And so after all these years of working as a reporter I finally found myself at the EC Trnavka. From the first information I got about this competition to the input from persons familiar with the course, I never doubted it was one of the most demanding EC competitions.
The small stream of Trnavka, built by a dam, provided an opportunity to create an artificial track on the outskirts of the dam, something good to come from the construction of a dam. Therefore, depending exclusively on whether the dam can let water out or not, all whitewater lovers have only a few opportunities a year to paddle on this track. They split all those opportunities between all paddlers, so one of the opportunities goes to the rafters. This is the case also with the second and most difficult race in the EC – The Devil’s stream, which also depends on when the dams will let water out. In both cases, there is no room for schedule changes or additional training … generally a very complicated situation. But this has still helped produce some of the best rafters in the world and the hardest national selections.
The competition is extremely tight between the top teams on the list in the Czech Republic so that any number of teams can be in the first positions. If you are a big fan of a specific team, that’s not good for your nerves. This time the guests at this EC competition, besides the standard Slovaks, were also the Japanese. They know very well why they do not miss this competition. For the Slovakians, it was a National Competition too.
The track itself is long and the organiser divided the course into two parts, first riding two Slalom slopes in the upper part, then two times slalom in the lower part. Sprint is also divided in two parts: upper and lower.
Before water is released into the channel, the channel itself looks so simple and very simply made, with bars and wooden bulkheads, with old car tyres to support the wooden partition itself… without new buoys or modern things … but the obstacles that are set up are in such good places, calculated to mm to make lots of drops, eddies, fast lines …. a route for advanced paddlers. More proof that it does not take millions to make a good course. It gives hope to those who do not have millions that in some way, somehow, they can have this sort of channel too.
There were 21 teams in the Open Men’s competition and 6 in Open Women. The training was on Friday night from 18 – 20h. What’s interesting is that at this competition, they paddle in Gumotex – Colorado rafts, a very specific design, but not unknown to the Japanese, because they also use the same in one of their competitions. They are different in shape than rafts, they are very unstable and manoeuvring them on this course is an art. That is why, on the first day of training, we had several flips and swimmers, as well as during the competition itself.
The performance of the Czech teams during the slalom impressed our friends from Japan, and me, in addition, also the performance of the Mistral OW team from Slovakia.
OM: 1. TR Zubr (CZE), 2. TR Hiko (CZE), 3. Hanace Rafters (CZE)
OW: 1. TR Omega (CZE), 2. Mistral Bratislava (SVK), 3. TR Seniorky (CZE)
U23M: 1. TR Hanace Junior (CZE), 2. LET-GUN Letogra (CZE), 3. Jiskra HB Junior (CZE)
MM: 1. TR Masters A (CZE), 2. TR Masters B (CZE), 3. Jezek Team Oldi (CZE)
The second day of the competition was Sprint. The track again was divided into two parts, with that the first part was for the EC and CZE nationals, and the lower just for CZE nationals.
OM: 1. TR Hiko 1:29.41, 2. Hanace Rafters 1:30.00, 3. TR Zubr 1:30.43
OW: 1. TR Omega 1:42.97, 2. Mistral Bratislava 1:47.02, 3. MB Mohous A Jen 1:47.43
U23M: 1. TR Hanace Junior 1:33.16, 2. LET-GUN Letogra 1:36.05, 3. Jiskra HB Junior 1:44.73
MM: 1. TR Masters A 1:31.12, 2. TR Masters B 1:33.38, 3. Jezek Team Oldi 1:35.33
The competition has been organised for 21 years on this channel, everybody knows so well what to do, that it looks too easy from my corner and so smooth. With so many years of organisation, we could see whole families who grew up on this channel, where children and parents, each in their category or in their position (judges), participate in the competition. Stanislav Hajek and his team once again did a great job. Also, Stanislav, thank you for helping me to go to Trnavka. In this way, not only could I personally witness the difficulty of the competition, the quality of the track and the organisation, but finally was in one of the competitions in the Czech Republic.
This is definitely one of the best places to check the quality of your paddling skills. The competition will be in the calendar again next year, the date will be announced later this year because it depends on the dam release, so save one weekend for this and see you there. 😉