2013 Salt Kayak Festival

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This year we discovered a new place we love to paddle & train – La Pilastra in the city of Salt Catalonia. It’s a small playspot hidden away in the city 10 mins from the beautiful Girona it’s a ideal place to paddle and stay.

European Mens champion Quim invited us here to his home spot earlier in the year and we really enjoyed the hole, the place & the people so we were excited to be invited to the Salt Kayak Festival this last weekend.

The competition attracted most of Europe’s top freestylers & even some of the top creek racers so the level was as expected very high.

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The first event to go was the boatercross, involving paddling in a course around various buoys, having to complete 3 rolls, then getting out half way, running up to the top of a ramp and launching in ready to sprint the last 100m to the finish. It’s on a very easy grade 2 stretch but made interesting by the obstacles & challenges thrown in.

In the men’s it was a very close battle between Gerd Serrasolses ESP & Eric Deguil FRA but in the final David Pierron of france squeezed his way inbetween them to take 2nd. Gerd took 1st with a healthy lead and Eric 3rd.

The women’s boatercross looked like an even more aggressive fight than the men’s, but in the final Alicia Casas Zaragoza took the win by a long way followed by Nuria Fontane Maso 2nd, Pauline Sourrouille 3rd and Katya 4th.

Both Alicia & Gerd used the re-released Dagger RPM, looked to be awesome for this kind of racing.

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The main event though was the Freestyle: Salt is the spot of one of the World Cup events next year so most of us were keen to get a feel for competing here. It’s also Quim’s home spot so everyone knew it would be hard to better his rides here. The hole is really good, not super easy but fun to paddle.

The prelims you had 4 rides of 30 seconds with the varety of all moves in all rides added together (1 move only scores once in all your rides). This was actually really refreshing, you got to show everything you could do. Quim took 1st, me 2nd and Sebastian Devred 3rd.

In the semi final I had a great ride even getting one of my trophy moves in at the end to take the win, Mathieu Dumoulin was 2nd, Sebastian 3rd.

Finals was very closely fought round, watching it was hard to tell who would be where, it looked like it’d come down to whichever style they were judging. I had good rides but think I used my best a round too early to come 4th. Quim took the win, Mathieu 2nd and Sebastian 3rd.

In the women’s prelims katya killed it to score 755 & the top spot!! She just goes so big and nice, it’s beautiful watching her paddle when she’s flying! Nuria Fontane Maso was 2nd and France’s Pauline was 3rd.

In the finals Nuria took the win with a solid performance, 2nd was Pauline and 3rd went to Katya. It had been a long day of paddling and I think both me & Katya ran out of steam, we showed our best a round to early.

Full Results of all events: Resultats SKF 2013

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It had been an awesome day, it’s a really great atmosphere at these events and we got to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen for a long time, get closer to competitors we paddled with all year but in a more fun based event people are more relaxed and generally just enjoy paddling at such a good hole in a beautiful spot.

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The evening was a free competitors dinner & international film festival. The paddler’s vote went to Gerd’s Stikene Film and was duly awarded the first place.

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Sunday was a big surprise. One day a year the dam releases and the upper stretch of the river runs. What we didn’t guess was how good it is! The first drop is the outflow tube, immense power kicks up a big wavey hole, that looks like something you’d see in Uganda! Katya even got surfed around for 20 seconds before getting flung out downstream then we had various rapids of differing difficulties for the next hour to the take out. There must have been over 100 paddlers out so there was some great carnage but most of all many happy paddlers. It wasn’t that hard a run but it was fierce enough to be fun for everyone. At the take out the organisers gave everyone another free dinner before everyone headed off their separate ways.

You got treated so well at these events, free dinners, shuttles, good competition, entertainment, rash vests & prize money – I think the Organisers of Worlds could have used some inspiration for how you run events. Here you’re made to feel welcome and guaranteed a great experience regardless of how you do.

Again a big thank you to Quim, Nuria & all Fontane Maso family for another great time here in Catalonia, we loved the event and can’t wait to come back at next years World Cup!!! Such a good place to paddle & stay.

We even managed to squeeze in a trip to the beach and a visit to Salvador Dali’s house 🙂

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Pringle

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About James Bebbington

2011 ICF World Freestyle Kayak Champion & 2011 ICF World Cup Freestyle Kayak Champion Passionate about Kayaking, Travel, Nature, Dreams, Raw Food & the Beauty of Life. Don't give up on your dreams, listen to your heart!
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