26 October 2006

DWD opening weekend a success!

Wow what a weekend - my best yet over here. The Dutch freestyle kayakers know how to have a good time and welcomed me with open arms. I've left the weekend with 4 different people’s phone numbers to go kayaking with in the future and met lots of others that I will no doubt meet again on the water somewhere.

This will probably be another long post so get a coffee or something before reading. I suggest you read my previous post about the plan of action for the weekend just passed cos it pretty much so came true. Are you sitting comfortably then I shall begin...

I ducked out of work early on Friday at 2pm to get to DWD on time for my judges briefing. Most of the freestylers were on the course having a practice in the main hole so I took a few photos. The hole was a little like a sticky looping pool but when going for a big loop some people were occasionally hitting the bottom with their nose of their kayak. But no-one was spanking their tail on the bottom when completing a loop so it wasn't that bad. Cartwheels were fine and stable in both directions.

I volunteered to be a Judge for the final round of the Dutch Playboating Cup. I got off lightly with the judging as I was a scribe, so all I had to do was confirm what the other judge was seeing and write it down. The guy I paired with was Florian a junior member from the Swiss team from ticket2norway fame. He reminded me of a younger Dicky - absolutely obsessed with kayaking and he had a sweet sponsorship deal with Adidas. The other judge was Stephanie (I think Bank? also called herself sonny?), a chick from the German team who was sound. She called the Dutch the crazy dutchies - a phrase I think I will adopt! The variety judge was a nutter called Kaas also I think from the Swiss team but joined me in swigging some Belgian beers supplied by the variety scribe, Gianni - Cheers!

Judging was quite a funny affair, slating all the muppets, cheering the one swimmer and slagging off the good people when their attempt at a difficult move flushed. A few phonix monkeys were attempted but none stuck well enough to score. So the big scores were gained by huge entry moves, loops and super clean spins/cartwheels. Being able to perform a move both ways really bumps your score up. The was an interesting insight into an area of kayaking I've never really been keen on before.

I only got a few pictures of the training as you can see at the end of this post. There was no time to take piccies or video whilst judging as it was quite fast paced to get all the heats done whilst the main stage was sound checking in the background. I made good use of the free red bull type drink called go fast.

Here's a very brief video of the main stage lighting setup:

The freestyle competition was won by Casper, who seems to be the main man over here. He's how I managed to blag my way into the weekend - George from back home put me in touch so thanks a zillion George. It was a close final, Casper’s entry moves were the biggest but some other finalists were closer to nailing phonix and trickies. Casper banged out the cleans both ways tho so was a deserved winner. Here's a rather dull video of the awards ceremony for the senior Men. Comically, Casper was stripped to his boxers and ended up in the drink afterwards but I only have that in photo format at the end of this post.

After the medal ceremony we headed back to the local kayak store housed in an outdoor centre called Outdoor Valley. A wicked place with a huge climbing wall, a mountain bike track and a kayak ramp. And this was where the fun began, the beer flowed and the crazy dutchies took it in turn to hurl themselves off a purpose built kayak ski ramp. Checkout the footage below:

The shop owner guy also showed a video of all the playboat cup venues and I must admit although the Dutch get utter rubbish conditions for white water they sure do make the most of it. I look forward to seeing if I can convince some of the brits to come over for some of the events next year. It's a smaller community of paddlers here that it appears everyone knows everyone and there is no real cliché that feels like it is present in the UK sometimes.

The partying continued well into the night. For once I called it quits before the end as I knew I had to be paddling the next day for the opening ceremony. Having said that I still managed it all the way until 6am and completely battered - damn those €1 beers! At 6am I left the crazy dutchies singing karaoke and staggered off to the comfort of cuddling up in the back of my car with my kayak. But not for long as only 3hrs later I had to get up at 9am to head to DWD for the dress rehearsal for the TV shows.

So naturally, still drunk and with only 3hrs kip my first run down the course was tentative! I crossed too low on the entry ferry glide and got nailed in the cushion wave against the first wall. It was at that point I decided I wasn't going to drop in on the big hole for some ends. I made sure I gave an extra boof to get through that bad boy. But just round the corner was my favourite wave - a corner wave a little bigger and steeper than what used to be the pyramid wave at HPP. A perfect spot for some sweet blunts. Well I stuck to spinning due to my current physical state swiftly followed by a flushing. Around the corner another sweet wave with good kickflip over potential (again only wave wheel for me!). The eddy for this wave was a bit of a pain in the arse to catch. Then it was down a big chute punching through a huge V wave. This wave has the potential to be pukka with a little thought into the design – at the mo it’s dauntingly a little shallow. Finally a couple more waves and a small hole, HPP 2nd pool size, before ending up in the bottom pool and a short paddle to the conveyor belt. Wow what a luxury and a well needed rest before run 2.

The real opening event started at midday and to be honest was quite spectacular. They had certainly splashed some cash. First two go fast dudes skydived and were supposed to land on the roof of the Flow Wave building. One guy missed and got a right royal piss taking from us waiting to launch our kayaks down the course. The poor guy had to run all the way around the course back to as close to the roof as possible. Then along came a rescue helicopter that winched the guys off the roof into the entry pool where they collected Hydrospeeds and bobbed down the course. They were shortly followed by 10 other Hydrospeeds and then us freestylers a hooting and a hollering down the river to the few hundred big crowd. Then last were the rafts and some ringos. We all then repeated the run for a second time. It was absolutely knackering; imagine paddling HPP but playing on every feature trying to perform the best crowd pleasing moves. I am certainly not paddle fit anymore!

We didn't hang around much after that as we went to the beach to go surfing. Not much surf to write home about but something to get wet with. At least those who could not be arsed getting outta bed for the opening ceremony could have a splash about. It seems the ocean is where most of the Dutch team get their practice and that will probably be the case for a while until DWD lower their prices and fully understand their kayaking market.

I skipped the blof concert, someone told me the band was soft rock - err no thanks then I'll pass! But a good night’s sleep was needed before repeating the opening ceremony without the helicopter on Sunday. My performance was a little better and I braved the main hole getting a few cartwheels and loop attempts though never landed a particularly good one. Later on Sunday there was supposed to be a freestyle demo just in the main hole rather than down river freestyle. Casper politely said he had enough people for that and I wasn't needed - fair play I knew I was the weaker paddler! But Michel came down to check the place out and I hung out with him. It rained a little later on and the freestyle demo was actually cancelled and free rafting was offered to the spectators so Michel had a go. I was too knackered and not quite up for it so left Michel to it and got a few snaps.

We also checked out the flow waves and I can't wait to give those bad boys a go. Here's some footage of the bodyboarders in action. Emma is here in about a week’s time with Kate and I'm going to book us all an hour each so I'll let you know if it's as good as it looks.

So all in all, a blinder of a weekend and I hope to have more with the crazy dutchie paddlers! Checkout the photos below and I hope I can find the TV footage online to post later.

I'll leave you with one last titbit of info. The course has been designed with the idea of adding another channel in the future purely to create one massive wave. Hidden away is another pump to push water back upstream up a new shortcut channel to create a monster of a wave. As much as DWD is currently a rip off and not very supportive of the freestyle movement, let's hope they make enough money to dig out the new channel!

Oh and one last thing, when you bringing your ducky over Matt? They will let you on here with it no worries!


  • You have to tell me those flow waves are as good as they look.

    It's gotta be the best reason listed so far for coming out there to see you mate!! ;)

    By Anonymous Peach, at 29/10/06 13:40  

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