R6 Slalom racing at the 2012 European Championships

Another fantastic morning of racing from the R6 teams. Summer time seems to have left Lipno with another wet cold day and the course looking rather magical with steam rising from the water.  The Slalom looked like a good technical course definitely requiring teams working in controlled unison to navigate a clean fast run through the gates. There were 14 gates in total with 4 ‘ups’. Teams could not afford to make too many mistakes with a 5 second time penalty added for a gate touched by the raft or person and 50 seconds time penalty added for a head missing a gate.

You would think it quite an achievable aim to have a clean run down the course, but the course setter certainly set a good course with only 4 teams achieving a clean run; Czech 1, Czech 2, Russia 1 and GB from the men’s category.

The Czech team certainly showed the rest of Europe their technical ability to navigate a raft through the gates down white water. They were controlled, powerful and all in unison, and I am not just talking about one specific Czech team as all four Czech teams medalled in the R6 slalom! This was definitely their race.

Run one of the men’s category saw Czech 2 put down a great time of 135.83 after a clean run. This would be a hard time to beat for the teams in their second run. The majority of teams all seemed to improve in their second runs, notably Russia 1 jumped up quite a few places with a clean run but only fast enough to put them in 7th position. Team GB also managed to jump up a few places with a second clean run placing them in 5th position. Positions seven through to eleven finished all so close with only 6 seconds between 7th and 11th. This may seem like nothing but 6 seconds can make a huge difference in the amount of points received from the race.

With Germany the final men’s team to go Czech 2 were still sitting on top, they must have been watching the German time very closely at the finish line to see if the Germans could knock them off the top spot, but after a very good run they could not beat the fastest time leaving Czech 2 in 1st position, Czech 1 in 2nd and Germany 1 in 3rd.

The women’s teams also displayed some very good technical rafting. Generally with the women’s team being less powerful than the men’s you would expect slower times but even so the fastest women’s time would have still placed them in 16 position in the men’s category ahead of the Austrian men. This just shows it is not all about being powerful, you have to have the technical ability, experience and a team paddling as one to get a good result in the slalom. As in the men’s race Czech 1 put down a fast time on their first run leading the racing with a time of 179.37. Could this be beaten in the second runs?  All teams but one who placed 6-10 after the first runs improved in their second run, only the Netherlands could not improve which meant GB 2 jumped ahead of them to finish in 6th place.  The GB 1 team were the only other team to improve on their second run jumping ahead of Belgium to finish in 4th place. This meant that the top 3 places did not change after the first run leaving Czech 1 in first position, Slovakia in 2nd and Czech 2 in 3rd.

What will this mean for the overall standing going into the last race tomorrow? In the Men’s Czech 2 lead the way in first followed by Germany in Second and Czech 1 in 3rd. But the points are close in the top 6 so anything could happen. Czech 2 are on top in first place of the women’s category, followed by Czech 1 and Slovakia in 3rd. I am looking forward to see what the teams can do in the downriver and who will come out on top to become overall European Champions.

Article: Naomi James