Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Kayak Session Report on the Payette River Games - Day 3

The Unicorus-Rex makes some big hits during the 8 Ball race 
Massive payouts and rides on the Finals day of the 2014 PRG’s -  by Claire O’Hara (World Champion Freestyle Kayaking)
Today was finals time. Big crowds lined the banks if the river in cascade, ID, to watch the best of the best battle it out for their share of the $105,000 plus prize cash purse.
The finals action kicked off with the kids  SUP and there’s was some real talent and skills shown as the Peewee SUP’ers showed that it wasn’t just the Pro’s who could make the lines and take home some good prizes. Having watched the pro’s and seen how it was done they styled their way down there course winning a whole heap of goodies in return.
Then the action moved to the Pro’s.
The races kicked off with long boat and long board races from the top bridge. Custom boats seemed to be key in this race and as there was no length restriction on this race it was interesting to see the whole range of different boat lengths and styles. The mass start showed who was fastest as immediately Darby McAdams, her Dad, Mr McAdams, and Kelly’s WWP designer Gary Lacey sprinted off into the distance in their wild water boats. Then it was Nicole Mansfield in her Speeder well clear of the rest of the pack who races it out in their long production plastic boats.
The 8 ball then pursued with more epic crashes and interesting lines. The racers had sussed out the course more today and seemed to be able to run circles around a lot of the 8 ballers including the Unicorusrex.
There was one epic stand out crash as racer Nick Troutman took out 8 ballet Natalie Anderson as she sat waiting to block him in the main hole. It was by far one of the biggest hits in 8 ball history an example of the epic carnage that can ensue during this full contact paddle sport game.
In the end it was Louise Jull and Brian Kirk who made it through unscathed and in first winning some well earnt money and the PRG 8 ball racers of the year crown.
Back at the main wave the Pro River surf event was underway and it was a battle of the boards as the locals surfers took on the internationals and Pro’s. Brazils Derek put down some more epic rides and there wasn’t a single person at the event or watching online that wasn’t heart touched by this young mans incredible and inspirational journey.
The Feature was challenging at the 2,200cfs level. Apparently it really comes into it’s own a little higher above the 3,000cfs mark. However everyone still seemed able to rip it up getting some sweet aerials during their rides.
Then it was time for the really big money to be rewarded.
First up the kayakers battled it out in the boater cross. Launching off the big start ramp paddlers tangled and battled from the very start right until the end. There was a massive line up with sickline and white water Grand Prix champions, Olympic and red bull athletes and extreme race pro’s. In the end it was Olympic silver medallist Rebecca Giddens and extreme racer Gerd Serrasolses who each took home the $3,000 purse.
In the SUP cross there was big upset in the sup as Pro surfer and sup’er Kai Lenny missed a buoy in the finals after being knocked slightly off line. This opened the field massively for the combined sprint / cross SUP title and it was Fernando Stalla who cashed in on Kai’s mistake taking everyone by surprise as he took home the massive $10,000 first place.
In the ladies Candice Appleby continued to dominate. Well clear of the pack with first place finishes in every race the ocean specialist secured herself the huge cash prize.
The grand finale was the freestyle. The women kicked things off and Emily Jackson managed to retain her PRG’s crown with some sweet rides combining hole and wave tricks to take the win. Then the guys went wild. Ride after ride the athletes up the score. In the end it was France’s Mathieu Dumoulin who broke the 2,000 point barrier. Throwing everything from mcnastys to wave monkeys it was an incredible performance the Frenchie who will be taking home a nice $3,000 purse.
The standard of competion throughout the weekend was insane. The atmosphere around the event was perfect and the way that the river community came together for a festival of river sports was testimony to the ethos expended into the event by it’s founders Mark and Kristina Pickard. Great people inspire and encourage greatness and ‘if you build it they will come’.
Thank you to everyone who helped play a part in this wonderful event. The founders, directors, officials, organisers, athletes, sponsors, spectators, media and crowd.
But it’s not all over yet. Even now as the park clears out and return to it’s quieter more normal form several of the top athletes are still in Idaho and will be for a few weeks. As they are part of the Kelly’s Academy and will be coaching local kids. Giving them the chance to partake in and learn the sports they have just seen taking place at the PRG’s from the Pros.
Thanks you Idaho for a wonderful weekend. We cannot wait for the 2015 PRG’s.
Full results, photos and videos are now online
Signing out for PRG's 2014