This years Sjoa River Festival was yet again a big success with people from all over the world meeting up to enjoy a week of kayaking, racing, hanging out and of course partying. Taking place in the Sjoa Valley the festival has been taking place for more years than I have been kayaking, so it always feels like a bit of an honor to attend such a great week.
Huge waves and scary boils was the water theme for the start of the week. The Sjoa was running at around 300 – 350 cumecs which made for plenty of exciting kayaking. On the Tuesday we paddled the Åsengjuvet section down to the bottom of Åmot in around two hours, with Åmot only taking eight minutes from the kayak camp - Not bad going.
One of the many great things about the Sjoa River Festival is that it caters for a large levels of ability and experience. Wednesday was the first real day of the festival and the kind volunteers were out and about guiding other paddlers with less experience of the area on some of the easier classics. Meanwhile, over at Gene 17, I was running our first coaching clinic of the week. This is a chance for paddlers to come out and have a day of structured teaching. We had a wonderful day on a very high Otta River.
The evening rolled around and the infamous P & H party kicked off in the usual style, probably the less said about that the better!
Thursdays highlight was the team race. Held from Strie Strømmer kayak shop down to the football field, it's designed to test endurance. Teams of three started with a 500 m run down to their kayaks followed by a thirty minute all out race to the finish line. It was a super fun race for all involved!
This year we had ideal water levels with great weather for the ‘G17 Ula race’ combined with plenty of male and female racers and many spectators, it was a fine atmosphere for some fun.
The race course is set on a very classic piece of Norwegian whitewater. It comprises of a slot drop, into a short section of moving water which leads into the first fifty metre slide. This is then swiftly followed by the main slide which includes a ninety degree turn into a two metre drop. The final piece of action is a tricky move across a short slide into a four metre boof and a sprint for the finish banner. Its the perfect racetrack!
Both the female and male competitors put down some great times, at the end of it all I was very happy to end up in seventh place. Here's a quick video of one of my runs:
Saturday saw us back at the Ula, but this time running a coaching clinic, we had a wonderful day and I really enjoyed helping the guys and girls who had been spectating the day before styling the same lines as the racers – so I hope to see them at the starting line next year!
That evening marked the mighty Sweet rumble held in the Åmot Gorge canyon. This is where the Sjoa shows off its real power, compressing its strength into the narrow gorge creating spectacular whitewater. The atmosphere was intense, with the river already at a solid level and on the rise. From the start ramp four paddlers battle it out through three major rapids, finishing in a crux move to make the finish banner pinned up in an eddy guarded by two large holes. After each race the top two finishers move through into the next heat until its the final four standing.
The Sjoa River Festival was yet again a wicked event and one I cant wait to roll around on next years calendar.