We arrived at Brady’s Whitewater Course, site of World Cup #4, after our “interesting” drive. I’d seen some video, including helmet cam, on Youtube, so had an idea of what e might be getting ourselves into. I wasn’t disappointed. Brady’s was the site of a Slalom World Cup on the 90’s, when the size of the water and the steepness of the course stunned many of the World’s best paddlers. Slalom has moved on to more and more artificial courses, but this remains a very challenging wildwater course, with big waves, big holes and vicious eddies ready to grab your bow at any time and spin you out. The course is very short and the winning K1 times will be under 50 seconds, meaning that the top guys will go flat out, with absolutely no margin for error. But th potential for error on the course is enormous, and I’m thinking that at least 20% of the top paddlers will commit an error on one of the sprint runs that will drop them well down the leader board, and might even mean that they don’t finish.
At the bottom end of the leader board (i.e., where I am) life is much simpler. Make it down without too many major mistakes (e.g. swimming, spinning out) and you will be fine and you won’t be last. But avoiding those outcomes is the trick, especially if you are fat and old like me. The course is super short but drops precipitously and a mistake at the top screws you up for the rest of the run. There is a flat left hand corner that drops into the first waves (Campsite wave), followed by a small rock island as the gradient picks up. Coming off of Campsite wave you need to avoid having left angle, or you will be pinned on the island, But you do want to cut the corner around the island tight as if you run wide you are struggling to get back left. Try too hard to get back left and you hit the bank and run the whole thing backwards – been there, done that, not looking for that kind of excitement again. A bit further down the gradient picks up even more and there is a deep hole (named after the steepest street in Hobart) which will stop you almost dead, killing any momentum. If you are on the left above the hole the water will take you around to the left, but its essential to avoid putting in a hard right hand stroke above the hole, or you will into the bank and do the whole thing backwards (yes, I’ve done this too – seems to be a theme here!).
Then there is a shallow hole with a rock that has an upper coating of gelcoat on it from all the boats that hit it. There is a line to the left of the hole, but it is inches wide and going for it could mean eddying out. A scuff of the boat is acceptable here, but run too far right and a bit stern hit will kill all your momentum and you could flip pretty easily (I haven’t done that see, I’m in control here). I did swim on one of my practice runs (pics will be coming soon – really bad connection here), but generally I did ok as long as I eased off a bit and adapted to where I was coming off of the Campsite Wave. Tom is looking pretty good and hasn’t had many screw-ups at all. Jennie has done a bunch of runs but still doesn’t have it down (just like me). Her speciality is going deep in the hole,
but she hasn’t had any swims and should do fine as others around here screw up trying to go fast. Its a great course and I’m looking forward to racing consistently and well here.