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After a 4 hour drive from the Ottawa River with Kalob Grady and James Metcalfe , we arrived in Montréal around midnight. The event, Montreal en Eau-Vive, lured us with a few great perks which included some great surf waves, jet skis, and 2 Whitewater Grand Prix qualifying spots. There were a lot of rumors leading up to what exactly would be happening, but the most common was the freestyle portion on a wave called “Mavericks.” It is in the Lachine Rapids with Big Joe and Pyramid Wave except very far out in the middle of the river, making it hard to access without jet skis. There was also a rumor about a Boater cross in the other channel of the Lachine Rapids which is way further over and has hardly been run.

August 16th was a very gloomy and rainy day in Montreal. After the competitors meeting at KSF it had been confirmed that the freestyle was in fact on Mavericks with a team of jet skis dropping us off on the wave and picking us up when we flushed off. There was a lot of talk about what the wave was actually like at the meeting, many describing that they heard it was very tubal and diagonal like an ocean wave. There were four groups of seven competitors. Each group would get two practice rides and three competition rides that would be judged via video. The scoring was your three best tricks on a single ride. Each trick had a different score. It was different than ICF scoring as an airscrew was worth 6 points with style and amplitude bonuses available. I had never been to the Lachine Rapids, so I went out with the first group to watch and paddle Pyramid Wave as I was in the second group. I was pretty blown away with the pure size of the St. Lawrence River, and the Lachine Rapids were only a third of the width! Once we got out to the island and eddy above Big Joe, it took quite a while for the jet skis to get set up and everyone coordinated. In the meanwhile we surfed the two world-class waves that you usually surf.

Once the event got rolling and people were getting towed behind the jet skis to surf Mavericks, there was a lot of feedback. The description I had put together was it was very angled, steep, slow, super hard, and tubular like an ocean wave. After about an hour and a half of watching people get towed out and waiting for group 1 to finish, it was on the next group. I was the 5th to go in our group. I pulled myself on to the platform behind the jet skis and we were ready to go. It was pretty cool to be zipping across the waves and boils of this big rapid. Mavericks was just in sight and they lined me up in the correct position to catch the wave and I was thrust into the current. I could instantly feel the power of the wave and I was working to get out on the shoulder. Once I did it was a super good wave! A perfect shoulder and it would automatically set you up for good passes. I threw a blunt and an airscrew on the ride and then flushed. On my second ride I had an aircrew, pan am, flashback, and helix. On one of my competition rides I got an aircrew and flashback to be my highest scoring ride. On my two other judged rides I had a lefty airscrew both times, but had unfortunate surges before I could set up for another trick. After my group was done competing I ferried back to the car in the non- stop rain to go back for dry clothes and wait for the rest of the competitors.

Late that night the results had been posted, stating that I was in fifth place going into the Boater Cross. Kalob Grady was in the lead with Marcos Gallegos in second, and James Metcalfe and Jordan Poffenberger tied for 3rd.

The second day of the event had a total of 16 racers which meant we would do a time trial, and everyone would advance to the boater cross. The time trial from the top of the point to the eddy of Big Joe was big water class 3 to determine the seeding for boater cross. Afterwards everyone paddled down about a quarter of a mile to an island to advance on in the competition.
At the island there was a quick recap of the time trial with placing, and an overview of what was about the happen in the boater cross. The format was a semis of two heats of seven racers, and the top four advancing from each heat to make an eight person final.

To get to the top of the St. Catherine Rapids on the other channel of Lachine, we took a massive tour jet boat to the top. Not many people have been able to paddle this rapid because it is so far out into the river. The boat went right to the side of the rapid for us to be able to score and know what was ahead for the race. There was nothing serious about the rapid. It just looked like really fun big water with one massive distinct curler. To begin the race, the boat got positioned pointing straight upstream with the racers lining both sides of the boat. “3…2…1…GO!” the seven of us racing dropped off the edge of the boat, paddling as hard as possible downstream for the rapid. Dropping off the boat on both sides, forced two different groups that made their way to the rapid before converging. I got pushed right in to the center of the huge curler, and managed to stay upright, but stood in a stern stall for a little bit. The finish line was to hit the boat in this eddy right in the center of the river. I ended up 3rd in my heat and advanced to finals.

The second heat made their way down the course as we waited back at the island. The finals heat was pretty stacked with some good boaters. It was a pretty similar race, except this time I managed to hit the side of the curler to not get slowed down as much. In the finishing stretch Marcos Gallegos and I were out in the lead with others close behind. Just as I was crossing over the boils towards the boat Kalob hit the back of my stern just hard enough to make me lose control of the bow and drift slightly upstream. I happened to take fifth in Boater cross as well. Marcos took first and Kalob was just behind in second.

I instantly knew I had just barely missed out on the Grand Prix spots, but I couldn’t be disappointed with 3rd overall! Marcos and Kalob tied for first in the overall and claimed their spots at the 2016 Whitewater Grand Prix and I was stoked for both of them.

Thanks to Ian Vogel for putting on the event! It ran super well and will be even better next year! Also huge thanks to the jet skis and tour boat for making it possible for the unique experience to paddle some great whitewater! I encourage everyone that is around next year to attend Montréal en Eau-Vive in the middle of August!