Puesco Fest unites the indigenous Mapuche people with tourists and athletes alike with a common cause; to celebrate and protect the Puesco river.
Friday night signals the start to the festival as talented local musicians line the stages and crowds numbering in the thousands converge on the dance floor to welcome in the weekend. Despite the urge to stay and party in true Chilean fashion, until the sun comes up, I managed to sneak away around 2:00 am and get at least a few hours of sleep before the race on Saturday. The race takes place on the infamous Tres Tronchos section of the Puesco river. Low water this year meant that although the section was less pushy, it was also much more technical and the race lines were really tight, often just inches away from a rock. To add even more difficulty to this section there were also three slalom poles placed on the crux rapid.
I raced well in my qualification round but got greedy trying to stay in the main flow around the slalom poles took the corner too tight and managed to body check both of them – 'Idiot!'. I immediately thought I was out of the running as the penalty for hitting a slalom pole was 5 seconds, thanks to that mistake I was now faced with a 10 second handicap. With some seriously fast racers in attendance such as Matias Lopez, Pedro Astoria and Kalob Grady along with some rapid up and comers such as Ian Salvat and Edward Muggridge not to mention several speedy locals. I thought there was no hope of making up those ten seconds or the cut to top ten. But somehow I scraped through in eighth place.
The next round I raced with all of the anger that a dumb mistake can afford you but took it much more conservatively around the slalom poles. I knew it had been a good run when I got to the finish line, maybe the best I could have hoped for… but would it be enough against this field of competitors?
Yes, yes it was!
I actually missed the prize giving as I was in the car park packing away my kayaking gear for the day but upon re-entry into the festival grounds I was accosted by my friends offering congratulations and demands for me to – 'DRINK THIS'. The rest of the night blurred away in a mesh of Pisco (Chilean schnapps), awkward attempts at spanish and terrible dance moves.
Much respect to Matias Lopez and Pedro Astoria for second and third place, along with my Palm team mate, Ian Salvat for a well deserved fifth place and thanks to Fede Medina and LJ Groth for organising the event!
See you on the water, Bren Photos by Georgina Preston
About the author
About the author
Bren is know for huge freestyle moves, as well as his trademark flair and creativity. With Impressive results in The Whitewater Grand Prix, Bren's been racking up freestyle and racing results alongside the best in the world. To be found on tour in the US, travelling the world, or going huge at the UK's freestyle venues, Bren's equally at home on huge rapids and waterfalls.