Yes, we didn’t feel that breeze at plus forty in the desert of UAE, but that freshness and the change of generations is visible on the podium of the 2016 World Rafting Championship.
Our wonderful WRC gathering is behind us, and we are full of impressions, as always. There is no doubt that one of the biggest impressions is of the white water course, that we were delighted with it’s complexity. Plus, the fact that we had guaranteed sun, an excellent infrastructure and staff, which made this place a real paradise, and our desert rose. Oh, how we miss Wadi Adventure.
The speed and technical difficulty of this course surprised competitors resulting in plenty of swims and flips. A very complex Slalom was one of the challenges that faced competitors, loved by some, hated by others. The second was the number of laps during the Downriver. When mixed with high temperatures and the technical difficulty of the course, we saw a few knockouts during the race. Overall, it was a memorable competition.
Talking of Downriver, great praise must be given to the watching teams and spectators who organised themselves so that they could help the teams racing by refreshing them with water either poured over them or given to them for drinking, on the section where they had to run with the rafts. An awesome job, folks! Nothing more beautiful than to see the competitors who stand side by side, supporting each other …. warms my heart.
The food, accommodation and friendliness of the staff – fantastic! High five! But like any competition there is always something that does not go as it should, despite the efforts of the organisers. This time we had problems with the transport company, but our hosts did their best to correct this company’s faults. Thank you for that.
We finally had live streaming and so everyone was able to enjoy the WRC competition live from wherever they were in the world, as well as the mass of photos, the live blog, results as soon as possible …. a great job done by all involved.
During the Opening Ceremony, we had the opportunity to enjoy traditional singing and playing. I, personally, loved this special segment as well as the Gala dinner. Finally, there was a possibility for competitors to be shown in an elegant light. All the beautiful evening gowns and men in shirtsleeves, a real feast for the eyes and soul. Well done to the organiser’s and competitors! I think every WRC now needs to have this kind of finish. The party was too good, there is no need to say more.
When I mention the fresh breeze on the competitive level, the ones who impressed me the most were the performance of all Great Britain teams, the first time girls from China and Kazakhstan, the first representatives of the UAE and Nepal, and the youngest team ever, from Costa Rica – 4 of them only 16, and the last only turning 15 in December – as well as the Japanese Masters Women’s, USA Masters Men, and Germany U19 Men. GBR Masters Men, Italy U19 Women also climbed the podium.
Brazil, Czech Republic and Russia still feature as the top countries.
It was a fantastic success for the Open Women from England, where they managed to unify the title of European and World champions. Brazilian Open Men team defended their title from two years ago and now have held the title of best team in the world for 4 years now. If they succeed next year they will equal Team Bober of Slovenia, who, I hear, are coming back next year to challenge them in the Open Category!
All in all another fantastic competition.
Our deep gratitude goes to His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Khalifa bin Sultan bin Shakhbout Al Nahyant for his presence, which enhanced this competition; also H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council under whose patronage this event was held; Saif Ahmed Kameel Alblooshi – Chief Projects Officer, Tamouh Investments Group; Mr. Nilesh Mistry – General Manager of Wadi Adventure; Gina Maria – Wadi Adventure Events & Sponsorship Manager; Rowan Foley – Activities Manager; Deena Baker – Three60 Leisure.
Thanks must also go to all the Judges who do this as Volunteers, the Safety Team, Race Organising Team and everyone involved at all levels and tasks, either on the course or in the back offices. Thanks to all the competitors, such a large number took part and fought honourably.
Pic by Alessandra Massimino
Thank you all, thank you for everything. We miss you so much. Thank you Wadi Adventure, our desert rose.
The morning started with a pleasant temperature which the U23 men were rather pleased about. They had 5 laps of the course to do and lower temperatures would make it more manageable.
Russia U23 Men – slogging up the hot climb
Russia took the lead from the start and kept stretching it. Brazil and Czech maintained their seconds and thirds respectively. Slovenia, who were fastest in the second batch found themselves in fifth.
NZ Master Women – cooling off after victory
The next to attack the gruelling course were the Masters Women. They had 4 laps to do with all 7 of them starting in one batch. It was New Zealand who were fastest off the start and they kept a steady rhythm which saw them pulling away to a solid lead, through to the Gold. Japan started well behind New Zealand with Norway on their tails, but there must have been a problem either on the run up or on the top part of the course because they dropped down to 5th. Norway kept storming on to a comfortable second and to the Silver medal, and Czech Rep took the Bronze.
Masters Men were lead out by the legendary Team Bober of Slovenia and slowly they extend their lead, all the way to the Gold. Czech started off second, but caught some tricky eddies which allowed other teams passed. They fought back into second place with Japan close on their heels. As much as they tried, Japan could not get around Czech. But in the second batch the USA came on strongly and unexpectedly, beating Czech and so gaining the Silver.
