nepali and International competitors, this competition was far from easy and they had to fight hard for a place at the top. Compared with 1992 when there were just 7 competitors, this event has grown and grown. Sponsored by NARA (National Association of Rafting Agents) and Paddle Nepal, these guys made sure the event ran smoothly.

The Rodeo is a great event to give Nepali kayakers who would not normally get the chance to compete at an international standard and show the world what they can really do. This year the world was certainly watching as we saw competitors from America, Canada, South Africa, Japan and even Russia!

The event combines a Slalom, Freestyle and a Down River Race. The Slalom comprised of 15 gates on the ‘Surprise Rapid’, 3 or 4 of which were upstream, making the kayakers cross the main flow of the river, really testing their skills. Next was the freestyle which gave people the chance to show off their playboating skills. Many opted for smaller playboats, but as competitors were only allowed one boat for the whole event it was a difficult choice to make. Points were awarded for loops, cartwheels and other stunts. After two or three heats, it whittled down the competitors to the main players and Santa Maila Gurung, coming third was the only kayaker left in a creek boat, with Santosh Gurung and Anup Gurung who took second and first, were both using playboats. On the final day was the down river race. This was made harder this year as the course was extended to 17 km, a lot of which was flat water. The ‘Le Mans’ start sorted the men out from the boys and many different tactics were used, some even ditched the idea of a sorting out their spray deck as they thought they would lose too much time. After a few kilometres gaps were appearing and the leaders pulled away from the pack. Once the team hit the "Upset Rapid", the largest rapid on the Trisuli, creek boats did much better than the smaller boats and many of the kayakers flipped. It was a close end, with Sean Bozkewycz coming in first. Although most the excitement was for the third position which saw two competitors sprint bare foot across the rocks, dragging their boats behind them to be first to cross the line. Photo finish!

The Rodeo isn’t just about kayaking. It’s a great way to spend a weekend and the parties in the evening sort out who the real kayakers are. This year we had a Hungarian DJ providing us with great tunes to dance the night away Nepali style!

On the final day, awards and prizes were given out to the winners of each event and an overall Champion. Kayak equipment was given to the locals and internationals won tour and adventure packages such as Bungee Jumps and Safari trips. Santa Maila Gurung of GRG’s Adventure Kayaking retained his title of Whitewater Champion for his third year taking home a brand new Jackson Riot to add to his collection. Many of the kayakers made beating Maila their goal this year and came to the river weeks in advance to practice their skills. Unfortunately for them he wiped the board, being the only competitor to come top three in all events and taking the overall win. He was closely followed by brothers Nim Bahadur Magar and Santosh Magar who also got to take home some fine equipment donated by Peak UK.

This year saw another big push for the Nepali Women’s team. Guided by Inka Trollas the girl’s team have got bigger and better. Susmita, who this year has had the opportunity to compete internationally, took the first place for the girls winning her second kayak in two years. Her younger sister, Goma, also did well this year and we hope for more and more girls to get involved in the coming years.

Another great Rodeo, enjoyed by hundreds of people from around the globe. Keep an eye out for next years event. We’re hoping to make it an even better event next yer. Perhaps this could be the start to get Nepali kayakers on the road to the Olympics or more international competitions.

If you would any more information on the Himalayan Whitewater Championship, please feel free to contact info@grgadventurekayaking.com.

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