First time for USA Master’s Men

The Masters division at the 2016 WRC R4 in the UAE will be the biggest yet, with 11 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams. I’ve always seen the Master’s category as the one to enjoy, but these men are taking it very seriously. The USA will cross their paddles and measure their strength for the first time against the other 10 Masters Men’s teams. 

us-16-team-photoMembers of the first USA MM team are: Henry A Baxter, Matthew Norfleet, Matt Dopp, Peter Newport, Sam Drevo. As we’ve not met this team before we chat to Matt Dopp to find out more about them.

Matt, tell me something about your team.

“We are going to proudly represent the United States as the first US Men’s Masters rafting team in the 2016 WRC held in the UAE.  Our short history began in the spring of 2016 when paddling together in the qualifying event for the US National R4 raft races held on the Rogue and Klamath Rivers of Southern Oregon.  We are a fun loving and focused blend of paddlers with a background of Olympic level athletes, entrepreneurs, river guides, and medical personnel.  The team comes from Colorado and Oregon with world class training on rivers such as the Rogue, Klamath, Clackamas, Colorado, and the Arkansas.“

usa-mm-16-1Since you are one of the countries that battles to measure your strengths and abilities against other international teams due to your geographical location, how are you preparing for the WRC? 

“We, as a new team, are untested against the strength and skills of the other Masters rafting teams of the world and have not had opportunities to paddle against them.  Knowledge gained from current and previous US Men’s Open teams have given us a solid plan of action for our training schedule.  As a team we feel strong in all disciplines, however slalom is always challenging for teams such as ours that haven’t paddled together for years.

us-mm-16-3A true challenge for all teams this year will be the running portion during the Downriver segment.  Practising runs with the raft have been added to our normal training schedule to address this challenge.”  

UAE is a beautiful country, what is it that you would like to see and experience there?

“UAE is a new country to all of the team members and is located in a fascinating area of the globe.  When not training and racing we would love to experience the culture, entertainment, and food that UAE is known for.”

I know that you have just started, but are you thinking about WRC Japan next year?

us-mm-16-2“While the team is focused on the current goal of training for the 2016 WRC, there is already talk and excitement within the group about who to bring on next year for the 2017 R6 WRC in Japan.  We’re trying to not get too far ahead of ourselves, but we feel that the US can strongly represent in the Masters category in the years to come.”

Sponsors that you’d like to thank?

“Our journey to the 2016 R4 WRC has been a whirlwind adventure so far and wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors and donors.  Sawyer Paddles are some of the lightest and strongest, handmade paddles in the world.  Chaco footwear help us to run fast and stay secure in the raft.  Kuhl clothing is durable, stylish, perfect fitting to keep us cool usa-mm-16-4during a hard paddle.  Native sunglasses to keep our sight crystal clear on the finish line.  US Rafting Association providing a professional structure and presence for raft racing across the US.   Sky Lakes Media providing state of the art digital media for your videography and photography needs.”

Thanks Matt, and we certainly hope your team will be the first of a constant stream of future Masters teams from the USA!

Participation in the WRC is an honour and highlight for each competitor. More than 85 of the best rafting teams from around the world will take part in this world championship. In spite of such tough competition, I hope that these men will find enough time to enjoy it. Making the first step to break the ice is not easy, but every following WRC competition will be much easier.  We look forward to seeing them in the WRC rafting scene in the Al Ain.