In the Open Women the USA do a great job in Group B and are first across the line there. But their time is not good enough for a medal and places them 5th. Group A sees the Great Britain women off to a fast start but they lose it to the Czechs early on and then the Czechs get caught in and eddy allowing Great Britain to get ahead again! This time they take full advantage of it and keep out front for the rest of the race and to the Gold. The Czechs keep their second place and it is good enough for the Silver. Storming along in the second batch is the Netherlands who are fast enough to take the Bronze.
In the Open Men’s Group B we saw the USA pulling out a huge lead on everyone else. Sadly it was not enough for a medal and puts them 8th overall. The grand finale began in a predictable way – Brazil out front and seemed to gently maintain their pace so as to keep Russia just behind them. After the first round both batches are so close to each other, showing how close these top 10 teams are. On the last flat stretch Russia pulls out all their guns and challenges Brazil to a flat sprint across the waters. It is head to head all the way. And then Brazil catch the faster stream on the extreme end and are whisked ahead. They are out the water for the running leg first and Russia sees the Gold slipping away from them. Behind them Argentina has paddled a solid race for the Bronze.
The races are finished for the day – an incredibly gruelling course – not only is it a very fast, technical course to do once, but to add in the flat water section and then uphill run WITH a raft AND in the dessert heat – one has to have immense respect for all these competitors.
Now the can relax, go play in the wave pool and enjoy the comraderie of the last evening of the event.
The Open teams had a challenging Slalom course, which, once again, some loved and some hated. Gate 13 proved unlucky for many. The course was designed to be a challenge even for the top teams, not just a speed test, but a river reading skills test – we are a rafting federation after all – born on the wild Zambezi River where reading the river was essential to negotiate the slalom as well as the other disciplines.
For the Open Women, gate 10 was quite a big deciding factor – a river right upstream gate that needed precision or power to get into. For the men it was Gate 13, which the women’s teams all opted to skip and went for speed instead. Three of the top 9 men’s teams did not make this gate, only 6 of the men’s teams in total made it – you had to approach slowly and slide into the wave and surf gently over to the further gate and get your heads round before you were pushed out, or flipped, as Argentina was on their final run.
It was Japan that put in a brilliant final run in the women’s category to claim the Gold. Great Britain put in the 2nd and 3rd fastest runs in the women’s category and claimed the Silver and Russia the Bronze.
Brazil, ever dominant in Slalom, did it again in the men’s category and took the Gold. Czech, always strong in Slalom took Silver with Argentina taking Bronze.
The channel we are racing on is called the ‘Jeep Channel’. It is 660m long, drops 12m in height, and has 11 cumecs in volume. The largest rapid is the drop in front of the VIP building/ stand – it’s called the ‘Sheikhs Drop’.
Wadi Adventure was opened 5 years ago which is when the channel was built. All the water is treated as swimming pool water (with filters and chemicals, etc). We have 4 pumps, and it takes 3 pumps to run 11 cumecs. When Wadi Adventure was built they had to lay a pipe to the ocean to transport de-salinated water, because the city of Al Ain didn’t have a big enough supply.
Downriver for the U19 men and women and U23 women then took place – a gruelling 5 laps with a run back to the top with the raft proved too much for some in the intense heat of desert.
Russia dominated the U19 women’s race, taking the Gold and securing the Overall Gold with 964 points. Italy hung onto 2nd place, keeping Great Britain at bay. Third place gave Britain the Silver overall with 880 points and Italy the Bronze with 820.
In the U19 men’s category Germany seemed to have a bad start but slowly pulled in and overtook all the other teams, taking the Gold and so claiming Gold overall with 946 points. Argentina took second but it was not enough to get them into the Overall medals. Brazil took third in the Downriver and that gave them third overall with 808 points. Russia’s fourth place in the Downriver secured them the Silver Overall with 824.
The final race was the U23 Women. The Czech’s unfortunately had someone collapse with the heat and so did not finish, sadly taking them out of the overall medal contention. Japan seemed to have the win in the bag as they set off on the final run back to the top of the course. Due to the heat they walked up and the Great Britain women took advantage of this to overtake and get in the lead. Japan got close on the run down the course but Britain held on to claim Gold with Japan taking Silver and Brazil the Bronze. This meant Brazil and Great Britain had the same points, 895, but due to Russia having won the Slalom, the rules state that they get the higher placing which gives Russia the Gold, Great Britain the Silver and Japan the Bronze.
Germany, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Brazil, and New Zealand dominated the slalom races held today as part of the ongoing 2016 World Rafting Championship running until November 5, 2015 at Wadi Adventure in Al Ain.
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