This September Zosia and I spent three crazy days in Spain – we were a part of Salt Kayak Festival which took place in Salt near Girona. We have returned here for the festival after visting in 2014 for the freestyle kayak World Cup.
It was great event full of positive energy with lots of action. At Friday at organisers request me, Zosia, Agata and Michał made a freestyle clinics for local young paddlers. That means that this year Kayak Salt Festival had Polish teaching crew. Agata with Michał was teaching beginners, Zosia semi-advanced paddlers and me kids who already have nice freestyle skills. It was great teach them and see how fast local kids are learning new stuff. After introduction on the flat water where I presented the ways how to learn and improve cartwheels, splitwheels, tricky whus and loops I moved with my group to competition feature. There I was focusing with my paddlers at small details to improve they skills and after hour we had our first success like bigger loops, more consistent cartwheels and splitwheels or even first Fonics Monkeys!
It was great fun to paddle with so enthusiastic young people.
Freestyle Clinics, photo by Marc Tienda.
It’s pretty nice small hole which reminds me my home spot. The same as in Jelenia Góra the angle of green water is pretty big what determines specific ways how to do moves like tricky whu or lunar orbit. It is not a sticky hole so every move must be performed correct and fast. That means you can learn a lot in features like this and this is what I like
Kayak Cross, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
All sports events took place at Saturday. We started the day from boater-X competition. The cool thing is we didn’t need to take a long boats with us to Catalonya. Organisers and one of the sponsors provided big amount of boats in the same model and size. Other cool thing was that if you used one of that boats you got some extra chance – Exo Coin to win brand new plastic freestyle boat.
The boater-X venue was pretty challenging. Maybe kayak course is not very difficult but with combination of three different upstream gates, eskimo roll zone between two banners and running section with jump from the ramp without a spraydeck made competing in that category very attractive for spectators and challenging for paddlers. Besides that there was another difference. To advance to the next round paddlers had to have good result – time. So it didn’t matter if you were first or second in your run. Paddlers with 8 best times advanced to semifinal so even when someone didn’t got spot in top two it was possible to advance. From the other side even if you win in your run it was better to keep going fast till the end of race section to be sure to advance.
In ladies category boaters-X won Zosia Tuła after spectacular battle with Nuria Fontane Maso who placed second. Bronze medal got Marie Izac from France.
In mens won Oriol Colome-Puig. Silver medal got Gerd Serrasolses. I’ve got third place.
photo by Salt Kayak Festival
New look at freestyle competition
After the boaters-X and lunch we had freestyle kayaking competition. In prelims we had slightly modified Jam Session system. Every paddler has 35 seconds for single run and time limit for one heat was 15 minutes. It was nice for all paddlers to have more time and chances to do a good moves. Everyone could be more focused on his moves and because it was more time I think preliminaries was more attractive for spectators. We were going bigger and in overall having a good fun. But that was’nt the only new thing during that event.
In K1M to quarter-finals advanced top eight paddlers after prelims. In K1W top four competitors advanced to the next round. From that point we were fighting in pairs. in each pair paddlers were fighting till two won battles. Every battle – run was thirty-five seconds and competitor who first got two points (two wins) advanced. Because I had the biggest score after preliminaries and I was on the leading position I was competing in pair with paddler from eighth position – Gerd Serrasosles. Second after prelims Quim was in pair with seventh Otger Sole Eugenio. Winners of quarter-finals advanced to semifinals and doing another battle to two wins to advance to big final.
Jaquim Fontane Maso, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
In my opinion it is very interesting system of competition. After every round of battle between two paddlers judges were showing the winner. Rides are shorter, and audience has quick info who is going to the leading position or who is winning. In overall all event was going fast, smooth and was very exciting. Thirty-five second runs are even more challenging than forty-five seconds there is no time for mistakes and every paddler should show his best moves to be able to win the battle. Another cool thing was a presentation of paddlers in boxing gloves.
Gerd Serrasolses and Tomasz Czaplicki, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
Final of K1W
The leader of K1W after preliminaries Nuria Fontane Maso was fighting in pair with Silvia Gallego. The Vice leader Zosia was fighting with Mireia Serres Segarra. Nuria won 2:0 with Silvia. Zosia won 2:0 with Mireia and the big final was Zosia vs. Nuria. Girls who didn’t advnced to big final had a small final where they were fighting for a third place. Bronze medal won Mireia.
Zofia Tuła and Nuria Fontane Maso, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
In big final of K1W we saw great battle full of high scored freestyle moves. Zosia won the first round. In second run Nuria showed very nice ride with combination of vertical moves as splitwheels, cartwheels and air mc nasty and after two runs it was a tie. in third run Zosia showed Both directions Space Godzillas, air loop, Left McNasty and Fonics Monkey. Nuria didn’t beat that run and Zofia Tuła won in K1W with score of 2:1.
Zofia Tuła, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
After winning in quarters I advanced to semis where I was fighting with Oriol. I won 2:0 and I was waiting for results of second semifinal Joaquim Fontane Maso vs. Sebastien Devred. Quim won 2:1 with Seb and the big final was Tomasz Czaplicki vs. Joaquim Fontane Maso.
Sebastien with Oriol were fighting in small final for bronze medal and that battle won Oriol.
In big final our battle with Quim was similar to final of K1W. I won in first run. In second run Quim was better and we needed third run to break a tie. In my third run I made Air Loop, Space Godzilla left, McNasty left and right, Fonics Monkey left splitwheel to splithweel to cartwheel with tricky whu attempt and that ride gave me a second point. With score of 2:1 I won match with Quim and in all freestyle event.
Tomasz Czaplicki, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
I think it’s good idea to try some new ways how to do freestyle events. This system is of course not the same as old ‘head to head’ but that two systems has some similarities. The same like in head to head paddler must be well prepared to be ready to do a lot of runs with short breaks. It’s exciting for spectators and every run must be good enough to advance to the next round otherwise every not good run might be the last one. Thirty-five seconds runs make all competition from quarters to finals more dynamic and more attractive because only winner from pair can go to next level.
Ter River, photo by Salt Kayak Festival
After very nice prize giving ceremony at Saturdays evening and huge party at Sunday morning we all moved to paddle together on the River Ter. It’s pretty nice grade 3-4 whitewater with a couple nice rapids. In every type of boat creek or freestyle you can find there nice places to have fun.