This was Dave’s comment when we checked out the illustrious start list for the Adidas Sickline World Extreme Kayak Championship. Illustrious names from the global kayaking community like Tao Berman and Steve Fisher had signed up so, naturally, we thought we’d enter to show the colonials true British sporting spirit – it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts as Mr Bullcrusher, my old PE teacher used to say.
Thankfully, the boats were still there in the morning. Pic: DF
After leaving a day early due to ferry date confusion, eating pizza and sleeping in the van at Landeck, we headed for Otztal to check out the race site. Our first mistake was apparent that day. We had anticipated the the Alps would be a bit chilly in October, and were consequently stitched up like kippers by the weather, which was relatively tropical. While we waited for the shops to open so we could buy shorts, we partook in sone pre-race training like the true athletes we are:
Tom missing a tricky screwback. Pic: DF
Shorts bought, we started the process of training proper.
Tom struggles to contain his excitement when faced with the course. Pic: DF
Tom in the midst of it all. Pic: SN
Matt going well over the speed limit. Pic: SN
Thursday kicked off with being told that no training was allowed on the Wellerbrucke (site of the finals) as the previous day had been utter carnage. We didn’t know wether to be annoyed or relieved, judging by the state of the rapid.
Lynsey, Sarah and Tom survey the Wellebrucke. Pic: DF
The day passed with faff, tea, some more boating and anticipation about the race briefing that evening.
The hall was packed at the race briefing and you could cut the tense atmosphere with a bowling ball. We were greeted with the news that one of the Sickine guys, Tim Weinmann was missing on the Heiligkruz Gorge and things were not looking good but that all would go ahead tomorrow.
Sadly, this was not to be, as we rocked up to the start at 9.00 to find that the race was off for that day due to high water. Damn! Instead of that early night with camomile tea, we could’ve been on the beers! Ah well, we drank tea and hatched a plan to tackle the Finstermunz Gorge instead. For the record, the first rapid is still minging, even when low.
Suddenly, (P)Rich spots his excuse. Finstermunz Gorge. Pic: DF
A messy night followed and, once again for the record, I was never going to hit those Germans.
The race was cancelled the next day too, so everyone hung about, drank tea and moaned about headaches. The party that evening was epic, with rock music played by kayakers, wodka, camping it up a bit, sweaty Ed and Prich and feet being put through walls.
Overall, it was a cracking event, marred by the death of one of the team and unseasonably high water levels. I’ll make the trip next year. I’ll leave you with a few more pics…
A friendly local. Pic: SN
Autumnal colours. Pic: SN
The capacity crowd giddy with anticipation. Pic: SN