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Washburn - Div A & B Wild Water race

Now there are many people at the club who think wavehoppers are too wobbly at the best of times, will question the wisdom of anyone who wants to race one. So taking one of these down the Washburn would be seen by many as just plain foolish. However, at times you just have to push yourself and see what happens - which is why I've been thinking for a while I've thought about racing there. For a couple of years the wild water race had always clashed with slaloms, but this year it didn't - and for good measure I decided to do both the sprint and classic (full length) race.

On arrival, two immediate concerns become apparent - first the sprint race started just above the big drop, so racing meant getting down it three times! Secondly I was first off so there would be no-one below to rescue me!

A gentle practice run reassured me that I could get down the course in a wavehopper (albeit with a big support stroke on the big drop) even though most of the Div A racers passed me on the way down. It also demonstrated that it is even more difficult to steer on bouncy water - as the water flicks the boat from edge to edge it tries to steer, meaning you have to correct constantly!)

On each run of the sprint race, I got a better line down the big drop than in practice - watching others from the bank, the most notable feature was the repeated thuds as everyone bottomed out in the drop. At lunch time it became apparent that paddling a plastic wavehopper was an advantage - as there were several people going at repairs before the second race. One boat even had a 90 degree bend in it!

Now I've always maintained that the Washburn isn't long enough for a river trip. So racing from below the dam to the bottom reservoir in just under 10 minutes confirmed this - although the top Div A racers did it in under 8 minutes!

So at the end of it all I came away with 2 second places. I'm please to have completed both races. Will I be getting into WWR seriously - probably not - 10 minute plus is just too far to race in my mind.

Photos courtesy of David Jefferies (Pennine CC)

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