The International Rafting Federation’s 2017 World Rafting Championship (IRF WRC) in Miyoshi, Japan has brought together 71 teams from 22 countries across the globe. The adventure began at registration on Monday, 2nd October, followed by the Opening Ceremony that show cased the world’s best rafters to the City of Miyoshi.
Thankfully the rain that started on registration day and lasted almost until the end of Sprint training let up for the Opening Ceremony where around 500 rafters and officials paraded through the city to the cheers and welcome from the residents of Miyoshi City.
The ceremony started with a quick walk from Miyoshi Ikeda General Gymnasium to a holding area in the centre of town. From there the mass of rafters proceeded through a covered market to the cheers and warm welcome from what felt like the whole population. After the procession all rafters and officials returned to the Gymnasium for the official speeches and presentations. The official ceremony was opened with a rousing performance on large drums performed by a local school. The Japanese national anthem was led by a full military band. Distinguished guests and speakers then formally opened the Championship.
Training for Sprint (fastest from top to bottom) went smoothly for all competitors. Everyone was split into one of three groups for their designated 90 minute training slots. All age categories trained on the same stretch of river that the competition was held on. The levels were a little lower than actual competition but everyone got the idea of the line to take. Some teams took the opportunity to practice Head-to-Head starts (two teams starting at the same time in a race to the bottom).
There were a couple of thrills (and spills) during training – but the weather was warm so a quick dip didn’t do much to stop enthusiasm.
The third day of the World Championship was reserved for Slalom training. The categories split into two: Open and Masters on a lower section of the river, and Youth and Juniors on a section just upstream of the Sprint track. Both trainings were held at the same time during the day.
The Slalom course for Open and Masters is an excellent section of river. It starts fairly mellow and then the steepness of the gorge really powers the water left and right and around several quick turns – there are a couple of chunky pour overs which will definitely provide excellent spectatorship on race day. Training itself provided thrills and spills with two flips and a couple of individual swimmers.
Luck will have almost no impact on this course during the race. The skills and practice over the last twelve months are going to show through on race day. Techniques and tactics coupled with power and most importantly, teamwork, will deliver the medal winners.
Everyone now knows the general location of the gates for the race but with water levels fluctuating daily due to the rains, the final configuration will only be seen just before the race. This will definitely be a race to watch!
If you are coming down to watch, please remember that the gorge is a steep and rocky path, please wear appropriate shoes and don’t cross the official spectator line.
The fourth day was reserved for Downriver. Again different sections for the Open and Master category, compared to the Youth and Junior. The Koboke valley through which the Yoshino River winds itself can be quite remote and hard to access on foot. When teams are down on the river, the surrounding gorge can be quite impending. An unfortunate event unfolded on the Downriver training where our official IRF photographer lost his camera in the Yoshino River – it is now sat drying out in a lot of rice – fingers crossed for it’s recovery!
Throughout this World Championship, we’ve started a new project that follows a few teams over one day. The first impressions of how this looks from the life of competitors was shared with us by the Junior Men’s Team from the Czech Republic.
All training has now completed, Sprint & Head-to-Head have their winners. Slalom for Junior and Youth teams have their winners – be sure to follow all the updates across all channels: How to follow the event
Official hashtags: #RaftersAreAwesome #irfwrc #AreYouReady #Worldraftingchampionship2017
IRF WRC Facebook: www.facebook.com/IRFWorldRaftingChamps
Official website: wrc-2017japan.com/schedule_en