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Like any major event, there is the anticipation, training, planning, etc. that comes a year or more before it, and goes right up to about now. Now it is upon us. There is little you can do to change what you have already done, or to prepare. The athletes of the world are already heading to Canada. Costa Rican’s, French, British, Americans, Canadians, Norwegians, etc. are already there! This week that we are in now is like a mass immigration period into Canada. I will arrive on Friday but will not be alone there. The Buseater Wave had a great April of rain (and snow!) to fill the reservoir up and Sharky and Joe Kowalksi will give the thumbs up at the end of this week to start the training water! This will create a feeding frenzy of competitors getting as much time on the wave as possible and until official training slots are created (Monday, I believe) it will be a paddler’s party all day at the wave. Fires on shore to keep warm (2 feet of snow fell on the Ottawa yesterday, but is melting fast), video cameras when it is not raining, coaches, etc. will all be trying to get the read on just what this event is going to be all about. Who can do what? What can I do? How do you use a tow rope? Why is my shoulder hurting? Oh yea, the tow rope!

Team JK will have the Farmhouse, a wonderful bed and breakfast house that Wilderness Tours/Ottawa Kayak School own as its headquarters. the Jackson family will stay in the RV but parked outside the farmhouse. There will be sleeping bags and gear everywhere. It is truly a boaters’ event, the world championships. As many as 50 countries could be competing this year, making it likely to be the biggest Freestyle World Championships ever. Sort Spain in 2001 was the biggest so far (boy was that fun!). David Stefan from Brazil just got his Visa to come into Canada and the USA and will be competing. He is VERY excited. (if he brings his girlfriend, he had better get her some warmer clothes :))

For me it will be switching gears, again. I did full on training in Africa, followed by full on business at Rock Island, Spring Spash, etc. and now back to paddling again. This was the plan and it works for me. Kristine got the whole USA team sweatshirts, and as elders and representatives of the sport there will be plenty of people seeking our help up there. I want to see the worlds run by my friends Joe Kowalski and Matt Mcquire go off like champs. World Sport TV called me yesterday and will be flying in to produce a show on it. They are part of the IMG group and are actually out of the London office. I’ll keep you posted on show times after it is all over. Also look for some big magazine coverage, and of course you can follow the whole thing right here on Jackson The rush is on to get into the new Star series for the competition. The 2007 Funs are fully World Championships ready and Jay Kincaid will be paddling the 4 Fun. I can’t believe that we finally have two series of boats that are world’s ready, sorry, back to the Worlds.

So far the Worlds have been held on smaller waves and holes (Normal sized ones). This is the first world championships being held on a wave that is larger than life! It is larger than the Nile Special on the Nile, Larger than 12B on the Zambezi, and very similar to the put-in wave at the Dries of the New at 75,000 cfs (biggest level for that wave). The difference is that the Buseater Wave can actually be dialed in by a dam! Statistically there is an 80% chance to get the Mini-bus (actually the bigger of the Buseater waves, called mini-bus because crazy people surf it, more or less) in. That last 20% may have been taken care of with the water that has fallen on the Ottawa River Valley over the past two weeks. This World Championships at this wave is what so many people have asked for over the past few years. Finding a site that can be scheduled two years in advance on a specific week, that has dependable water, and a local organizer capable of pulling off the worlds biggest kayaking event in scope, size, and importance is rather challenging. The Ottawa River with Wilderness Tours as the organizer is a great combination that acheives all of the goals of the athletes (except warm weather!).

Like any major event, it is a roll with the punches attitude that gets you through it mentally and physically. Snow falling, 32 degree water, large numbers of kayakers wanting to surf the wave at the same time, are all challenges that we must all face. Once team training slots begin, each country will get 1 hour at a time to train on the wave each day. This lowers the line-up. Countries that don’t have many boaters competing will pair up with other countries that speak the same language whenever possible. The opening ceremonies will begin on April 29th and Closing Ceremonies are on May 5th at 8pm. In between those two dates it will be excitement, drama, upset, and some predictability, but that will only surface after the event is over. People are coming in with some great training under their belts, many went to Africa, Chile’, and other places this winter to train for this event. A title of World Champion is up for grabs in numerous classes. Junior Women, Junior Men, Senior Women, Senior Men, C1, Oc1, Squirt men and women. In the Senior Men’s (open class), there have only been 5 World Champions (Jan Kelner, Eric Jackson, Ollie Grau,Ken Whiting, Eric Southwick, Eric Jackson, Jay Kincaid, Eric Jackson). There are many men 18 years and older that want to become the 6th name on that World Champion list. There are also two names that want to add another win on their list (EJ and Jay). In the women’s class there may only be Jutta Kiser going for a second win, with so many women going for their first! In the junior men and junior women’s class there are tons of new comers and it is anybody’s guess! I would never bet against my own kids on that one, but there is a whole competition and training between now and the time the medals are awarded.

This year’s venue is perfect for comraderie among competitors. Camping, communal eating, and lack of a city to get people spread out, means great group dynamics. Wilderness Tours has hot tubs, bars, restaurants, and is a great host. We will truly have an incredible international experience with our friends, and we’ll make many new friends in the process.

Keep tuned in for updates, results, stories, etc. from the "Worlds of Kayaking"!