The devils extreme race is held on the Lipno River, in the small village of Loučovice, Czech Republic, and is the European Championships of Extreme Kayaking.
This river only flows 3 days a year, so the Lipno is a very busy place the weekend of the Devils race. I've never seen so many kayakers, rafters and Canoes in my life. And as it happened, the Czech national slalom champs were being held just up river at the slalom course this same weekend so we were able to catch up with some more kiwi friends who were competing there.
This event is consists of a Downriver extreme race and a boater-cross event the following day.
We had hoped to get over a day early to check out the river we would be racing on but at last minute we heard Sam was going to be able to make it so we waited for him to fly in before we made our way to Czech.
Day 1 was the Downriver race which you had to qualify for via an extreme slalom course. If you made the semis it was a 2km long race and then if you made the finals it was a grueling 4km long race course.
The morning of the race Sam, Jamie and I went for a quick paddle down the river to check out the rapids. To be honest it just seemed like one big long rapid, and although it wasn't super hard, there were way to many lines to remember after just one time down. I guess we just had to hope for the best. It was a pretty cool river, similar in character to the Wairoa River in New Zealand but with less vertical drops.
|Up next for my qualification run.|
In the extreme slalom quals we all managed make it into the top 30 and into the semis which was the main thing. Sam qualified in 2nd, Mike 3rd, Jamie 5th and myself 15th.
Into the semis we were faced with the challenge of not knowing the fast race lines but we did pretty we'll, Sam and I made the same time in 11th place, Jamie made it into 8th and Mike did amazing coming in 1st place ahead of defending champion Victor Legat of Czech Republic (Mike was juggling his slalom races on the same day aswell). Only the top 10 went through to the final so Sam and I just missed out and it was up to Jamie and Mike to bring it home for the Kiwi's.
In the final it was Mike who dominated the field holding his 1st place and Jamie managed to climb one spot into 7th place.
In the women's division NZ's Louise Jull ducked away from her slalom race just up the road and sneaked in a couple of extreme race runs, making the podium in 2nd place.
Day 2 is the boater cross event consisting of 4 person heats down a short course of rapids, having to touch strategically placed buoys on the way down. The start is pretty exciting up on a massive ramp, and all 4 competitors are catapulted into the river at the same time. I was quite surprised not to get landed on or land on anyone else!
I managed to win my heats and quarter finals only to be kicked out in the semi's. Jamie Sutton made it all the way into the final and took top honours in an action packed final race. Jamie is racing super strong at the moment. Watch out for him at the Sickline Worlds.
|Round 1 heat we're off! Quick reaction time is key. Super fun start to the race.|
|And then put on the gas as you land.|
|Having to go round this buoy before heading down the rapids made the starts really even.|
|Lucky to be clear of the pack in the quarterfinals.|
|Jamie Sutton executing a wicked passing move 30m before the finish in the final.|
|Womens downriver Champions (from left): 1st Anne Hubner (GER), 3rd Katerina Migdauova (CZE), 2nd Louise Jull (NZL)|
|Down river race champion Mike Dawson, 2nd Victor Legat (CZE).|
|Mens Boatercross: 1st Jamie Sutton, 2nd Thomas Waldner (ITA), 3rd Tomo Andrassy (CZE)|
|Team Kiwi picking up 3rd in the teams race. Pretty good for not really knowing the long course.|
Here's a good clip from the TV coverage of the event. I had no idea Sam, Mike and Jamie could speak such good Czech.