Rio Aluminé downriver

Planes, rafts and automobiles – preparations for IRF World Rafting Championship 2018

Open Men team captains: Japan, Mexico, Brazil

Logistics in planning an International Rafting Federation World Rafting Championship is a phenomenal feat made successful only by the hard work of thousands of people from across the globe. Front and centre, visible to all is the Event Director and Race Director – not so obvious are all the individuals involved in tasks that most people would not bat an eye to realise were part of the overall event.

This competition is no different. There people on the ground running shuttles, equipment disinfections, ferrying radios, constructing the giant marquee that will be front and centre for lunches and meeting spaces, to the people serving lunches and translators helping teams work out their empañadas from their tortillas. That’s just the local teams – on top of this we have the large pool of qualified and experienced judges, officials, safety teams and international media ensuring everything runs smoothly, safely, fairly and that everyone knows about the competition.

Of course we can’t forget why this is all taking place either – the athletes and their support crews. Teams have been arriving to the towns of Villa Pehuenia and Aluminé in the province of Neuquén, Argentina over the last week. The planning and preparations just to get the teams here is immense – one team may consist of four racers plus their reserve but there’s the coaches, managers, supporters and loved ones to help plan and move this logistical beast into play.

Teams have been coming by plane and car from either Buenos Aires or taking road trips through Chile to explore the vast region of the Andes which makes up a significant part of the Argentine/Chilean border. Eager beavers, Team Japan sent their teams out early to ensure the maximum time in training with the Open Men’s team having been onsite now for nearly two weeks. Familiar faces on the river yesterday and today have been the Norwegian,

Australian, Canadian, Japanese, British, Costa Rican and Chilean Open Women’s teams. Men’s teams have been dominating training time with teams from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Japan and Brazil running laps of the downriver.

Rio Aluminé downriver

At first glance, the downriver is a flat and almost lethargic exercise – but don’t be fooled! The start on the lake is misleading to judge the rest of the river by. Very soon after the start and passing under the bridge, the river picks up speed through its narrowing and dropping into a series of G3/4 rapids. With a short moment to catch your breath, the river picks up pace again and doesn’t give up until after the finish line. It’s a series of rapids broken only by continuous G2/3 with some feisty holes (recirculating water features) to catch those unawares or not focussed. The downriver on this competition will make or break teams – don’t be surprised by shock results if any of the top teams don’t remain focussed on their game – there are so many lines to take that we are expecting to see some changes in pack leaders throughout the downriver.

Sprint & H2H start line

The Sprint and Head-to-Head disciplines will be run on the final stretches of the downriver – great spectatorship from both sides of the river possible due to the steep banks and grading of areas for spectators to get great views.

Slalom will run on the Rio Ruca Churoi. Although this stretch looks almost flat in comparison to the Rio Aluminé, this slalom course will be testing for all teams as the movement from left to right and back again will require consistent and coordinated team work to ensure teams don’t miss any gates or misalign through any of the following gates as a result.

All in all this is looking set to be a great World Rafting Championship celebrating 21 years since the formation of the International Rafting Federation. We may even have a surprise in store for teams to help us celebrate!

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