Palguin Race and Christmas in Chile
The weekend before Christmas 2012 was host to the annual Palguin Race. A boater-X event which pits contenders against one another four at a time. After spending almost a week camped up at the Palguin take-out doing laps every day I felt pretty fired up for the event. However an unfortunate and long swim the day before on a high water Rio Nevados had left me tired and sore. I was still excited to race but I knew the only way I would progress from my heat to the final would be by getting ahead early. I could feel that I did not have the energy to race pass multiple other paddlers.
The race has a fairly informal start, up at the put-in with a briefing given by Kayak Chile proprietor and race organiser Ben May. Once he had laid out the course and how the competitors would set safety for each other throughout the day we were broken up into heats and prepared to race. I was in one of the earlier heats. Because of how close the event was to the Whitewater Grand Prix there were also quite a few athletes from that event taking part here. These guys and girls have come straight off the back of a two week race series and are all pretty fast.
I had WWGP 18th finisher Daniel Rondon (Peru) in my heat. At the start ramp I was a bit late and got put in the far left spot. This was definitely not the most ideal starting position as it had the longest distance to get onto the fastest line down the right of the first rapid. Inspite of this I remained upbeat and got ready to go. As the flag dropped I was speeding down the ramp, which lacked a kicker at the bottom. I did my best to crunch up and keep my bow above water. Taking my first few strokes as hard as I could I could feel myself pulling away from the pack. Coming into the first rapid I was alone, and ahead. I had time to focus on each stroke. Coming into the first part of the double drop I took my boof a little too early and stopped suddenly between the drops. Paddling frantically to try and regain speed I knew the others were gaining fast. As I reached forward to take my third stroke I saw Daniel landing just to my left, we tussled for position coming into the second part of the double drop but Daniel managed to come out slightly ahead. I knew he had me but I wasn’t out yet. All I could do Was keep paddling and hope I could catch him out on a mistake. Sadly that mistake never came, and that was me out of the race. I spent the rest of the day filming a quick video and enjoying the six pack of beer which is included with the entry fee.
Although the day was cloudy and drizzly it was still one of the most fun events I have been to in 2012.
Christmas eve took my crew and our sweet rental truck to the Upper Palguin. After days of rain we were not surprised to see how high it was at the put in. The run was fun and fast with no rocks (unusual for this run). The drops were all pushier than normal and everyone took their fair share of beat down. When we came to the normally relaxed ‘Weir hole’ rapid the hole which is normally flushy dished me out a large beat down. I probably surfed/survived for around 20 secs before being flushed out. Since I was going first I knew I should set safety for the others. As I was clambering out with my throwbag I saw Carson Lindsey (USA) and Ike Holden (USA) breeze through the hole without an issue. They were followed by Katie Kowalski (CAN) and Kalob Grady (CAN). Katie paddled in and her boat exploded back upstream and into the hole. Kalob narrowly avoids her and manages to paddle through. I throw Katie a rope which she grabs but the rock I am on is slippery and I have nowhere to step to down stream to pull her out. She is still holding onto the rope in her boat but is taking a beating. Finally she pulls her spraydeck and I manage to swing her to the side. It takes us a while to recover her boat and paddle but we finally get to the take out, tired and happy.
Christmas day itself was a fun and rainy day and after shooting photos of Carson, Ike and Kalob on the Middle Palguin 70fter, we headed back to the Pucon Kayak Hostel. Where I worked hard to cook a Chilean Asado (Meat BBQ) for our crew and some of our friends. Cooking a feast for 10 people was pretty rewarding!
Hear more about the rest of the holidays in my next update. Coming soon............
Photos: Katie Kowalski, MaryKatherine Fields, David Huges, Zoe, Myself.
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