The Head-to-Head (H2H) is all about tactics, with a pinch of luck! The day was filled with many tussles as the teams tried all they could to outsmart their opponents in the race to get around the two buoys they’d chosen and to get across that finish line first.
The first step was to get a good start and reach the rapid first. Some pairs entered the rapid right next to each other making it an interesting ride! The second step was to negotiate the boils and surges at the bottom of the rapid to ensure they didn’t push you into dead water which would hold you back. Then it was a hard sprint for your buoys of your choice.
The second buoys were definitely the preferred options on this H2H course, with the first righthand buoy only being approached when a team found the river had pushed them right to it. It was easy to get to that buoy but getting around it was very hard as you were paddling back up against the current. The first buoy on the left was only taken once, by Argentina Open Men in the B-final, in an attempt to get ahead of BiH by out sprinting them between buoys.
There were some very memorable tussles at the two favoured second buoys but in particular the last one on the left as it was the make or break for the win. The positions often changed at the previous buoy but then changed again at the last one. Ensuring the team behind did not cut in between you and the buoy was crucial and some teams were very good at doing that, and others were very good at cutting in.
A very exciting tussle was had at both buoys between BiH and Serbia Open Men, with the BiH tactic ending up being to reverse around the last buoy and taking the win and eventually claiming the Bronze medal.
Gold medals went to a very strong looking Brazil in the Open Men’s, Czech Open Women, Australia in Under 23 Men, Indonesia in Under 23 Women, and Czech in Under 19 Men and Women.
Indonesia were very happy with their tactics and results this time as an error in the Sprint had put them last the day before. Australia Under 23 Men were the World Champions in Under 19 at WRC 2019 and have waited a long time to prove themselves again.