Saturday, July 28, 2012

Upper Valldola

After the Sjoa Festival Benji was supposed to be heading down to Southern Norway but luckily his car had to go to the mechanics therefore grounding him in Sjoa for an extra three days. Jakub happened to have 3 days off work so the three of us went on a mini mission to paddle around Valldal and catch up with some of Jakub's Czech and Slovak friends.

The view from our breakfast spot

After camping at a beautiful spot near the Rauma we headed up the Trollstigen road and despite no cellphone reception we managed to arrive at the Valldola put in at the same time as team Honza. As not all of them were paddling they sussed our shuttle for us and for once we put on dry gear while the sun beamed down, happy days.

Honza on one of the slides

Jakub stoked to be off work

Benji on yet another cool rapid

Going for the wave wheel...?

Take#2 he styles it

The Upper Valldola is a sweet pool drop style run with lots of cool slides, nice boofs, and a very interesting gorge in the middle. We had a nice mellow run down the section and even did some laps on a beautiful boof drop with the boys making some entertaining attempts at wave wheels.

Benji giving the wave wheel a go

Tight mini canyon

Honza styling the boof into a tight gorge

Jakub on another tight boof

Grass roof house!

Gyrodactylus salaris - a bit of a problem in Norway

After a very enjoyable trip down the Valldola we had a delicious lunch by the fjord, travelling with Benji is great, he is constantly creating tasty meals and is never without a handy supply of sjokolade. We then decided to head up to the Myklebust run. 

Some funky architecture

Crazy gorge in between upper and middle Valldola

After some confusion regarding the put in to the Myklebust we put on a bit above the race section and found some tight steep boulder gardens before the river enters into an awesome mini gorge. At the end of the mini gorge we found the normal put in to the Myklebust race section and it was awesome! Nice boofs and amazing slides, this run will not fail to put a smile on any kayaker's face. Unfortunately slides don't always go down that well with already welded boats but nothing a big roll of duct tape couldn't temporarily fix. Luckily we caught up with Jakub's Slovak friends who happened to have a small welding torch so my boat was watertight again in no time.

The put in to the Myklebust section


Jakub being a poser

Friendly sheep checking out our gear.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sjoa River Festival

The Sjoa River Festival is an annual event hosted by Gene17 and Strie Strommer. This is a super fun event with awesome races as well as loads of other entertaining activities. The festival kicks off with a mass start raft race down the Sjoa play run followed by the infamous Pimps 'n Hoes party.

Raft race

Norwegians train their children at a young age to love the rain

Kayakers hiding from the rain

Safety guy

The next day is the qualifier race which is a time trial through the 'Washing Machine' rapids on the Sjoa. High water levels on the Sjoa river made it a fun race through big waves and holes. Results below.

Women's time trial results

Men's time trial results

The time trial results decided starting positions for the Ula Extreme, a race down a cool section of slides on the Ula river. Race format is two races down the same section both counting towards your final placing. After the first round the kiwis were looking strong in both the mens (Sam in 1st, Jamie in 2nd, Willz in 3rd and Brendan in 10th place) an the women's (Me in 2nd and Lulu in 4th) unfortunately I took some marginal to poor lines in the second round landing me in 4th position but Lulu had a huge improvement on her time and ended up 2nd. Sam and Jamie took out 1st and 2nd in the mens shot boys.

Cheeky roll in between slides

Nick's concentration face

I just liked the pretty colours in this photo

Benji putting on some great facials

Dag with even better facials

Willz heading towards a strong finish

Jamie on the first drop

Sam 'daddy' Sutton earning some cash for his baby

Nini looking staunch in the fullface


Sanga sunbathing Norwegian style

Sunny Norway 

Jamie and Willz hadn't had enough racing after the time trial so they did some head to head laps

Mens results 

Women's results

After the Ula extreme we headed back to Sjoa kayak camp for the 'king/queen of the Sjoa race' fastest unsponsored boater wins a Pyrahna kayak of their choice. The race went as follows... 

English people talk a lot

Step 1: throw your throwbag into the cockpit of one of these Pyranha kayaks. If you miss you go back to the start, if you get it in you retrieve your bag and proceed to the next step

If you miss your shot safety dog steals your bag

Riley lining it up

...and go!

Step 2: Run to you kayak, get on the river, try to put on your spraydeck before you hit too many waves and race to the end bridge (photo by Mel Parminter)

The next activity was the Palm Throwbag Olympics. This fun event had an obstacle course of targets which you had to hit with your bag, the first person to hit all the targets, repack their bag and hand it to Simon was the winner of a brand new Palm PFD.

Palm Throwbag Olympics, serious business

Mass start!!!

Lulu won a free throwbag to replace her 'antique'

Tie!!! Luckily Strie Strommer was generous enough to give us both life jackets

The grand finale of the event is the Sweet Rumble BoaterX. Usually this event is held on the Amot section of the Sjoa River but due to rather high water levels the racecourse was moved to the Slalom section. Not quite as burly as the Amot but a great racecourse and awesome for spectators.

Nicole warming up for the Sweet Rumble

Fierce competition amongst the men

Willz trying to take Julian out

Jakub stomping the boof

Not so fierce competition amongst the women...

Spectators spectating.

The Sweet Rumble Championship was fiercely contested with a first ever first equal in the men's between Sam Sutton and Pavel Andrassy. The women's final was a bit of a showdown with Sandra Hyslop from England taking an early lead but I managed to sneak past her taking a faster line through the hole to take out 1st place, Sandra in 2nd and Katya Stein from Germany in 3rd.

Shuttle vehicle, shot Pyrahna

Big chur to Simon Westgarth from Gene17 and everyone else involved in organising an awesome festival! I hope to be back next year.